Possibilities for Fostering Successful, Liberatory Partnerships: The Integration of Service Learning and Technologies

“Possibilities for Fostering Successful, Liberatory Partnerships: The Integration of Service Learning and Technologies”
Presentation abstract from 2014 Thomas R. Watson Conference on Rhetoric and Composition

In Multiliteracies for a Digital Age, Stuart Selber proposes that three types of literacy—functional, critical, and rhetorical— are needed for a complete understanding of the ways that both instructors and students interact with technology. Without these literacies, the use of emerging technologies within the composition classroom can “unwittingly promote inequitable and counterproductive technological practices” by inadvertently denying access to students from marginalized backgrounds (Selber 8). As the prevalence of technology and multimodal projects increases in FYC programs, it is imperative that in our attempts to integrate technology and, perhaps, better prepare our students for what seems to be an increasingly digital world, that we do not ignore the possibility of reinforcing current hegemonic rhetorics of power.

In this presentation, I posit that one way to resist this possibility is to examine the potential for combining emerging technologies in the university with service learning and community engagement to create successful community-university partnerships that, as Eli Goldblatt defines in Because We Live Here, are balanced and “always monitored and adjusted by critical reflection and lots of open conversation” (197). How can we use technology to increase community-university collaboration, and what sort of literacies and discourses are necessary? I address this question by exploring, through Selber’s postcritical stance, real-life possibilities for technology-based service learning projects, as well as what material conditions, specifically instructor and student support, must be in place to bring about effective community-university relationships.