Digital Rhetoric and the Traditional Classroom

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.

Students with Computers
Students now utilize technology and digital rhetoric in the classroom setting.

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.

2 thoughts to “Digital Rhetoric and the Traditional Classroom”

  1. That’s great. I know in my high school, it was more on a class by class basis. In senior year for instance, my history/government teacher encouraged the use of smart phones during class, and so did my Spanish teacher. Other classes however, didn’t encourage it. Coming from an urban school, we weren’t expected to bring our own laptops, but the school had them available for teachers to check out if we needed them. There were also a few different computer labs we could go to as needed.
    This certainly is a trend in education, and I agree that it’s positive and necessary, but it’s also important to keep in mind the cost that requiring tech in the classroom can have on families and that the schools, or districts in question should be willing to foot at least part of that.

    (Also, I’m from Grand Rapids too! Crazy, man.)

  2. Hey Jeremy!!
    I think you’ll find that our blog posts compliment each other at core. We had a no-cell phone policy at my school, Cary-Grove High, as well. Now, they have class sets of chrome book computers that you can wheel around from one class room to the next! This is a huge transformation for my school and it is weird how things change when you leave somewhere!
    It is no doubt in my mind that digital media and online resources makes learning way easier and more time efficient. My dad always tells me that my education is handed to me on a gold platter when it comes to computers. And I believe him!
    As much as I like to think that it’s great that your old high school invites students to bring laptops to school every day, it makes me upset that the schools are officially overrunning the power of non-digital means of learning. I would hope to hear that high schools across America are not ignoring the fact that for years, knowledge was spread using “old fashioned” means. And those means still work great!! I say this because coming out of high school, I had no idea how to check out a book. Then I came to the university and dedicated myself and my studies to utilizing printed media. And now I walk home from Hatcher with more books than I can literally carry and doing this has furthered my education more than I can probably know.
    Thanks for sharing, Jeremy. I look forward to collaborating with you throughout these next few weeks!
    -Caroline

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