Teaching Opportunities with the DALN by Michael Blancato

by: Michael Blancato

One advantage of the Digital Archive of Literacy Narrative (DALN) system is that users can submit literacy stories in a format of their choosing. For example, some folks are not comfortable being filmed or do not have access to video recording equipment, and are thus more inclined to provide literacy narratives as audio or text files. The DALN’s capacity to accept multiple file types is great for increasing user accessibility, but this platform versatility creates teaching opportunities as well.

I was assigned to teach a section of “Digital Media Composing” for the spring 2017 semester. One of my course objectives was to have my students analyze the affordances and limitations of every piece of technology they used in class. With this goal in mind, I asked students to produce audio literacy narratives for their first project. In my experience, students are given many opportunities to explore the rhetorical power of written words and images in composition course assignments, but rarely have opportunities to discover the rhetorical power of sound. In order to orient my students to the rhetorical possibilities afforded by sound, I asked students to listen to episodes of Radiolab, a syndicated radio program whose producers employ sound recordings and music in innovative and engaging ways. We talked about how the producers of these stories incorporate outside sounds and music to embellish certain moments and render their stories more immersive for the listener.

Armed with a greater appreciation for sound, I asked students to browse literacy narratives on the DALN. Students analyzed both audio and video narratives, and we talked about key differences between the two modes of production. It is easy to see emotion on a person’s face as they describe meaningful personal stories during a video literacy narrative. Audio production affords different opportunities to capture emotion and engage listeners through layered sound.

I invited students to post final versions of their projects to the DALN. A few took me up on the offer, and I encourage readers of this blog to check out Carissa Nardo’s story “My Word” and Braden Heyd’s “Learning How to Really Speak.”

If you are interested in hearing more about the course or would like access to any of my assignment prompts, feel free to e-mail me at blancato.1@osu.edu.