Supporting Faculty in Teaching the New Work of Composing: Colleague-Guided Faculty Development within an English Department

McGrath, Laura
Guglielmo, Letizia

The new work of composing presents educators with “a new vocabulary, a new set of practices, and a new set of outcomes” (Yancey 308). This new work is multimodal, digital, and often intertextual. It provides writers with new communication tools and with a variety of options for creating and disseminating texts. “[L]ike the old work of composing,” write Diana George, Dan Lawson, and Tim Lockridge, this new work “is about deciding what you want a text to do, what audience you want to reach, and where and how you want that text to appear. More than that, the new work of composing is about responsibility: understanding new technologies’ countless possibilities as well as its limits” (4). The new work invites, as Kathleen Blake Yancey has shown, reflection on “what writing is and how it is influenced or shaped or determined by media and technology” (314). Importantly, the new work of composing prompts those of us working in English studies to make curricular and pedagogical changes and to educate ourselves through experimentation and professional development even if we do not call ourselves technology specialists. As Cynthia Selfe and Pamela Takayoshi have argued, “If composition instruction is to remain relevant, the definition of ‘composition’ and ‘texts’ needs to grow and change to reflect peoples’ literacy practices in new digital communication environments” (3). But whose responsibility is it to support English studies faculty in their efforts to keep up with technology-driven changes and to find ways to bring the new work of composing into the classroom?

In truth, many stakeholders share responsibility for supporting English studies educators in their efforts, including professional organizations, colleges and universities, and academic departments. In this article, we will focus on how departments, in particular, can support tenure-track and contingent faculty who may not have received graduate training in technology-enhanced teaching and multimodal pedagogy. Our primary goals are to investigate the advantages and the challenges associated with department-based faculty professional development and to provide strategies for success. By turning a critical eye toward available sources of support and by investigating a department-based technology and pedagogy workshop and follow-up study, we hope to show that the academic department can be a particularly important part of the support puzzle when it comes to helping English studies faculty respond in pedagogically effective ways to the new work of composing. We will also offer suggestions for planning effective “in-house” faculty development by drawing on the faculty development literature as well as lessons learned from the workshop and study mentioned above.

Taking a Critical Look at Sources of Support

In “Integrating Multimodality into Composition Curricula,” Daniel Anderson and colleagues report that “few survey respondents who wanted to learn about digital media and multimodal composition had enjoyed the support of comprehensive, cohesive, or effective professional development opportunities offered by their departments or universities. As a result, many of these teachers relied on colleagues and self-teaching” (79). As this study reveals, it often falls to tenure-track and contingent faculty to educate themselves about new technologies and their curricular and pedagogical implications by studying the literature, starting conversations with colleagues, experimenting with emerging technologies, and looking for places where these technologies support or shape course learning objectives. This self-directed work is essential. It is not, however, sufficient. Training and professional development opportunities are also necessary.

Professional Organizations

By sponsoring conferences, workshops, institutes, and other development opportunities, our professional organizations play an integral role in supporting faculty in teaching the new work of composing. That being said, two potential issues come to mind. First, these professional development opportunities serve a diverse population of faculty whose home institutions are unique and often quite dissimilar. Facilitators may or may not be able to share strategies that are relevant to or realistic within participants’ unique institutional cultures.

The second issue has to do with funding. In these times of budget cuts and spending freezes, faculty may not be able to secure the funding needed to take advantage of off-site opportunities. And even in better times when tenured or tenure-track faculty may have a pool of money available for faculty development, this is generally not the case for contingent faculty.

The Institution: Technology Training and Centers for Teaching and Learning

In addition to faculty members’ self-directed efforts and the opportunities offered by professional organizations, tool-focused training that introduces faculty to the nuts and bolts of various software programs is also necessary. It is important for faculty to have chances to experiment with technology in a low-stakes environment with an expert nearby to help with troubleshooting. This training, however, is of limited value to educators because workshops typically focus on how to work the tools rather than how they might be used to support teaching and learning.

This is where centers for teaching and learning come in. These centers may provide technology training, but their faculty development offerings generally go beyond the nuts and bolts to focus on addressing pedagogical issues and providing content designed to promote effective teaching. Centers can also bring faculty together around a shared question through reading groups or learning communities and support the sort of collaborative scholarship of teaching and learning that researchers like Belinda Louie, Denise Drevdahl, Jill Purdy, and Richard Stackman have found to provide “motivation and encouragement” (155) while participants create “useful pedagogical content knowledge” and “[improve] teaching practice” (165).

Considering their purpose and the populations that these centers serve, their location outside of any particular department makes sense. But, as Barbara Schneider points out, “the placement of the professional development of teaching outside disciplinary departments and in some neutral institutional space” (511) can be problematic because centers “too frequently assume that teaching strategies are generalizable, applicable across the disciplines” (515). So, while centers of teaching and learning are a valuable source of support, there is a need for specialized faculty development that focuses on discipline-specific content, teaching strategies, and approaches to assessment.

The Department: Faculty Development in a Disciplinary Context

Departments of English, rhetoric, or writing studies can offer what centers of teaching and learning typically do not or cannot: pedagogy-focused and discipline-specific faculty development presented within the classroom environments where participants teach. Further, faculty development led by colleague-facilitators is advantageous because these individuals are the people most likely to possess “both knowledge of the ongoing research and findings in a field and knowledge of how to teach what the research claims” (Schneider 515).

In order to be highly effective, what we will refer to as in-house faculty development requires a set of conditions that may not be present in all departments. First, the department must have faculty who are willing and able to serve as facilitators. If technology-focused professional development will be provided on an ongoing basis instead of as a one-time offering, a larger group of facilitators is needed so that one or two individuals are not overtaxed. Second, both facilitators and potential participants need to feel that their department supports the work they are doing. This calls for a culture of support within the department, with the chair and other key figures identifying technology-driven curricular and pedagogical change as a priority. Third, facilitators and participants must have access to necessary hardware and software, preferably within the same environment where they will be working with students. Although in-house faculty development can take place under less ideal conditions, those involved will need to act as agents of change, encouraging participants to become future facilitators, advocating for attention to the new work of composing in language that makes sense to department leadership, and working with stakeholders to negotiate for improved access.

In the best possible situation, English studies faculty will be supported in teaching the new work of composing by all three sources discussed so far: professional organizations, institution-wide training and development, and their home departments. As we have argued, of these three support sources, departments are particularly important sites for professional development. Throughout the rest of the article, we will focus on the department as the location for technology-focused faculty development and department members as facilitators of these efforts.

Faculty Development within an English Department: A Case Study

The case that we will describe is a three-day “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop developed by English department faculty for colleagues and delivered in one of the department’s computer classrooms. The methods and results of an associated follow-up study will also be discussed. Examining this particular approach to in-house faculty development reveals the influence of context—institutional conditions influenced, for example, the facilitators’ motivations for offering the workshop, what content was covered, and the incentives offered to participants—but the approach also provides insight into successes, challenges, and lessons learned that are of broader significance.

