Monday, May 4, 2015


Article 11 - "Words, Images, Sounds: Writing Centers as Multiliteracy Centers"

In the article, Sheridan raises the question of whether consultants should help students with traditional texts or embrace the new age of multilteracy that writing seems to be heading towards. What do you think? Should consultants be expected to have considerable knowledge about several modes of literacy, such as website creation, photography editing, or traditional document design? Do you think that this is necessary for a high school setting?  Is it realistic? Support your opinions with evidence from the article and your experiences consulting. 

Remember to include the following in your COMPLETE PARAGRAPH RESPONSE:
  • Your impressions of the article (likes/dislikes/agree/disagree)
  • How does it connect to writing centers at large?
  • How can it be applied to the MHS Writing Center?


13 comments:

  1. I think that the idea of consulting in a multi-literacy writing center sounds cool, but when you think about it, might not be as effective as some might hope. Thinking about how few kids come into the writing center asking help on images and presentations, it wouldn't be beneficial to completely re-envision the center as a multi modal place. It's important to have some knowledge of how to create a presentation, I mean we do it for our conferences and MLWs all the time, so we have that background as consultants but to completely evolve into tech guros would be overkill in my eyes. Also, if we try to focus more on the different types of consultations we might lose our skill with the ordinary sessions over essays and written work. The article quotes Michael Pemberton on what he thinks about a multi-literal center and I agree with his point of view on the subject: "Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves whether it is really the writing center's job to be all things to people. There will always be more to learn. There will always be new groups making demands on out time and our resources in ways we haven't yet planned for. And there will never be enough time or enough money or enough tutors to meet all those demands all of the time. If we diversify too widely and spread ourselves too thinly in an attempt to encompass too many different literacies, we may not be able to address any set of literate practices particularly well." What I take away from this is that he is saying that we will never be able to please everyone so instead of trying to reach unattainable goals, why don't we just focus on what we have right now and perfect that? He's also telling people that instead of trying to do everything, try to do one thing at a time and with each of those things perfect those specific skills and then move on. Don't bite off more than you can chew. I don't believe that a multi-literacy center would be that beneficial to the high school.

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  2. I think that, in a way, we have already partially become a multi-literacy center. Students come in asking for help with their MLA formatting, or want to know how EasyBib works. Many of the formatting issues we face are often technology based, and as consultants we must be familiar with how to handle them. However, I don't believe that we should fully convert to a multi-literacy center. It is very rare for a student to come in with a video, a website, or any other piece besides written papers at the high school center. In terms of training consultants to deal with multimedia, I think that we could benefit from some basic training with both Microsoft Word and Google Drive, but we do not need to dive into more complex subjects. If a student should bring in a multimedia project, of course we'd be happy to look it over and analyze it for visual appeal and the quality of the writing. But we should not become tech support. We do not want to lose the values we stand for by trying to do too much. People are already confused by the concept of a writing center, we do not need to make more trouble for ourselves.

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  3. Throughout the article, Sheridan refers to a student, Jane, needing help with her web-based projects, and asks the question, 'Should writing centers have the ability to assist her with this?' Although it is an understandable question, I would personally say no. It is more than obvious that many school curriculums are evolving with all of the new technology coming in, but a writing center is to cater to writing needs... not web-based needs. It would be nice to be able to extend our line of help, however I don't feel this is necessary, especially in our high school. At Mattawan, the traditional writing papers is much more prevalent than online projects. I also feel that this is slightly unrealistic, as technology use is always changing, and as a center run by high schoolers, majority of us lack the extra time to take when technology changes, to be trained in the updated version. As Alaina wrote earlier, on how as consultants in this day and age we are familiar with small things here and there having to do with technology, is beneficial and important for us. Past that, I believe that it is not relevant enough for our writing center to transition to a multi-literacy center.

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  4. Ultimately, the world is moving towards a higher reliance on technology and with that comes the spread of technology based school assignments. While I believe that there should be workshops available for students to receive help on such a multiliteracy project, I don't agree with the notion that this help should be coming from the writing centers. Focus in the writing should be focused on solely writing, with the ability to master the teaching of one thing, it will result in more worthwhile consultations. If the consultants were to learn an entirely new form of assignments, it would mean that they would get away from truly being great at consultations over written papers. Sheridan states in her piece that "Writing centers are often overtasked and underresourced. Developing a multiliteracy program can seem overwhelming." This would inevitably be the feeling as the consultants would have to switch their focus from helping on papers to being a tech genius when these two components are fairly different. Also, there don't seem to be many media based projects that are presented at the high school setting so it may not even be necessary. At Mattawan, we aren't often presented with the task of tending to multiliteracy assignments. In the long run, I believe that there will be places in high schools and universities that will offer help on such technology assignments, but I do not believe that writing centers should be dealing with them.

