Luddite No More

Over this past winter break from SFSU, I visited my mother in Connecticut for a few days and had the opportunity to check out a few of the local community colleges, namely Capital Community College and Manchester Community College. I was blown away by these shiny, new, and seemingly wired campuses. A computer in every classroom? Sure, maybe for Harvard, but I never dreamed I’d see that at community college. (The community college in California where I work doesn’t even have functional clocks and overhead projectors are a rare commodity.)  So naturally, when reading the CCCC Position Statement on Teaching, Learning, and Assessing Writing in Digital Environments, I was curious about the question of access to technology. According to the Position Statement, administrators should be responsible for ensuring access and, thus, bridging the “digital divide.” In the midst of California’s behemoth budget crisis, one would think wiring every classroom might not be at the top list of the administration’s priorities, but it is becoming increasingly clear to me, thanks to Michael Wesch’s The Machine is Us/ing Us and Andrea Lundsford’s Stanford research on students’ literacy habits  (discussed here) that there is no turning back. Literacy has changed and our students’ understanding of texts and communication goes far beyond the printed word. My tech eyes have been opened and I’m excited to see how I can capitalize on the interest and expertise in new media that our students bring to the class. I hope our community colleges in California get on board and find a way to meet new definitions of literacy with the material need for technological resources.

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3 comments on “Luddite No More

  1. Alissa, I thought about access as we watched the video. It is such an important topic here. While technology can open so many doors and offers access to so much, it also threatens to create an even wider divide along socioeconomic lines.

  2. The issue of a digital divide is huge. Even at the level of what word processing program an instructor or student chooses to use, issues arise. Just this week I went to access the syllabus for one of my classes and found that it was a .docx file rather than just a .doc file. I had to take extra time to download a converter in order to even open the document to read. I am so sympathetic to the amount of time it takes for students to navigate digital resources — no matter how competent they are, issues arise. And this for the students who own their own computers. You’re right, if a school can’t even get the clocks to synch up, how can it even begin to address the larger issues?

  3. Yes, perhaps the characterization of current college students as “digital natives” may be a bit premature. And access is an issue, although maybe not as big a one as a decade ago. I recently heard a stat that something like 80% of people in the US had some form of internet access (broadly defined, I think). That exceeds by far what one might expect.

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