The 21st Century Writer: A Textbook for a New Generation of Writing

Proposal Title: 
The 21st Century Writer: A Textbook for a New Generation of Writing
Presenter(s): 
Abstract: 

If we desire to teach 21st Century writing successfully, we must change the way we think about textbooks. It’s time our writing textbooks embody the kind of writing we expect of our students: multimodal, multimedia, and interactive. 

Proposal: 

Most of us agree that being literate in the 21st century requires we be capable of more than reading and writing words on a page. We no longer read only in 2D (left to right, top to bottom). Today’s writing has additional dimensions—sometimes a mere few layers, other times infinite. Hyperlinks take us from the middle of a sentence in one article to a video on another page, which links yet again to someone’s Twitter feed, and on and on.  Texts are no longer simply written on printed pages either; they are audio-recorded, videoed, and presented in interactive formats. Our language is evolving more rapidly than ever before and so are the “rules” that govern our use of that language. Shouldn’t our textbooks be doing the same?

But our writing textbooks are not effectively keeping pace with new technologies and new ways of writing. Our writing textbooks are still just words on printed pages (even in their ebook formats). Many textbooks claim to be interactive with web components, but these texts require you to visit the publisher’s website, create an account, and often type in lengthy web addresses from the printed text.

If we desire to teach 21st Century writing successfully, we must change the way we think about textbooks. It’s time our writing textbooks embody the kind of writing we expect of our students: multimodal, multimedia, and interactive.

I would like to share a new model for textbooks I am currently designing based on these principles for the writing courses I teach. It is meant to help students blend old and new models of writing, learn the available tools at their disposal, use them effectively, and publish their writing in meaningful venues. As a primer on 21st century writing, this textbook also models the skills it teaches. It is interactive, illustrated, animated and published using a wide variety of new media. 

Context: 
Textbooks are a major component of writing instruction. We need to invent new ways of creating this type of resource with cost and other impediments to accessibility in mind. By using new media technologies to create a new type of instructional text, we can reinvent writing instruction that embodies the same kind of multimedia writing we expect of our students.
Proposal Type: 
individual