Teaching Unplugged: CCCC 2013 (Las Vegas)

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?

The theme of the 2013 CCCC conference is "The Public Work of Composition," and the Call for Program Proposals suggests this question, among many others: "How might the use of New Media and Web 2.0 technology enhance the public work of composition?" This panel is intended to complicate that question by identifying ways in which new media limit or obscure composition students' working relationship with the public, and by suggesting ways in which non-digital pedagogy might better equip students to do that work.

This panel is not for technophobes or Luddites, but 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:

  • Using face-to-face conversations or interviews in student research and classroom activities;
  • 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 Wednesday, May 2.