Chapter 1: Calls for Digital Literacy and Our Response
This chapter serves as a literature review to underscore the research questions Coley presents in Chapter 2. Coley begins by looking at national, disciplinary, and local initiatives in digital media integration. For instance, he describes the MacArthur Foundation’s fifty-million-dollar digital media and learning initiative, which was designed to help "determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life" (13). The white paper that resulted from this study, with Henry Jenkins as lead author, mentions the "ethical challenge" of digital media, but Coley notes that the white paper fails to define the "ethical challenge," and the term is therefore underdeveloped. He also mentions that the Conference on College Composition and Communication’s "Position Statement on Teaching and Assessing Writing in Digital Environments" does not explicitly mention ethics when it makes recommendations for teaching writing with digital media. Coley thus establishes a need for a more clearly defined sense of ethics with regard to digital media composing in the classroom by showing that there is a disparity between our (writing instructors and WPAs') use of digital media and our understanding of the ethical implications of this use (15). Drawing from Stuart Selber’s three multiliteracies for a digital age—functional, critical, and rhetorical literacies—then, Coley argues for a fourth multiliteracy—ethical literacy.
Chapter 2: A Grounded Activity Approach to Research in the Digitally Mediated Writing Classroom
Coley describes his multimodal research method in his second chapter. The particular questions guiding his research are as follows:
- What are the ethical concerns/issues that might arise when using digital media in the writing classroom?
- How are instructors and administrators considering these issues/concerns?
- How do instructors and writing program administrators at public institutions and at faith-based institutions approach these concerns?
- How do students in digital media-enabled writing classrooms feel about/understand such usage? (27).
The main sites for his research are one large, public university and one small, private, faith-based college. The larger institution is a Midwestern public university with around 18,000 students; the other site is a small private college in the southeast, with an enrollment of approximately 430 students. Each institution was chosen based on the following factors: representation of the desired sample, technology access, willingness to participate, use of digital media, and Coley’s familiarity with the context of these sites. Coley's primary research method is using interviews with one instructor and one WPA from each of these two institutions, all of which use digital technology in their classrooms/programs. He conducts two one-hour interviews with both the WPA and instructor from both chosen sites.
To offset the particularity of this approach, he also conducts surveys at multiple universities with similar contexts as the two main case studies. Coley states that he used a combination of grounded theory and activity theory to analyze his data. Importantly, he recognizes the two different lineages of grounded theory, identifying his own method with Straussian grounded theory, which allows him to provide a "systematic approach to qualitative research that pairs nicely with the social considerations inherent in activity theory" (29). So, grounded theory assists with the direct step-by-step analysis, while activity theory provides a conceptual framework, allowing for consideration of the context and culture of the participants.