Digital Gap & A Different Versatility

(All the pictures above are from google pictures. Intellectual rights reserved to those who originally produced them.)

This week’s readings reminds me of the digital gap and ancient people’s versatility. When I enjoy the advantages of technologies and digital learning, I am also concerned and worried about my students back in China. Most of my undergraduates do not even have a PC. Those of the graduate students who do have one, may not have the chance to get digital literacy in a classroom, or be able to write multimodal composition. I think of the great masters of ancient times because they are versatile without any digital device, only that their learning process is different. For example, the Maya people mark their calendars according to their naked eye observation of the stars, in ancient China, it is the same. I cannot help asking a question here: Are we becoming smart or stupid compared to our ancestors? Maybe there is no absolute answer I think. I mean, imagine how the ancient guys  built the Pyramids, the Great Wall, and so on.

Digital gap among nations and people is already evident in the digital race world wide. I think China has a long long way to go on the road of digital literacy. The Department of Foreign Languages, owing to the governmental fundings, is often the most equipped department except the Computer Science Department in terms of computers and new media facilities. To peer review in a computer based classroom for most of the majors in China is not possible for now in most of Chinese universities. On the one hand, the teaching method is mostly teaching centered. On the other, infrastructure condition does not allow that happen. Students’ writings are basically evaluated by the instructors by hand because  assignments are hand written. I do not ask students to hand me in printed papers because they may spend more money on that if they do not have a computer or a printer and have to go to the university printing shops.

Versatility, an ability that was previously considered as a combination of skills in different fields such as astronomy, philosophy, and so on, is now having new dimension of multi-literacies. Therefore, it is becoming more and more difficult for us to become an expert in many fields. I doubt that if great men such as Aristotle and Confucius were alive, could they manage to be that great if they got a lot more to explore and learn. Maybe great men are fewer and fewer just because the information and knowledge load we have today. What US is having now is the future of many third world nations. The remaining gap is good, at least, people always has something to learn from each other by looking forward to their future, or by looking back to their past.

What I am concerned is how can instructors and students manage their tasks? They are not having easy tasks after all. I think “recomposition”(Devoss and Ridolfo”Rhetoric Velocity and Delivery”) is probably one way to both learn and write. Issues that deal with infrastructure improvement, teacher training, students’ motivation, and so on hinders our progress to some extent. I agree with Anderson that multimedia can motivate students, and infrastructures can bring on support and disruption in composition classroom(Devoss, Cushman, and Grabill).


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ellah1
    Nov 04, 2012 @ 22:23:04

    Thank you for the graphs. I am surprised that the Chinese universities are not as well-equipped with computers. I assumed that most major cities around the world shared had similar technologies to those in the United States. You and Lin have given me much insight into Chinese education. Thank you.


  2. Belle Wang's multi-modal writing studio
    Nov 04, 2012 @ 22:47:23

    Thank you for reading, It is true that Chinese coastal cities and some metropolitans have better infrastructural condition than the rest of the country, but compared to US, where computers are equipped in almost all classrooms, China has quite a long way to go. For instance, my former classmates who are working in Tibet and Xinjiang told me some classrooms of the remote areas are not well equipped.


  3. Bradford Hincher
    Nov 06, 2012 @ 01:43:34

    Belle, I am very impressed with this quote: “Maybe great men are fewer and fewer just because of the information and knowledge load we have today.” I read this before class, and I had notes on it so that we could talk about it during my presentation. It is unfortunate that we ran out of time. I think this is something we all need to consider. It reminds me of the paradox that I stated today is inherent in almost everything involving computers and composition. Specifically in terms of what you brought up, it is both easier and more difficult to gain attention and recognition in the digital age. We are gaining opportunities for that, at the same time that we are losing them.


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