Background

The Kennesaw State University (KSU) Department of English was the site of the workshop. KSU is a teaching-focused comprehensive university in the metro Atlanta area. In the Department of English, writing courses are taught by tenure-track faculty, lecturers, contingent faculty, and graduate teaching assistants. The department offers bachelor’s degrees in English, minors in film and professional writing, and master’s degrees in professional writing. The KSU English department is rather unique in the richness of its technological resources. All classrooms feature instructor consoles with projection capabilities, and there is a computer for every student in writing classes. The department also owns an enviable, but underutilized, collection of camcorders, voice recorders, and other tools that can be checked out by faculty and students.

Overall, there is a culture of support in place at KSU and in the English department for work with technology. A group of six KSU English department faculty received funding to attend Cynthia Selfe and Scott DeWitt’s two-week Digital Media and Composition (DMAC) Institute at The Ohio State University. The group of six disseminated knowledge gained at the institute through an in-house conference (see Daniell, et al.) and through the three-day “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop that is the focus of the current article. The workshop was facilitated by two tenure-track junior faculty members, with a third tenure-track junior faculty member delivering a session on assessment.

Michelle Sidler’s interviews with technology trainers who are also English studies faculty revealed that technology-rich programs “tend to have at least one major tenured figure in the field who oversees technological innovation, and that faculty member has some sort of staff to help perform daily training activities” (472). Although the KSU English department is technology rich, the individual who “oversees technological innovation” in her role as technology coordinator and who directed the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop was an untenured assistant professor at the time without a staff. Luckily, because dissemination was a requirement for those attending DMAC, a willing group of leaders was available to help with faculty development.

The “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” Workshop

The goals of the workshop were (a) to disseminate knowledge gained at DMAC, (b) to promote attention to multimodality and the new work of composing, and (c) to help faculty take advantage of available classroom technologies in pedagogically effective ways. Anderson and colleagues report that faculty “who [assign] multimodal compositions…[report] needing increasingly effective and appropriate professional development opportunities. Professional development workshops offered by institutions and departments to the survey respondents provided hands-on practice with specific software tools, but little help in conceptualizing multimodal assignments, assessing student responses, or securing the hardware needed to undertake such assignments” (79). The coordinator and her co-facilitator attempted to plan a workshop that would not only provide “hands-on practice” with tools but that would also help participants develop multimodal assignments and assessment strategies.

The facilitators envisioned their target audience as colleagues who recognized the importance of incorporating the new work of composing into their courses but who wanted support in developing teaching strategies and assignments. It was also hoped that the workshop would attract a number of senior faculty members. As Debra Journet has suggested, senior faculty “represent powerful allies in efforts not just to use but also to advocate for technology” and “encouraging faculty to try out multimodality may help departments better understand what such teaching . . . entails” and may “reinvigorate teaching and scholarship for experienced faculty” (108). These ideas about the target audience were problematic and poorly communicated assumptions as we will discuss later in this article.

The coordinator wanted to keep the workshop simple and brief so it would be welcoming to English department faculty in all areas of specialization who did not have a high level of technological expertise. In terms of technology, the coordinator and her co-facilitator decided to focus on one tool that would be new to most participants (Audacity audio editing software) and two tools that would be familiar to most participants but that they may never have considered as tools for multimodal composing (Word and PowerPoint). Importantly, all of these tools are readily available in the department classrooms, most faculty and students have the Microsoft Office applications (or similar open-source versions) on their home computers, and Audacity is a free download.

Appendix A shows the full workshop invitation and the schedule. As the invitation states, the workshop sought to engage participants “in discussions about technology, pedagogy, multimodality, rhetoric, and the teaching of writing in the twenty-first century classroom.” During the workshop, each participant created “a classroom-ready assignment [designed to engage] students in the analysis and creation of multimodal texts” and an associated assessment strategy to be used in one of their fall semester courses. In order to study the workshop’s impact, the facilitators distributed pre- and post-workshop surveys and conducted a follow-up implementation study. The results are discussed in the “Studying the Workshop’s Impact” section of this article.

Funding

Although the small scope of the workshop, the ready availability of space and necessary hardware and software, and the fact that faculty volunteers would be staffing the session meant funding was not absolutely essential, the workshop coordinator wished to make the workshop more appealing to facilitators and participants and therefore sought financial support from a number of campus stakeholders (department chair, dean, chief information officer, center for teaching and learning). From a strategic standpoint, the requests for support helped to make administrators aware of the need for technology-focused and department-based faculty development, and, by providing financial support, the administrators were acknowledging the value of such efforts.

The coordinator was able to get some support from the English department: the department chair agreed to pay for lunch on day one of the workshop and for morning refreshments. Appendix B shows the support-seeking letter that she sent to the university’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The CIO proved to be a valuable ally and agreed to provide flash drives for participants and fund the $200.00 stipends for facilitators and participants.

Participants

Thirteen faculty attended the workshop. Participants included nine contingent faculty, three tenured faculty, and one tenure-track assistant professor. The contingent faculty were instructors of first-year composition and sophomore-level world literature courses. The tenured and tenure-track faculty included a linguist, a creative writer, a rhetoric and composition specialist, and an English education specialist.

Studying the Workshop’s Impact

The facilitators took a two-step approach to assessing the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop’s impact on participants. First, they disseminated pre- and post-workshop surveys in order to

  • gather data about participants’ levels of comfort with Word, PowerPoint, and Audacity,
  • understand participants’ expectations and determine whether or not those expectations were met, and
  • identify both successes and areas for improvement.

Second, the facilitators conducted a follow-up study in order to investigate how the workshop content and the materials participants developed were implemented in the semester following the workshop.

Pre- and Post-Workshop Surveys

The facilitators used SurveyMonkey to conduct anonymous pre- and post-workshop surveys during the May workshop. Appendix C shows these survey instruments. All thirteen participants responded to the pre-workshop survey.

Level of Comfort with Software

Figures 1 and 2 show the pre- and post-workshop survey results for a question about the participants’ levels of comfort with the software covered in the workshop. Note that all thirteen participants completed the pre-workshop survey, but only twelve out of thirteen participants completed the post-workshop survey.

Rate your current level of comfort with the following software programs. That is, how comfortable are you with using each program and its available features.

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

N/A (not familiar with)

Microsoft Word

69% (9)

31% (4)

0% (0)

0% (0)

0% (0)

0% (0)

PowerPoint

8% (1)

46% (6)

15% (2)

8% (1)

23% (3)

0% (0)

Audacity

8% (1)

8% (1)

23% (3)

0% (0)

15% (2)

46% (6)

Figure 1. Pre-workshop survey, question 1

 

Having completed the Maymester workshop, rate your level of comfort with the following software programs. That is, how comfortable are you with using each program and its available features?

