Presenters: Kendra Andrews (North Carolina State University) and Ragan Glover-Rijkse (North Carolina State University) *One of the scheduled presenters was unable to attend.
Kendra Andrews, “Tech-ing to Transgress”
Kendra Andrews begins the panel by sharing her work toward developing what she calls a “critical digital pedagogy,” which she describes as bringing together 21st Century literacy practices and critical pedagogy. To situate her argument, Andrews provides a brief history of the internet, looking at how the early internet had ties to education, with educators, students and developers all contributing to its logic and design. Shifting to the development of technology more largely, she contends that it is marked by continuity and change. All media, she explains, contains traces of the past, keeping what worked and jettisoning what didn’t.
This cycle of continuity and change produced Composition 2.0, which Andrews describes as an iterative, active, and participatory approach to writing instruction. Such approaches to writing align, she argues, with the critical pedagogies of the past. Working from bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress, she emphasizes the importance of constructing the classroom as a space that does something, a space that resists the normative discourses and representations. She further defines a critical pedagogy as promoting the active creation of oppositional analysis and seeking to understand subjugated knowledges.
Critical digital pedagogy, according to Andrews, offers a framework where the interests inherent in Composition 2.0 and critical pedagogy converge. Such a framework creates conditions in which students learn 21st Century practices through active participation, address new learning situations, and engage in radical learning approaches outlined by critical pedagogies (co-construction of knowledge, collaboration, transgression, etc.). She describes how applications of such a framework employ transgressive transparency, require radical role reversal between student and teacher, engage in sustained collaboration, and deploy lots of scaffolding and formative feedback.
Andrews offers some important caveats, namely that pedagogy always must come before technology, and that accessibility must always be at the forefront of integrating technology in the classroom. However, she reiterates the importance of critical digital pedagogy as it provides students with a critical framework they can apply when entering into digital discourse. Ultimately, she believes that 21st Century pedagogies should reflect new, liberated ways to make meaning, and supply new frameworks for students to engage and act in online spaces.
Regan Glover-Rijkse, “An Accessible Pedagogy: Disability and the Performance of Multimodality”
Glover-Rijkse begins with the exigence for her presentation, explaining that while composition pedagogy in general has paid attention to various accessibility issues in the classroom, little attention has been given to “how (disabled) bodies perform multimodality, despite the fact that performing multimodality requires engaging multiple sensory experiences, when one or more of a composer’s sense may be impaired.” She contends that multimodality is often positioned as a solution for accessibility issues, but in actuality it may pose unique challenges for those with disabilities, and therefore it necessitates adaptive and proactive pedagogical strategies when utilized in the writing classroom.
Glover-Rijkse situates her analysis in the social model of disability as opposed to the medical model of disability. She describes that the social model locates the cause of disability in the design of the environment or the social sphere, rather than in the biological condition of the individual a la the medial model. Since disability is the produce of the environment or social space it resides in, she argues that composition instructors have an ethical responsibility to attend to accessibility issues inherent in their pedagogy. The principles of Universal Design, she explains, offer a heuristic for identifying ablest assumptions embedded in how writing teachers design and utilize multimodality, and they offer guidance for creating more accessible pedagogical practices for teaching multimodal composition.
Though the principles of Universal Design have been subject to various critiques, she argues that many of these critiques actually recognize the value of the principles. For her, these critiques reveal Universal Design to be an ongoing, recursive process that is proactively designed and re-designed to be responsive to user-students. Thus, in order to provide accessible and equitable education, we need to design curricula not only with Universal Design principles, but with participatory design in mind as well. She explains in detail that each of the principles of Universal Design can be adapted to speak uniquely to multimodal assignments.
Offering some takeaways to conclude, she emphasizes the importance of attending to issues of accessibility, both as they relate to multimodal composition and to composition more broadly, as doing so resists and disrupts normative assumptions about multimodal composition, demonstrates consideration for our students, and decenters the power relations that allow some student to be more successful than others.
Andrews and Glover-Rijkse offer ways of disrupting normative approaches and assumptions regarding how technology operates in the composition classroom. Their discussions reveal the importance of challenging our assumptions about the digital spaces and tools we use in our classrooms, and each presentation offers resources for creating more ethically responsible digital praxis.