Integrated Consuming & Producing

Yes, I’ve resisted the idea of replacing print literacy with all things digital and I’ve resisted the notion of burdening comp faculty with new responsibilities when teaching students to compose in one medium is difficult enough (hey, I’m a pragmatist to the death), but I found Lessig’s 2007 TED talk very compelling in how he juxtaposed the 20th century as the age of consumption of media with the 21st century as the age of both consumption and production. He shows how, with access to digital technologies, young people are contributing to important conversations in ways that they haven’t been able to in the past. In effect, young people have created new ways of responding as in the video remixing he illustrates. As Lessig argues, these creative modes of composing have become the “tools of speech.”

“Reading” this week’s texts about the read/write culture that many of our students are lucky to have been born into (I say lucky as I imagine the power and potential this “participatory culture” allows), I couldn’t help making connections to the Integrated Reading & Writing program and philosophy that dominates here at SFSU as a way to teach developmental writing. At least as far as the program is concerned, post-secondary reading is a difficult endeavor and we have to teach students to be critical consumers of college-level texts while teaching them to be critical producers. A program that has expanded the domain of our comp classes here at SFSU to a focus on both consumption and production seems naturally poised to make the most of the power and potential of digital literacy.

Perhaps, our own IRW can aim for the “media convergence” that Jenkins (2006) discusses and fully embrace the potential of “participatory culture.” It seems to me that by encouraging students to be real participants, contributing on the literal and metaphorical web in ways that will reach real audiences, we will encourage our students to be better writers/producers, and the awareness of their participation in ongoing network of conversations, in turn, will help shape their awareness of themselves as critical reader/consumers. In other words, we can’t artificially separate the two halves of literacy, especially when we include the realm of digitally literacy.


3 comments on “Integrated Consuming & Producing

  1. Reading your comments I am reminded of the “New” Literacies: Research and Social Practice piece by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel in which they discussed the intertextual nature of fan fiction, which—long a pasttime for children taht has been ignored by parents and teachers—has begun to gain recognition as a serious craft online in a public community. I see the examples of remix that Lessig used in his presentation as a variation of fan fic, an ongoing conversation with the music and graphical genres represented, exemplifying the simultaneous consumption/creation or reading/writing by whoever made those pieces. If we choose not to be the teachers of the past who ignored the fan fic writings of students and if we, as you suggest, teach critical “awareness of [students’] participation in ongoing network of conversations,” (something I agree we should do), then I wonder how we prepare them for any backlash they receive by having their work publicly available. I am thinking specifically of the “Jesus Christ: The Musical” piece, which rather tactlessly made fun of images that are profoundly sacred to large numbers of people. Though I saw the humor in the piece, I couldn’t help but notice the pained look on the faces of some of the people in the audience. It makes me think that greater levels of public participation on the part of everyday individuals requires greater levels of awareness and a willingness to take responsibility for one’s work. This, I think, further proves your point about the need bring such work into the IRW classroom.

  2. I agree completely that awareness and responsibility are two key elements (or shall we say literacies?) that students writing with new media media need to be acutely aware of. If students are asked to perform reading and writing that situate them and their work in “an ongoing network of conversations,” then responsibility for one’s work is crucial. This means that part of the pedagogy has to address the importance of awareness of audience, as well as the importance of self-representation. Getting students to be more critical of how they choose to represent themselves online across diverse media and ongoing networks will create a healthier, more sustainable online public sphere with greater responsibility placed on the users and creators. Lessons on representation — which ties together issues of audience and identity — should also be part of the new literacies that we teach students.

  3. Pingback: These are a Few Of My Favorite Posts (Part 1) « Teaching Writing in a Digital Age

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