Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Longevity of The Essay

This very short video of Professor Welby Ings from the AUT University was shared with me by my family members. It is entitled, "In 15 years: Death of the essay?"
He is talking about the death of the essay as we traditionally know it, and a sound bite relating to the discussion above caught my attention:
 "Sometimes moving academic conventions is like trying to move a cemetery".

In the teaching and learning space his comment that, "Schools will have to move beyond limited ideas of reading and writing as literacy" will resonate with most of our teachers who are fully immersed in digital environments.

The 3rd-party Add-ons for Google Docs will play into this significantly. We already were seeing the affordances that the simple Research Tool was creating for writers. Direct integration of this range of apps and media into any given document has now exploded the range of possibilities for those of us engaging in every kind of writing. 

It will be interesting (and probably frustrating) to see if the Universities are able to make any moves towards acknowledging this.

With our MDTA programme well underway and the academic workload mounting for the 30+ Manaiakalani Teachers who are either working towards an Honours or a Masters degree, some interesting conversations are emerging.  

Of interest at the moment is, "What constitutes academic literature?" when writing a Lit Review. This is particularly significant to the many of our teachers who are exploring highly innovative research areas and much of the 'literature' is in videos, podcasts, blogs and other online material.  


  1. Very interesting post and video. Although I believe that schools will have to move beyond limited ideas of reading and writing as literacy, I do not believe that the traditional essay will die out. However, it will be interesting to see if what he says proves to be true in 15 years.

  2. "...and most importantly, the ability to discern between quality information and what is just elegantly styled dross..." THIS will be the most important skill we can teach our 21st century students. The online environment DOES contain the world's greatest library and garbage dump in the same venue. Reading comprehension will become, not only "do you understand what you just read", but "can you tell if it is credible or just a bunch of bologna"? As for the different types of media taking the place of the written essay, I can see that happening. One of my next assignments is a video book report! Thanks for sharing this video Dorothy. It certainly stirs up some discussion in my workplace.

  3. @rease Thanks for the comment. I am interested that you are a believer in the longevity of the essay! As you say, time will tell. @Lynn Kia ora again. I also enjoyed the 'elegantly styled dross'. This guy sure has a way with language, which makes his opinions even more interesting...

  4. I like this thinking. The death of the essay doesn't negate deep learning and engagement it helps us to find better ways to communicate what we know. If we can, more people will engage and contribute. Many will have to learn new relational skills to engage in more succinct communication without making assumptions. Twitter is good practice on this!

  5. Hi! My name is Martavious Stewart from the University of South Alabama. I am in an EDM 310 class over here. I have seen the trend over the last few years, as everything is becoming more and more digital. I think that it is a slow fading out of the paper system. Even things like banking and bills are done electronically. Many resumes are done through a system. I think kind of like how VHS got phased out into the DVD system, it may get to that someday. Just, not anytime soon. I think that we rely on paper to some extent. I agree with the video when it comes to the definition of literacy will not just be "reading, writing, and arithmetic." The way society is set up, technological literacy is also a major necessity.

  6. I completely agree with this post/video saying that read and writing will not be the only literacy requirements in schools. The world is evolving and technology is evolving just as fast. Technology will definitely be the next major requirement in schools. Technology is a part of our everyday lives and we must know how to use it effectively to survive.

  7. Hi Dorothy,

    My name is Ramsey Willis and I am a graduate student at the University of South Alabama in an EDM (Educational Media) 510 class. I would like to center my comment on his point that the biggest challenge will be "the ability to discern between quality information and what is just elegantly styled trash" on the web. A student's ability to do this, to me, will be evidence that they have a grasp on what they should be learning and understand it well enough to defend their position with scholarly evidence. He states that "...the skills we learn in the future will have less to do with style and rote and much more to do with intelligently assessing and communicating an understanding of a very wide range of communicative media". Isn't that the purpose of learning? Shouldn't we understand and be able to communicate what we have learned using any available resource. I believe he has a very good point but to stay ahead of the curve, we must first catch up!

  8. Hi Dorothy,
    My name is Logan Nasworthy. I am a student at the University of South Alabama and am currently enrolled in EDM310, a class focused on the use of technology being used effectively within the classroom. I have only been in the course EDM310 for a week now, and already my eyes have been opened to the vast ways in which technology is changing. It is no longer our job as an educator to be the necessary source of knowledge, but to be a filter for our students. We are to help students succeed in in finding both truthful and useful information. Professor Ing is right, technology is forever changing the way we will look at education. The best way to help our students is not to resist the changes taking place, but to embrace them. Thank you for the post.

  9. Hey Dorothy! I really enjoyed this blog post. I am studying to be and English and Language Arts teacher, and have gotten in a few discussions on topics similar to this. I think universities will have a hard time acknowledging the way of finding information using technology. As the saying goes, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". I don't believe this completely, but I do believe it holds some truth. I think "old dogs" can be taught new tricks, but it will take a little longer than normal. Awesome post!

  10. Hello Dorothy,
    My name is Andrea Fust, and I am a student at University of South Alabama. I am taking EDM310 which is an educational media course. I have had online classes in the past, but this brings a new definition to the term. I had never used google docs, or a lot of other very resourceful tools. I have been missing out! I think it is so important that students learn how to use these tools early in life. The past few weeks I have spent in EDM310 has really shown me how helpful technology can be in the classroom. Teachers become more of an aid for students versus the main source of knowledge. So, I agree with the professor in the video, the world is changing. I can not wait to see what the future holds.

  11. Hi Dorothy! My name is Taylor Anglado and I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. EDM 310 is a class that revolves around technology, and some of the videos we have watched and the assignments we have completed have completely opened my eyes. By the time I become a teacher within the next few years, it will be nothing like it was when I was a student. Technology is completely taking over, which I actually think is a good thing. I definitely agree with the professor in the video that the written word is somewhat becoming obsolete; however, I do not think that it will die out completely. We do, however, have to accept the fact that the world is rapidly changing and embrace these changes as they come. I really enjoyed this video and your post. Thank you for sharing!