Blogging on Blogs, Whoa, Meta – A Response to Required Text Week 11

*THIS POST IS PART OF A CONTINUING SERIES OF RESPONSES TO ASSIGNED READINGS FOR LEARNING WITH DIGITAL STORIES, A MASTER LEVEL COURSE I AM ENROLLED IN AT UC DENVER.

For my response to required text this week I have chosen to read L&K chapter 5 Blogs and Wikis. I was surprised that these two digital mediums were paired together in the same chapter. My mindset before reading this chapter was that blogs and wikis were as different as digital mediums as could be and that the chapter would focus on contrasting the two mediums. But as I found out in my reading there are many similarities between the two and are a perfect match to share a chapter.

Main Insights from the chapter

I had utilitarian knowledge of blogs and wikis before reading this chapter. I don’t think I had ever read any formal text about either, I just had developed my understanding from using them or from word of mouth. I was really interested by L&K’s comparison of blogs to a piece of paper. It works so well as a comparison for me because like paper a blog is a place to store your ideas as text. I think, however, a closer comparison would be to a newspaper column, without editorial oversight. For me paper, or more specifically notebooks, are my private storage of ideas but a blog is public, like a column. Unlike a column the independent author of a blog had complete editorial control. Freeing the author to tell whatever story in whatever way they want.

 I knew that wikis were created through community contributions of content, but I had assumed that the structure was like volunteers working are an event. People giving their time but a overarching structure that was directing the actions of those philanthropists. I had no idea how involved the contributors were to the upkeep of each wiki at all levels.   

Expanded Definition of Digital Storytelling

Before reading this chapter I did not really see blogging as digital storytelling, it seemed more like  a journal that is housed on the web. I have seen some blogs that have done a fabulous job of incorporating multimedia elements and thought that they were the next evolution of blogs that had become digital stories. The concept form the chapter that facilitated the expansion of my view of digital stories to included blogs, including my simple blog is the access to an audience that housing on the web gives the author. I had seen the blog as a personal journal that was open to anyone. I felt that one could just as easily been a offline blogger by writing ideas down and stapling them to light post, I thought an internet blog was attractive because it was one light post you could post thoughts to that millions of people could access. This, in my new vision of blogs, was the wrong way to look at the access to audience the web provides.

Yes, with a blog millions of people have access to your ideas or narrative but this is not as important gaining access to the relatively few people that have aligned interests from great distances across the globe. From my experience blogging that I know I feel more successful from seeing I have views from far off places then it do from many American visitors.  Because the access to a targeted audience, a blog frees the blogger to tell a different story then if she were posting ideas to a community bulletin board. A story that is meant only for members of a niche community and told in that community’s common language, a digital story.

Additional Resources

My favorite wiki is the Star Wars themed Wookieepidia. Much like the examples for L&K this a fan community maintained wiki site that focuses on the vast Star Wars universe. With Disney buying Star Wars and resetting the Star Wars Universe (SWU) I have relied on this wiki to relearn what is canon and what is just awesome side story in the new SWU. It is also fun to just surf  from link to link and learn new tidbits about my favorite make believe place.

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Blogging on Blogs, Whoa, Meta – A Response to Required Text Week 11

Practice: We Talkin’ ’bout Practice?

I have been enjoying reading Lankshear and Knobel’s book. I find that authors provide a lot of content at a brisk pace but the breaks in the chapters with discussion questions helps give the reader a chance to reflect on what they read and the opportunity to review the information that is engaging for the reader. I would like to see more examples of new literacies to mix up this research heavy text and provide insight into what new literacies look like in the ‘real world’.

Main Insights

Chapter two of the Lankshear and Knobel text had a great quotation about the definition of literacies: “socially recognized ways in which people generate communicate and negotiate meanings, as member of Discourses, through the medium of encoded texts” (page 33). I think this is a great definition for looking at comics as literature. I have checked out and have been reading Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. It has been a fascinating read about the art and craft of comics, especially the unique encoded pictorial symbols in comics. Such as lines and shapes that indicate movement or speech and thought bubbles and in digital comics the use of visual cues that are commonly used to guide the reader though the story.  I think that learning to access the encoded visual system in comics gives a learner the perspective into accessing more traditional literature and is one of the reasons that I believe comics should be brought into formal literacy education.

My Definition of Digital Storytelling

This chapter discussed the concept of practice in a way that expanded my understanding of how new literacies and digital storytelling are interconnected. Practicing seems to me to be simply participating in the literacies of one’s community. The ways a community communicates is a reflections of its members perspective, because the act of sharing our experience expands our collective understanding of our world. For new literacies, that are often occurring as text online, practicing community communication means developing literacy and an understanding of the system and meaning of the encoded language. Because in these virtual communities members may never communicate face to face it is vital that members understand the conventions and norms communication of the community.  

Questions

I found myself intrigued by the discussion question at the end of chapter two about weather or not a podcast or photoshop without pictures should be considered new literacies. I feel that both are mediums for digital storytelling, but I am undecided if they are examples of literacies, new or otherwise. I know that an image can tell a story but are there encoded symbols? Without symbols, that have agreed upon meanings, the true interpretation is up to the viewer. I have a favorite graphic novel, called Robot Dreams,  that has no words only pictures, but relies heavily on signs, symbols, and comic conventions to help guide the reader along the story. Stories that are composed of the written word may leave much up to the interpretation of the reader in terms of the author’s motivations or what is left unsaid but the audience can agree on what words are encoded on the (web)page.

Practice: We Talkin’ ’bout Practice?

My Man Paulo Freire

I was so excited, reading chapter one of New Literacies, when the work of Paulo Freire was cited as important for the factor shifting literacy into formal education (Lankshear & Knobel, 4). I was introduced to Freire’s work when I was getting my Master of Education. I latched onto his ideas that education was a catalyst for revolution. I saw the application of his theories in the elementary classroom, because the students in those classrooms were facing revolutionary change in their lives everyday, socially and physically.  Education gives students perspective on those changes, a way to understand and interact with the world as students are exposed to a larger and more diversified segment of it. New Literacies seems to tout a similar belief letting students use the medium that best communicates the story the author is inspired to tell, the means of communication are rapidly changing and Freire would have wanted education to embrace it.   

I had come to class with a thought that digital storytelling is a technical activity. How do you use this program? What are the newest tools reach audiences? Chapter one of New Literacies opened my eyes to the need to keep focused on best practice literacy instruction when creating digital stories or incorporating digital storytelling into classroom instruction. New literacies need to focus on the story or ideas that are being shared. When the focus of the project is on the content being shared it becomes the foundation that engaging delivery methods can be built on. Digital stories that are technically impressive will grab the audience’s attention but will be unable to hold viewers attention or will not create a memorable impression for the viewer. A story is effective when the content or lessons of the story are memorable, not just how flashy the  presentation was.

I am still trying to find what my focus is for this course. I am torn between thinking about using digital storytelling with my students so that they can share their stories or do I want to experience the successes and failures from the creation of digital stories created from my passions. I feel that it will serve me and my students best if I experience the process for myself. The experience will let me know how it feels to plan and execute projects. The experience will also give me a greater understanding of available tools. Mostly creating projects for my own passions will give me exemplar products that I can share with students and let them know that the success is worth the effort.

I wanted to find some resources that I could share that highlight the connection between digital storytelling and new literacies, and I felt the the best way would be to find a digital story that highlights not only the ‘whys’ but also the ‘hows’ of digital storytelling.  This Prezi gave a coherent descriptions of both digital storytelling and literacy, and how teachers can use digital storytelling to support students. It also has reviews of resources that teachers can incorporate into their practice.  

My Man Paulo Freire