This collection is both highly accessible and provides a wide variety of perspectives on teaching in digital environments and using technology. Based on the very real experiences of the contributors, it presents a balanced view of both successes and failures in creating sustainable ecologies. This is not a how-to manual, but rather a catalogue of experience and insight, designed to foster discussion about how the technologies we currently use can be sustained and about what we need to consider when implementing new technologies we intend to use long term. The advice and experiences the writers do offer are practical and steeped in the very real successes and failures of their attempts to create sustainable digital ecologies. The editors and many of the contributors acknowledge that both ecology and sustainability are local issues, and that although there are commonalities between our experiences, no two are identical. Thus, they would be remiss to promote one methodology for sustainability, but are much better served to offer options that can be considered, critiqued, and altered to fit a given technological ecology.
Because this book is only available electronically, there may be some concern about its ease of use and accessibility. However, one of the benefits of the Computers and Composition Press is that this text is available at no cost through the publisher’s website. It can be accessed in its entirety or chapter by chapter. In terms of the choice to publish exclusively electronically, the editors readily admit in their introduction that publishing this book digitally was both a risk and an experiment. While I do have some reservations about the digital format of this text, they are minor. The digital format allowed for inclusion of information in ways that would not have been possible in a print text. Chiefly, I am thinking of Kip Strasma’s use of video to show a panoramic view of his classroom which augmented his discussion of the space in a way that a still photograph could not. Additionally, the possibility of including hyperlinks within the text and on the Works Cited pages allowed for immediate access to sources, which I found useful and helpful. The one drawback to this additional media in the book was that it navigated away from the original text page rather than popping up in a new window. To exit the media file, I had to use the back button which returned me to the beginning of the chapter rather than to where I had left off reading, which was disorienting, especially the first time it happened. This navigational difficulty did discourage me from using all of the additional media. This is, however, a minor concern, and should not detract from the value of the insight and information that the book provides concerning constructing, developing and sustaining digital environments.
Overall, this collection provides a starting point for anyone considering teaching in a digital environment, but also provides encouraging support and options for people already teaching and/or administrating in a digital environment because it acknowledges that teaching with technology doesn’t just happen, but is an on-going and labor intensive process. It raises many issues—practical, pedagogical, and political—that need to be considered when attempting to integrate technology into classrooms, curriculum, departments, writing centers, etc. and create a sustainable technological ecology. And it encourages continual, critical evaluation of our technological ecologies through which to create sustainable environments suitable for teaching, learning and research. This collection would be most beneficial to those teaching and administrating in digital environments who want to continue and evolve the work taking place there, or those starting digital writing initiatives who want to begin a program that has potential for long-term sustainability.