The use of technology, specifically Web 2.0 tools, in ELA pedagogy has many dynamic possibilities for exploring critical thinking on issues as well as for enhancing traditional elements of the English classroom. Not only does such technology make concepts more accessible to students, it also brings the subject matter in question into a realm that is easily recognizable and engaging to students, as they have been immersed in multi-modal forms of communication for most of their lives. (This may be a stark contrast to many adults who, in a term coined by Marc Prensky, are Digital Immigrants; having moved from an analogue world focused on pen and paper, (and, for dinosaurs like myself, arduous hours spent at the library), to one where information is digital and readily available and easily shared with the click of a button.
This unit, therefore, is an example of how to focus on the integration of digital resources to augment ELA pedagogy as well as provide students with media literacy. The latter, known also as multimodal literacy, is critical in a world where students are saturated with audio and visual stimulation at a near constant frequency. My intention is that this unit is broad enough that it can be adapted to several different areas of study from topics such as propaganda, advertising manipulation, or ideological subversion in mainstream or alternative media sources, to deeper ponderings on how to apply critical theories to literature or even a discussion of the socratic method for critical thinking.
Most of these themes are closely related and there is significant overlap in any examination of them. It is my contention that using Web 2.0 to explore these topics provides today’s students with a much more rich and immersive atmosphere than simply relying on traditional “analogue” methodologies that offer little in the way of engagement for the student that is constantly “plugged in”.