Scaffolding Digital Writing and Storytelling in Online-Only Teacher Education Courses

Scaffolding Digital Writing and Storytelling in Online-Only Teacher Education Courses

Peggy Semingson (The University of Texas at Arlington, USA), Amanda Hurlbut (The University of Texas at Arlington, USA), Dana Owens (The University of Texas at Arlington, USA) and Marla Robertson (The University of Texas at Arlington, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0892-2.ch006
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Higher education is seeing increasing trends towards online education (Allen & Seaman, 2010). This chapter provides a framework for the inclusion of digital writing with online teacher education courses. As writing instruction and writing pedagogy moves from print-based literacy practices towards multimodal and paperless/digital writing practices (Mills, 2010), teacher educators must stay current and informed about methods that are best suited towards digital writing pedagogies. We provide four practical examples that showcase ways to support online learners with digital writing; these examples are shared through brief vignettes from four university faculty within a large teacher education program where online learning predominates. Specific support tools such as clear instructions, rubrics, procedural checklists, descriptions of digital writing assignments, and connections to theory and scholarship provide a starting place for those interested in including digital writing within teacher education courses, particularly online teacher education courses.
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This chapter is authored by four teacher educators in Texas who have background experiences in teaching in elementary education contexts in California, Texas, Utah, and Arkansas as well as in teacher education programs within university settings. The chapter focuses on best practices for supporting and scaffolding teacher candidates as they transition from print-based writing pedagogies to the teaching of writing and storytelling as a multimodal, interactive, social, and visual, and digital process (e.g., Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001; New London Group, 1996). The four chapter authors face the dual challenge of not only providing support for teacher candidates’ progress in digital pedagogies and literacies but teaching mainly in online-only formats. We present a variety of teaching contexts such as online, blended or hybrid, and face-to-face, although the main focus will be in teaching in online settings. Three of the four authors are literacy educators and the fourth has a background in elementary education.

The ideas in this chapter present best practices in scaffolding preservice and inservice teacher education candidates. The first part of the chapter begins with a rationale and description of digital writing and how it differs from traditional print writing and literacies. We provide an overarching framework for the chapter’s premise that teacher candidates do benefit from scaffolding, modeling, and support to develop their understanding and application of digital writing and digital storytelling. Big ideas about digital writing and storytelling from recent research literature are synthesized and highlighted throughout the chapter (e.g., Hundley & Holbrook, 2013; Peterson & McClay, 2012).

The second part of the chapter focuses on the voice of Peggy Semingson and provides an overview of the ways that students in an online-only writing-focused course participate in multimodal writing formats in order to develop their skills at digital writing. Supports built into the online course include models of multimodal writing, tutorials for creating multimodal content for both personal writing and lesson plans, and interactive personalized support through live synchronous webinar sessions and asynchronous student-centered discussion boards. Concrete examples from the author’s literacy course will be explained and described.

Next, the third section of the chapter shares the voice of Dana Owens and focuses on an explanation of digital storytelling as a way of increasing writing skills and production. These skills for digital storytelling include conducting research for the story, organizing information, and effectively communicating through digital storytelling. This section also includes the basics of creating digital stories. Two types of digital stories used in the author’s course are explored. A list of websites and software that can be used for digital storytelling are included along with a checklist and rubric used in the author’s course.

The fourth part of the chapter is the voice of Marla Robertson. She shares structured options for blogging as a way to incorporate digital writing and multimodality into student writing. This type of instruction gives online students opportunities to create authentic content for real audiences as well as learn ways to incorporate blogging into their own courses with elementary, middle, or high school students. Recent literature on blogging supports its use to foster writing development using online formats including both longer form blogging and microblogging (e.g., Lacina & Griffith, 2012; Mills & Chandra, 2012; Parisi & Crosby, 2012; Sweeny, 2010; Witte, 2007).

The fifth part of the chapter is the voice of Amanda Hurlbut and includes current trends in Web 2.0 interactive and collaborative tools (Solomon & Schrum, 2010). This includes the use of Google Docs and Cloud Computing as alternatives to traditional learning formats. This section explores the use of these digital tools as aids in facilitating student discussions, concept mapping, cooperative learning strategies, and collaborative writing within the course.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multimodal Literacies: Literacies that move beyond print-based literacy into visual, audio, and/or video-based modalities.

Peer-Editing: A process we are classmates provide assessment feedback, usually based on a rubric or other specific suggestions during the writing process.

Blogging: Short for weblog, a digital online journal that has author-written posts written in reverse chronological order and is usually shared publicly with space for comments.

Rubric: A checklist or table that provides specific criteria for creating quality work on a task or assignment.

Cloud-Based Writing: A digital writing tool where collaborative writing occurs in a cloud-based space that is stored independently of a computer device.

Videoconferencing: Desktop or mobile based web conferencing that occurs and synchronous a real time that typically includes audio and sometimes video conversation.

Digital Storytelling: Multimodal writing that occurs in online spaces that usually includes photos and other visual elements.

Asynchronous Learning: The type of learning that occurs in online settings and non-real-time where students can learn at their own pace.

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