Writing for a Worldwide Stage: Voice and Audience in Digital Media Production

Curated by Peggy Marconi
October 29, 2010

All the world is a stage for today’s students: Shakespeare was dead on for 21st-century learning. As classrooms begin to explore digital literacies, the scholarship behind voice and audience, rehearsed or unrehearsed, becomes a critical element in the production of digital media. Students are editing for voice and audience and perfecting their work as if each of them were a playwright polishing for a Broadway production. In this collection, teachers share the powerful role a worldwide audience plays in developing voice.

This collection highlights three of the many excellent resources tagged voice and audience on the Digital Is website. Important elements of the digital classroom—inquiry, emerging experts, and a pedagogy of collegiality—are clearly themes in the work of these classrooms. Looking at a collection of resources like this helps us articulate questions. In this case, how critical is a deep understanding of voice and audience for students to be producers and consumers of digital media?

Leslie Moitoza’s resource, Rethinking Composition in a Multimodal World, is an exciting example of student and teacher as partners in the scholarship of the classroom. Skeptical that the same academic goals could be achieved when a tech component was added to a traditional essay assignment, Leslie assigned an analytical essay to be used as the voiceover for a digital story; then she partnered with her students on this inquiry.

Leslie Moitoza’s reflections:

Students seriously discussed their purpose and intended effect on the audience. They got the idea of “audience” which was never as evident in the traditional essay process. They really cared that their story had its intended effect when they knew it would be shown to a large audience of their peers. Students better understood the concept of “voice” in writing because their essay text was the voiceover for their digital story. They began realizing that their “voice” in academic writing could be powerful and actually sound real like their own speaking voice.

Another resource well worth the visit in this collection is Dave Boardman’s Amplifying Student Voices. Dave examines his own practices with laser-like focus and then takes us on a journey of discovery with his students, celebrating voice through digital literacies.

Dave Boardman’s reflections:

What’s impressive is that voice, that sense of individuality that gets stripped out of much academic writing, drives the process. One student, Josh, has steadily found avenues through multimedia to exercise his writer’s voice in ways that non-digital writing doesn’t offer. Josh’s digital story as a first-year English student traced his path of learning to play the guitar. It was his start in high school of exploring non-traditional forms of writing.

The third resource is Voice and Composition: Authenticity Through Digital Literacies by Dawn Reed, who was stunned by results.

Dawn Reed’s reflections:

While I had many reasons…and questions to explore about the role of digital literacies in the classroom, I didn’t anticipate the way this project would transform my teaching and classroom learning community.

From this project, clear illustrations of the importance of authentic audiences and purposes as well as the role of recording a spoken essay with the intent of podcasting influence the writing process through a deeper appreciation and relevancy of composition and revision. When the audience is more than the classroom, the composer is often more engaged and the composer more fully embraces the challenge of addressing the audience. Not knowing the audience provides a different challenge about how to address that audience when our voices are literally something that can go to the whole world. Our speaking personalities develop in the delivery and the language used in the composition. Our voices become real to tell who we are, and the way we understand voice is broadened as podcasting then becomes a game changer for the composer as the composer is able to shape their own voice for the audience.

The resources by Leslie Moitoza, Dave Boardman and Dawn Reed demonstrate the effectiveness of the digital classroom. Each teacher’s practice was transformed through thoughtful inquiry; their students’ work was transformed through rehearsal for presentation on a worldwide stage.

I hope you enjoy exploring this collection. It represents the other fine works of our colleagues’ resources tagged voice and audience. All are impressive resources for professional growth.

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