[ Introduction ]
Deleting Teachers' Fears: Audio/Visual ICTs and the Classroom
The NCTE Position Statement on Composing with Nonprint Media (2003) affirmed "that reading and writing are ultimately different but inherently related aspects of the same process of meaning making. Why, then, would we treat the reading and writing of new media texts in any different manner?" (NCTE, 2003, para. 1) In the pursuit of teaching new media texts, the NCTE stated that it would "renew the commitment expressed in the 1983 Resolution on Computers in English and Language Arts to achieve equity of access to the full range of composing technologies."( NCTE, 2003, para. 3)
The NCTE's promotion of access to computers in schools, and renewed focus upon multimodal literacies in classrooms, seemed to answer a pressing current question: how can teachers grapple with the way in which "adolescents use information and communication technologies to negotiate meaning within a broad array of globally defined and self-defined literacy practices" (Alvermann, 2004a, p. ix)?
In a study of preservice teachers, Hagood et al. (2004) indicated that teachers feared that technology would shift the traditional balance of classroom power. Their study drew two conclusions: first, that preservice teachers are afraid of using technology in the classroom; second, that the best way to overcome this fear is to consider technology as ubiquitous as any other tool of daily life:
"The [preservice teachers'] comments also point to issues of power related to their comfort level in using different literacy practices. They address concerns about power between disparities they perceive based upon their own historical conditions formed in academic learning as adolescents and the literacies that are important for adolescents today....Without the knowledge of current literacies that are a part of adolescents' lives, they refer back to literacies in which they feel competent and over which they have control--traditional forms of reading and writing" (pp. 77-78).
Although schools should concentrate upon expanding the definition of literacies to take into account the myriad of multimodal texts available to students (Alvermann, 2004), I would argue that often the definition of technological literacy is presented as anarchic, a threat to the status quo of the classroom. This definition might inspire resistance in classroom teachers, especially teachers who are already daunted by the learning curve presented by new technology. On the other hand, teachers possess innate skill in the use of multimodal texts in the classroom. If the rhetoric surrounding technological literacy became less politically charged and couched more in terms of multimodal literacy, and if teachers were introduced to technological tools that closely resembled the classroom itself (such as audio/visual Information and Communication Technologies), teachers could more easily allay their fears about including technology in the classroom.
In the first section of this article, I will examine the current definition of technological literacy, explore how the language used in the definition is couched within the discourse of power and social change, and discuss the implications of this definition for teachers. In the second section, I will seek to redefine technological literacy as a tool to convey multimodal literacy, a definition that will allow teachers to more readily accept technology into their classrooms. In the third section, I will elaborate upon how the use of an audio/visual ICT can aid teachers to reconceptualize the use of technology in the classroom. I will draw a parallel between the multimodal literacy used in the classroom and used by audio/visual ICTs, and discuss four reasons why this technological tool presents technology in a way that is accessible to classroom teachers. I will explore how audio/visual ICTs can shift focus from the technology itself to the end result of technology: in the same way that pens replaced quills, and typewriters replaced pens, perhaps technology can then be allowed to find its way more naturally into the classroom, unburdened by the weight of discourse that the definition of technological literacy implies.
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