Translation as a Learning Tool

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For my pedagogical assignment, I explored the various learning opportunities of student engagement with translation, both as practitioners and critics. Such engagement can happen in many fruitful and interconnected ways (creative, collaborative, multimodal, critical, and cultural). Rather than arguing for a particular course, I found myself making a rather ambitious argument for teaching “Translation Across the Curriculum.” This composition, a sort of audio-visual curated medley of online sources, can be found here:  https://storify.com/akozak/translation-as-a-learning-tool.

And here are some of my thoughts on using Storify.com, a digital use that I used to create the assignment.

  • What did you find challenging, rewarding, liberating, satisfying, frustrating, etc about writing an argument in Storify and why?

I’ll start with my thorns first: it took me a while to figure out that auto-save feature didn’t always…well…autosave. I lost large chunks of my transitional paragraphs, several times over. The good side of this was that it forced me to rewrite, focusing on the concepts and images that were most memorable. Other than that, the assignment was rather time-consuming, even though I started out knowing what about half of my sources will be.

Since Storify uses a limited number of social media apps, I had to devise a workaround to post my mindmap from Bubb.us. This involved opening a Flickr account, and then uploading the jpeg onto it. Although this wasn’t too difficult, it felt wasteful to open up another account for the sake of one image.

Another issue (purely aesthetical) is the way links look in the text body. They look unappealing compared to the images and videos and resemble something that shouldn’t be there…like ads.

  • How was composing this essay different from composing other academic essays in other print genres?

Composing in a visual manner could be a good thing for someone prone to writer’s blocks. It is less terrifying to start commenting on an image or a video. Also, once I had my visual sources lined up, there was less danger of getting stuck on the page. I know that in writing we’re taught the trick of stopping in the middle of the paragraph in order to ensure that the flow continues easily when you return to the assignment. Working with Storify was very much like stopping in the middle of the paragraph, all the time.

Still, it was necessary for me to create a rough outline in Storify, like in any other composition process. However, because I’d stumble upon new sources as I wrote, this outline had to be more flexible. In other words, whereas in a traditional “composition” we find sources to support our argument, in this case I found myself writing to justify the use of my sources. The relationship between the argument and source was more recursive, circular, interchangeable.

  • Based on your experience, would you ask your own students to compose in Storify? Why or why not?

Yes. Definitely. The assignment is great for those who respond better to audio/video in learning environments. A student may already have a line-up of ready sources to use in a story, and the assignment can pull these into focus.

I see many possibilities for in-class presentations and discussions, perhaps something similar to PechaKucha night. Discussions can be based on teacher’s evaluative criteria. One good evaluative criteria could be whether the images and text formed a cohesive argument. An entirely different criteria could be used if an assignment that calls for a linear narrative using non-linear digital media.

Also, as a teacher, I’m interested in the type of online content students are interested in, and what influence that content has in their lives.

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