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

N/A (did not use)

Microsoft Word

50% (6)

50% (6)

0% (0)

0% (0)

0% (0)

0% (0)

PowerPoint

33% (4)

42% (5)

17% (2)

0% (0)

8% (1)

0% (0)

Audacity

25% (3)

33% (4)

25% (3)

8% (1)

8% (1)

0% (0)

Figure 2. Post-workshop survey, question 1

According to the pre-workshop survey, all participants had previous experience with Microsoft Word. Forty-six percent (6 out of 13) respondents identified themselves as advanced users of Word and 54 percent (7) identified themselves as intermediate users. One hundred percent had asked students in their courses to use Word as a word processor for class projects; only 31 percent (4) had ever asked students to use Word’s advanced image, design, and sound features. Interestingly, after being introduced to these advanced features of Word during the workshop, some participants’ level of comfort actually decreased. As Figures 1 and 2 show, before the workshop, 69 percent (9) of the participants reported being “very comfortable” with Word. After the workshop, only 50 percent (6) of the participants considered themselves to be “very comfortable” with Word. Two conclusions can be drawn from this result. First, the workshop introduced features of Word that took participants out of their comfort zones. Second, the time devoted to these features during the workshop was not sufficient to allow participants to develop mastery.

Going into the workshop, 15 percent (2) of the participants had never used PowerPoint. Of the remaining 11 participants, 38 percent (5) considered themselves intermediate users and 46 percent (6) considered themselves novice users. Sixty-two percent (8) had asked students to use PowerPoint for class projects in their courses. As Figures 1 and 2 show, there was a small increase in the number of participants who reported feeling “very comfortable” with PowerPoint after the workshop, and only one participant reported feeling “very uncomfortable.” In response to the “Describe the Maymester’s impact on your ability to link theory with practice with regard to technology, pedagogy, and English studies” prompt, a respondent writes, “I found uses for Powerpoint that go beyond the usual presentations wherein the presenter merely reads what is on the slides. I can use Powerpoint for some of my assignments.” These results suggest that the facilitators may have been effective in presenting PowerPoint as a multimedia authoring tool and in supporting faculty in developing some degree of mastery with the program.

On the pre-workshop survey, one participant reported being an “intermediate” user of Audacity, 38 percent (5) identified themselves as “novice” users, and 54 percent (7) of participants had not used Audacity before.  Figures 1 and 2 show that the number of participants who felt “somewhat comfortable” with Audacity increased after completing the workshop. In their responses to the other post-workshop survey questions, several participants were enthused about being introduced to this “new” program and reported that they planned to use Audacity with students.

Additional Survey Feedback

In addition to the questions about level of comfort with Word, PowerPoint, and Audacity, the surveys included questions designed to gather information about participants’ expectations and their impressions of the workshop’s impact and its strengths and weaknesses (see Appendix C). In the section of the pre-workshop survey that asked participants what motivated them to register and what they hoped to get out of the workshop, participants referred to a desire to “explore new tools,” gain “exposure to new technology,” “update…skills,” and “get ideas for using technology” in the classroom.

The post-workshop survey included questions that were based on some of the facilitators’ specific goals for the workshop (see Appendix C). Questions 2 through 7 asked participants to describe the workshop’s impact on their

  • ability to link theory with practice with regard to technology, pedagogy, and English studies
  • interest in or enthusiasm about assigning multimodal projects
  • ability to assign and evaluate multimodal projects
  • ability to teach students to analyze and evaluate digital texts
  • ideas about how multimodal projects are connected to key student learning objectives in one’s subject area
  • ability to take advantage of available classroom technologies.

Responses varied but were positive overall. For example, in response to question 2, one participant wrote,

To be honest, I hadn’t really ever purposefully included technology requirements in my curriculum. Yes, I asked my students to conduct research online, and I required them to present their research using PowerPoint or other modes of visual representation. But I’d never expected my students to analyze the effectiveness of their multimodal creations. The readings and discussions in this Maymester course have encouraged me and provided resources for me to begin incorporating technology (and the analysis of that technology) into my curriculum more purposefully.

And in response to question 7, a participant writes, “Before this course, I really didn’t use much but the word processor. Now I see numerous possibilities to explore.” Responses like these suggest that the facilitators’ goals were met in terms of introducing workshop participants to available technologies and multimodal literacy in a way that would impact pedagogy. But two participants’ post-workshop survey responses reveal lingering skepticism about the new work of composing. In one response, a participant reported, “I’m still concerned that multimodality in [the context of a specific literature course] amounts to something of a distraction.” Another respondent writes,

I think multimodal projects are important, but I’m still worried about institutions getting too excited about them and forgetting that traditional text[s] are still primary. Traditional texts are what future teachers and other professionals need to know. So I will use [multimodal projects], but I remain committed to traditional texts and am worried that sometimes we may lose sight of this.

As this thread of skepticism suggests, facilitators were somewhat misguided in assuming that the workshop would attract an audience of colleagues who already recognized the importance of incorporating the new work of composing into their courses but who wanted support in developing teaching strategies and assignments. Failing to anticipate that they would not necessarily be “preaching to the choir” meant that facilitators did not plan opportunities for the sort of discussion and consensus building that might have made the workshop even more impactful.  As Jack Meacham and Jeannette Ludwig suggest, “effective faculty development transforms the participants through the gradual process of discussion, debate, negotiation, persuasion, and consensus building” (261).

Post-workshop survey questions 8 through 10 asked about whether or not the participants’ expectations were met, what they found most beneficial about the workshop, and how the workshop could be improved. Only one out of twelve respondents said that the workshop did not meet expectations because he or she “didn’t make much progress at all”; in another response, the same participant reported being “very far behind everyone else” and wishing for a “remedial course.” The workshop met the expectations of seven participants and exceeded the expectations of four. A number of participants cited “creating the assignment for next term” as the most beneficial aspect of the workshop. And a few participants reported finding the theoretical discussions particularly helpful, while others appreciated the “help with the nuts and bolts.” The most common suggestion for improvement was to make the workshop longer—at least a full week if not two.

Workshop Successes

In planning for the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop, the facilitators made attempts to remain focused on carefully integrating technology and pedagogy over the three-day workshop and on offering colleagues strategies that would draw upon their level of comfort with software already familiar to them—Microsoft Office programs—while introducing basic features of Audacity that would allow them to experiment with something new. Reflecting on the workshop and survey results, the facilitators believed that they succeeded not only in encouraging participants to begin thinking theoretically about the impact of technology and multimodal literacy in their courses but also in providing participants with hands-on activities that made the theoretical practical. The workshop provided opportunities for discussion, learning, experimentation, reflection, collaboration with disciplinary colleagues, and production of classroom-ready assignments and assessment tools, and post-workshop survey responses suggest that participants appreciated and benefited from the content and activities.

In the video below, one of the workshop participants, Denise White, describes the assignment that she created in the workshop and implemented successfully in her course. She also talks about how the assignment is evolving as she discovers new ways to use technology to support the desired learning outcomes. In an e-mail, Denise noted that she used the same process to create this video that she asks students to use and that making the video showed her “some of the technical problems students have doing the project and how to fix them.”

Figure 3. Denise White assignment video

Not all faculty are as eager to try new multimodal approaches with their writing students. As John Branscum and Aaron Toscano state in “Experimenting with Multimodality,” “Faced with unfamiliar digital technologies and a new set of literacy practices, teachers and students can sometimes forget why intellectual experimentation is so engaging; how creative work can feel so satisfying, even when it is hard; and how flexible we all need to be about learning and learning styles” (83). Faculty development workshops should try to encourage the spirit of thoughtful experimentation demonstrated by Denise, equipping participants with the resources to respond flexibly and creatively to new opportunities for teaching and learning.

