A Letter to Visitors

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Maya Angelou in her renowned work, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, says "words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning." In an attempt to connect and bring to life the theories and my work from a class called Digital Literacies, I have decided to infuse this e-portfolio with my own voice through the use of a story-telling model. When I began to reflect on my learning this semester, I recalled Deborah Brandt's reminder that literacy does not happen in a vacuum. Soon after, I quickly realized that every ten years or so there has been major sponsors who have shaped my development and have helped me forge a digital identity. As a result of that insight, what I have designed for your experience is a multi-layered, mutilmodal, multi-contextual, curated history of my digital narrative and products.

During this course of study, several key theoretical concepts have demonstrated how the current level of agency I exhibit as a producer of media has been shaped over the years by the options presented to me, by the technology to which I have had access, and by the social, cultural, and historical context in which I have found exigency for composing in digital spaces. James E. Porter's Cyber Writer's Tale, in particular, helped me unpack and develop a clearer understanding of my own journey from page to screen. My hope is that in sharing the story of how my life and my learning has been transformed through digital and multimodal experiences, educators and other literacy practitioners might gain some new insight about how to prepare diverse students to thrive in the 21st Century by enhancing their capacity to create, communicate, and collaborate as Cathy Davidson suggests.

As I write this letter, we are in the last days of 2014 and there are mass protests here at home and aboard; the earth is shifting below our feet; and the Internet which makes so much of our post-modern life possible is now under threat. In a post 2015 world, I know my needs for composing will change. But despite these challenges, I also know the work from this class will likely guide my digital literacy practices for many years to come. Through my experiences this semester, I have acquired the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to participate more actively in the new writing publics that Kathleen Black Yancey discusses. Furthermore, through the observations of Dana Boyd, I have also been provided me with opportunities to challenge commonly held assumptions about the digitally networked, mobile society in which many now live, and to think more critically about what it means to be a literate participant in this new age.

I trust that in exploring the artifacts in this portfolio, you will see how the following three outcomes in particular have lead to my continued growth and development this semester:

  • Acquire a strong knowledge base of major, contemporary theories of language, language learning, and literacy that inform the teaching of writing in adult literacy and college writing and reading programs;
  • Practice using digital literacies for classroom discussions, informal learning, research, and writing;
  • Appreciate how theoretical knowledge of language and literacy AND experiential learning about language/literacy inform their work as teachers and their students’ lives as learners.

Thank you for your interest in my work and in these emerging ideas that I hope will continue to transform the way we teach and learn!

Best Regards,

Joel M. Thomas

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