Lately I’ve been thinking about how appropriate the course title of ENG 708 is: Teaching Writing in a Digital Age. The emphasis is still on writing and its central importance to critical thinking. I don’t think we need to be taking on the teaching of aspects of all new media, nor do we need to be concerned about ways new media may be supplanting written language, nor is it that we must now teach new media composition instead of English composition. But written language and the service it performs as vehicle for critical thinking certainly must be examined in its application to new media (as we are doing). In reference to Ong, just as language adapted to technological evolution like the printing press and the computer screen, writing will, I believe, always play the central part in how understanding is gained and knowledge is conveyed. This is because language is the primary medium for thought and composed language is still the optimal manifestation of that medium. We still need to teach English composition, but the medium of language will be applied to blogs or games or digital videos, as well as the printed page. Composed language will remain the underpinning, if not the central core, of the thought involved.
Certain species of flora and fauna, it is understood, have been with us for eons. The same may be true in the future for topic sentences and 5-paragraph essays, even as ever more highly evolved forms of media make their way into being.