Hypermedia composition in a seventh grade language arts classroom
Maya Blair Eagleton, The University of Arizona, United States
The University of Arizona . Awarded
This microethnographic study describes what happened when a small group of 12- and 13-year olds were given the opportunity to compose with hypermedia in their language arts class. Drawing from semiotic, sociocultural, constructivist, transactional and holistic theories, the researcher interpreted the meanings the students and their language arts teacher ascribed to the creation of a student-run online magazine. The researcher investigated the kinds of things that the seventh graders in this study value, what the webzine project meant to the student editors, what processes are involved in the creation of a webzine, how hypermedia literacy functions as a language form, how the hypermedia design project impacted the language arts curriculum, and the roles that computers can play in the classroom.
Hypermedia is a multi-symbolic semiotic language form that is still in the process of evolving. Hypermedia literacy requires transmediation, among print literacies, oral literacies, visual literacies, computer literacies and hypertext literacies. Becoming fluent in hypermedia involves orchestrating the various elements (cueing systems) of hypermedia and flexibly applying this knowledge within a variety of hypermedia genres.
The webzine project was a positive experience for the seventh graders in this study because it met their affective needs to be active, to learn new things, to have new experiences, to feel motivated and interested, to be social, to have freedom, to feel proud and to have a sense of audience. It also stimulated the cognitive processes of generating ideas, collaborating, problem solving, representing concepts and monitoring their own learning.
It is suggested that hypermedia design projects cannot be fully integrated into the language arts curriculum unless the district and/or the classroom teacher has made a paradigmatic shift from a transmission model to a constructivist philosophy of education. Successful integration of hypermedia composition in the curriculum is also related to the students’ and the teachers’ perception of the potential roles of computers.
Based on the results of this study and others, the author concludes that junior high language arts students should be given invitations to compose with hypermedia whenever feasible, but that educators should not dismiss the challenges associated with such an undertaking.
Eagleton, M.B. Hypermedia composition in a seventh grade language arts classroom. Ph.D. thesis, The University of Arizona.
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