Writing Spaces Through Time

Emerging technologies change how we approach daily tasks


Think about writing spaces through time. How have the following facets changed or evolved?
  • the technology itself
  • the access to the technology
  • the pace of (r)evolution
  • the control of content
  • the authoring of content
  • the sharing of content
  • the proliferation of content-creating devices in the 21st century

Consider how the following technologies changed over time and space:

Papyrus scrolls - Codices - Printing Press - Typewriter - Personal Computer - Email - Visual Websites - Wikis (Wikipedia began in 2001)



“Seen any papyrus scrolls lately? . . . No? Guess why not? They used to be the very latest form of text, totally en vogue. The most literate people used them. But guess what? The scroll was supplanted—totally obliterated and replaced by a new kind of text: the medieval codex . . . . Been to the local library lately? Seen any codices? No? Why not? Because a new technology came along that made the codex totally and utterly obsolete. Yes, Gutenberg’s printing press and Gutenberg’s book created a completely new kind of writing space—one that was more efficient and effective. So the codex became history. And the scribes? They became obsolete, too! Do you want that to happen to you—or to your students?" (Wilhelm, 2000, pp. 5-6).

Watch Help Desk - Why was this video so humorous? What implications does it have for your present personal and professional contexts?


The task is consistent over time - write and share information. It is the tool that has become more efficient over time. Think about this - do you word process using a computer? Would you prefer to use a typewriter? Probably not - you are probably more efficient with a computer than a typewriter. Think about what we ask our students to do, and with what tools. Why is there insistence on using inefficient tools in our schools? Why is there a desire to maintain control of the content and process?



Why should we care about new technologies?


Literacy by Design: Why Is All This Technology So Important? (Say Something)


21st Century Literacies




Time to Explore!


How do these sites change your understanding of what it means to be literate in the 21st Century?


Cat Herding - An excellent example of how images can be juxtaposed with words to create three very different layers of meaning

Eyetrack III - Fixation Exercise - Test your understanding of eye movement patterns typical of people viewing a webpage with this interactive quiz.

Eyetrack III - Heatmap Representation - Take a look at what research shows about eye movement patterns and their implications for web page design.

Le Grand Content - A short, fascinating video that relies on associative, conceptual thinking that is carefully sequenced and represented via a sequence of images toproduce powerful social commentary.

Lexus IS Campaign - The unique editing techniques, metaphorical illusions, and powerful slogan, Why live in one dimension? combine to produce a powerful message about teaching, learning, and life.

Man vs. Magnet - Quid Pro Quo - A cooperative, surrealistic endeavor where one artist picks up the threads of another's work and attempts to weave them in to his or her own interpretation.

Newsmap - A concept map of current news that uses size, color, and position to indicate the relative "strength" of the stories. Be sure to note the country tabs at the top of the page. It is interesting to compare the kind of coverage various stories are getting in newspapers from different countries.

Live Plasma, Musicovery, Pandora and Music-Map Think of your favorite genres and artists and use these websites to find related music and artists

Online Reading Strategies - This fantastic PowerPoint offers a rationale for teaching online reading strategies, identifies student behaviors that are indicators of poor reading strategies, and offers multiple suggestions for things teachers can do to teach online reading strategies that will help students to become more successful readers of both print and online text.

Periodic Table of Visualization Methods - Multiple methods of visualizing data and represent them in the style of the periodic table of elements. A link to the article that accompanies the table: http://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.pdf A link to visual maps of other researchers working in a similar vein: http://www.visual-literacy.org/pages/documents.htm

Quintura - A very cool search engine that returns the results visually. Mouse over one of the tag words to see additional layers of results. See the new site for kids here: http://kids.quintura.com/

State of the Pandemic - Note how each example of visually represented data helps you to understand and remember a particular idea.

Super Duper Music Looper - This fun demo will help you understand the idea of tracks and layering

Washing Machine Poetry - Beautiful example of allusivity and the power of a visual experience.

Websites as Graphs - Lets you visualize the content of a website (in terms of images, tables, text, etc.) graphically. Useful for evaluating websites in terms of content and design issues.



Creative Tools


Audacity – Phenomenal, free software you can download and use just like a tape-recorder. Great for projects that require interviewing or sound files. Students can also use it to edit, layer, or remove background noise from their own audio tracks. Even better, they can save the files as MP3 files and export them to their iPods!

Brochure Creator - Design brochures and flyers by selecting themes and templates, editing the text, adding your own images, and printing

BubblePLY - Allows you to add speech and thought bubbles to any online video

Bubbleshare - Allows you to edit audio and images online for free

Bubbl.us - Easy-to-use, online graphic organizer that is shareable

Buzzword - Easy-to-use Word-like interface that allows you to store all your documents online, collaborate with others, export to Word, etc.

