BUFFALO, N.Y. – Two University at Buffalo education
professors known for their pioneering work in teacher education and
the integration of digital media into public school classrooms,
have edited a book celebrating what they call “an essential
new literacy” in American schools.
“Multimodal Composing in Classrooms: Learning and Teaching
for the Digital World” (April, 2012, Routledge) is
co-edited by Suzanne M. Miller and Mary B. McVee of the UB Graduate
School of Education. It features case studies from classrooms
of all grade levels that serve as exemplary illustrations of how to
reach and teach students in a digital world.
“In the digital world we rarely read and write print text
alone,” says Miller, “so allowing students to learn by
writing with video, for instance, opens classrooms up to compelling
social, cultural, political and civic digital practices”.
Miller, associate professor of learning and instruction at UB, is
the founding director of the City Voices, City Visions (CVCV)
project, which sponsors an annual student film festival screening
Contributors to the book include current UB colleagues and
former doctoral students now teaching in other institutions. Some
of the case studies of successful integration of digital
technologies in schools come from CVCV high school classrooms, and
others from elementary and teacher education classrooms.
The book, available at http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415897471/,
highlights six “action principles” for using digital
technologies to support students’ learning and encourages
readers to go beyond the specific cases to discuss practical
challenges and dilemmas raised by new literacy studies.
“Historically, issues in multimodality, new literacies and
multi-literacies primarily have been addressed theoretically in an
attempt to promote shift in educators’ thinking about what
constitutes literacy teaching and learning in a world no longer
bounded by print text only,” says Miller
“While theoretical study is necessary and
beneficial,” she says, “this book advances discussion
to the realm of application and practice.”
McVee says, “We were committed to authentic
explorations of learning and teaching in a digital world” and
notes that the book contributes the voices of teachers and students
who are exploring real consequences of digital teaching and
learning – real people in real classrooms.
A recent review of the book in Discourse: Studies in the
Cultural Politics of Education concluded that it “provides
hope, encouragement and honest reflection, supporting other
educators to embody multimodal design pedagogies and to embrace the
learning of ‘new literacies’ in ‘new
Miller’s City Voices, City Visions project, which
attracted national attention when it was founded 11 years ago, a
time when video production was just starting to be accepted as a
basic educational tool by the academic culture.
Through CVCV, Miller, a former high school English teacher,
showed students from the City of Buffalo Public Schools how to
compose their own digital videos as part of their classroom work.
This was several years before YouTube inspired legions of video
authors and made the process part of mainstream culture.
McVee and a team of colleagues, working through the UB Center
for Literacy and Reading Instruction, also have come to national
prominence for developing innovative digital literacy practices for
use in teacher education, including, most recently, work on a
reflective video pedagogy.