ePortfolios and the Communicative Intellect in Online Education

ePortfolios and the Communicative Intellect in Online Education

Rich Rice (Texas Tech University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-077-4.ch005
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According to Nielsen Internet ratings, YouTube totaled over 100 million unique users the month this chapter was written. What are those ratings today? Moreover, the number of times-per-day many individuals compose Facebook news feeds and profile content is equally staggering. Students inhabit these media-rich spaces, and if educators do not construct online teaching and learning environments, such as ePortfolios, in ways that effectively capitalize on students’ literacies in computer-mediated communication, those educators are in danger of limiting students’ communicative intellect. More to the point, educators are in danger of graduating functionally illiterate students according to what constitutes literacy in today’s interactive age.
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Communication In The Interactive Age

What our age needs is communicative intellect. For intellect to be communicative, it must be active, practical, engaged. In a culture of the simulacrum, the site of communicative engagement is electronic media. In the mediatrix, praxis precedes theory, which always arrives too late. The communicative intellect forgets the theory of communicative praxis in order to create a practice of communication. —Taylor & Saarinen, 1994, p.2

In her recent digital and media literacy recommendation report on behalf of the Knight Commission, Renee Hobbs (2010), suggests educators must create “respectful learning environment[s] where students’ lived experience is valued and multiple points of view are encouraged” (p. 21). Hobbs’ plan of action cites the National Association for Media Literacy Education (2007) and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009). In so doing, she points out that “digital and media literacy education activates independent thinking, authentic dialogue, collaboration, reflection, creativity, and social responsibility as applied to the practices of responding to, creating and sharing messages” (p. 21).

According to Hobbs’ report, “for all aspects of daily life, people today need a constellation of well-developed communication and problem-solving skills” that include essential competencies of digital and media literacy (p. 18). These competencies are synthesized from professional associations like the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT), and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). These competencies include the ability to act, access, analyze and evaluate, create, and reflect (p. 18). Hobbs quotes from the Common Core State Standards Initiative (2010) as well:

To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technology society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, report on, and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to research and to consume and produce media [should be] embedded into every element of today’s curriculum. (p. 18)

And Hobbs goes on to refer to policies of teacher education programs, such as the NCATE’s Professional Standards for the Accreditation of Teacher Preparation Institutions (2007), which states that “teachers understand media’s influence on culture and people’s actions and communication; as a result, teachers [should] use a variety of approaches for teaching students how to construct meaning from media and nonprint texts and how to compose and respond to film, video, graphic, photographic, audio, and multimedia texts” (p. 57).

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