EMM: #vizlit and False Advertising

Preparing for today’s class in my Elements of Media Making summer course, I’m reminded of one very useful skill those trained in visual literacy can employ daily: spotting misleading and/or false advertising.

Here’s a nice roll-up of some hilarious and sad attempts to mislead us. I especially like Especially sad is the kiddie pool:

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 11.09.56 AM


Keep your eyes peeled for such chicanery.

Blogging and First-Person

I just responded to a question from a student about whether she is allowed to use first-person syntax (like “I appreciated Plato’s argument” as opposed to “One can appreciate Plato’s argument” or “Plato’s argument is appreciated by some”).  I’d like to share the text of my reply here in case others outside that class who read this blog are wondering the same thing. [I’ve edited it lightly.]

Short answer: yes, you may use first person in your blogging. 🙂

Longer answer: I’m not personally a proponent of a blanket rejection of first person.  I don’t find it necessary to convey a formal tone (I’ve known many people in my life who speak very formally while still using it).  Further, I find that when third person is used poorly, which I see fairly often among student work generally, it undermines the air of professionalism that was its goal in the first place.
Beyond that, though, while there are plenty of contexts where strict third-person address is appropriate, a blog is almost never one of them; it goes against the very idea of a blog to try to write only in the third person. Your blog is your home on the web, you own domain both literally and figuratively. (Yes, some of that is undermined a bit because we’re using the .com version of WordPress, which is technically “owned” by the company and not you.  But it’s more akin to renting an apartment than crashing on someone’s couch, which was a key facet of Woolf’s original argument.)
So you should feel very comfortable making it your own both in terms of how it looks and what you link to there and in terms of how you choose to address your audience there. Might there be social consequences to your perceived character if you write in an overly casual or flippant way? Perhaps, with some of your audience.  But you will learn that as you go, instead of my telling you how you must write or speak.
So use first-person as you see fit, and keep your eyes open to how shapes others’ reactions to your work and your own reactions to theirs.

What Might Digital Wisdom Be and How Could It Help Us?


I’m appreciating Adam Copeland’s piece at Hybrid Pedagogy on “digital wisdom,” which he describes as “a pedagogical approach to technology and the classroom that does not stop at whether or how students may access digital devices in my classroom, but seeks also to address why it is important that students critically engage these very questions.” He offers four “pillars” that he uses in his own considerations of how to craft assignments for his students, each an important reason why he would choose a particular tool, design an assignment in a particular way, or engage students from a particular perspective.

This advice runs parallel to the “not digital pedagogy, just pedagogy” discussion we’ve been seeing lately (e.g.: here, here), in that Copeland’s conception of digital wisdom is a call for us to “move away from easy answers” and move toward pedagogical goals that deepen and expand our students learning.  He links to a range of assignments by himself and others that address his pillars – forming collaborative relationships with peers, preparing for citizenship, encountering difference and disagreement, and welcoming complexity – in concrete but theoretically informed ways, which is a particularly helpful approach for teachers interested in getting started with digital pedagogy.

I would like to push back a little on the way he sets up this helpful discussion, though, because for me, a term like “digital wisdom” can be used even more powerfully than just “the why” of asking students to engage a particular question.  By drawing on the term wisdom, we have an opportunity to activate ancient conversation about the role of practice and the practical – the how – in serving as not only a counterpoint to the why, but also an important aspect of its foundation.  Aristotle called it phronesis, others have used metis, but when we use terms like judgment, prudence and (practical) wisdom, we refer to that process through which we learn from our practices; the how deeply informs and ultimately serves as the foundation for the why. This process, of formulating a why, crafting a concrete how that hopefully enacts that why, and then reflecting on the nature of that enactment and usually making practical changes to the how in light of that reflection, is the very practical and grounded nature of the practical wisdom that pedagogues perform on a regular basis.

Through this process, we come to see ways that the why and the how are intricately linked, and we come to understand both more deeply than dogged application of the why to the how without such process will overlook. Copeland’s argument is crucial to the direction we all must turn in the future, as it recognizes the need to look past the newness and shininess of digital tools to the ways they can help us deepen student learning.  But if we’re not also closing that experiential learning loop ourselves, we’re missing out on significant opportunities to deepen our own learning.  Digital wisdom should be more than the why – it should be the why informed by the constantly developing nature of the relationship between the why and the how.