Monday, December 15, 2008

5 minute interview with Dr Jennifer Rowsell

The latest in our series of mini interviews with key researchers in the New Literacy Studies: Dr Jennifer Rowsell from Rutgers Graduate School of Education. Jennifer is an Assistant Professor of Literacy Education at Rutgers where she teachers undergraduate and graduate courses in multimodality, multiliteracies, and New Literacy Studies. She is all-round fabulous.

What digital technologies do you have in your handbag/satchel?
I always have my blackberry and a tape recorder just in case I suddenly have to interview someone (which has never happened incidentally).

Which one/s can't you live without and why?
Clearly, I can live without the tape recorder, but I love my blackberry.

What's your current favourite blog/website/virtual world?
I really like YouTube. I go to it often when I miss big events like Obama's Acceptance Speech or Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin. Also, I go onto YouTube with our daughter when we want to look up goofy things like Funny Animal Videos or Funny Fart Animal Videos.

What are you finding fascinating in relation to technology/literacy/text at the moment?
When I think about technology and literacy these days, I focus on production and such questions as (currently): how do digital spaces create communities and communities of practice? For example, what happens when CNN develops a partnership with another digital space such as YouTube - especially given that CNN is quite conservative and YouTube is quite liberal. Or, Facebook developing a partnership with Vonage or Sprint - how do these partnerships shift the content of a website? How do partnerships impact users? Or, a war videogame partnering up with The History Channel?

What do you predict will be a key issue/s in digital technologies/literacy over the next 5 years?
1. New writing pedagogy - that accounts for multiple genres and using different modes to create these genres (and maping out what goes into our thinking).
2. New reading pedagogy - that accounts for reading multiple texts at once and closing the gap between reading and writing (because there is less of a gap between reading and writing when working online).
3. Assessing what modes best fit a text and having students explain their preferred choice of mode. In other words, how do we assess what goes when we use 'new literacies'?
4. An account of the material and artifactual nature of meaning-making instead of a focus on written accounts or more traditional technologies.
5. Looking outside of education broadly and literacy education particularly to explain what it means to make meaning with contemporary communicational systems (because the marketplace creates texts, practices, and digital environments).
6. Being greedy I will do a sixth point because I believe that there is a need to understand networks of information as well so that we have far more meta-knowledge of discourses and ideologies when we make meaning with texts (this will involve geosemiotics and multimodal-discursive understandings).


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