Prep for Understanding Gee, and DISTRACTION

This post is a short-and-simple preview of the reading for Wednesday and a brief discussion-starter about our experiment with being distracted in class today.

Reading for Wednesday

Even though we didn’t talk about it in class, you (hopefully) have seen that I’ve asked you to read Shirky chapter 3 and a pdf from a writer named James Paul Gee for Wednesday. Your blog post assignment asks you to write about the connection you see between the two chapters. Feel free to be informal in this post, letting your ideas take you wherever they go, but please also demonstrate that you’ve put some effort into it. Write a lot, so we’ll have lots to talk about in class–but don’t worry about making it formal or beautifully proofread. (I’ll give everyone a grade for these posts, but I’ll only respond to a few each week.)

Gee is an interesting dude. One of his passions is reforming education so that it will be more like a videogame, full of meaningful tasks that make sense in the context of a community. Listen to him at 5:51 in this video where he tells the story of one of his earliest mistakes when playing videogames: his assumption that you should read the manual first:

His discussion of videogames will help us in two big ways:

  1. He’ll add to our conversation about communicating in different modalities, since videogames are inherently multimodal.
  2. He’ll give us a lot of helpful terminology about communities and audiences–which are clearly crucial parts of any rhetorical communication.

Distractions in Class

Thanks for being so excellently distracted today during our Twitter/Tweetdeck experiment. Clearly, we need to debrief it a bit, but I was intrigued by the tweets I saw later. Many of you pointed out that it was too much:

Of course, I stacked the deck: I asked you to be distracted on the day that we learned some new terms (modality and medium) and played with new technologies. Maybe distractions are better on days that are likely to be boring?

For me, the lingering question is still the one I started out with: when does live tweeting work? In what situations (if any) can it be helpful/useful/important for the event?

Sometimes you’ll hear the word backchannel used to describe this sort of thing. So I’m essentially wondering, “Do we even need a backchannel?” (Hint: I think we do. But it’s up to us all to figure out when and where.)