by stronged

I have begun reading about new ways of teaching about emerging digital media with some of Adrian Miles’ blog entries. The first on teaching Hypertext to undergrad media students –

Found at: http://vogmae.net.au/vlog/research/network-literacies/hypertext-teaching/

(Miles, Adrian. “Hypertext Teaching.” Reading Hypertext. Eds. Mark Bernstein and Diane Greco. Watertown: Eastgate, 2009. 223-38.)

His main objective for the unit of study was to demystify the negative connotations associated with hypertext and enthuse students to embrace a new media format that more closely resembles ‘a post–cinematic reading practice’ than the linear structure of traditional modes of literature.

Using Storyspace as the operating system for each student to compose their own autobiographical hypertext, he used cinema as an analogy to explain how each node created acts as if an edit in overarching narrative. The necessity to engineer each sentence in order to factor in links for other key narrative elements forced students to think outside the box in terms of narrative construction. ‘By using a variety of terms or phrases their writing is no longer quite so literal, and it allows for a more poetic or associative series of terms to develop to describe an idea…’

Each student would then be designing their narrative in a much more mindful manner, and therefore found a greater appreciation for authors of similar digital based interactive narratives. Instead of using the reading history tools (forward and backward arrows) they embraced the actualization of being on an organic journey constructed to encompass their own individual experience of the narrative.

The writing process also becomes much more ‘associative, emergent and productive.’ As ‘when reading hypertext the meaning and interpretation of the work is no longer simply understanding the content of each node but is very heavily dependent upon the sequences that the nodes form. What appears when, matters.’ The experience ceases to be one of uniform interpretation but no one reading is alike, a myriad of alternative routes through the narrative are experienced depending entirely on the whim of the reader.

The prospects of such a media format is wholly exhilarating. The scale of narratives can possibly be endless. New patterns and structures can be developed to produce ‘quite specific sorts of rhythms that are quite distinct from existing literary models.’

One of the positives to online content is the realization that the shear magnitude of content uploaded online prompts a continual turnover of material in order to be sustainable. I find this not too disimilar to the Buddhist belief of impermanence.

However, a negative of online content is the physical side effects of accumulating an unhealthy amount of screen time. My eyes ache; muscles quiver in the hope of being used; my mind becomes foggy and fatigue begins to ebb at my very core. If only there was a way to physicalise the ingestion of information. Audiobooks are the closer I have found to give my eyes a rest and enable me to be productive with the use of my full body.

Another nugget I gleaned from Miles’ blog entry was how he sees himself in the ‘role as facilitator, provocateur and foil rather than content expert.’ Seems to be the increasing maxim for pedagogy in the future.

This idealogy seems to tie into an article I have recently read on Brazilian educator, philosopher and theorist Paulo Freire. An ambassador for the ‘dialogical model,’ also known as ‘the problem-posing’ model of teaching, that ‘rejects the idea that the teacher has all the answers and the mind of the student is a void.’

‘Freire was attacking the passivity imposed on learning by the Brazilian school system in the 1960s,’ proclaiming that ‘a good teacher is always willing to reconsider their understanding of a topic and to enter into a dialogue with a student on its significance.’

This puts me at ease and fills me with a tremendous sense of confidence when dreaming of the day when I am infront of a classroom of students looking at me for guidance. Guidance I’ve got, I just ain’t got no encyclopedia in my noggin’.