Fall 2010-Spring 2011 - Editor's Welcome

Our double Fall 2010-Spring 2011 issue is literally jammed packed with a series of themed pieces in the area of open source tools, as well as the increasing need to consider the role that these and other tools play in fostering multimodality across the writing curriculum in ways that bridge the gap between the literacy practices of our students outside the classroom and the academic literacies we continue privilege in our classrooms and ultimately make such literacies more integrated and equally important, accessible.

Theory into Practice begins with Tabetha Adkin’s, Shannon Carter’s, and Donna Dunbar-Odom’s “The Activist Writing Center,” which deploys literacy and activity theories to chronicle the powerful collaboration between libraries, technology services, and campus writing programs to document the literate practices of student writers, and features a video essay. We are very privileged as well to publish “Digital Composing: Remaking Stories of Literacy, Research, and Life,” the revised CCCCs session by Sondra Perl, Gail Hawisher (with Patrick W. Berry, Hannah Lee, and Synne Skjulstad), and Cynthia Selfe as a scholarly exhibit and are very grateful to Senior Editor Joe Erickson for his design skills in developing an interface that aligns the ideas of these important scholars as much online as they were in their original featured CCCCs session and represents a complex model of multimodality in its reliance on text, image, and video. The main interface for this piece leads to each scholar's contribution. A similar discussion occurs in John Scenters-Zapico’s “Traditional and Electronic Literacy Sponsorship Forms,” a video essay that theorizes the role that sponsors of literacy assume as they interact with literacy participants, with a powerful set of interviews with Hispanic students that chronicle the importance of both traditional and electronic literacy sponsorship in their lives. Our final two pieces in the section drive home the importance of making electronic literacy accessible through open source tools. In "Open Source and the Access Agenda," Clancy Ratliff provides a strong call to action for digital writing scholars to determine how online literacies might be made more accessible through the use of open sources tools that challenge the privileged position of our institutions' technology support services. Meanwhile, Charlie Lowe analyzes the possibilities and constraints of Creative Common Licenses in fostering open educational content in "Considerations for Creative Commons Licensing of Open Educational Resources: The Value of Copyleft," providing a useful discussion of the variables that warrant differing licensing options, ultimately arguing for the importance of Creative Commons in making our educational labor visible and accessible to the scholars with whom we work and the students we collectively serve.

The Virtual Classroom provides an overview of a range of free and open tools that enhance the teaching of functional, critical and rhetorical literacy in both print and digital contexts. In advocating for the role of open source in this process, Phillip George provides a useful overview in "The Role of Free and Open Source Software in Digital Literacy Education" of the potential for such tools to bridge the gap between those who have reliable access to technology and those do not. Next, Toby Coley’s “Through the Looking Monitor: Alice in Wikiland” uses theories of audience and community to help us understand the role of wikis in complicating our understanding of audience in a digital age, using a hypothetical first-year student appropriated named “Alice.” In “From the CMS Sepulcher, the Phoenix, Moodle Rises,” Christopher Harris also emphasizes the role of a free learning management system like Moodle as a vital means to fostering student collaboration and engagement. Concluding this section is Ruijie Zhao’s “Teaching Invention Through YouTube,” which shares a range of strategies for tapping the power of YouTube to “encourage collaborative, democratic, and interactive learning in the prewriting stage in college composition classes.” Inevitably, what unifies these pieces is the emphasize on deploying tools from wikis, to course management systems, to video sharing to make our composing pedagogies learner-centered and participatory, enhancing students’ access to and motivation for digital communication both inside and outside our classrooms.

Our Professional Development section contains a very special contribution by Chris Werry, who had an opportunity to interview the internationally renowned Howard Rheingold about his development of the Social Media Classroom project, a MacArthur Foundation funded resource designed to serve as an open source alternative to traditional learning management systems. Another valuable resource for teachers is the collaborative work of Jen Almjeld’s graduate seminar in Computers and Writing at New Mexico State University. In “Producing Local Knowledge: The Grad Class Assignment As Curricular Outreach,” Almjeld’s seminar of nine developed a site designed not only to serve the needs of local teachers in need of assistance in developing and assessing multimodal writing assignments but also to show how such a resource site is a vital professional development tool for other institutions as well. Finally, our Reviews section features two innovative tools; first is Craig A. Meyer’s review of Swype, a feature designed to make typing on touchscreen devices rapidfire, along with Ted Freeseman’s review of the pros and cons of Ubuntu as a free operating system. One of the advantages of online journal editing is that our issue is never quite complete, and we expect to publish additional reviews as they come in, so do feel free to contact our Reviews Editor Jeff Kirchoff if you have a review in mind.

The development of this particular issue was a truly collaborative editorial effort between Senior Editors Lanette Cadle and Joe Erickson, colleagues with whom I’m honored to work. Based on her leadership in the open-source movement within composition studies, Lanette was instrumental in securing the majority of our submissions in this area, while Joe’s talent as a designer has not only brought a number of pieces to digital fruition over the years but has led to our fabulous new interface for journal, designed to make all the important scholarship that’s been published in Computers and Composition Online…like the theme of many of our pieces in this issue…even more accessible.

Kris Blair