I’m delighted to share with you my foreword to Troy Hick’s new book Crafting Digital Writing. You can find Troy on his blog, twitter and companion wiki pages for his books. I hope you enjoy his new work as much as I continue to.
from Crafting Digital Writing © Troy Hicks, Heinemann, 2013. Used with Permission.
I remember the day my father brought home an early model Apple Macintosh computer he was loaned from his job at Allen-Bradley. An enormous beige box, it looked like a stack of toasters three high and two deep. He plopped it on the wobbly maroon card table he and my mother put up in the family room to hold this magical new machine. My sister and I stood next to him transfixed as he booted it up. For as outdated as that giant humming box seems today it was a gateway into hours and hours of learning that felt like play. Well before the Internet was even a thing, we toyed around with fonts and layouts, designed interactive stories, created dot-matrix posters galore. That Macintosh opened up a world not just of creation but of belief in our own ability. What you saw in your mind you could make for others to see. It was more than creativity, it was empowering.
Flash forward to today, I remain deeply in love with technology yet feel a major rift between my out-of-school swiping and clicking and my in-school instruction. Partly because I just haven’t done it enough: blogs and vlogs and something called Glogs at times feel like a foreign language and just as I start to get a handle on one I hear of fifty more that are supposedly better. Partly this rift exists for me because, to be honest, I worry about technology becoming a thing to do just to do it. A full class period swiping tiles around on a SMARTBoard has struck me at times as not much different than a period doing crosswords or watching a movie; sure it’s fun but where is the learning?
I have struggled to unite my app-loving, content-making self with my literacy-empowering, student-centered self.
Luckily, there is Troy Hicks.
Troy stands for the kind of learning, engagement, and development I want for all children. He sees technology as not just something students play with the last period of the day before a vacation, but as an integral part of strong literacy teaching and learning. That creating a video documentary, for example, uses many of the same muscles as writing an informational essay and then some. That in our world today, design is intimately connected with content. That for students technology can be the invitation to dive deeply into writing craft.
What I love about CRAFTING DIGITAL WRITING is that it is a living, learning, interactive book. It is one you will want your laptop open for. Trust me on this one. I began reading on a plane and within moments was desperate to return to the ground so I could click each and every link to digital resources and thumb through the abundance of students samples. It is more than a book, it is a conversation– one Troy orchestrates between researchers, teachers, students, and you, all around the art of digital literacy for the sake of literacy.
I left reading, clicking, and furiously making notes, with a sense that I could explore the power of digital literacy instruction with students and, more importantly, asking myself why I haven’t started sooner.