Valuable Discussion on Multi-media, Writing and Literacy in the College Setting

These excerpts illustrate the evolution of rhetorical expression in an academic setting.
Excerpts from:
Understanding the Writing Habits of Tomorrow’s Students: Technology and College Readiness
Stefani R. Relles & William G. Tierney
University of Southern California

New Media Literacies: A Vocabulary for Online Writing. In digital communications research, online writing skills are formally identified as new media literacies. The three new media literacies that correlate to abridgement, justification, showmanship are (in order): visualization, appropriation and performance. Because our intent is to illustrate each new media literacy in practice, we bracket their finer details until warranted by empirical demonstration. The following brief theoretical sketches serve as preamble.
Visualization. Visualization is a reductive competency that mirrors the abridgement skills necessary to compose a written thesis statement. The difference between thesis statement construction and visualization is clear-cut: instead of condensing an argument to a single sentence, visualization condenses an argument to a single image.
Appropriation. Like the ability to use supporting evidence effectively in a college paper, appropriation is the online version of argument justification. Composition arguments remain faithful to text and offset evidence with quotation marks. Online arguments, in contrast, can be justified by text, image, audio, video or hypertext, also known as links.
Performance. Performance is an online protraction of showmanship. The expectations of showmanship, however, are different online as opposed to offline. Whereas showmanship in composition indicates a stable academic voice, online showmanship is signaled by dexterity with multiple voices.
Before we present data, a brief review of key concepts is in order…

The point is that fitting in academically requires students write differently online than they do offline. Two discourses are needed to meet the literacy demands of contemporary academe. If yesterday’s college writers were paper authors, today’s college writers must be discourse navigators.
Summary of New Literacies Theory: The principles of plurality, hybridity and identity are the scaffolding of new literacies theory. Plurality supports the recognition that today’s college writing involves composing papers and authoring content online. Hybridity suggests an underlying skill set that is transferrable to offline and online writing situations. Identity accentuates the cultural membership signaled when writers adhere to both discourse conventions.
These admittedly abstract ideas are important because they help redefine college writing in terms that are more authentic to the literacy expectations of modern institutions. In the remainder of this article, we discuss the application of new literacies theory to an online profile project that involved 91 students enrolled in a writing remediation program. Data from the project is used to show empirically how online writing supports the traditional writing that has always been expected, but for which college students are increasingly underprepared…

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