Digital Spaces for Teaching Multilingual Writing

We recently published Creating Digital Literacy Spaces for Multilingual Writers by Joel Bloch. In this post the author explains what we can expect from the book.

As the internet has developed from a place to exchange photos of cute cats to one for new forms of literacy and new ways of sharing them, the design of digital spaces for teaching multilingual writing has increased in importance. My book discusses not just technology but literacy as well, based on my years of teaching writing. I address many of the controversies in literacy, the use of technology, writing pedagogies, and teacher training.

The book first discusses the connections between technology and literacy pedagogies and then provides a chapter on blogging, reflecting on the impact of technology and its evolution for teaching writing. The chapter on MOOCs and flipped learning addresses not only technological issues but also pedagogical concerns that teachers address whether they use technology or not, on the design of the classroom and the roles of teachers and students. The chapter on multimodality and digital storytelling addresses some of the issues existing throughout the field of multilingual writing, particularly in academic writing classrooms. Digital stories can be incorporated into these courses, individually or collaboratively created, depending upon the pedagogical goals of the teachers.

This book is teacher-centric, placing teachers at the center of the questions of design as well as providing a way to respond to controversies in teaching writing, such as translingualism, since they support using language varieties, stories, and the rhetorical forms and artifacts that students bring to the classroom. In my experiences as a teacher, reviewer, and editor, I have seen the disruptive roles of technology on all levels of teaching. Publishing incorporates almost every opportunity and controversy in the field of teaching writing: where to publish and in what language, as well as issues related to choices of English, writer identity, and knowledge creation in the publishing space. The internet has supported expanding places to publish and the connections between writers and readers as well as the issues regarding open access and associated copyright and intellectual property issues. Such openness also has created problems regarding the so-called “predatory” journals and forcing writers to decide on appropriate places to publish.

Most of the book was written before the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it addresses many of the issues the pandemic raised. The chapters on MOOCs and flipped learning discuss both positive and negative concerns with technology and online education. Publishing has been greatly impacted by the need to publish related to the pandemic. Personally, it has greatly expanded my access to professional development. I have participated or listened in on meetings held where I could never physically attend.

Teachers incur the same issues with technology that society faces: privacy, access, inclusivity. One of the messages of the book is that the process will inevitably be messy. When we switched to online teaching, I tried adapting flipped learning to my publishing class, but my end of semester evaluations indicated I had left out some of the social factors that I had written about. The end of the pandemic will not mean that digital literacies will fade. Here in the United States we don’t know what the “new normal” will mean.

William Gibson, the science fiction writer, once said that the future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed. Students and teachers both face disruption from traditional and newer technologies and the growing anxieties that all disruptions bring. Another book on digital literacy may look very different; it may not even be a book. However, this book still discusses the concerns and anxieties teachers and students may face with new technologies that have disrupted teaching and learning to write.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Second Language Writing Instruction in Global Contexts edited by Lisya Seloni and Sarah Henderson Lee.

Inclusive Language Education and Digital Technology

Elina Vilar Beltrán, co-editor of our recent publication Inclusive Language Education and Digital Technology, writes about how she came to be interested in inclusive education and how the book came about.

Inclusive Language Education and Digital TechnologyOur book is the result of years of work and passion about the topic. I started having an interest in inclusive education and language teaching while doing my degree in Spain more than ten years ago and I tried to make that the topic of my PhD. However, administrative constraints meant that it was necessary for me to gear my research towards a probably more manageable topic at my hometown university at the time, namely that of pragmatics. It was not long after my viva that I realized that my interest in the field of languages for all had not only not disappeared, but had been strengthened throughout the years. It was then that I came across a very interesting MA on e-Inclusion directed by an even more interesting person, Dr Chris Abbott, Reader in E-Inclusion at King’s College, London. I wrote to him and suggested doing a Post-Doc on the issues of what has now become our book. He took immediate interest and added Dr Jane Jones, MFL Specialist, to the equation. We quickly became a team and have been working together ever since.

It was clear that there was research that focused on technology and special educational needs and perhaps even more on technology and languages but little had been done on technology, SEN and languages together. That was the trigger to start contacting those experts that had published or worked on the topic and soon found the contributors to our volume. We also tried to include as many different topics as possible and give it a European perspective that we hope we have achieved. Our chapters cover issues such as teaching languages to pupils with dyslexia and hearing impairments and copyright matters, all within an inclusive perspective. There’s also a focus on languages teachers and the use of technology in the classroom and broader more theoretical topics. We believe our book is an excellent companion to language professionals these days; to us, all teachers are inclusive teachers and with the prominent place of the internet and technologies in the classroom this volume could not be timelier.

For more information about this book or the New Perspectives on Language and Education series please take a look at our website.