A 2008 special issue of Pedagogy provides perspectives on a variety of theoretical, methodological, and institutional questions related to teaching-focused faculty professional development. Of the perspectives published in the issue, Michelle Sidler’s “Rhetoricians, Facilitators, Models” is of particular interest within the context of the current article. Sidler’s article discusses interviews with technology trainers who are working as faculty within departments of English “or their equivalents” (478). From these interviews, Sidler culls advice for technology trainers. Although her Pedagogy piece appeared after the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop, Sidler’s findings align very closely with the facilitators’ approach to the workshop, and many of her cautions address issues that the facilitators had anticipated and addressed during the planning phase. Reviewing Sidlers’s general advice for technology training, the facilitators felt that they had addressed and/or anticipated each of these issues:

1. “Always connect technology to pedagogy” (474). Beginning with the workshop invitation and continuing through each day of the workshop, facilitators continually returned to the pedagogical implications of the technology resources and the ways they could both enhance teaching and help participants meet their instructional goals and course objectives.

2. “Work from the bottom up” (474). According to Sidler, “Technology training is most productive and least resisted when it is asked for. Faculty who feel pressured to implement new technologies in their classes will balk at training imposed from above” (474). Although colleagues did not directly ask for the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop, the facilitators crafted a workshop invitation (see Appendix A) intended to attract participants who saw this optional faculty development opportunity as something that would meet their needs. The open invitation was designed to attract colleagues willing and eager to envision how technology resources would allow them to enhance their teaching and their students’ learning.

In her contribution to “Administering Teacher Technology Training” (Carnegie et al.), Melinda Turnley offers the following “bottom up” suggestions:

When setting priorities for technology training, begin with the pedagogical goals of instructors in the program. Consider the ways in which teachers might use various technologies productively in their classrooms. Such assessments then can inform choices about training models and program initiatives. Further, get instructors and other stakeholders involved in the decision making process. Rather than implementing support from the top down, coordinate efforts with those who will participate in the training.

In the case of the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop, it was the pre-workshop survey that got participants involved. By inviting participants to share their goals and expectations ahead of time, facilitators were able to assess the extent to which their own goals for the workshop aligned with participant expectations and to what extent those goals should be modified based on participants’ prior experience with the technology.

3. “Study and exploit institutional context” (475). As discussed previously, the workshop coordinator was able to involve the department chair and CIO in strategic ways by soliciting their support. Also, offering the workshop between the spring and summer semester ensured the availability of a computer classroom, meaning that training would take place in the same context where participants would be teaching.

4. “Analyze [your] audience’s needs” (475). Again, the pre-workshop survey allowed facilitators to analyze their audience’s needs. The survey provided information about participants’ levels of technological expertise and their goals and expectations. And asking colleagues to register for the workshop made it possible for facilitators to know something about the participant mix ahead of time. Given the participants’ varied specializations —composition, linguistics, literature, English education—and the workshop outcome that each participant would create an assignment for a fall course, the facilitators created “a friendly atmosphere…considering each trainee as an individual with her or his own expertise” (Sidler 475) and provided opportunities for collaboration that would allow colleagues to benefit from this diversity.

5. “Model best practices” (476). As Sidler argues, “Nowhere is a trainer’s ethos more evident than in her own use of technology administration and training” (476). The facilitators drew from their own pedagogical approaches to technology and multimodality, using the tools covered in the workshop, sharing assignments and classroom strategies, and discussing their approaches to the challenges of assessing multimodal assignments. For example, during the first portion of the hands-on training, one facilitator shared with the participants sample student assignments, illustrating for the group precisely how students could create multimodal projects with relatively familiar composing programs (MS Word and PowerPoint). During the second hands-on session, the co-facilitator introduced Audacity and shared an audio lecture included in her exclusively online first-year writing course as well as a sample classroom activity that included multimodal readings for students through the National Public Radio (NPR) website.

6. “Acknowledge anxiety [and] simplify instruction” (476). In addition to sharing their own classroom practices, facilitators attempted to ease anxiety by reminding colleagues that they were fellow English teachers and not technology specialists and that much of their own use of these technologies in the classroom was the result of experimentation and trial-and-error. Since the workshop focused on technologies that were either already familiar or easy to use with minimal training, participants were given a great deal of time “to play” (476) with the resources and to seek feedback and help from facilitators when necessary. Furthermore, facilitators established a low-stakes, collaborative workshop atmosphere to increase the participants’ level of comfort as they worked with colleagues across ranks and areas of specialization toward a similar goal.

As post-workshop feedback and the descriptions above show, the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop, an example of colleague-guided faculty development within an English department, demonstrates good practices and some of the advantages of an “in-house” approach to supporting faculty in teaching the new work of composing.

Workshop Challenges

Despite careful planning, the open invitation, and the supportive atmosphere that the facilitators attempted to create, they encountered challenges. These challenges revealed aspects of the workshop that could be better planned and brought to light issues of anxiety, rank, age, and gender that can lead to resistance.

In the context of this article, resistance refers to faculty behaviors that represent obstacles for workshop facilitators and, quite often, for the participants themselves. Whereas the sharing of concerns and alternative viewpoints can lead to productive dialogue (see Meacham and Ludwig's points about "discussion, debate, negotiation, persuasion, and consensus building" [261]), resistance is largely counterproductive. This counterproductive resistance was sometimes subtle (e.g., a participant attending but not fully participating in the workshop activities), but some very visible examples of resistance also occurred over the course of the workshop.

Carnegie et al. cite “[f]aculty’s attitude toward the use of technology…as one of the strongest barriers to the effective integration of technology into the classroom,” but the facilitators found that other important and less obvious barriers exist. During the planning stages of the workshop, facilitators worked from the assumption that departmental colleagues who might attend were not theoretically opposed to using the technology but, instead, that they had not had the time or support to experiment with the resources before integrating them into their teaching. All of KSU’s first-year writing courses are taught in computer classrooms, and the great majority of faculty who teach these courses are contingent employees who are provided with few professional development resources. Facilitators hoped for a diverse group of participants but thought that the workshop might be particularly valuable to contingent faculty, providing an ideal opportunity for them to work with the classroom technology and to build their confidence while collaborating with their colleagues in a supportive, low-stakes atmosphere.

Since participation was voluntary and rewarded with a stipend and technology support and because the invitation included an agenda, facilitators never expected the hostility that two contingent faculty members brought with them to the workshop. Prior to the opening day of the workshop, faculty participants had been asked to complete readings to be discussed on the first day:

  • Carolyn Handa’s “Letter from the guest editor: Digital rhetoric, digital literacy, computers, and composition.”
  • Sean D. Williams’s “Part 1: Thinking out of the pro-verbal box.”
  • The introduction to Lester Faigley, Diana George, Anna Palchik, and Cynthia Selfe’s Picturing Texts.

