Yesterday, Dr Ruth Page, (School of English, Birmingham City University) gave a presentation in the Faculty of Humanities, in which she discussed her research and practice into the exploration of transliteracy in the classroom. The title of her talk was “Transliterate discussions: Using wikis to support small group work within English studies”. Transliteracy is “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.” (PART 2007).
The growing importance of integrating new media literacies is now recognised in many areas of educational strategy and vision (see Ruth’s presentation). From a pedagogical perspective, transliteracy is less focused on technology as a way to disseminate information and more on innovative combinations of tools and methods of peer interaction. As Ruth pointed out, the notion of ‘transliteracy’ brings together the experience of crossing many boundaries, types of environment, tools and ways of interacting. Her aim is to incorporate a range of literacies and to build pedagogic bridges into the learning experience. She discussed her use of wikis in English Studies. I particularly liked the way in which mind-maps and other written artefacts developed in class were later 'transposed' to the online environment; these are so often lost at the end of an interactive session. The students were asked to follow up by converting mind maps to coherent sentences and paragraphs, bound together with hyperlinks identified by the students. The students were able to become part of both the process and the ‘transformation’ of products through their interaction with the wiki and with peers and their teacher. Unlike many sessions where we hear of the near-perfect combination of technology and pedagogy, Ruth discussed how, after reflection, she was considering modifications and enhancements for future implementation. Although the case was in linguistics, it is highly relevant to our teaching in all disciplines, allowing students to be active participants, and as Ruth pointed out – deeper learners.