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miluesth

miluesth

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May 12, 2014

rapKenya is Launched!

May 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

rapKenya imageI am excited to launch my project, rapKenya, which can be viewed at rapkenya.matrix.msu.edu . rapKenya is intended to be a one-stop online resource for people interested in accessing and learning more about Kenyan hip-hop culture, particularly rap music.There are two components of this project: 1) digitization and annotation of Kenyan hip-hop lyrics and, 2) building of an online Sheng dictionary. Both components work towards the goal of giving people access to Kenyan hip-hop lyrics and help them discover the meaning of the lyrics. So far, I have completed what I would call the phase one of this project. I have built a website where this project will live using Foundation5 html framework.

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April 15, 2014

Use of Mobile Phone Pedagogies in Rhetoric and Composition Studies

April 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

This year was my third time attending the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCCs) annual convention. The conference’s mission is to support and promote the teaching and study of college composition and communication. The theme this year was Open, Source(s), Access, and Futures. Dr. Adam Banks, this year’s program chair, invited us to reflect on our disciplinary histories and practices which he argued have always aimed at pushing towards values like “greater freedom, possibility, transparency, and equality” within the academy. He thus invited us to imagine a new future for our discipline particularly in the digital age, as we critically consider issues of open access scholarship, open source philosoph(ies) and politics. In his call, he hoped that scholars and teachers in our field would consider and share ways in which we can imagine a future that will not only transform our discipline, but also the academy and higher education in general.

What seemed to stand out for me this year were the numerous sessions on the use of mobile phone and social media pedagogies in the teaching of writing. In one of the panels I attended titled “Out in the Open: Exploring Mobile Phone Pedagogies and Everyday Composing Practices,” the panelists shared how phones and mobile apps can be integrated into writing courses. One of the panelists, Robert Carlton from Southern Illinois University, argued for the value and need for writing teachers to embrace mobile apps in the teaching of writing. He showed an example of the free application Suzuki Write developed for iOS and Android devices which provides a “mobile writing resource” to assist writers with simple quick references and simple composition tasks. Carton demonstrated the design features of the app, and how writing teachers can customize the modular code of the app to fit their individualized needs. Here is example of the how the app is being used in building Mobile Writing Labs (MWLs). Carlton imagined future trajectory of the Mobile Writing Labs arguing that apps designed for writing instruction need to consider issues of access particularly when it comes to catering for individualized circumstances of individual users and writers. He also urged writing teachers to not only use the apps but also to gather data about devices, users, and developers as a way of contributing to assessing the effectiveness of such tools. Such an assessment, he argued, can contribute to giving app developers ideas to improve the app and user experience. Finally, he asked teachers to be getting involved in building the apps and working with developers. For more, here is his Presentation.

Randall Monty from the University of Texas, another panelist, demonstrated the how mobile technologies and social media platforms like twitter are helping transnational students from Mexico attending college in the U.S to navigate their professional and academic identities. Monty, “drawing from a multi-institutional study that tracked the lived writing practices of self identified transnational students,” as well on current scholarship on technology and access, demonstrated how students were exploiting the affordances of mobile phone technologies and social media in their learning. Some of the examples he shared with us were how teachers can use twitter to share teaching content with their students, keep track of students attendance, engagement and participation. He also noted that since many authors the students read participate in the twitter culture, social media allows students to be in direct contact with the authors and can ask them question or clarification on issues about readings. Monty also noted that social media allows for democratization and agency in the use of these technologies as students learn/practice the use of these tools not just as students but as professionals. He also shared how the transnational ESL students were using the dragon app’s transcription service to facilitate their composing processes.  However, in sharing the affordances of mobile phone and social media pedagogies, he also highlighted particular dissafordances like access noting that some students may not have smart phones, which have capabilities of performing some of the complex or intricate tasks. Other issues he raised are cyber aggression, unpredictable and expensive mobile services across the border (Mexico), privacy issues in relation to social media and mobile service, among others.

Ehren Pflugfelder from Oregon State University presentation “Our Phones, Ourselves: Questioning our Mobile Lives” presentation explored the emerging scholarship in our field on the role of mobile phones in literate lives of students. At the same time he noted the growing scholarship (in other disciplines) which raises concerns on how the use of phones negatively impacts on its users, for example, “psychological over attachment”, “distracted walking,” “self absorption” among others. His presentation was on how phones can be used as data gathering tools. He showed a methodology he developed in a media literacy course where students were asked to use their phones to create a collaborative, creative-commons –licensed documentary about the role of cell phones in their lives. Here is the Documentary, where students reveal “complex opinions, biases, and desires, as well as surprising inconsistencies” about the role of phones in their lives.”

This panel is just one example of the how our field is embracing digital tools and particularly apps to perform numerous tasks. For example, many attendees in this year’s conference had easy time getting information about the conference through a CCCCs app developed by TripBuilder Media. The app allowed attendees to get updates or reminders of featured sessions and speakers, create a personalized schedule of the sessions one wanted to attend, view the entire searchable program schedule on the phone, take notes during sessions etc. This saved many attendees the burden of carrying around the 400-page book length program schedule.

As our field moves forward, it will be interesting to see how it continues to embrace new digital tools, and to imagine new ways of teaching writing. In this year’s conference, there were many sessions on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as  presenters shared challenges, successes and pedagogical possibilities of these new learning online platforms. Our own department  Rhetoric and Writing here at MSU has also been thinking and piloting teaching  writing using MOOCs. It is clear that our field is imagining a future that will make the learning of writing accessible to everyone interested, not just here but around the world.