Although that list would need to be updated and expanded for future workshops, these readings were selected because they address over-reliance on print literacy in English courses and present alternative approaches. To prompt participants for a discussion of technology and pedagogy, one facilitator asked the group to consider goals and outcomes for the courses that they teach and the ways in which they work to meet those goals over the course of the semester. The objective here in connecting the participants’ current teaching to ideas included in the readings was to assure them that “while [they] may not be technologically savvy, [they] do not start from nowhere in thinking about multiliteracies. It makes sense, then, to help faculty articulate those ways in which they are already prepared to do the work of multimodal teaching—as well as help them identify the kinds of support they will need for what they do not yet know how to do” (Sidler 113). As one of the facilitators opened the discussion with quotes from the readings, she was immediately confronted by arguments from the two faculty members in question against bringing students’ “play” into the academic work of the classroom as well as passionate objections to the notion of expanded literacies.

That participants would challenge the assumptions in the scholarship—the same ones underlying the workshop—was unexpected; the arguments caught facilitators off guard because they assumed based on the nature of the workshop and the pre-workshop survey responses that their audience would share a positive, inquisitive attitude toward the subject matter. If they had anticipated the need for persuasion—that is, for presenting and supporting arguments in favor of teaching the new work of composing—the facilitators could have added additional pre-workshop readings and built in time for debate and consensus building. The pitfalls here that should be avoided by other facilitators are assuming too much about audience attitudes and failing to build in time for consensus building, which would be productive even if participants do share a generally positive attitude toward the subject matter.

This aside, what was truly problematic—what turned a challenge into an example of counterproductive resistance—was the hostile and combative manner in which these objections were offered. In context, it moved the group away from its shared goal and created a tense atmosphere. In reflecting on this vocal resistance, facilitators concluded that these participants felt imposed upon, unfairly challenged in their teaching, and, perhaps, unprepared for the teaching that the authors of the readings described and that was being shared with them in the workshop. Other less obvious issues may have contributed to the hostility as well.

Later that day, when one of the facilitators distributed consent forms and discussed the follow-up research study that would be conducted during the fall semester, resistance again surfaced, this time in the form of hostility toward what at least one of the same contingent faculty participants seemed to be interpreting as the facilitators’ self-interested research agendas as tenure-track faculty. The participant’s comments revealed a desire to avoid being used as a “guinea pig” as well as some degree of distrust with regard to the facilitators’ motivations. This resistance surprised the facilitators because the workshop registration information included an introduction to the related research study. Furthermore, feedback on the pre-workshop survey generally suggested that faculty had clear, personal motivations for participating, including a desire to work with new audio and web authoring technologies, to enhance their teaching, to share ideas with colleagues, and to be challenged in their teaching.

What factors might have led to these examples of resistance? In looking back on the workshop, the facilitators noted that some complex issues related to rank, situational context, age, and gender are worth considering more fully when examining resistance. The facilitators were female tenure-track faculty in their early thirties who are visible within the department for their work with technology. The subtly resistant faculty member—the one who attended but did not fully participate—was a senior, tenured colleague who actively supports work with technology but who self-identifies as a very unsophisticated user. For this individual, full participation in the workshop would have meant confronting feelings of inadequacy with regard to technology, going from expert to novice under the direction of junior faculty, and, perhaps most importantly, committing to teaching the new work of composing rather than simply applauding others’ efforts from the sidelines. The vocally resistant participants were both male contingent faculty members with limited to very limited technical skills who are significantly older than the tenure-track facilitators. These participants clearly felt uncomfortable with multiple aspects of the workshop, and issues of rank, situational context, gender, and age may have been at play.

From the beginning planning stages of the workshop, the facilitators’ focus on drawing colleagues into discussions of technology and pedagogy was to ask, as does Debra Journet, “How do new media mesh with what many of us have traditionally (and over a lifetime) considered our responsibilities as…teachers?” What the facilitators may have considered less deliberately is, “How do we negotiate difficulties attendant on becoming a learner in areas where we are accustomed to being experts?” (108), especially when many participants were contingent faculty on part-time contracts who may have felt an unspoken push to register for the workshop as a condition for continued employment.

Although the facilitators believed, as Journet attests, that “digital media can reinvigorate teaching” (108), they had not considered what might be at stake for some faculty participants who would reveal during the workshop that they were not already proficient in or even comfortable working with the technology. Would this revelation suggest to others that these faculty were not prepared or perhaps even capable of addressing the new work of composing in the twenty-first century English classroom?  It is clear why tension and anxiety might be present. Journet explains:

We are accustomed to talking about the expenses of teaching with digital media—the reallocations of time and money—but we also need to consider the more tangible costs, particularly for colleagues who make this move later in their careers. That is, those who advocate for curricular change need to recognize how much is at stake for individuals . . . whose professional identity, history, and expertise are bound up so inextricably with print literacy. (111)

What the facilitators had seen as “low stakes” was likely to be perceived somewhat differently by contingent faculty, especially those coming into the workshop with limited technical expertise or knowledge of current digital composition research and practice.

Although participants would be provided with a modest stipend, with hands-on training, and with individual support from the facilitators as well as feedback from their colleagues, contingent faculty participants—some of whom have to piece together a full-time teaching load among multiple campuses without individual offices, computers, or additional funds for professional development—may have brought with them to the workshop certain anxieties that, in the case of the two male contingent faculty, manifested as hostility.

And the pressure to keep up with changing technologies and their pedagogical implications is likely to be felt differently by a contingent employee than by tenured faculty with their concomitant job security. Although Barbara Blakely Duffelmeyer writes specifically about teaching assistants in “Learning to Learn: New TA Preparation in Computer Pedagogy,” some of her observations can also be applied to contingent colleagues, specifically that the integration of technology in teaching “can seem . . . to add an additional and almost arbitrary layer of stress and uncertainty to an already stressful and uncertain teaching experience” (296). In light of this idea, resistance becomes more understandable.

It also seems reasonable to ask how age and gender may interact with workshop participants’ expectations and shape the atmosphere of a workshop. In what ways did the facilitators’ status as young, female junior faculty raise concerns or fail to fit the participants’ expectations? What assumptions or biases about gender might have been at play? Were certain participants threatened by the facilitators’ authority and expertise in the context of the workshop? And what about age? Early in the workshop, one facilitator attempted to dispel the notion that she and her co-facilitator were digital natives, drawing from her own journey in humanities computing. Nonetheless, it is possible that, due to the age of the facilitators, participants may have assumed that they, like many students, are too eager to play with the trends and tools of the digital world, undervalue print literacy, and uncritically embrace digital writing and multimodal composition without a full consideration of the academic implications that this shift entails.

There are several take-away points here. First, no amount of preparation can forecast the moments of resistance facilitators may encounter or how issues of gender, rank, and age may complicate a workshop. “What if” thinking may be helpful; flexibility is essential. Second, when conducting a workshop that seeks to connect technology and pedagogy, theory and practice, it would be productive to start with consensus-building discussions and activities. Third, “research most likely to improve teaching is that conducted by teachers on questions they themselves have formulated in response to problems or issues in their own teaching” (Cross and Angelo 2). In order to avoid making participants feel like “subjects” or “guinea pigs” under observation, it would be beneficial for workshop facilitators to support them in planning and conducting their own research, engaging actively in the scholarship of teaching and learning and disseminating their findings, if not through publications or conference presentations, through informal sharing within the department. And, finally, as Kinzy and Miller have suggested,

the central challenge of effective postsecondary teacher development . . . is productively locating, articulating, and engaging the meaningful contextual differences of our teaching lives: different philosophies of teaching and learning, different motivations and expectations for participation in teacher development, different literal teaching contexts where very different kinds of values inhere. (490)

In the case of department-based and colleague-guided faculty development, it is especially important to keep in mind that even within the shared space of the department, individuals’ teaching contexts vary—a contingent instructor teaching first-year composition under the director of that program has a different teaching context—with different inherent values, expectations, and pressures—than a tenured professor teaching upper-level courses in the same department. Addressing the realities of these differing contexts, philosophies, motivations, and expectations directly at the beginning of the workshop may help to create an atmosphere of trust, mutual respect, and openness (an atmosphere that is especially important when tenure-track facilitators are working with contingent faculty).

