"Before this project, I just wrote papers, but now I'm dealing with meaning."
After the Available Designs have been determined and selected then “Designing” can begin. The New London Group describes Deigning as “The process of shaping emergent meaning”, which “involves re-representation and recontextualisation” (Cope & Kalantizis, 2000, p. 22) of the Available Designs. The terms “re-representation” and “recontextualisation” (my italics) underscore the notion that Designing does not merely mirror the Available Design; instead, Designing is seen as a creative act, since it “transforms knowledge by producing new constructions and representations” through the “new use of old materials” as well as through a “re-articulation and recombination of the given resources of Available Designs” (Cope & Kalantizis, 2000, p. 22). Hints of James Porter’s theories of Intertextuality are inherent here as are Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin’s theories of Remediation. As noted earlier, the digital heuristic, broadly then, can be taken as a new design or “Redesign” of an ancient rhetorical tool for invention and as such, “has a ring of familiarity to it” (Cope & Kalantizis, 2000, p. 22). Likewise, on one level, student utilization of the aforementioned digital heuristic generates a Redesign of the literacy montage model given to the students as an example. On another level, student utilization of the digital heuristic recontextualizes the students’ knowledge of the writing process and generates ideas as well as focus for their subsequent textual argument. In each case, “Designing” has occurred.
The result of Designing, the Redesign, consequently carries “new meaning” and challenges “meaning makers” to “reconstruct and renegotiate their identities” (Cope & Kalantizis, 2000, p. 23). In other words, although the Redesign carries familiarity, it also embodies the “new.” Consequently, those creating or building knowledge through the Redesign are likely to experience a personal shift in opportunity, perspective, and/or understanding. For students, specifically, the digital heuristic as Redesign allows them the opportunity to “reconstruct and renegotiate their identities” as learners and creators of meaning. The New London Group writes: “There is ample evidence that people do not learn anything well unless they are both motivated to learn and believe that they will be able to use and function with what they are learning in some way that is in their interest” (Cope & Kalantizis, 2000, p. 33). The digital heuristic provides that motivation in that it builds on students’ prior knowledge, in particular, their knowledge of the writing process and of technology. Furthermore, the particular digital heuristic discussed here includes a metacognitive element (see “By Choice”) and was designed to act as a springboard into a traditional written assignment. Thus, a digital heuristic Redesign can challenge students to reflect upon their composing processes as they develop the skills to negotiate between digital and written landscapes. In the process, students build identities as active learners, “code switchers,” and ultimately, as makers of meaning.
For composition instructors, this theory of Redesign suggests that in crafting pedagogical strategies such as digital heuristics for students, we not only facilitate our students’ growth as learners, but we also answer a number of calls:
- “to help students develop a critical technological literacy” (Selfe, Technology and Literacy, 1999, p. 144)
- to be “active and effective [“agents”] in determining their own uses of computers” (Hawisher, LeBlanc, Moran, & Selfe, 1996, p. 284).
- “to work the borders between tradition and change” and develop “an ability to adapt and improvise and amalgamate” (Brandt, 1995, p. 660)
- to “help learners to denaturalize and make strange again what they have learned” (Cope & Kalantizis, 2000, p. 34).
- to "think in new ways about both the production and reception of multimodal texts" (Takayoshi and Selfe, 2007, p. 7).
And it is in answering these calls, that we “renegotiate our identities” as instructors, as scholars, and as professionals. Furthermore, we can re-imagine ourselves as producers and advocates of efficacious pedagogical designs that consider and implement “all available rhetorical means ” (Takayoshi & Selfe, 2007, p. 6) for inventing and for composing.