ClassTools - Provides flash-based templates for the creation of graphic organizers, puzzles, and worksheets

Comeeko (Now called Pikistrips) - Free, well-designed software that lets you create comic strips and save them for others to view

Create Your Scenario - Darling tool that lets elementary students select characters, type lines for each one, save their work, and generate a playscript

Cmap - Free, online collaborative concept mapping

De.licio.us - This free social bookmarking site allows you to create an annotated list of online bookmarks to your favorite websites and to share them with friends. Great for groups who are trying to keep track of what they have each discovered in researching their topics. [[http://del.icio.us/|]]

Dumpr - This free online suite of tools allows you to edit your Flickr photos in order to turn them into coloring book images (VERY COOL), make them look old, turn them into globes, or add reflections. You can then save them to your Flickr account. (Still in beta)

Evite - This site allows you to design custom invitations for various kinds of events, draft a guest list, send the invitations, and track the responses automatically. You can choose from pre-made themes and templates, or create your own.

FDs Flickr Toys - Some FUN things you can do to Flickr photos (such as create CD covers, magazine covers, mosaics, trading cards, etc.) that would make super assignments

Five Thousand Resources to do Just About Anything Online - Metalist that compiles all the individual collections of lists re: various applications and tools from Mashable (Social Networking News blog) into one giant list.

Flickr - Allows you to create libraries of images that you can share with others and is a particularly good place to "store" a shared collection of photos for a group.

FoxIt - Free PDF reader that allows users to annotate PDFs via highlighting, text, or drawing tools, to fill out forms and save them, to view PDFs as text, etc. Also has a multi-language interface, self-upgrade, on-demand download, and javascript support.

Gabcast - Allows you to record audio greetings, blog postings, and podcasts from your phone or voice over IP, post them online, and share them for free.

Gcast - Create podcasts--all from the convenience of your cell phone and using a "podsafe" free music library. Also lets you mix playlists online.

Generator Blog - Contains links to all sorts of free, interesting generators (such as cereal boxes, insurance cards, money, etc.) that would be great tools for students to use in creating creative advertising campaigns

Gliffy - An online application that allows you to create diagrams and share them with others.

Google Docs - Free, online spreadsheet and word processor like Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word that lets multiple users on different computers edit a document simultaneously and save it online. Great for collaborative authoring among various group members. Combine this with Skype for voice features too!

Google Notebook – Lets you copy snippets from online articles, or create your own running notebook on the topics of your choice online. The notebooks can be kept private or shared, making them a great place for students to take notes, keep track of sources, and know where their peers have already looked

Google Reader - After creating a free account, students can use this service to keep track of the webpages to which they have "subscribed" (for free and very easily) using RSS technology. Teachers can "subscribe" to their students' blogs and easily keep track of who has posted new content

GoToQuiz.com - Allows you to create free quizzes, polls, and surveys that you can use on your blog, MySpace, etc.


Google Sketchup - Allows you to create buildings and other models in a flash

GoToQuiz.com - Allows you to create free quizzes, polls, and surveys that you can use on your blog, MySpace, etc. ]

Imagini: Discover Your Visual DNA - Make a visual profile of yourself.

Jumpcut - Allows you to edit digital video for free online. Great for students who don't have access to anything but the internet at home!

Keep Toolkit - A free, online project planning template that allows students to input images, text, and video into different "boxes" to create a shareable "project portfolio."

Letterpop - Create newsletters from hundreds of templates using point and click editing

Meeting Wizard - A free, online tool that allows you to negotiate a date for an event, send out invitations, collect responses, and send reminders . . . all automatically!

Motivator - Create your own motivational posters for free with a digital photo and a few clicks. Download them, e-mail them, print them, or upload them to Flickr. You can also order print copies

Pandora - Type in your favorite artists and Pandora will create "stations" of streaming music that is similar to the work of the artists you have selected, based on research from the Music Genome Project. You can create up to 100 stations for free (registration required)!

Picnik - Absolutely fabulous, free, easy-to-use, extremely functional, online image editing software. Lets you rotate, crop, color, or edit photos and will soon offer special effects. Interfaces very well with Flicker. (Still in beta)

Pikipimp - A free, online site that lets you upload pictures, add all sorts of accessories and speech bubbles to them, then save them. The site will generate a URL where the pictures can be viewed, as well as code for your webpage.

Protopage - Ever wonder what a Web 2.0 webpage will look like? Well, here's the answer! Register for free to get your own page, then customize the content by clicking on any of the tabs and altering their contents. Make as much as you like public or private. Like someone else's content? Simply click import and watch it all get added to your page!