Post-Workshop Follow-Up Study

In the fall semester after the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop, the facilitators conducted a follow-up implementation study in order to assess the workshop’s impact on teaching. The follow-up implementation study examined how the assignments participants developed during the workshop were integrated into their courses and how faculty perceived the success of the assignments. During this part of the process, the facilitators collected teaching materials and conducted faculty interviews. Disappointingly, only five of the thirteen workshop participants ended up participating in the follow-up study. One of the original thirteen formally withdrew, one indicated from the beginning that she did not want to participate in the follow-up, two contingent faculty members moved on to positions at other institutions, and four participants did not respond to the facilitators’ efforts to contact them.

Although nine of the workshop participants were contingent faculty and only four were tenured or tenure-track faculty, the ratio was different in the follow-up study, with three tenured/tenure-track participants and only two contingent faculty participants. This is not entirely surprising given the tensions and issues discussed earlier and the fact that contingent employees are often less connected to and engaged in the life of the department due to the nature of their positions. The facilitators found it frustrating, however, because they, the department, and the university had invested in the participants without being able to assess the impact of this investment fully.

Follow-up study participants were a female contingent faculty member teaching first-year composition and connected to the department through her work in the writing center, a female tenure-track assistant professor teaching an undergraduate English education course, a male tenured associate professor teaching a graduate-level poetry course, a female lecturer teaching first-year composition, and a male tenured associate professor teaching an undergraduate linguistics course.

Beginning- and end-of-the-semester faculty interviews provided information about participants’ reflections on the specific assignments that they had created in the workshop and integrated into their courses as well as their opinions about the extent to which the workshop and its associated resources had been useful to them during the fall semester. During the beginning-of-the-semester interviews, participants provided researchers with copies of their assignments, and these included

  • A digital journal assignment that required students to use “music, text, and digital photos.”
  • A visual argument assignment that contained a visual and a textual component and challenged students to “reframe in visual form one argument from one of the first three essays written for [the course].”
  • A poetry portfolio cover assignment that asked students to “create a title and cover for [their book of poems] . . . which reflects the subjects, tone, themes, and aesthetics of the poems” and to “supply rationale for the choices made regarding the cover design and how the cover design is appropriate to introduce the poems.”
  • A documentary assignment that required students to analyze the rhetorical elements of a PBS Frontline program of their choice, to create their own script for a documentary on a researchable topic, and to produce a 5-7 minute documentary using audio narration and video.
  • A multimedia project in the form of a PowerPoint presentation or webpage that allowed students to “highlight the differences in the varieties of English” and to share those findings with peers in an oral presentation.

To review, the goals of the workshop were (a) to disseminate knowledge gained at DMAC, (b) to promote attention to multimodality and the new work of composing, and (c) to help faculty take advantage of available classroom technologies in pedagogically effective ways. Interviews revealed that some but not all of the facilitators’ goals were met, that the workshop’s actual impact on teaching was somewhat different than the facilitators had anticipated, and that the high level of satisfaction with the workshop indicated by post-workshop survey results did not necessarily predict how much of the workshop content the participants would actually use in the classroom.

After reviewing the post-workshop surveys, the facilitators had believed that they succeeded in passing on what they had learned at DMAC and in promoting attention to multimodality and the new work of composing by introducing participants to “a range of contemporary digital literacy practices—alphabetic, visual, audio, and multimodal” and encouraging them to “apply what they learn[ed] to the design of meaningful assignments” (Selfe and DeWitt). The follow-up study revealed, however, an unexpected outcome. The workshop’s emphasis on multimodality had made an impact on all five participants, but only three out of five also incorporated what they had learned about classroom technologies and digital literacy practices.

A primary goal of the workshop was to increase the use of available classroom technologies in pedagogically effective ways, and funding was secured largely on the basis of that stated goal because stakeholders had a vested interest in seeing faculty make the most of these resources. The three follow-up study participants whose assignments featured a digital component had required students to use specific programs, including some software that was covered during the workshop (PowerPoint, Audacity) and some that was not (PhotoStory, Movie Maker, iMovie).  Although the facilitators were pleased that these participants developed and assigned coursework that combined attention to the digital and the multimodal, the follow-up study did not suggest that participants were using actual classroom technologies—software available on classroom computers—any more regularly or effectively. Instead, in most cases, the software programs were demonstrated and discussed briefly in class and then students were expected to spend time out of class mastering the tools and using them for their assignments. In interviews, some participants explained this by saying that technology wasn’t the main focus of the course and that they did not want to take class time away from core content.

That being said, in interviews, participants did indicate other ways in which technology did or could impact their teaching in positive ways. For example, one faculty member who created an assignment for a first-semester first-year writing course considered ways in which she could incorporate multimodality into the second-semester course. Another experimented with voice comments on student essays. And still another participant considered the ways in which he might use the classroom technologies in a future general education world literature course.

In contrast to the workshop’s technology content, the workshop’s emphasis on multimodality did have a direct impact on fall teaching in all five cases. Although not all of the implementation study participants’ assignments featured a digital component, all of the participants incorporated multimodal assignments into their courses, and they reported that they would continue to use these assignments after making some refinements. By introducing faculty to discipline-based scholarship and examples of teaching practices, by supporting them in the development of classroom-ready assignments, and by using the follow-up study interviews as opportunities to both learn about the participants’ work and continue to provide encouragement, the facilitators were successful in offering a colleague-led faculty development opportunity that made an impact on instruction within the department.

One case, for example, illustrates not only what the facilitators consider effective integration of the workshop content, but an active rethinking of a course design to foreground multimodality in course assignments and activities. The full-time lecturer who developed the documentary assignment implemented it into three sections of first-year writing during the fall semester in an attempt to improve upon an end-of-the-semester research paper that had not necessarily meet all of her expectations in the past. In her opinion, the documentary project—50 percent of the course grade broken into four separate assignments over the course of the semester—would call on students to pay attention to writing and research and would be engage students in a way that the more traditional research paper did not. Recognizing that students would be required to produce multimodal projects in other courses and outside of the classroom and conscious of multiliteracies, she explained in an interview, “I want them to be able to realize that there is more than one way to communicate.” Here, this participant reveals a conscious awareness of multimodality not as an add-on to coursework in English studies but as having a fundamental connection to literacy, something that the facilitators attempted to reiterate during the workshop.

