Professional Development for Teaching Writing in a Digital Age

Professional Development for Teaching Writing in a Digital Age

Victoria Gillis (University of Wyoming, USA) and Megan Marshall (University of Wyoming, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8632-8.ch019
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Abstract

This chapter addresses the issue of professional development as it relates to teaching writing in a digital environment. The goals of this chapter include describing the genres of digital writing tools currently in use, along with their affordances and constraints and the means by which teachers use these tools professionally. The authors explore leveraging affordances of digital writing tools to communicate with stakeholders and reflect on practice, and also describe effective professional development linked to the teaching of writing using digital tools. Finally, the authors address recommendations for future research.
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Background

According to the National Council of Teachers of English (2013b), 21st Century literacy involves being fluent and proficient with the tools of technology; being collaborative; designing and sharing information for a variety of purposes; managing, analyzing, and synthesizing information from a variety of sources; and adhering to ethics required in complex technological environments. Twenty-first Century literacies have transformed communication in the 21st Century (Mills, 2010), and a number of characteristics delineate 21st Century literacies from those prior to the advent of the Internet. Twenty-first Century literacies are multi-modal, involving more than words and written discourse. Moreover, 21st Century literacies are not linear – they involve the use of hyperlinks that enable nonlinear navigation of text, videos, audio, and photos (Rhodes & Robnolt, 2009). Another difference between 21st Century literacies and traditional print literacies such as textbooks and magazines is that anyone with an Internet connection and the appropriate technology can post to the Internet – there is no editor; therefore, users must be critical consumers of the information they access, lest they accept at face value information that is not accurate or true. Users must also be mindful of their contributions to the Web (Alvermann, 2008; International Reading Association, 2009). The amount of information available grows exponentially, making it more important for learners to be able to locate, analyze, and synthesize relevant information from a variety of sources (Alvermann, Gillis, & Phelps, 2013). Additionally, the advent of Web 2.0 is another feature of 21st Century literacy. Web 1.0 was primarily a venue to deliver information digitally, but Web 2.0 involves participation, collaboration, and distribution (Knobel & Wilber, 2009). There is a shift from consuming to producing text, in the broadest sense of the term “text.” In response to the advent of Web 2.0, instruction must change (Albion, 2008; Attwell, 2007). Knobel and Wilber (2009) coined the term literacy 2.0, to signal a change in literacy as significant as the change from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. A literacy in which people develop new ways of reading, writing, viewing, and creating text using digital tools. In the classroom, literacy 2.0 translates to a focus on meaningful tasks with authentic purposes and audiences beyond the classroom.

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