I was recently chatting with another English professor from a different university who is also reading Kelly’s book, and he said, “The idea of technology and people as an almost symbiotic evolutionary force is quite engaging, and I wonder what the implications of that argument are for us in education... what do you think?”
He presented a very curious question, but I only saw a few references in the text that approach the subject. Ultimately, I think Kelly’s overall message is that we shouldn’t shun technology because of its potential risks, but rather we should embrace new technologies in order to learn about them, and assess harmful possibilities—in order to make solid evaluations of their use and effectiveness. Perhaps this concept could impact education by demonstrating the value of at least testing new technologies, while negating the holistic approach of rejection.
On page 230, Kelly does speak about education in a brief reference to his interactions with Leon, the Amish man, where he asked about the goodness of Amish life. He mentions the fact that Amish schooling only goes up until 8th grade, as he inquires about the value in such limited education. Leon replies, “hormones kick in around the ninth grade, and boys, and even some girls, don’t just want to sit at desks and do paperwork. They need to use their hands as well as their heads, and they ache to be useful. Kids learn more doing real things at that age.” Kelly goes on to note that, “When I was a teen I wish I had been ‘doing real stuff’ instead of being holed up in a stuffy high school classroom.”
I sort of liken that to the notion of online and multimedia composition in learning. The educational process is taken into the students’ hands, and we, as teachers, need to be allowing and teaching them how to “do real stuff”. For me that includes utilizing multiple modalities with every opportunity possible, in order to appeal to multiple senses, and therefore engage multiple types of learners. In reference to digital literacies, we as English teachers can and should encourage our students to "do real stuff" in order to optimize the experience of the writing process.