This participant also revealed that throughout the process of implementing the assignment, most challenging for her and for her students were issues related to technology, specifically with respect to versions of Microsoft programs and to synching audio. What was particularly exciting in this case, as she described during an interview, is that when students did encounter issues and challenges, they were able to figure them out on their own and then share those strategies with peers, adding an element of collaboration to the course unique to this assignment. Reflecting on the project as a whole during an interview, this participant noted that students will remember the assignment and that “what they learned…will be useful when they go on to other classes.” In sum, this project allowed students to experiment with multimodality and to develop skills in oral, written, visual, and digital literacy, quite a feat for a new assignment in a first-year writing course that grew out of a three-day technology and pedagogy workshop.

In contrast, another case illustrates the ways in which the follow-up study revealed that some participants needed additional support in order to more fully consider the pedagogical moves they were making—or failing to make—in relation to their assignments. For example, the portfolio cover assignment used by the tenured associate professor did engage students in working with multiple modes, but it counted for only 5 percent of the portfolio grade, assessment criteria were not included on the assignment sheet, and this was the students’ only opportunity during the semester to engage in multimodal composition. In an interview, the participant reported wanting to pose the cover assignment as “a problem” for students, challenging them to represent their aesthetic “in a different way” and “reinforce[ing] that idea that the poems are not just separate pieces, that they actually have some connections.” As he explained to the facilitator/researcher, he saw the assignment as another way to get them to think about their own style and voice. He described the written description portion of the assignment as “a good place for them to do some analysis…of their whole process and their whole aesthetic stance as writers.” To prepare students for the assignment, the faculty member asked them to examine the covers of the books that they were using in the course, suggesting that he did encourage them to engage in some limited but important analytic work.

When asked about whether or not he encouraged students to use digital technologies, he said that he did not ask students to learn or use any software because “it sort of falls outside of the purview of the course” and might make them too stressed. In this case, the faculty member decided to incorporate workshop content in a very limited way, deciding to take few risks and to make attention to multimodality a very minor part of a single end-of-the-semester assignment without considering other possibilities such spending class time on aural literacy and then having the students read aloud and record some of their poetry to be included on a CD in their portfolios. As this case suggests, a brief in-house workshop is a good starting place, but a one-time workshop will not be enough for all participants. Several participants continued to approach technology in a “nuts and bolts” way rather than considering it a topic to be explored theoretically and critically alongside standard core content. Follow-up interviews also revealed a particular need for additional help with assessing, integrating, and assigning value to digital and multimodal projects in English courses that traditionally focus on print literacy.

Although some participants had good things to say about the assessment portion of the workshop in their post-workshop surveys, it did not seem to have a significant impact on participants’ actual assessment practices. Participants continued to struggle with developing rigorous rubrics for assessing multimodal student work. During interviews, some admitted to “grading easy” because they weren’t entirely confident in their ability to assess the multimodal work. Often, the multimodal project was only one part of a larger project that included a more “traditional” written component, such as a reflection, and the majority of the grade was sometimes based on that written component. This is not surprising since participants considered themselves to be “testing out” their new pedagogies and assignments in the fall and that most wanted to “see how the [project] went” before making it a more significant part of the course. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to argue that more than half a day’s worth of attention to assessment should be part of any faculty development workshop that connects technology with pedagogy. Such extended attention to assessment should include “looking closely at excellent work, going public with our explanations as to why one text seems so effective, and testing and challenging different explanations” (Katz and Odell 5).

Real change, the facilitators concluded, takes place over time and is more likely to occur when faculty are exposed to the new work of composing in an ongoing manner over time. Individuals planning faculty development initiatives will want to think strategically about how to build on the foundation laid by preliminary training. In an article about faculty development and adult learning, Melissa Sue Kort argues that “[f]aculty-development efforts will not work unless they function as continuing programs rather than as Band-Aids applied to individual problems” (21). Though the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop was not a “Band-Aid” (a term that might be more applicable to a crash course on a specific new software program or course management system), the facilitators do see the need for and advantages of making the new work of composing part of a continuing program of faculty development opportunities.

In sum, the follow-up study revealed successes, ways of enhancing future initiatives, and a few unanticipated outcomes. Overall, the workshop served as a catalyst—an opportunity to start conversations and to get participants thinking about the relationship between the new work of composing and their specialized subject areas. The follow-up study interviews extended the conversation, encouraged reflection, and seemed to help participants continue to think through and further refine their assignments and their pedagogy in preparation for future courses.

Conclusion

This article has shown how, when it comes to supporting English studies faculty from various areas of specialization in teaching the new work of composing, colleague-guided faculty development within a department is both a fruitful and a complicated endeavor. It is our hope that potential facilitators and various stakeholders can benefit from the lessons learned by the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop facilitators. In particular, we hope that readers will note the importance of

  • Developing a plan for not just a single workshop but rather a continuing program of faculty development opportunities. Such a plan should address “how the training will support the long-term goals and objectives of the academic program, how student needs or learning outcomes will be linked to training, how faculty/instructor needs will be assessed to shape training, and how the effectiveness of the training program will be assessed” (Carnegie et al.)
  • Building in time during faculty development for “discussion, debate, negotiation, persuasion, and consensus building” (Meacham and Ludwig 261), and making a “commitment to conversation, recognizing and valuing alternative logics, and building leadership capacity among teachers” (Kinzy and Miller 493). In “Disruptive Technology,” Mary Godwin writes about “hold-over mindsets” and “resistance of an ideological, political, or intellectual nature,” and these mindsets—whether they are part of an individual’s stance toward technology or evident in department or campus culture—demand attention.
  • Carefully considering participant expectations and motivations as well as what is at stake for participants and how issues of age, gender, and rank can impact faculty development efforts. As Angela Crow’s Aging Literacies suggests, faculty developers need to consider “what it means to feel as if one’s literacies are aging” (6) and remember that technology training may be “connected to individuals’ worries over job security” (107).
  • Finding ways to encourage collaboration among colleagues and to create an atmosphere of openness, respect, and support in which the expertise of all participants is valued.

In addition, facilitators should be prepared for skepticism and anxiety about how multimodality and digital literacy can fit into courses that have for so long focused exclusively on print literacy. In the case discussed in this article, facilitators found participants thinking of the new work of composing as a potential “distraction,” worrying that institutions might forget “that traditional texts are still primary,” and not wanting to take too much time away from the “real” course content. Other researchers have had similar experiences. Daniel Anderson and colleagues, for example, write, “One question we often hear from teachers who do not teach multimodal composition is: What is being displaced when teachers engage students in these writing practices?” (70). What this means is that facilitators face the hard task of helping colleagues see the new work of composing not in terms of displacement or as something to be tacked on but as a topic that can be productively integrated into their courses in the same way that various technologies and modes of communication have become integrated into our literate lives.

Finally, facilitators should work to involve not just themselves but also their participants in productive scholarly work that will be disseminated in various ways for various audiences. The “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop facilitators regret not asking participants to study their own work more actively and share their ideas and discoveries with other teachers. Self-study research can be a particularly effective way of getting participants involved in reflection that extends beyond the workshop, and encouraging dissemination solves the problem of getting participants to give back. As Belinda Louie and colleagues explain, already standard practice in the field of education, “self-study research is a mode of scholarly inquiry in which teachers examine their beliefs and actions within the context of their work as educators” (150). The results of self-study research can be published, presented, or shared within the department through teaching demonstrations or course portfolios.

