Exchanging Lives: The Life and Afterlife of a BLTN Online Exchange

May 14th, 2014 | By | Category: BLTN Teachers, Issue, Spring 2014
-by Dixie Goswami
Director, Bread Loaf Teacher Network

We’re eager for you to comment on our Exchanging Lives project for this issue of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network Journal:  To compose a digital essay, a piece of writing meant to be read on the screen rather than the page.  As we launched this project, our digital expertise ranged from Andrea, Tom,  Phil, and Scott’s (on a scale of 1-5 they get 5’s) to mine (-1). As digital writers we mixed our brief written texts and quotes from Exchanging Lives with images and excerpts,  and our own talking heads on VoiceThread (an easy-to-use Web 2.0 tool).  The result,  we hope, is an engaging beginning to a longer conversation.

We tried to have a conversation about our experience with Exchanging Lives, rather than commenting separately (not easy). We figured that viewers/readers would make their own way through the digital essay.  We wanted our digital essay to be unblog-like, in the sense that it would be coherent and complete, but at the same time we wanted the essay to create new viewers/readers for Exchanging Lives…and to call forth their stories and comments.  One intention was to form an expanded interpretive community around Exchanging Lives that would let us consider the Anne Frank Conference, virtual exchanges, “inhabiting the consequences of our work,” teacher research, and the Bread Loaf Teacher Network from new perspectives.  Our task wasn’t simply to make videos or podcasts but to use new digital possibilities to make meaning with and for each other—and our readers.

I loved writing with my old friends and colleagues and struggling to keep up digitally, but I found myself aware of the losses that participants might have experienced were the original Anne Frank project to have been conducted solely with the latest Web 2.0 tools.  In the 1980s, James Britton, Nancy Martin, James Moffett, and other Bread Loaf faculty and mentors saw technology providing a space for sustained, written conversations, where thinking and writing abilities, along with understandings across difference, would flourish.

Let us know how you read our first-time (certainly a first for me) out as collaborative digital essayists….and long-time members of BLTN.

-DG

To join the conversation, follow this link. https://ed.voicethread.com/share/5584720/ If you have an existing VoiceThread account, use it to login. New user accounts are free of charge. If you need help, contact Tom McKenna at Tom_McKenna@breadnet.middlebury.edu.

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