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  5. I like the idea of a multi-literacy writing center, but I agree with the others that it isn't necessary for us to make the transition into one. The most experience I've personally had with multi-literacy consultations is with websites like Easybib and Purdue Owl, and other English genres like speeches. We're a generation who was raised on technology, even more so the students behind us who will be coming into both high school and college writing centers. The probability of us not knowing how to generally use a type of technology is slim, and even slimmer the probability of a writing center not having a consultant with experience in these different modes of technology. For instance, I have experience with photo editing and creating/formatting websites. Jacob Mitchell has extensive experience with formatting, editing, and uploading videos. I'm sure other consultants in our writing center also have experience with different technology. Therefore, if a student comes in with the need for help on something technology-wise that we don't know, we can always refer them to another consultant.

    Another issue is the fact that for writing center training, we only have two days plus the first two weeks of school to train consultants on working with papers. I agree with Sheridan when he says, "If we diversify too widely and spread ourselves too thinly in an attempt to encompass too many different literacies, we may not be able to address any set of literate practices particularly well." If we took the time to train every consultant in every type of literacy we deemed necessary, the consultants would either know a general amount of everything with nothing specific enough to help, or the writing center would stay closed for probably another four to five weeks. This would also be true in college writing centers which require students to take a course or two before joining the writing center. If they wanted each consultant to have courses under their belt in different literacies, then consultants would probably not be able to join until their junior or senior years. Overall, the literacy center sounds interesting and like a great opportunity, but its not practical for the time being.

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  6. The idea of a multiliteracy center could really benefit students, but I'm not sure that there is enough of a demand for one. At Mattawan, I have never had a student come in and ask for help on mechanics other than that of a paper. I can't speak for other consultants, but I know that it is very uncommon. As far as whether or not we should be trained in it, I think it may be beneficial, but shouldn't be mandatory. If a few people willingly wanted to learn how to work various technologies, I think it might help draw in more customers, but probably not worth the time it would take to train everyone. The article states, "they [writing consultants] need to develop and understanding of multimodal rhetoric," which is what a multiliteracy center consultant would need to be aware of. The article describes many of the things these consultants would need which are very extensive. I think that this would be very unrealistic for a high school center due to the little amount of consultations we receive in this area. When it comes down to actually implicating this at Mattawan, I'm not sure it would be worth the time and effort. If we suddenly get a wave of students requesting help with things completely outside of our knowledge, then it would help if we could get a few people to train in that area. In the college setting, many writing centers actually have branches off of them that specialize in technology and other areas. It works better in college due to the amount of people they have on campus that use these services, unlike how it is in the high school. Overall, I like the concept, but do not think this is for Mattawan at the time being.

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  7. I like the concept of a multiliteracy center; however, I would agree that for at least right now, there is not a need for the one at Mattawan. I don't think consultants should be expected to have considerable knowledge about several modes of literacy beforehand. Although with this in mind, I believe consultants should be adaptable to whatever the client presents. The article states, "If we diversify too widely and spread ourselves too thinly in an attempt to encompass too many different literacies, we may not be able to address any set of iterate practices particularly well." I believe this quote to be true because we as a writing center physically and mentally cannot know everything. The only thing that we as a writing center can look towards in the future is being adaptable to consultants. This doesn't mean being professionalized in every form of literacy, this means being able to help consultants on the fly with whatever their problems may be. I don't think being multi-literate is necessary for the high school setting; however, it can be helpful at the college level in many instances. Generally at Mattawan or other high school writing centers, pieces brought into the writing center are generally very similar. At the college level however, there are so many students that there is a very diverse amount of assignments and other instances where multiliteracy centers can be more beneficial. Although I like the general concept of multiliteracy centers, I don't believe this is applicable at Mattawan and I also think that these new centers would just be more adaptable to change than beforehand to provide clients with the best help and guidance as possible.

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  8. I agree with the fact that there will always be something new, and improved that the writing center could keep up with and change for. Unfortunately, I think that constantly changing and restructuring the way the system functions would not only exhaust consultants, but also produce ineffective ones trained only in certain areas. Instead of being a well-rounded consultant, I feel like changing the way we train our consultants to include multimodal projects would damage their effectiveness to help improve writing as a whole. The reason for this is mostly because I feel like it would pull focus away from everything else they have to think about. On the other hand, I believe that providing help for students "working on a variety of projects: essays, reports, PowerPoint presentations, Web pages, and posters," would certainly benefit the writing center in some ways. The main reason being that it would bring clients from different areas/studies and allow the consultants to gain experience when dealing with certain projects. It would also increase the writing center's popularity as it opens up to other aspects of literature and the written/spoke,/illustrated word. While we don't want to spread ourselves too thin, or bite off more than we can chew, change usually bears more benefits than harmful problems. I think we could apply this to our Writing Center and Mattawan. We could begin to integrate more aspects of multimodal areas (categories) in order to get more students used to the way of the Writing Center.

