Sometimes, I get caught up in the excitement of new technology (especially social networking) and forget that learning/incorporating technology is a cycle for teachers, as Richard Selfe (husband of renowned Cynthia Selfe) reminds me in his chapter “Sustaining Multimodal Composition.” Because the cycle will continue as new technologies are developed, “computer-supported instruction continues to be exploratory” (167). Luckily, teachers are not alone in their endeavors! Selfe explores the myriad of people essential to creating a sustainable network of multimodal composition. I appreciate that Selfe doesn’t just focus on the professional/administrative component of such a network; he also mentions that a “supportive social environment” can be just as important (167).
I’d like to ask Selfe whether or not digital communities count as a sustainable community of scholars, administrators, students, and teachers. Seems to me that a collaborative digital space would be easier to create online rather than in person (dare I say ‘more realistic’). A good example is #chats on Twitter, a phenomenon where stakeholders in the featured subject gather on a designated date/time to exchange ideas and answer questions. I like to observe and occasionally participate in #edchat, where the community focuses on educational technology.
My other favorite part of Selfe’s article is his practical tips and questions for teachers of multimodal composition. I’ve been reluctant to “jump in” with a multimodal assignment for my own classes, because I wasn’t sure exactly to go about it. Selfe gives me important questions to consider, as well as practical tips/tricks. The most important takeaway for me was to be realistic about the learning curve of software and technology. It will take time to learn, and even more time to develop projects, so allowing adequate time and keeping projects short are essential for multimodal assignments.