What is ISUComm?
ISUComm is Iowa State University’s communication-across-the-curriculum initiative. The goal of ISUComm is to strengthen student communication and enhance students’ critical thinking skills by creating opportunities for them to practice communication skills throughout their academic careers. While many institutions have similar outreach efforts to train and encourage faculty from all disciplines to include writing assignments in their courses, ISUComm speaks to a broader set of communication competencies. Rather than focusing solely on written communication, ISUComm is contemporary and comprehensive in its emphasis on oral, visual, and electronic skills development as well.
What is WOVE?
WOVE is an acronym that stands for “written, oral, visual, and electronic” communication. More commonly referred to as “multimodal communication,” this pedagogy serves as the basis for ISUComm’s efforts toward student-centered, contemporary curriculum reform. In the foundation courses that ISUComm has developed, ISUComm is building upon an integrated approach to writing instruction that has been underway at ISU for some time. All composition classes use electronic classrooms, all teach students how to engage in small group discussions and oral critiques with peers, many sections of these courses incorporate brief oral presentations, and many of these classes now address some design aspects of written texts, such as headings and page layout. By bringing WOVE pedagogy into their classrooms, teachers provide all students with the kind of communication instruction that prepares them to communicate with expertise in multiple settings and with multiple media.
Because of changes in technology, written communication is now virtually inseparable from oral, visual, and electronic modes of communication, not just in the academy but also in the professions, in business, and in the public sector. For example, writers of all sorts discuss their drafts with friends and colleagues, they often present their ideas orally and visually at conferences and in meetings, and they routinely add illustrations, layout devices, and visual representations of data to clarify their ideas. Most writers now do all these tasks with the help of computers, and they increasingly do it on the web.
And yet, despite the integrated nature of contemporary communication, many students neither grasp the fact that communication itself has changed nor know how to communicate in this multimodal environment. If we are to adequately prepare our students for the challenges they will face in the academy and beyond, then it is our responsibility as teachers to acquaint them with communication practices as they actually exist. In other words, we must present writing as it is integrated with other media.