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Currents Retrospective



Since its inception, Currents has been at the forefront when it comes to tracking pedagogical innovations of the digital variety, whether that involved (involves as the case may be) video games or social media. To quote from our “Welcome to the Currents Blog” entry,

In March 1999, The Matrix was released in theaters and popularized concepts common to early cyber-punk. Viewers were forced to reevaluate their understanding of technology – specifically, the internet – and its potential to influence, distort, or even replace reality. Yet, at this time, sectors of academia were still learning to adjust to the very idea that the “Web” could offer pedagogical value, much less that it could become so seamlessly integrated into everyday life.

However, for those at the DWRL and at Currents, the value of digital pedagogy had never been in doubt. In 1999, this journal published an article discussing how the World Wide Web might intersect with English studies and in the Spring 2002 issue, many of the published articles focus on computer assisted classrooms. Even internet chat rooms - seemingly trivial and unrelated to traditional academia and pedagogy - were given their moment in the critical spotlight here long before the language of “text speak,” hashtags, and instant messaging entered mainstream consciousness as irreversible, unavoidable components of modern rhetoric.

What is notable about Currents' investment in pedagogy is that many of the featured articles and topics are still relevant and applicable today even though they were published over a decade ago. Isn’t distance learning - covered in the Fall 1999 issue - still a subject of debate? What about the complex connections tying video games to literacy to rhetorical composition? Looking back at Currents’ involvement in pedagogical innovation is less “retrospective” than it is...well, current.

Featured under this section are two pieces exploring the vast interdisciplinary potential of digital pedagogy. In “Literature+” by Alan Liu, we are introduced to the many tools that other fields can offer to literary studies. Students work collaboratively to experiment with different models and applications (e.g. “Online immersive social worlds,” “Visual programming systems,” and “‘Mashup’ creation tools”) that can open new paths in literary interpretation and analysis. What isn’t fascinating about a group project in which students “[assign] musical values to word types in Shakespeare's sonnets to create analytical soundscapes of individual poems”? On the other hand, “Computer Games Across the Curriculum: A Critical Review of an Emerging Techno-Pedagogy” (by Jennifer de Winter, Daniel Griffin , Ken S. McAllister, Ryan M. Moeller, and Judd Ethan Ruggill) is an expert, helpful overview of the challenges that can arise when costly technologies such as - though not limited to - computer games are implemented in the classroom. It’s not enough to consider the benefits of digital innovation - one must also navigate the complications. 

Featured Articles:

2010 Gaming Across banner


by Alan Liu (2008, Issue 11)

Computer Games Across the Curriculum: A Critical Review of an Emerging Techno-Pedagogy

Jennifer de Winter (WPI), Daniel Griffin, Ken S. McAllister (University of Arizona), Ryan M. Moeller (Utah State), and Judd Ethan Ruggill (Arizona State) (2010, Issue 13)

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