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  9. I share the sentiment that many have expressed here that the plausibility of a multiliteracy writing center may be a little out of reach, especially for high schools. I would question how many people would come to the writing center for help with a website and how many would like help on their speeches and presentations because people hardly come in with speeches as it is. It could be helpful for consultants to have expertise in creating websites, and I believe that we have some experience with creating our blog pages, but I don’t in any way feel that it’s extremely necessary to create a multiliteracy part of the center right now. As for college writing centers, I do see some more merit for a multiliteracy area, though I would like to know more about successful multiliteracy centers. Clearly the Sweetland Writing Center has been rather successful, so I would like to know how they handle focusing on both content as well as design for students coming in because I felt like with the examples used, the idea of a writing center focusing on the writing portion would disappear. People wanted to focus more on the designs and colors, and I don’t think that the writing center should head in that direction.

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  10. I, personally, enjoyed the article. I think that Sheridan raises a good question of this movement that writing centers seem to be headed toward. In my opinion, I feel that writing centers should embrace this age of multiliteracy, but not necessarily change into a multiliteracy center. I think that in a writing center the consultants should only be trained in the aspects of writing because if they were brought into this new concept they may not be as effective towards any client that may come in. I agree with Morgan on the fact that there are some of us that are highly knowledgeable with those types of genres and that we could possibly help; however, this shouldn’t be our main focus. This quote from the article expresses that thought, "Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves whether it is really the writing center's job to be all things to people. There will always be more to learn. There will always be new groups making demands on our time and our resources in ways we haven't yet planned for. And there will never be enough time or enough money or enough tutors to meet all those demands all of the time. If we diversify too widely and spread ourselves too thinly in an attempt to encompass too many different literacies, we may not be able to address any set of literate practices particularly well.” Now, on the other hand, I do think that if someone came in with a completed website and they wanted our help on the written context of those things, then we can be of some service. Unfortunately, this type of service is pretty much nonexistent in the high school setting. That is another reason why I don’t think we should convert to a multiliteracy center. High schools hardly ever express the need to have assignments where students must create a website or edit a photograph and therefore there is no demand for a multiliteracy center. All in all, I do think that technology is becoming everything for us and I do see that maybe one day the demand would increase and thus more multiliteracy centers will develop.

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  11. I did like the article, but I have to disagree with the idea that writing centers should be transformed into multiliteracy centers, at least in Mattawan and perhaps even in universities. One major contention is, as others have said, the demand for a multiliteracy center is rather low at Mattawan. Universities deal with these situations more often, but most universities don't have enough to warrant a gigantic effort like the one many are planning to undertake. Furthermore, there are numerous online sources that help with other forms of media, so I believe that there is no urgent need for a multiliteracy center. Moreover, a jack of all trades, most often, becomes a master of none. We cannot afford to sacrifice the service many students need to guide them through their journey to master writing. If each consultant specialized in a certain media type, then perhaps this particular problem could be averted, but that would result in more expenses for the school, rendering it an unlikely solution. I would not be opposed to a separate center for other media, but removing the specialization aspect of the writing center would remove the expertise of the consultants and decrease the benefits to the clients.

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  12. Personally, I think that consultants should be capable of providing assistance on multiliteracy works; however, I don't believe that is a necessity, especially in the high school setting. At Mattawan, there are very few occasions when students work on multiliteracy projects. Often times, they just involve making a simple presentation which students now learn how to do in elementary school. It is also not an immediate need for the Mattawan Writing Center because if by some off chance we do see a multiliterate project, at least one person in the class has worked on the same project, or one very similar. Because most classes are very similar at Mattawan and our Writing Center is so diverse, it is not worth taking the time to train consultants for these situations, when it could be spent on another aspect of WC. Also, with these multiliteracy projects such as power points or websites, the information that consultants use for papers,can be applied to the other types of projects as well. Writing is writing. The consultant should have the capability to adapt what they know to apply it to what the client needs.

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  13. Overall, I liked the article, but my opinion is that consultants shouldn't need to have other literary capabilities. For most writing centers, especially at a high school setting, clients only see the writing center as a source for peer paper assistance. In an article a while back, the main idea was whether or not writing centers should adopt the role as multi-media centers. In that article, I firmly stated that "transitioning [a writing center] to a multiliteracy center would not only contradict its service mission, but it would require a new one to be formed." Because of this, consultants shouldn't be required to be antiquated with numerous literacy outlets. However, a consultant still could hold these traits, but they wouldn't be deemed "required."
    This article transitions into our writing center because of the various projects that high schoolers have to complete. If we do adopt the multi-literacy setting, students would have more opportunities to visit the center. However, I still believe that this transition has negative repercussions, because students would be hesitant to visit the writing center for a project that's not about writing. Overall, even if we could offer this service, it is most likely that students still wouldn't utilize the center for other literacy means.

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