 

 

 

 

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January 20, 2014

A Collaborative Digitization and Annotation of Kenyan hip-hop Lyrics

January 20, 2014 | By | No Comments

My project aims at creating a one-stop site for hip-hop scholars, educators, practitioners and fans interested in accessing and learning more about the Kenyan hip-hop lyrical content. The project is motivated by the desire to collect and preserve Kenyan hip-hop lyrical content in ways that are accessible to fans, practitioners and scholars both locally and globally. My interest in creating the site arose from my personal frustrations as a hip-hop scholar in trying to find Kenyan hip-hop lyrical content for my own research, and lack of reliable metadata needed for citation/bibliographic information. My goal is to create a collaborative online site similar to rapgenius in an effort to begin building a community between Kenyan hip-hop scholars, practitioners, artists and fans. Besides digitizing and sharing lyrics, people will be invited to write annotations to the lyrics, and encouraged to participate in discussions that contribute in understanding not only the lyrical content, but also the entire Kenyan hip-hop culture.

I believe the site will be particularly useful for scholars given the fact that global hip-hop is drawing a lot of scholarly attention today. By providing annotations to lyrics, the site will contribute to an easier understanding of the lyrical content since Kenyan artists compose their music in multiple languages or in the complex creolized urban youth code—Sheng.  Also to be included in the site is an online Kenyan hip-hop language dictionary. I will begin building lexicon specific to Kenyan hip-hop and provide definitions and explanations. As part of the community building process however, artists, scholars and fans will be invited to contribute/submit new lexicon and provide definitions as well. In addition, the site will be used to feature Kenyan artists by sharing their profiles, current projects and links to their social media sites.

Through the CHI fellowship, I will begin building a website for the project using Foundation. To be part of the community, one will create an account to be able to submit, share, annotate lyrics, and be part of the conversation. I will also use a web-based annotation tool a.nnotate to promote collaborative digitizing, annotation and discussions of the lyrics. Since I am building/launching the project, I will be in charge of running the site with the hope of enlisting serious contributors to help run it. My plan and hope is to see the site continue to grow beyond the CHI fellowship.

 

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November 28, 2013

Indigeneous Research Approaches and Archival Work

November 28, 2013 | By | No Comments

As I continue thinking about how to do archival work, I found myself this week listening to Malea Powell’s words from her chapter “Dreaming Charles Eastman: Cultural Memory, Autobiography and Geography in Indigenous Rhetorical Histories” published in the book Beyond the Archives: Research as Lived Process. In this chapter, Powell tells her story about her experience doing Native American archival research at the Saint Louis University Law library and the Newberry Library in Chicago. As she digs through the archival material in the two libraries, she critically reflects on the colonial and imperial agenda behind the collection and preservation of American Indian’s materials in these archives. At the Newberry library, she shares what she was thinking as she “felt” the letters written by Charles Eastman, an American Indian intellectual born in 1858 on the Santee Sioux (Dakota) reservation in Minnesota. Powell narrates:

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October 15, 2013

Researching African Hip-hop Culture: The Role of Online Archives

October 15, 2013 | By | No Comments

For the last couple of years, I have been engaged in researching Hip-hop culture specifically, Kenyan Hip-hop. Owing to difficulties in finding original music albums, coupled with music piracy in the country, I have found myself relying mostly on online resources to do my research. One of the resources I have come to find very useful is Ghafla!  www.ghafla.co.ke/lyrics/.  I started using this site way back in 2009 when by then it was called Kenyanlyrics.com. It was interesting to read that the developer/creator of this site, Mr. Majani, was motivated to develop the site because of the same experiences and frustrations I was going through: Lack of ACCESS to Kenyan music content. In an interview, this is what he said:

After my discontinuation in college, I became an idler and I would listen to the collection of music I had accumulated from JKUAT. I had love for Kenyan music, and I remember looking online for lyrics of the song Jamani by Bamboo but never got it. Then I looked for other Kenyan Music but never found it. I saw this gap and started filling it while still at home. So I started running a website called kenyalyrics.com.

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September 30, 2013

CHI Fellowship Introduction: Esther Milu

September 30, 2013 | By | No Comments

I am a PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing. My Research interests revolve around language, literacy, cultural and digital rhetorics. Specifically, I am interested in learning how today’s youth are developing translingual and transcultural literacy practices in todays multilingual, multicultural and transnational world. I use hip-hop from the African diaspora as a heuristic to understand how hip-hop culture facilitates the development of transcultural and translingual literacy practices among not only hip-hop artists, but also youth in general.  My current focus is Kenya. I am researching how African diasporic cultures and languages particularly from the Caribbean and African American communities have influenced Kenyan hip-hop and the Kenyan youth. I have also been researching about Sheng, a linguistic code spoken by Kenyan youth, and which is also, the main language of composition for Kenyan hip-hop. But given the code’s fluidity and lack of stable grammar, it has received a lot of condemnation from language and literacy educators as well as some members of the Kenyan society. This past summer, I had a research trip to Kenya and established that a number of artists are interested in finding ways of preserving the language because it is the one that gives Kenyan hip-hop its identity. As a cultural rhetorician and literacy educator interested in preserving youth cultures, I want to use the CHI fellowship to begin building a digital archive to preserve Kenyan Hip-hop cultural content and the Kenyan youth language, Sheng.