Electronic Literature Pedagogy: A Questionable Approach
by: Chris Mott
WHY SHOULD I TEACH ELECTRONIC LITERATURE?
The first reason to teach electronic literature is practical: digital media are the most rapidly growing forms of communication, and they will only grow in their influence and pervasiveness. Most of our students are fairly skillful with electronic technology, but as we all know, skill is not literacy. Literacy includes the ability not only to perform in a given medium, but to think in and beyond that medium, to be able to critique and extend the medium. The unprecedented growth and ubiquity (soon computers will be more common in homes than TVs) of electronic technology demands an enlightened, an educated and responsible use of the media.
Further, many teachers find themselves attempting to improve their students' understanding of academic discourse by bridging the gap between the academic world and the world of popular culture.
Electronic technology is the dominant medium for popular culture. Electronic games, itunes, YouTube, and Facebook are here to stay. More than that, these electronic modes of communication add to the intensity of information exchange. Of course, our students run some risks in this intensified information environment. They might first become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information they must process--although we have heard from some cognitive scientists that this generation of students has adapted cognitively by processing information more quickly, if more superficially (more on deep- versus hyper-attention later). In addition, the information comes to students without any obvious distinction in quality. We've all heard the anecdotes about how quickly unsubstantiated rumors spread as facts on the internet. We also know that students have a difficult time discerning good from bad online sources for term papers (some schools have even prohibited students from using Wikipedia in their papers). Surely, we...