From Edutopia: “Do Your Students Read Critically?”

Ben Johnson, a high school principal and contributor to Edutopia, asks, “How do you tell if someone is reading a book critically?” Johnson identifies marginalia as evidence of critical reading – dog-ears, written notes, tabs, post-its, etc. These are moments when students are having conversations with the text, the author, their instructor, peers, and even themselves. Johnson writes, “As educators, the best thing we can do is to help students develop the skills for critical reading and establish critical reading as a “habit of mind.”” And with critical reading comes the critical thinking we aim to encourage in our writing students.

Source: Edutopia

From Mind/Shift: “Higher Ed Trends: MOOCs, Tablets, Gamification, and Wearable Tech”

In this post on Mind/Shift, Katrina Schwartz highlights the findings of a report from the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. The higher ed trends identified in the report focuses on MOOCs as a significant transformation in college education. Even WRAC has been exploring MOOCs in our recent webinar series. The report also notes that students’ “digital footprint” is an important guide for the future of higher ed. Read the post over on Mind/Shift to see what the report has to say about tablets, games, 3D printing, DIY culture, and wearable tech.

Webcomics in the Writing Classroom

Ayun Halliday over at Open Culture recently wrote about “The Rise of Webcomics,” featuring the PBS Off Book series of the same name. While Halliday is a fierce “paper loyalist” and comic lover, she’s started to notice that some of her favorite paper-based comics actually got their start on the internet.

The PBS Off Book video is worth the watch. At just over 7 minutes it offers a short history of the webcomic genre and its place alongside Marvel/DC superhero comics, newspaper comic strips, and zines (yay!). The video interviewees note that there’s no gatekeeper in publishing webcomics – no editor, no deadline. As such, the path from creator to audience is more direct and more intimate. For example, Sam Brown, the Exploding Dog creator, uses direct audience suggestions to create his comics. They email him, he creates a comic from that idea.

Also with webcomics, there’s no limit to what a “page” can be. With comic books and graphic novels, artists are limited by the size of the typical page; and with newspaper comics, a certain number of panels. But with webcomics, pages can scroll seemingly forever or contain just a brief image or word, or even contain animations or engage the audience to click to move the story forward. Homestuck, a webcomic by Andrew Hussie, is an example of this with well over 6000 pages so far.

What I especially love about the popularity of webcomics is the potential they create for writing assignments, large and small. And not being able to draw is not a good excuse for not assigning webcomics as text and genre because as MSU DRPW alum Franny Howes* argues, “Not making comics because you think you can’t draw is like not writing because you think you can’t spell.” With this in mind the webcomic is a valid genre for our writing classrooms.

*Be sure to check out Franny’s webcomic, Oh Shit, I’m in Grad School.