First, I’d like to acknowledge how grateful we are for each of the contributors for Blog Carnival 20. I want to thank everyone for the time and energy they devoted to this project and for the insightful work they provided. In the CFP for Blog Carnival 20, we asked contributors to share the new and exciting ways they might be integrating new media technologies into their pedagogies or professional development strategies. The entries represent a range of responses that showcase contributors’ innovative strategies in their approaches to new media technology. We hope these reflections provide useful insight and new approaches for our readers to consider. Here, I will highlight a few themes that emerged during Blog Carnival 20.
Rethinking Discussion & Response
It’s safe to say that class discussion and individual student responses to course material are key components of the majority of writing courses. However, as instructors, we may find that our typical strategies are not always sufficient, especially in classroom spaces that continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Samuel Head shares his strategy for incorporating a live chat “backchannel” into his face-to-face (F2F) class discussions. He emphasizes the ways in which this online teaching tool can benefit students even in F2F spaces. Laura Decker provides a different discussion strategy: silent discussion. A method adapted from the tech industry, Decker shows how silent discussions using Google Docs can actually promote student engagement and productivity. In addition, Aleashia Walton Valentin suggests the benefits of mindfulness as a reflective strategy in the composition classroom. Based on breathing practices from yin yoga, mindfulness can encourage students to “engage themselves as embodied writers.”
In addition to discussion and response tactics, some contributors provided new perspectives on common classroom practices. Tori Walker addresses the “new big three” (Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok) and the ways in which instructors might optimize learning for Gen Z students. Similarly, Lance Cummings provides a glimpse into what “next-gen” notetaking could look like when using apps like Roam Research, Notion, and Craft Docs. Cummings highlights the importance of developing students’ information literacy by moving them from scavengers to creators. In Ethna Dempsey Lay’s post, she examines the critical use of blogwork in first-year composition courses. By utilizing the Voyant suite of tools, Lay demonstrates the valuable skills students can gain by analyzing classroom blogs.
Lastly, some contributors reflected on the impact of specific technologies on their teaching and scholarship—technologies that we might not initially imagine in the academic sphere. Laurie Miller shares her experiences using TikTok as a graduate student. Though certainly not what the app is known for, Miller has found success in using TikTok as an annotated bibliography where she provides three-minute summaries of the texts she’s currently engaging with. Joseph W. Robertshaw reflects on “how he got his groove back” when teaching technical writing online. Specifically, he discusses how using Discord for group projects can support collaboration and community in the classroom. In Joy Santee’s post, she describes how her own fascination for maps became integrated into her writing pedagogy. Using free web-based tools, such as Google My Maps and ArcGIS Story Maps, Santee shows how maps are “complex multimodal documents” that can be used in writing courses to achieve a variety of goals.
From these contributions to Blog Carnival 20, we have learned a variety of approaches and perspectives to integrating new media technologies into the classroom and other professional spaces. One of the things that rings true across all the posts is a desire and willingness to adapt—whether it be adapting our classroom practices to meet the changing needs of our students or adapting tools to meet our needs in new ways.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading these contributions and we invite readers to share their own reactions through our Facebook and Twitter pages, or through comments on individual blog posts. We look forward to continuing this conversation about new/emerging perspectives on new media technologies.