Teaching Unplugged CCCC 2012 (St. Louis)

full name / name of organization: 
Chad Engbers / Calvin College
contact email: 

Electronic media such as text messages, wikis, and social networking sites are of course changing the ways our students think and write; programs such as Blackboard, WebCT, and Moodle are changing the ways we teach them to write.

Given those facts, however, when does it make good pedagogical sense to turn off the electronics and rely on old school technologies such as pencils, paper, and chalk? Can low-tech teaching offer students productive alternatives to their digital communication habits, or does such pedagogy shelter them, confirming the sense that their writing for a class is separate from their writing in the world?

This panel is for teachers who know technology well enough to understand its limitations for composition instruction. The panel explores pedagogical approaches that are rooted not in ignorance, fear, or denial of electronic media, but rather in the thoughtful selection and development of non-digital methods.

The panel might include practical examples of low-tech teaching, such as:

  • Handwriting comments on hard copies of essays rather than annotating electronic copies;
  • Using a blackboard or whiteboard instead of a digital projector;
  • Classroom activities in which cutting and pasting is done with actual scissors and tape;
  • Etc.

It might also explore more conceptual questions, such as:

  • Do low-tech pedagogies open more opportunities for certain learning styles, such as kinesthetic learning, or more experiential formats, such as service learning?
  • What effect does handwriting have on a writer's relationship to his or her writing?
  • Do high-tech teaching methods widen the gap between students who have ready access to computers and those who do not?
  • Etc.

Please email a brief CV and 200-word proposal to Chad Engbers, Calvin College (engbers@calvin.edu) by Sunday, May 1.