Pedagogy Extended Explanation

USF Writes was developed as a digital instructional tool to supplement and assist the FYC and PTC programs with writing instruction. As an enhancement to pedagogical practice, USF Writes fits into the Department of English’s long-term vision of enhancing education with digital tools to increase digital literacy.

A recent presentation by Chris Gilliard asked the question, “what is your guiding ethic for teaching with technology?” This question was striking because it summarizes in important ways the approach that we took in thinking through what type of tool we may need and why we may need it. The answer to Gilliard’s question becomes the foundation for our pedagogical approach of integrating technology into our classrooms:

Driven by critical digital pedagogy, USF Writes and other technologies will enhance the student learning experience by providing a platform to develop foundational and transferrable skills in writing.

By equating our programmatic ethic with pedagogical application to advance student success, we hope to be models of critical technological literacy and adaptation and use of technological tools. In other words, by thinking through technology use through the lens of a guiding ethic of fairness to students, we are consistently challenging our programs to consider and reconsider how technology can be used to bolster, complement, and enhance pedagogical practices that in turn help students achieve the goals of the course.

Integrating technology into the writing classroom has a long history of scholarship and research in the fields of composition, composition and rhetoric, computers and writing, and technical and professional communication. From the landmark work of Cynthia Selfe and Richard Selfe who admonished the field to pay attention to technology to ensure that technology was being used fairly and equitably to more recent work of Marj Hovde and Corinne Renguette who lay out a narrative of the goals of technological literacy, this scholarship has long focused on ensuring a critical awareness of why we should adopt and use technology and how to use it ethically and inclusively.

We have bolstered views of technology in composition and in technical and professional communication by incorporating some of the basic ideas of digital pedagogy from scholars in digital humanities. Jesse Stommel examines what it means to effectively teach with digital tools. At its heart, he argued, critical digital pedagogy environments “must be platforms for engaging students and teachers as full agents of their own learning” (Stommel, 2014). Pushing it a step further, Chris Friend boldly encouraged teachers to not teach, but to inspire students to push forward with their learning using inspiration and the (digital) tools provided by faculty (Friend, 2018), which can be seen in aspects of USF Writes that encourage students’ own reflection of their work. Writing pedagogy using a tool like USF Writes provides students with the space to engage technology in instrumental and substantive ways, rather than using it as a passive tool to bring them into a broader digital community (Mina, 2019).

We hope that this brief overview shows that the development of USF Writes was driven by its pedagogical application and guided by existing scholarship. The resulting tool allows FYC and PTC to enhance student learning, while also teaching important aspects of critical digital literacy.

DeRosa, Robin. (2017). “Open Pedagogy: Quick Reflection for #YearOfOpen.” robinderosa.net, April 24, 2017, http://robinderosa.net/uncategorized/1775/.

Friend, Chris. “Tech, Agency, Voice (On Not Teaching).” Hybrid Pedagogy, May 31, 2018, https://hybridpedagogy.org/tech-agency-voice-on-not-teaching/.

Gilliard, Chris. (2019). “Click Here If You Agree: Opting Out of Oppressive Systems” Computers and Writing Conference, Lansing, MI.

Rush Hovde, M., & Renguette, C. C. (2017). Technological Literacy: A Framework for Teaching Technical Communication Software Tools. Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(4), 395-411.

Mina, Lilian. "Analyzing and Theorizing Writing Teachers’ Approaches to Using New Media Technologies.” Computers and Composition, 52, 2019, pp. 1-16, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2019.01.002.

Selfe, C. L.,&Selfe, R. J. (1994). The politics of the interface: Power and its exercise in electronic contact zones. College Composition and Communication, 45, 480–504.

Stommel, Jesse. “Critical Digital Pedagogy: A Definition.” University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies, November 21, 2014, https://news.continuingstudies.wisc.edu/critical-digital-pedagogy-a-definition/.