Spring 2008 - Editor's Welcome

In her book, Technology and Literacy in the 21st Century: The Importance of Paying Attention (SIUP, 1999), Cynthia Selfe urges us to "pay attention" to the ways in which all too often technology is implemented into schools and classrooms for its own sake, in part to conform to larger cultural and political metaphors of progress without considering the impact on teachers, students, and curriculum. Many of us have made that call to action a framework for our own teaching and research, and in the case of our Spring 2008 issue of Computers and Composition Online, there is a metadiscursive aspect to this process. Indeed, a number of our contributions rely on technology to foster critique of and reflection upon the role that technology plays not only in the teaching of writing but also in the writing process itself, with strong implications for teacher training in developing multimodal literacies in teaching and research.

To that end, our Theory into Practice section features an eclectic range of topics--some old, some new, and some remediated. For instance, the collaborative efforts of Michele Eodice, Elizabeth Boquet, Garrick Brown, and Sean Ringley have led to a multimodal text on a multimodal process familar to all writing teachers: freewriting. In "Where Ideas Are Garbage and All Writing is Free: Doubting and Believing in Freewriting," these two writing specialists and two student writers address the possibilities and constraints of freewriting as process and concept, also questioning the impact that technology plays through tools such as blogs. In many ways, the technology allows these authors to dialogue and reflect upon this process in a manner similar to the work of Debra Journet, Tabetha Adkins, Chris Alexander, Patrick Corbett, and Ryan Trauman. In "Digital Mirrors: Multimodal Reflection in the Composition Classroom," the authors rely heavily on both video and audio to consider the potential for multimodality in the undergraduate writing classroom.

Relying upon a survey methodology, Laura McGrath similarly foregrounds multiple perspectives in her webtext "In Their Own Voices: Online Writing Instructors Speak Out on Issues of Preparation, Development, & Support." Inevitably, McGrath addresses Selfe's call, noting that "As a discipline, we must pay attention to what online writing instructors are saying about their motivations, concerns, experiences, and needs." Finally, in "Understanding DIGITAL GENRES as Semiotic Artefacts: Meaning and Cognition Beyond Standardised Genres," Mª Luisa Villanueva Alfonso, Mª José Luzón Marco, and Mª Noelia Ruiz Madrid ultimately argue that hypertext and other forms of multimodality call for revised conceptions of reading and writing, relying on semiotic analyses of two separate web sites to generate criteria for expanding our understanding of both textual and hypertextual genres.

Our Spring 2008 Virtual Classroom selections are equally innovative and reflective. First, Rob Dornsife chronicles his development of a fully multimodal advanced composition course in "The Requirement(s) of Remediation: A First Immersion and its Lessons," concluding that the range of student projects produced in the class enhanced student' self-motivation and sense of ownership in their various "compositions." Similar to Eodice, et al.'s use of their webtext to explore freewriting, Eric LeMay's "Emulation and Excellence: Improving Student Writing Through Modeling," successfully relies on Flash to argue that despite objections against modeling as a way to teach writing, models can serve as an inspirational guide for students. Readers will likely find LeMay's number of student samples quite helpful, and overall his conclusion that modeling has its roots in both classical and contemporary rhetoric is a useful reminder about the extent to which modeling and imitation can be "remediated" in 21st-century writing classrooms.

A similar remediation occurs in our final Virtual Classroom contribution, "Emerging New Genres in Distance Education: The Video Syllabus." Here, Judith Szerdahelyi makes a strong connection between multimodality and the need to meet online students' diverse learning styles through a range of verbal, visual, and aural approaches. A link to a live video syllabus for one of her fully online courses provides--in the spirit of modeling--a helpful example for those of us wanting to implement a similar approach in our blended and fully online courses.

Meanwhile, contributions for our Professional Development excellently complement the theme of paying attention. First, we have two companion pieces developed by Christine Tulley and Christine Denecker, University of Findlay (Ohio) faculty who participated in the new 2007 Digital Media and Composing institute hosted by the Ohio State University and faciitated by Cynthia Selfe and Scott DeWitt. In both Tulley's "Negotiating Digital and Traditional Literacies: Training Non-Traditional Preservice Writing Teachers," and Denecker's "[Re]Fresh[ing] Perspectives: Multimodal Composition and the Pre-Service English Teacher," multimodal approaches complete with video and audio interviews help to make the case that "multimodal composition pedagogies can actually enhance instruction while at the same time meet curricular standards" (Denecker).

A culiminating treat in this section is Meredith Graupner and Chris Denecker's interview with blogger-scholar/scholar-blogger Clancy Ratliff, known to many of us for her blog CultureCat: Rhetoric and Feminism, and a a specialist in feminist rhetorics, digital media, intellectual property and authorship, as well as the 2007 recipient of the Hugh Burns Distinguished Dissertation Award.

Our Print to Screen section features feature a number of quality pieces that correspond to the Computers and Composition special issue Media Convergence, accompanied by guest editor Jonathan Alexander's (with Elizabeth Losh) innovative video introduction to the selections. Our continuing goal for the Print to Screen section is to establish a sense of dialogue between the print and the electronic, and while the ideological constraints on scholarly publishing have often limited the availability of digital components to print-based articles, we're excited by the opportunities that are emerging, viewing these forthcoming pieces as a fitting complement to the theme of "media convergence."

Finally, in many ways, our four Reviews for Spring 2008 stress the importance of paying attention to the role of technology in a range of writing and literacy processes. These reviews include Toby Coley's argument for the continued importance of Stuart Selber's Multiliteracies for a Digital Age since its 2004 publication; Erin Dietel-McLaughlin's review of Kathleen Blake Yancey's Delivering College Composition: The Fifth Canon and Alex Chege's review of Lee Ann Kastman-Breuch's Virtual Peer Review: Teaching and Learning about Writing in Online Environments.

Equally significant is the multimodal review of Lee Odell and Susan Katz's Writing in a Visual Age completed by students enrolled in Dr. Christine Tulley's Web Writing class at the University of Findlay. Such a contribution is a strong argument of how the various aspects of multimodal writing explored in this particular issue of C&C Online can and should play out in undergraduate writing classrooms.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of editing C&C Online is the continuing support the journal receives from the computers and composition community, most recently evidenced through two webtexts published in 2006-07 receiving the Kairos Best Webtext Award and the award's secondary honor as well: congratulations to Thomas Rickert and Michael Salvo for the top honor for "...And They Had Pro Tools" and to Kristin Arola and Cheryl Ball for runner-up recognition for "A Conversation: From 'They Call Me Doctor' to Tenure."

Kris Blair