It was an email from my best friend and colleague, Nicole Piasecki, that served as the opening to my DMAC journey. She emailed me with an impossible “long shot,” asking me to come up with a few thousand dollars of my own money– money she knew I didn’t have– to join her for 10 days in Ohio, leaving behind my two teenaged sons for longer than I ever have before. And engage in a subject of near-terror for me: technology.
My immediate answer was: Yes. I knew before I’d finished reading the words in her email how badly I wanted, first, to share this experience with her, but also, to renew my own classroom approach by diving into the unknown.
I was ready to leave loosen my grip on the familiar.
Logistics still create urgency and urgency invited me to write, this time to write grant applications. I poured hours over looking for the right kinds of grant opportunities. I had many missteps. Dr. Damrauer graciously talked to me about my embarrassingly unformed ideas and gently let me know that he couldn’t help me at all– he worked with TT faculty alone– but that he thought there were others who could support me. He introduced me to ______ who helped search out opportunities. He introduced me to a few Deans who he believed were in a better position to support my naive reach. He reminded me to talk to Jeff Franklin and Margaret Wood (with the Center for Faculty Development). I took his advice as a strict list to do and sought out each of the players.
My work paid off, with a series of successes and massive failures.
THE TANGIBLE RESULTS OF DMAC
In the end, I was driven to create a number of new multimodal texts as a result of my 10 days in The Ohio State Univesity’s multimodal labs.
I created my first blog (look around you for the evidence, however scant).
I created my first animated annotated bibliography (huge fail, but fun experiment):
I created my first iMovie assignment trailer:
I created my first Infographic:
I created my first collection of video interviews to explore all the ways educators were engaging students in multimodal composition:
Failing once again, I played with Photoshop (sorry in advance to both Scott and Cindy):
I captioned videos for the first time:
I created a welcome video for an upcoming class:
I edited my first Audacity file:
I created a PollDaddy for my blog:
I used Twitter in new, far more useful ways
I coded HTML for the first time:
THE STUDY GROUP
The invitation to faculty:
I immediately heard from 5 teachers: one literature TT, two rhet/comp TTs, and three full-time instructors. All eager to do this work.
Eventually, 12 faculty volunteered to be a part of this work, 4 graciously offered to attend without the stipend, allowing for that money to go to NTT faculty instead. I love this department– good people, thoughtful teachers.
To get us all on the same page, I sent out an initial welcome email asking for bio information and letting everyone know that there is a definite plan in place (though I’ve still got plenty of details to sort through):
October 7th: Study Group Session #1
Two weeks prior to our meeting date, a reminder email was sent to all participants, with a set of detailed instructions to better prepare.
Then the work started.
We met first on October 7th in a MAC computer lab on campus. I had all sorts of plans, much of which we had no time to work through. Still, we got a lot done. The idea was to create a lab environment where we played with multimodal opportunities in small activities, discussed theoretical underpinnings of the work we were engaging in, but also spending much of the time working on our own projects. Good PD, I’ve learned, is that which makes life a bit simpler for a teacher, giving them time to be better prepared for class, not just hand them ideas to figure out how to pragmatically enact on their own. The learning happens as they apply the new concepts to their own classrooms, to their own proposed projects.
November 11th, Study Group Session #2
AS usual, a reminder email was sent out two weeks prior to our meeting, with specific tasks to accomplish in preparation.
We began with a conversation using a multimodal prompt about the readings:
December 7th, Study Group Session #3
On our final meeting session, I asked participants to focus on assessment (the most common concern reporting by teachers who are hesitant to employ multimodality in the classroom).
We practiced assessment by conducting a think-aloud into audio recorders of sample multimodal student products. I wanted to capture what they thought about as they considered how they might assess these artifacts. What did they need to know to assess the artifact fairly? What limitations did they experience?
Everything about my teaching has changed as a result of both my DMAC experience and the intensive work that went into re-creating that DMAC experience for my colleagues.
I have produced over 25 videos for all of my courses, some to welcome students to the course, some to preview assignments, some to provide pragmatic help with major projects, some to announce upcoming events and timelines.
I’ve invited multiple other faculty and scholars and students into a conversation about utilizing the multiple semiotic resources available to us to compose messages using the tools that best deliver that message to the intended audience.
I’ve begun to work with CU Online (specifically, working a grant hosted by Kate Miller) to caption videos and help create a strong sense of ‘presence’ in the online classroom. I would never have had the confidence to compose videos using iMovie without DMAC.
I feel confident in unexpected ways. I recognize that I don’t and never will understand all the interfaces that students might use to craft products in multimodalities, but I don’t need to know them all. I need to be confident in my ability to learn and, far more importantly, to support students in their own personal quest to learn new interfaces. I learned that it’s alright to lean on them for those work. That learning the technology of a new program or software is part of the multimodal composing process. It’s not the most important or the most critically challenging, but it’s part of the process that must be built into the course and honored via assessment.