guiding principles top nav
side nav

Guiding Principles

While complicating the binary of "technologically-rich" programs/departments and "non-tech settings," I want to make transparent some of the core principles of my personal orientation to the field of computers and composition. Over the past 20 years, rhetoric and composition has established the benefits of digital pedagogies, particularly the incorporation of multimodality into writing courses (Ball, 2004; Diogenes & Lunsford, 2006; Hocks, 2003; Journet, 2007; New London Group, 2002; Rice & Ball, 2006; Selfe, 2007; Shipka, 2005; Wysocki, Johnson-Eilola, Selfe, & Sirc, 2004; Yancey, 2004). I echo the belief expressed by the WIDE Research Center Collective (2005) that "It is no longer possible to teach writing responsibly or effectively in traditional classrooms. Writing instruction MUST be computer based, in some sense, to meet the needs of student writers" (Introduction, para. 4). While most scholars who align themselves with digital pedagogy would agree to this statement, I argue that we tend to interrogate the terms "computer-based" and "traditional classrooms." In particular, I call attention to the notion of "traditional classrooms," asking what those look like anymore. If we mean a classroom with no computers, no wireless connection, no ability to project from a laptop, and students who do not bring their own machines to class, I would argue that that such a space would not entirely forbid a digital pedagogical approach.

Of course, certain conditions such as no wireless access to the Internet would constrain an instructor in significant ways; but possibilities would still remain for having students develop their critical thinking skills, writing abilities, and technological literacies outside of class. College campuses provide students with access to computers via labs, laptop initiatives, and opportunities to rent laptops for the day (often through the library), which provides a valuable resource for those students who do not own a computer. Based on conversations with some of my own students and on scholarly testimonies such as that of Anthony Atkins and Colleen Reilly (2009), I realize that constraints on the use of public campus computers exist (i.e, the need to conform to lab hours, the inability to save to local drives, the possibility that all machines are in use at any given time). A commitment to enacting a digital pedagogy, however, requires that we as instructors work with these constraints and, when kairotic, push against them.