School of Education Lecturer Viet Vu (UCI PhD in Education, 2017) has designed an innovative writing course, EDUC 179W, for future teachers who want to learn about instructional practices in writing classrooms. Dr. Vu explains the rationale for the course: "In the 21st century, the definition of writing has expanded to also include multimodal text, or text that combines the written text, images, and sound. An example of a multimodal text is a digital video or a Facebook page."
In Dr. Vu's class, undergraduate students create digital videos, or “compositions”, as part of a hands-on approach to learning how multimodal texts can be implemented in the classroom. The project requires students to use the WeVideo editing web application developed by Google to collaborate and create digital compositions on a topic related to writing instruction. The goal of the project is for students to not only develop a better understanding the use of digital compositions in the classroom, but also a better understanding of the transmediation process involved when converting written text (script) to a digital composition. As Dr. Vu explains, "Transmediation in the writing process deepens student learning by requiring students to translate meaning through and across different mediums."
After students complete their digital compositions, the class hosts a showcase event where students share their projects, then meet in small groups and reflect on their learning experiences. According to Dr. Vu, "The learning process does not end at the showcase event. As the culminating activity, students apply their new experiences and knowledge to revise and convert their scripts into a literature review."
Fall 2017 students provided three examples of digital compositions to illustrate that component of the assignment.
Example #1: Children and Writing Technology
Example #2: Virtual Reality and Writing
Example #3: Multimodality in the ESL Classroom
Examples of student reflections illustrate their engagement in the process:
Student #1: "I found the script to be useful for my literature review because I did not have any direction in my ideas. Once I wrote all of my ideas [out], I was able to organize each subtopic so that I can find my purpose. I usually write with a purpose in the beginning, but for this assignment, I kind of worked backwards and found the purpose through what I thought was important. I truly think that classrooms should evolve with society and that the first step is to include technology in the classroom. I was able to gain more insight by using technology in the classroom myself by creating this video.”
Student #2: "I enjoyed looking at writing an essay from a different point of view and having to look at things a lot differently. I had to come up with something that not just looked good on paper but was visually appealing and interesting. I do think watching other people’s videos will help me write my final essay. I have more ideas now about things I could do and write about. I was worried about coming up with 10 pages of things to write about but it seems more do-able now."
Student #3: "I think this project helped me to develop more of the ideas that I’ll have in my literature review. It really helped narrow my focus to see first hand how technology is being used in the classroom. My broad ideas about whether or not we should use technology have become ideas of how to use technology and when."
Dr. Vu's background enriches his innovative work in education. He was an English language teacher for 10 years and a filmmaker for six years, producing short documentaries that have aired on NHK Japan Broadcasting. He has published five English language textbooks for Japanese elementary school students and spent seven years in Tokyo developing curriculum and conducting teacher-training courses based on these textbooks.
Dr. Vu is looking forward to continuing to implement innovative approaches to teaching writing: "Through the generosity of the Office of the Campus Writing Coordinator at UCI, my colleague Dr. Soobin Yim and I are pursuing further research of this pedagogic approach with the CWC Writing Pedagogy Grant that was recently awarded to us."