Overall, the case of the “Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies” workshop makes a compelling argument in favor of in-house, colleague-guided faculty development, but it also reveals the complexity of such efforts and the need for both a starting place and a campaign of ongoing attention to multimodality and digital literacy that offers multiple sources of support for faculty as they seek to integrate the new work of composing into their English courses.

Appendix A

Invitation

 

_____________ and _______________ will lead a three-day Maymester workshop on technology and pedagogy to be held on Monday, May __-Wednesday, May__.

 

Participants will

 

  • Engage in discussions about technology, pedagogy, multimodality, rhetoric, and the teaching of writing in the twenty-first century classroom.
  • Learn how Audacity can be used to supplement and transform writing assignments while helping students develop skills in aural literacy.
  • Learn how Microsoft Word and PowerPoint can be used to get students composing for digital environments.

 

Each participant will

 

  • Create a classroom-ready assignment that engages students in the analysis and creation of multimodal texts.
  • Develop an assessment rubric for his or her assignment.
  • Receive peer feedback.

 

Participants will receive a $200.00 stipend and all course materials. Enrollment is open to all English department faculty but limited to twenty people. Registration information and more details to follow in March!

 

Schedule

 

Technology, Pedagogy, and English Studies

 

DAY 1: Monday        

           

8:45-9:00                     Coffee, provided by __________

9:00-10:30                   Introductions, overview, discussion

10:30-12:30                 Word and PowerPoint as multimedia authoring tools

12:30-1:00                   Lunch, provided by __________

1:00-3:00                     Audacity workshop

 

DAY 2: Tuesday

 

Independent Work Day: Please use this day to explore the online resources in WebCT Vista and to create and post your assignment draft.

 

When you log into our WebCT Vista course space, you will see this link:

 

 

Clicking the link will take you to the discussion space. Look for your group, and post your assignment in the group space. You can attach the assignment file to your message.

 

  • First, click Create Message. Type your name into the Subject field.
  • To add an attachment, click the Add Attachments button. Click Upload File. Locate and select your file by clicking Browse and then Save. Finally, click Add Selected.
  • In the body of your message, you might want to summarize your goals for the assignment or ask your peer partners to respond to specific aspects of your draft assignment.
  • When you are finished, click Post.

 

DAY 3: Wednesday

 

8:45-9:00                     Coffee, provided by _________

9:00-9:30                     Discussion

9:30-12:00                   Assessment workshop

12:00-1:00                   Lunch (bring your own)

1:00-3:00                     Peer review of assignments and assessment tools

 

Remember to bring your USB flash drive!


Appendix B

Appendix B: Letter Seeking Support

 

Dear                  :

 

The English department is resource rich, with impressive presentation technologies enhancing most classrooms and all of our writing courses being taught in twenty-five-station computer classrooms. Yet we have not done all that we can to ensure that these resources are utilized and that technology is integrated into our courses in pedagogically effective ways. We have begun a campaign to provide the kind of professional development opportunities our faculty need in order to take full advantage of available resources.

 

Last semester, our in-house conference on technology and the teaching of writing was well attended, and we received positive feedback on the presentations and workshops. This spring, we plan to offer a Maymester workshop on integrating technology. We want participants to leave the program with a classroom-ready assignment that integrates technology in ways that promote literacy. Workshops on pedagogy and select core technologies will be offered on Monday, May __. On Tuesday, May __, participants will work independently on developing their assignments. On Wednesday, May __, workshop leaders will facilitate peer review of the assignments and address issues such as assessment.

 

I am writing on behalf of the English department and first-year writing program to request your support for this Maymester faculty development workshop, which I will be coordinating. We would like to offer twenty faculty participants a $200.00 stipend as an incentive for participation. We would also like to offer participants 512 MB USB flash drives containing workshop materials at an estimated cost of $27.00 per person. I have enclosed an itemized list of our projected expenses for conducting this two-day workshop.

 

Please join our chair, _____________, in contributing funds towards this necessary and important endeavor. In addition to enhancing teaching within our department, the workshop provides us with an opportunity to research how faculty implement what they learn, how students respond to these activities, and what outcomes follow implementation.

 

I can be reached at ______________, and I look forward to your reply.

 

Sincerely,


Appendix C

Appendix C: Pre- and Post-Workshop Surveys

 

Pre-Workshop Survey

 

  1. Rate your current level of comfort with the following software programs. That is, how comfortable are you with using each program and its available features.

 

Very comfortable

Somewhat comfortable

Neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

Somewhat uncomfortable

Very uncomfortable

N/A

Microsoft Word

 

 

 

 

 

 

PowerPoint

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audacity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Do you consider yourself an advanced, intermediate, or novice user of these programs?

 

Advanced

Intermediate

Novice

N/A

Microsoft Word

 

 

 

 

PowerPoint

 

 

 

 

Audacity

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Have you had your students use the following programs for class projects?

 

Yes

No

Microsoft Word (as a word processor)       

 

 

Microsoft Word (advanced features, e.g., image, design, sound)              

 

 

PowerPoint

 

 

Audacity

 

 

             

  1. Rate your level of familiarity with the following.

 

Very familiar

Somewhat familiar

Neither familiar nor unfamiliar

Somewhat unfamiliar

Very unfamiliar

Web writing conventions

 

 

 

 

 

Recording audio

 

 

 

 

 

MP3s

 

 

 

 

 

Visual rhetoric

 

 

 

 

 

Document design

 

 

 

 

 

Assessing work in digital media

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. What motivated you to register for this Maymester workshop?
  2. What do you hope to get out of the Maymester workshop?

 

Post-Workshop Survey

 

  1. Having completed the Maymester workshop, rate your level of comfort with the following software programs. That is, how comfortable are you with using each program and its available features.

 

very comfortable

somewhat comfortable

neither comfortable nor uncomfortable

somewhat uncomfortable

very uncomfortable

N/A

Microsoft Word

 

 

 

 

 

 

PowerPoint

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audacity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Describe the Maymester’s impact on your ability to link theory with practice with regard to technology, pedagogy, and English studies.
  2. Describe the Maymester’s impact on your interest in or enthusiasm about assigning multimodal projects.
  3. Describe the Maymester’s impact on your confidence in your ability to assign and evaluate multimodal projects.
  4. Describe the Maymester’s impact on your ability to teach students to analyze and evaluate digital texts.
  5. Describe the Maymester’s impact on your ideas about how multimodal projects are connected to key student learning objectives in your subject area.
  6. Describe the Maymester’s impact on your ability to take advantage of available classroom technologies.
  7. Did the Maymester meet your expectations? Why or why not?
  8. What did you find most beneficial about the Maymester?
  9. What could be improved about the Maymester?

 Works Cited

Anderson, Daniel, Anthony Atkins, Cheryl Ball, Krista Homicz Millar, Cynthia Selfe, and Richard Selfe. “Integrating Multimodality into Composition Curricula: Survey Methodology and Results from a CCCC Research Grant. Composition Studies 34.2 (2006): 59-84. Print.

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2014-03

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