Engaging Ideological Infrastructures: The Challenge of Implementing a Digital First-Year Writing Curriculum

By Michele Ninacs.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Miami University of Ohio has recently created and implemented an institutionally sanctioned, multimodal first-year composition curriculum. This curricular innovation is significant in a number of ways. Firstly, expansion into first-year writing curriculum signals a greater, and perhaps more mainstream, acceptance of Multiliteracies and New Media Literacy pedagogies. Additionally, inclusion of this practice in first-year writing suggests the possibility of further expansion of multimodal practice across disciplines. If students have the tools to compose multimodally, other disciplines may be more inclined to capitalize upon the skills brought by the students. Most importantly, if first-year composition is designed to enculturate students into the conventions of academic discourse, the inclusion of multimodal composition practice in first-year writing courses, by extension formalizes the role of multimodality within the academy and redefines academic discourse itself as multimodally constructed. This shift demands an ideological re-alignment that involves not only the re-conceptualization of literacy as multiple, but also a re-conceptualization of the function of digital technology within literacy instruction.

From 2007 through 2008 I studied the consensus building strategies employed by the Digital Writing Collaborative at Miami University of Ohio as they sought to implement a multimodal writing curriculum. The aforementioned study focused on circumstances within the institution that facilitated the curricular shift, specific strategies employed in developing institutional consensus, and how institutional stakeholders worked toward sustainability of the new curriculum. This paper presents findings from this case-study, specifically focusing on the significance of activating existing ideological infrastructures and articulating curricular objectives consistent with disparate stakeholders’ ideological orientations.

Keywords: Digital Writing, Multimodal Composition, Curricular Innovation, Consensus Building, Ideological Infrastructures

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.91-100. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.245MB).

Michele Ninacs

Full-Time Lecturer,, College Writing Program, University College, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, New York, USA

An educator for approximately 20 years, Michele Ninacs is a full-time lecturer in the College Writing Program at Buffalo State College. Her teaching pedagogy draws from writing workshop and multiliteracies theory. Her doctoral dissertation examines the consensus building strategies necessary in order to institutionalize innovative curricula, specifically the incorporation of digital or new media writing in first-year composition curriculums.


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