Thinking about what multimedia writing might mean in my classes was not an easy task in my first semester using ePortfolios. If we were going to use an ePortfolio, then using the full range of the platform's multimedia opportunities was the only logical approach. Writing papers and then adding images is such a limited and limiting view of literacy and rhetoric in the 21st century so I presented all of this to students as an inquiry, one that we would work through together.
There are three pedagogical principles at work here:
- Since first year writing in my program is based on an inquiry model of student learning, then multimedia writing seemed like a good place to engage inquiry.
- The intellectual and political work of composition research, scholarship, and teaching primarily involves asking how texts work and why, for whom, when, and under what social contexts. The goal is not for abstract critique, the reading reception we often encounter in traditional literature-based courses, but for a writing production model, so interrogating multimedia production is a well-suited curricular focus to writing classrooms.
- Critical digital pedagogy, in the Freirean sense asks students to interrogate their local and political situation. Therefore, you generate content and knowledge with and among students; you do not bank it onto them, to use an old quip from the Freire theory vault.
I needed a vessel so I created a shell of an ePortfolio, an ePort only open to the students in my courses. A student-writer in each section volunteered a personal essay that they wanted to see go public (second-semester students also volunteered a collaborative website project). Together we worked on these projects and design, in an aloud protocol, and did live experiments on the webpages. That space with the live experiments became a website called Digital Spectrum by the end of the first semester with students directing me on its design and function. It is now an undergraduate, online journal focused solely on the work done by first year college students (in first year seminars and composition sections) with a 5-member editorial staff who plan to build an archive of multimedia textual production.
Two critical turning points at what is now a journal, Digital Spectrum, shaped the progressive, forward-reaching design of students' ePortfolios:
1) Yodalin's interactive essay--- Yodalin's nesting of a prezi, multiple images, videos, and multilingual hypertext links propelled more thoughtful use of images and weblinking ;
2) Uber's multimediated research essay--- Uber's parceling out of his research components with sidebars featuring relevant documentaries propelled new ways of presenting traditional research on multimedia platforms.