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Today’s post is not all that astounding but I offer it as an easy way to showcase student learning and reflect on multimodal projects. Reflection is part of all of my classes, and this act of critical reading is more important than ever in digital classrooms. I believe it is not enough to have students create digital and multimodal projects; it is when students reflect upon and articulate their learning that they benefit the most.
In the class I am currently teaching, the second in the series of introductory composition classes, we have focused on the subject of digital culture and identity while at the same time composing a series of multimodal projects. I like the idea of pairing the projects with simultaneous serious, critical reflection on the subject itself so students come to understand the larger context in which their multimodal compositions reside. In this particular class, students create memes, digital stories, DIY videos and academic blog posts. Although I have shared some of these assignments in other posts, here I talk about two final pieces from this unit that ask students to reflect and read across these projects and collaborate with their classmates to analyze and synthesize their ideas.
This reflection project has three reflective components: (1) an individual extended academic blog post on Digital Identity and Culture, (2) a Collaborative Slideshow, and (3) a full class reflective discussion and presentation.
The Assignment: Three Reflections
Part 1: Digital Identity and Culture: A Reflective-Crosslinked Blog Post
This writing is composed after students have completed a series of multimodal projects and asks them to reflect back on these experiences to expand upon what they have come to understand about digital culture and identity. Although students will use the artifacts from the class, this writing should be a self-standing academic essay that will be engaging for a public audience who is unaware of the subjects and ideas we have covered in the class. Encourage students to explore how they are reading across their texts and artifacts. They should quote from and crosslink to their earlier blog posts to create a hyperlinked portrait of how they see themselves as a digital writer and citizen in digital spaces. Think of this reflection as both an overview of what is included in their blog and they understand the larger ideas of the class (digital culture and identity). They should move back and forth between the larger universal ideas and use their specific projects and artifacts to illustrate and extend their ideas. Here are couple of samples of students’ individual reflections:
Part 2: Expanding Perspectives and Showcasing Ideas
This second part of the assignment asks students to work in small groups to create a collaborative slideshow in which they incorporate and synthesize insights and ideas. They start by reviewing and discussing their classmates’ work to look for patterns, connections and significant ideas across their work. As part of a collaborative presentation, each student creates a single presentation slide that includes a strong, contributing quotation along with an accompanying image from their blog. Then, as a team, they pull their slides together into a collaborative presentation that includes a title slide and their individual work. Check out this sample of one team’s collaborative presentation.
Part 3: Class Discussion
Students present their projects to the class for more discussion and reflection. The structure of the slideshows allows individual students to share their ideas and extend upon each other’s ideas, expanding their understandings of the subject at large.
Reflections on the Activity
This activity went very well. Through the three step reflection, students expanded their ideas about digital identity and culture in ways that felt informed and carefully considered. I was impressed by the depth of their understanding. Here are some of the insightful ideas that came out of their discussion:
- Students compared their physical identities to their virtual identities and discussed which one was more “authentic” and the ways they overlapped and diverged. Sometimes identity and character get confused in these contexts.
- They recognized that, although they are “digital natives,” they are still in an “internet adolescence” and that they have been growing up through critically examining it through academic lenses. They realized that, on the internet, we often see things on the surface and that it is really more complicated.
- They discussed the impact and importance of rhetorical choices for digital writers and realized the importance of audience engagement and the relationship between text and image. They learned that “internet language is distinct” and requires different rhetorical strategies and knowledge.
- They spoke of realizing their roles as active readers and writers, feeling a new sense of ownership and responsibility to enter the larger conversation in thoughtful ways.
Guest blogger Kim Haimes-Korn is a Professor in the English Department at Kennesaw State University. Kim’s teaching philosophy encourages dynamic learning, critical digital literacies and focuses on students’ powers to create their own knowledge through language and various “acts of composition.” She likes to have fun every day, return to nature when things get too crazy and think deeply about way too many things. She loves teaching. It has helped her understand the value of amazing relationships and boundless creativity. You can reach Kim at email@example.com or visit her website Acts of Composition.
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