Teaching Literature with Technology

Yesterday, our English Department held an institute on Cultural Literacies in the 21st Century. One of the speakers, Janice Fernheimer, an assistant professor in the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, gave an excellent presentation, "Teaching the Raven Using Technology".

As she noted, it's easier to go from the known to the unknown. So, she introduces students to Poe's Raven via a YouTube clip on a Simpson's episode that is based on the Raven. In addition to the typical discussion questions, she provides links to other online sources discussing the Simpson's episode, the Raven, Poe's crafting of the Raven, readings that give different perspectives on different aspects of Poe's poem. One linked website even has various manuscripts of the Raven, underscoring the concept that texts are not fixed entities but evolving ones.

This presentation shows clearly some of the advantages of using the web for teaching and learning, such as:

  • providing access to otherwise unavailable materials,
  • facilitating a critical understanding by bringing together various viewpoints side by side,
  • linking the known popular culture to the unknown academic culture, and
  • integrating visual modalities like videos