Quickmaps - Allows you to pinpoint locations on a Google map, title and annotate the map, draw on the map, save all your annotations, and then generates a code you can embed into your blog or website to display the map

Quintura - A very cool search engine that returns the results visually. Mouse over one of the tag words to see additional layers of results. See the new site for kids here: http://kids.quintura.com/

Room Arranger - Drag and drop furniture is great for envisioning the possibilities of different classroom layouts (requires download of free software)

Scrapblog - Combines the purposes and multimedia features of blogging with the visual affordances of scrapbooking. Comes with built-in templates and can accommodate music and video too

Scribd - Allows you to upload documents to share with others

Skype – Free software that allows you to talk to anyone in the world (up to 4 people at once) through your computer for free with a cheap headset mic (like the telemarketers wear) as long as the other person also has the software. Great for group conversations about projects. You can also call landlines or cell phones, but there is a charge for that

SimsOnStage - American Idol meets You Tube in a Web 2.0 sort of way . . . record and upload songs just like you might do with photos to Flickr. People can vote on them, etc.

Singshot - American Idol meets You Tube in a Web 2.0 sort of way . . . record and upload songs just like you might do with photos to Flickr. People can vote on them, etc .

Slide.com - Use premade themes to create slideshows from your photos that you can embed in your blog or website.

Super Duper Music Looper This demo will help you understand the idea of tracks and layering

Swicki - Free software that allows you to create a search engine on your site that will evolve the results over time to better serve users based on their click patterns.

Swivel - Lets you explore, compare, and share data

The Amazing You Tube Tools Collection - A collection of tools to help those interested in using/publishing materials to You Tube.

Tubes - Allows users to drag and drop content (audio files, bookmarks, documents, e-mail contact lists, spreadsheets, videos) into a "tube" that can then be accessed by all those who have been invited to share it. Invitees can also upload content to the tube, making project collaboration easier. The latest versions of content in the tube synch up when the user is online. Click on the Download link to see a 30-second demo.

Viddler - Allows you to upload up to 500 MB of video directly from the camera to the website, insert timed comments, tags, and share with others

VoiceThread - Easy way to connect photos and voices--particularly useful for emphasizing language without ignoring visual (in FL classes, for example). Would also be great for capturing family history

Webnote Wiki - Allows users to collaboratively take color-coded notes in a space they create and organize them graphically. People can subscribe to your RSS feed.

Weebly - Drag and drop website creation and editing from templates

Wikispaces - Allows you to set up collaborative work spaces where multiple people can collaborate. Allows uploading of documents, files, images, and multimedia in addition to basic text, and includes discussion boards for every page, editing histories, revert options, RSS subscriptions, and the ability to review recent changes.

Yugma - Amazing, free Web 2.0 videoconferencing software. Collaborate using a whiteboard, shared desktop control, private and public chat within your group, and a number of other useful options . . . all for FREE! Also works beautifully with Skype.



Literacy Tools


Fenetiks: The Sounds of Spoken Language - An outstanding site that uses multiple representations (audio, diagrams, text, and video) to teach students the phonetics of English, German, and Spanish.

Readable.com - Upload Word documents or webpage URLs to get an instant, free analysis of the readability of your writing. (See also Readability-Score.com)

Voycabulary - Type a URL into the searchbox, select a dictionary in the language of your choice, and watch this little tool make every word on the page a hotlink that students can click on in order to get a definition.



Additional Resources on Multiple Literacies


Barker, Olivia. (2006, May 29). Technology leaves teens speechless. USATODAY.com - Interesting article describing how trends in technology use among teens may be affecting them both academically and socially.

Center for Media Literacy - A phenomenal site filled with resources for teachers regarding the theory, practice, and implementation of an effective media literacy curriculum. Be sure to download the Media Lit Kit materials and posters for free (and note that they are all available in Spanish too).

Downey, Gregg W. (2006, December 22). Six ed-tech trends to watch in 2007. Eschool News. Retrieved January 15, 2006, from http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=6781&page=1 - Discusses potential implications that trends toward democratization of the World Wide Web, cloud computing, service-oriented architecture, sharable content object reference models (SCORM), telepresence, and the idea of 21st Century learning may have on education.

Madden, Mary, & Fox, Susannah. (2006, October 5). Riding the waves of "web 2.0." Pew Internet Project Backgrounder. - This mini-report discusses the meaning of the phrase "Web 2.0," its significance, and comparative trends in the use of tools like Geocities v. My Space, Encarta v. Wikipedia, and Kodakgallery v. Photobucket. The report concludes with a list of activities that might be considered Web 2.0, along with current lists of percentages of users who have engaged in each one.

Map of Future Forces Affecting Education

The Media History Project - A rich site that traces the history of various media-related fields and technologies via timelines, resource collections, and lists of links.

Prensky, Marc. (2001, October). Digital Natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), pp. 1-6.
This article explains some of the ways that 21st Century learners differ from those of previous generations by drawing on the analogy of immigration and is particularly helpful for working with an audience of foreign language educators.

Wilhelm, Jeff. (2000, March). Literacy by design: Why is all this technology so important anyhow? Voices from the Middle, 7(3), pp. 4-14.
An intriguing article that makes a compelling case for why teachers should consider making space for alternative writing places, spaces, and tools in 21st Century classrooms. He also outlines the benefits of using design-based curricula with students.