English 5970 Special Topics, Spring 2007
Teaching English Using the New Technologies
The conveying of language and literature has always involved technology, as far back in time as the music, masks, and performance materials that supplimented oral story telling and early drama. Of course, the printing press, books, and libraries are technologies of enormous impact that we now accept as givens for teaching English. More recently film, television, radio, and media production was the focus "technology and teaching" courses. In 2007, using computers in English classes for word processing has had more than a generation of practice and research.
In the last two or three years dramatic advances in computers, in digital memory, in internet resources, in audio and visual transmission, in virtual imaging, and in wireless communication have created intiguing new possibilites for the use of technology in the teaching of English. Web publishing, digital archives, digital video, electronic conferencing, blogging, wikis, podcasting, real simple syndication feeds, on-line gaming, virtual reality worlds -- these are the potential new tools for teaching and learning English that this experimental course seeks to explore.
Our approach will be to see the new technologies as evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. That is to say, the best of what we think and know about composition, literary study, and good teaching needs to be brought to bear as we utilize and develop new tools.
Learning about and developing confidence with the new technologies, thinking about how to integrate them into meaningful literature, composition, and cultural studies teaching is the goal of this course. Our experimental class is project-based and attempts to address the interests and needs of the students. As an experimental class it calls for unusual flexibility, independence, dedication, and creativity.
We will have a special visitor, Dr. James Gee, perhaps the world's leading researcher in the integration of gaming and virtual worlds into teaching. Dr. Gee's visit will occasion a change of class from Wednesday to Thursday night, March 15 and a special workshop on Friday morning, March 16. (Please plan accordingly.)
The class will be taught in a wireless laptop classroom designed for the preparation of English teachers fluent with state-of-the-art technology integration. Our class will be organized by this on-line syllabus that will also serve as an electronic, hyperlinked text book.
The syllabus suggests topics, reading, assignments and projects -- these will likely evolve as we work our way into this experimental course. I have intentionally left some of the planning for the later weeks of the course open at this point. More specific grading expectations will also emerge, though it is expected that every student will complete several major projects (from websites, podcasts, virtual worlds, digital storys, etc.) along with regular class particiption (blogs, presentations, wikis, short analysis papers, etc.).
Students will need to purchase an inexpensive portable hard drive (at least 30 gig) so that large files can be moved from classroom computers to open labs.
My websites, including www.allenwebb.net, www.wmich.edu/TeachEnglish, and www.literaryworlds.org, provide resources and a gateway to a variety of internet resources for English teachers. Help for technology projects can be had at the IT Center (WMU teachers) and the IT Lab (WMU students).
Students are invited to join the National Council of the Teachers of English or the Modern Language Association and I hope will be able to present a conference presentation for teachers at the MCTE Bright Ideas Conference, Saturday, April 14. (Proposals are due Wednesday, Feb. 28).
Class participation is vital in 5970, missing classes may lower the grade
and missing more than 2 classes may lead to failing. This class will follow
WMU academic honesty policies. If at
any point in the semester if you feel stress, English 5970 offers free
on-line therapy from Eliza!
(One of the early products of artificial intelligence research.)
Websites to keep on the radar screen:
After introductions, we'll talk about the experimental nature of the class, possibilities for presentations, service projects, grants, the nature of good English teaching (good topic for our first blog which we will write in class), and we'll then move on to creating teaching websites. For that website you will need a unified computer account from the computer center and to register for your own website at WMU homepages. Some strategies and possibilites for making classroom websites are found at the Teach English site page on classroom websites.
For the next class meeting 1) have a website up and running, 2) read my manuscript chapters 1 & 6 (intro / laptop classrooms / on-line syllabi), and 3) post on your blog responding to ideas from class, and comment on your classmate's blogs
We'll discuss the reading and share ideas and resources for enhancing our websites and have some time to do that in class. We should start talking about archives, digital texts, hypertexting.
For next week 1) read The Tech-Savvy English Classroom, 2) my manuscript chapter on archives, 3) study my site Teaching with Archives and identify some on-line archives that interest you, 4) post an idea on your blog for teaching using archives, 5) the hard-core will enjoy reading Jerome McGann's "The Rationale of Hypertext."
We'll discuss the reading and share ideas for the integration of digital archives into English classes. I'll talk a little about Rob Pope's ideas of "textual intervention" and will look at some samples from a my "Literature on the Web" class and from English 1100 blogs. Also a couple of chapters from Literature Circles by Harvey Daniels.
Will Richardson's book, chapters 1-3, and some reading on composition theory/pedagogy, study of a number of blogs, special guest -- Dr. Rob Rozema.
3) Set up an RSS account at Google Reader, create feeds for all the blogs in this class, adn for three other types of sources, including news media websites and Goold website searches.
4) Set up an RSS feed on your blog or website.
Read Richardson, Chapter 8, 9, and Epilogue.
Create a podcast to share with the class.
Mar. 14: Class Cancelled -- Held instead: Mar. 15 Thursday, 7:30 10th Floor SprauVideo Games and Virtual Worlds in Teaching of Literature
3. What virtual world would you like to create to support literary study?
Mar. 16 Friday
1. Based on your examination of Literary Worlds, develop a one-page concept for a virtual world for studying a literary work or works. You can develop a role play or a museum space. You may want to include virtual characters, bots, objects, etc. Create at least four rooms, including images.
2. Visit Second Life, create an avatar, and explore some dimensions of the space. Think about how Second Life might be used as a resource for teaching English.
3. Check out this video from Second Life.
1) Read about digital stories and view about 20 stories from different sites, such as:
2. Develop a plan for a virtual story you would like to create and gather images and sound files.
Apr. 4, 11, 18
Saturday, April 14
Examine Other On-line Technology Methods Courses
English 408.4 Using Technology to Teach Writing In the Middle School and High School, Jim Kalmboch, Illinois State University
Edtec 570 Advanced Teaching with Technology, Wendy Parcel at San Diego State University
CI 401 Technology-Based Educational Reform, Kenneth Travers at University of Illinois.
Web Resources for teaching literature. That includes: