Friday, May 19, 2006
Here's to my fabulously notorious colleagues!
I knew that the AERA session organised by Jennifer Stone, and including in person, Rebecca Black, Wan Shun Eva Lam and Dongping Zheng was a winner the moment I saw it and was thrilled to be invited to be a discussant. The symposium was very well-received and lots of very well-deserved kudos were showered down on all four presenters. Now their fame is spreading even wider! An ultra-conservative publication, The National Review Online has publicly denounced the symposium, and accused it of promoting "cyber jargon" (which the authors seem to think is a "field of research" which strikes me as rather nonsensical, but then, hey, I'm not claiming to be an expert on this stuff). Now, I'm not sure if the authors actually attended the symposium itself--there's certainly no evidence whatsoever that they did (e.g., they talk about people emerging from "hushed sessions" but I know for a fact that this particular symposium was as rowdy as all get-out!)--but their listing of the presentation titles makes their accusations regarding "cyber-jargon" muddier than the Murray River in full-flood. Let's see, they list:
- Jennifer's paper: "The 'Unofficial' Literacy Curriculum: Popular Websites in Adolescents' Out-of-School Lives" (uhm, no cyber-jargon there that I can see, unless "websites" is the culprit...)
- Rebecca's paper: "Not Just the OMG Standard: Reader Feedback in Online Fan Fiction" (Okay. I can see how "online" might be an intimidating concept for the authors)
- Dongping's paper (with Michael Young): "English-Language Learning in a 3-D Virtual Environment: Native/Non-Native Speaker Dyads Co-Questing in Quest Atlantis" (okay, okay, so if "website" and "online" throw 'em, then what hope is there for "3-D virtual environment"? Interestingly enough, however, and upon further reading of the authors' ranting diatribe, it seems that the term "dyad" throws them, so much so that they confuse it for cyber-jargon instead of as a perfectly reasonable linguistic construct; the "co-questing in Quest Atlantis" seems to confound especially. Maybe it's the reference to "Atlantis" that troubles them; it can't the the term "quest").
They don't list Eva's presentation (with Enid Rosario), "Digital literacy and transnationalism among adolescent immigrants in the U.S." which suggests they didn't find it cyber-jargonic. Maybe the reference to "nationalism" saved this particular paper.
Anyway, I am honoured to be able to say proudly "I was there!" and that the symposium collectively worked to advocate strongly for young people's digital savviness and their effective DIY approaches to learning--a much needed role in current high-stakes testing school contexts and narrow conceptions of what it means to be literate. I know exactly whose side I'm on in this particular debate!