Technology in the Language Arts Classroom

Here is the syllabus for the most recent version of my graduate course, Using Technology in the Language Arts Classroom, a course required for the M.A.T. and M.Ed. here at Fayetteville State (I’ll post a link to the course website later).  Teaching (and then reworking) this course has pushed me to think a little more carefully each time I’ve taught it about the needs of K-12 educators, an approach that I hope is somewhat reflected in the most recent version of the course.  Luckily I’ve had the opportunity to learn from others who have taught similar courses or who have created syllabi that touch on similar issues of digital production.  Laura’s syllabus for her Instructional Communications course was especially helpful, as was David Silver’s Digital Media Production syllabus.  With that in mind, here is my syllabus below the fold:

Course Description: The course will provide students with the ability to use emerging technologies, especially the computer and the videodisc, to enhance the language arts classroom.  Word processing and composition; the use of style checkers and editing programs, computer-assisted and computer-managed instruction, the electronic bulletin board, and video discs will be examined in the light of recent research into their effectiveness as pedagogical tools  Students will design and implement syllabi for a  computer intensive language arts course.

In many ways, English 518 will function as a “workshop course.”  In order to complete the stated objectives of the course, we will be authoring texts and communicating within a variety of digital formats, including blogs and wikis.  We will also communicate via Twitter and may experiment with other online services as well.  All of the products we will be using in class, including Blogger and PBwiki, have free versions.  As we communicate via these technologies, we will also theorize their effectiveness as tools for managing a classroom, as well as for communicating with other scholars and teachers.  In addition, we will treat English 518 as a “hybrid course,” which means that we will combine in-class meetings with online “meetings.”

Textbooks: All of our readings will be available online or on library reserves.

Attendance Requirements: Like all graduate-level courses, your consistent attendance and participation is important.  I realize that you may face extenuating circumstances that will cause you to miss class.  If you know in advance that you will likely miss class, be sure to let me know, preferably by email so that I can provide you with information about any upcoming assignments. Because many of our meetings will take place online, you must participate in the online activities in order to make your presence felt in the class.

Graded Assignments: In order to gain an understanding of digital media work, it is important to gain some practice in how to use them.  To that end, I will require you to participate in several different online compositions.  These projects will range from the creation of a small wiki about topics pertaining to media and technology studies, blog entries about course readings, and Google Map mashups that might tell us something about our community.

This may require developing an understanding of other kinds of online texts and tools.  To build the wiki, we may find that we want to include non-written texts, such as photographs and video, which may also include learning how to use sites such as Flickr and YouTube.  If we decide that it will be beneficial, we can also choose to incorporate workshops that will help us better understand how to use the technologies that are available to us.

Class Participation: (15%) As might be expected in a seminar class, you should always be prepared to discuss assigned readings, whether via online discussions or during our monthly meetings.  In fact, because the course will be a “hybrid” class, much your participation will take place online.  Although you may be unfamiliar with many of the technologies we try out, you will be rewarded for at least trying out the tools addressed in this course.  Your class participation grade will be determined not only by the quantity of your responses but also by the quality.  Class participation also includes contributing to Twitter, delicious, Google maps, and commenting on your classmates’ blog posts.  You should comment on at least two classmates’ posts per week.

Blog: (20%) Blogs have increasingly become an important tool in managing classes and in facilitating discussion.  To that end, I will require that you post one substantial response blog entry per week of at least 250 words and to post at least one “link and comment” post per week where you find an online text related to course materials and comment on it in a brief blog post.  Link and comment posts can be shorter than regular posts but should do more than merely link to the text that you have found.  Tell us why it’s important and why your audience should pay attention to it.

Wiki: (15%) You will also be responsible for the production of a small wiki space about topics related to course themes connected to media studies, digital media tools, and K-12 education (and beyond).  This may include wiki entries on different technologies, practices, and/or authors who address issues related to technology and education.  You will be required to write five substantial wiki entries (250 words) over the course of the semester and to work with other classmates on editing theirs. I will temporarily close the wiki to new edits on April 21, 2009 in order to assess your work on it, so all entries should be completed by that time.

Final Project: (50%) The final project is a “big” project that we will define differently for each student.  It should involve a significant written text, but it can also be supplemented with other visual materials.  It can be written on paper or produced online using whatever digital tools you see fit.  It can be a series of lesson plans (with brief annotations or explanations offering a rationale for class activities, etc).  Or it can be a long paper on a topic pertinent to the course.  Are course management systems such as Blackboard effective tools?  How do they “construct” the experience between teacher and student?  What role should technology play in the classroom?  Any question you want to consider is fair game.  Part of your final grade will involve presenting your conclusions to the class in our interactive, verbal final exam (more details on that coming soon). Papers are due April 28, 2009. I will return papers by the final exam period.

Course Outline and Assignments:

Week One:
January 13: Introduction to English 518
Technology Overview: Blogging, Twitter, and wikis
Watch: “A Vision of K-12 Students Today,” YouTube.
View: “A Day in the Internet,”

Week Two:
January 20: Blogging and Fandom
Media Tool: Blogger
Watch: Common Craft, “Protecting Reputations Online in Plain English.”
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, “The Literary Machine: Blogging the Literature Course,” OL (PDF).
Jenkins, Henry. “Why Heather Can Write,” Technology Review (February 6, 2004). OL.
Rettberg, Jill Walker. “From Bards to Blogs,” Blogging. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2008, LR.
Tryon, Chuck, “Writing and Citizenship,” Pedagogy 6.1 (Winter 2006): 128-32. LR.

Week Three:
January 27: Twitter
Media Tool: Twitter
View: Twenty Two Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom, OL.
Thompson, Clive, “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy,” New York Times, OL.
Johnson, Steven, “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live,” Time, OL.
Heffernan, Virginia, “Hashing Things Out,” New York Times, OL.
boyd, danah, “Teens Don’t Tweet… or Do They?” apophenia, OL.

Week Four:
February 3: Wikipedia/Wikis
Media tools: Wikipedia, pbWiki
Cummings, Robert, “Are We Ready to Use Wikipedia to Teach Writing?” Inside Higher Ed, OL.
Mackey, Robert, “Wikipedia’s Rapid Reaction to Outburst During Obama’s Speech,” New York Times, OL.
Parry, David. “Wikipedia and the New Curriculum.” Science Progress, February 11, 2008. OL.
Terdiman, Daniel, “Study: Wikipedia as Accurate as Britannica,” CNET News, OL.
Tryon, Chuck, “Wikipedia Discussion Project,” The Chutry Experiment, OL.

Week Five:
February 10: RSS Feeds, Social Bookmarking, Link Shorteners, and Web Research Part I
Media Tools: Delicious, Google Reader, Diigo.
Watch: Common Craft, “Social Bookmarking in Plain English,” YouTube.
Lomas, Cyprien, “7 Things You Should Know about Social Bookmarking,” Educause, OL.
DesRoches, Donna, “Social Bookmarking Offers a New way to Store and Share Web Sites,” School Library Journal, OL.

Week Six:
February 17: Web Research Part II
Media Tools: Google Search
Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic. July/August 2008, OL.
Rich, Motoko, “In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update,” New York Times, OL.
Guess, Andy, “Research Methods Beyond Google,” Inside Higher Ed, OL.

Week Seven:
February 24: Document Design, Grading Online
Media Tools: Open Office, Google Docs, GradeMark, Zamzar
Watch: Common Craft, “Google Docs in Plain English.”
O’Shea, Kevin, et al, “Google Docs,” Purdue University Technologies for Teaching and Learning, OL.
Houston, Natalie, “Paperless Grading with GradeMark,” ProfHacker.
Slobogin, Kathy, “Survey: Many Students Say Cheating’s OK,”

Week Eight:
March 3: Course Management Systems
Media Tools: Blackboard, Moodle, email.
boyd, danah, “What I Mean when I Say ‘Email is Dead,’” apophenia, OL.
Lane, Lisa, “Toolbox or Trap? Course Management Systems and Pedagogy.”  Educause Quarterly Magazine 31.2 (April-June 2006). OL.
Dabbagh, Nada, “Using a Web-Based CMT to Support Face-to-Face Instruction,” The Technology Source Archives, OL.

March 10: Spring Break

Week Nine:
March 17: Google Maps
Media Tool: Google Maps
Grover, Shuchi, “Map Your World: Google Maps in the Classroom,” OL.
Kreutz, Christian, “Maptivism: Maps for Activism, Transparency, and Engagement,” OL.
Pantazes, Tom, “Using Google Earth in the Social Studies Classroom,” Conexions, OL.

Week Ten:
March 24: Wireless
Media Tools: iPod Touch
Fang, Berlin, “From Distraction to Engagement: Wireless Devices in the Classroom,” Educause Quarterly, OL.
Ojeda-Zapata, Julio, “iPods and Educational Applications,” Twin
Students are responsible for generating information about local and/or national policies on technology use in K-12 classrooms.

Week Eleven:
March 31: Facebook
Media Tool: Facebook
boyd, danah, “Cyberbullying,” apophenia, OL.
Internet Safety Technical Task Force, “Enhancing Child Safety & Online Technologies” (executive summary), OL.
Oppenheimer, Eilsabeth, “Citizens of Farmville,” The Future of the Internet Blog, OL.
Singel, Ryan, “Rogue Marketers Can Mine Your Info on Facebook,”, OL.
Raynes-Goldie, Kate, “Aliases, Creeping, and Wall-Cleaning,” First Monday 15.1 (January 2010), OL.

Week Twelve:

April 7: Photography
Media Tools: Flickr
Baird, Derek E., “The Promise of Social Networks,” Tech and Learning, OL.
Jakes, David, “Classroom Uses of Flickr,” OL.
Standen, Amy, “My Friend Flickr: A Great Photo Opportunity,” Edutopia, OL.

Week Thirteen:
April 14: Video Games/Media Effects
Media Tools: Darfur is Dying, Gotham Gazette, etc.
Bogost, Ian, “Videogames and the Future of Education,” Beyond Fun: Serious Games and Media, OL.
Gee, James Paul, “Good Video Games and Good Learning,” OL.
Robinson, Gail, “How Gotham Gazette Used Games as Storytelling Devices,” MediaShift, OL.

Week Fourteen:
April 21: Podcasting and Video
Media Tools: Podcasting, PowerPoint
Case Study: Mapping Main Street
Teachers Teaching Teachers, “Radio Rookies Finding Where Their Passions Make Good Stories,” OL.
Tufte, Edward, “PowerPoint is Evil,” Wired 11.09 (2003), OL.
Ito, Mizuko, et al, Living and Learning with New Media, Part 1, pp, 19-42, OL.

Week Fifteen:
April 28: New Directions
Parry, David, “Teaching in the Age of Distraction,” Academhack, OL.
Jenkins, Henry, et al, “Inside the Computer Clubhouse,” (3 parts) Confessions of an Aca/Fan, OL.
Ito, Mizuko, et al, Living and Learning, Part 3, 73-84, OL.


  1. dawuor Said,

    January 18, 2010 @ 9:26 am

    Having read Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, “The Literary Machine: Blogging the Literature Course” , I do agree with her on some aspects of her writing with regards to using blogs to teach sudents. I do teach Swahili at Fayetteville State University and is currently coming up with a way in which I can use my blog to facilitate the teaching of the foreign language. I will post my own recorded audios so that the students can listen and comment.

    I have gained insight in Kathleen’s advise that the teacher shuld not back out of discussions but instead should always contribute so that students stay guided and motivated through out the discussion.

    Demotivation also comes to the teacher when nobody contributes to her post. This is expected and so what needs to happen is that one should always try to make his/her posts as naturall, interactive and involving so that people who follow can find some thing to say out of it.

    The blog also gives the students opportunity to discuss with each other at any time which is the opposite of a normal lesson when they meet just twice or thrice a day.

    I welcome you to follow me on my blog so that you can learn a little of swahili together with my students.

  2. Chuck Said,

    January 18, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

    Thanks for the comment and for identifying one of the major challenges of using blogs in the classroom, that of keeping students motivated and engaged. Hopefully, we will manage to keep the discussion going on our course blogs over the course of the semester, and I am looking forward to learning about how you plan to use them to teach Swahili.

  3. The Chutry Experiment » Digital Distribution Links 12/22 Said,

    December 22, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

    […] got another post brewing about one of my other spring courses, a reprise of my graduate-level Technology in the Language Arts Classroom, but for now I’d like to try to get back in the habit of tracking some of the links […]

  4. The Chutry Experiment » Rethinking Technology in the Classroom Said,

    December 26, 2011 @ 8:32 pm

    […] in the process of rethinking my “Technology in the Language Arts Classroom” graduate course that I last taught (as far as I can tell) in spring 2010. The course is a […]

  5. Skye Dent Said,

    December 27, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    1.The potential of students plagiarizing from looking at other students’ material from other sites would not be a major concern for me. You can just write your assignments in specific ways to avoid that. Not to worry.

    2.Recent class concerns with social media in my world are not plagiarism concerns, but privacy concerns. The chair says that the FERPA rules prevent us from talking about a student’s work to others, and that making them do homework and assignments in a way that makes that information public can be a violation of FERPA.

    For example, my students created news blogs last semester. But, I had them repost articles from other sources that attributed the sources so that their own writing would not be made public.

    3.The age of some of the articles you’ve assigned would cause concern amongst many of my students. When the subject is new technology, they expect articles that are fresh and up to date. The Bogort article is 2007. Baird is 2005. Jenkins is 2009. Common Craft would not let me sign on without permission.

    Thanks for the Glogster info. Will check that out. If you follow me on, I’ll follow you.

    Happy Holi-daze

    That being said, I wonder if our department goals are merging with yours again. The person replacing Kevin Dilley (the journalism professor who also advised the Voice) has Ph.D and experience in computer science. It looks like the chair is going in the direction of computer science technology and away from journalism.

    Kevin left to teach in Texas. Wonderfully talented professor with a great heart. Will miss him.

  6. Edward R. O'Neill Said,

    January 2, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

    Teaching to use “the videodisc”? Is this a leftover from 1996? Maybe something to delete…

    On a more serious note, this is a nice range of technologies. Nothing about file-sharing?

    I would also argue that learning goals should drive and technologies should follow. But I guess if the word “technology” is in the course title, there is some justification.

  7. Chuck Said,

    January 2, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

    Yeah, we need to rewrite the description…it’s a bit dated. Good point about learning goals. I’d like to believe that some are implied–improving education, empowering students and teachers, reflecting on technology’s role in the classroom.

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