My high school implemented a new program this year requiring students to bring laptops to class every day. This change in policy came as shocking news to me, considering my high school days were spent sneakily texting during class and sporadically using the computers in the library for projects. I wrote all of my papers at home on my family PC, and completed all online homework at home as well. Technology did not play a major role in my in-class high school education. So what provoked such a dramatic change in my old school’s policy this past year? The answer is clear. Such changes were made in correspondence with the ever-increasing availability of digital rhetoric, specifically that related to education. This includes everything from interactive textbooks to Microsoft Word to Khan Academy. By requiring student to bring laptops to class, the school is arming each and every student with the resources necessary to succeed academically.
Perhaps the newest and most powerful source of academic digital rhetoric can be found in websites such as Khan Academy. This website is a relatively new online resource that contains educational videos and interactive study tools for almost every subject. For example, I have used Khan Academy videos to prepare for Organic Chemistry exams, and often watch Khan Academy biochemistry videos when I find topics confusing or overly difficult.
Khan academy utilizes all 5 modes of communication to relay information to students, and well represents the beneficial nature of innovative multimodal resources. The careful spatial arrangement of the website makes navigation easy and fast. The linguistic mode may seem most obvious, but is surprisingly overshadowed by the aural and visual modes of communication used by the site. Videos are the primary source of information on the site. Most videos are 10 minutes or less and focus on specific topics, even within a particular subject. The gestural mode is prevalent in the interactive activities the site offers as practice following the videos. Khan academy exploits the benefits of digital rhetoric by using every mode of communication. This multifaceted approach to education offers students a clear and concise alternative to traditional classroom learning.
So what impact will digital rhetoric have on traditional classrooms? Let my old high school be an example. Multimodal resources such as Khan Academy are flipping school policies on end. Like a new technology, digital rhetoric is powerful and always advancing.