Revolution Lullabye

May 31, 2009

Erikson et al, A Web We Can Weave

Erikson, et al. “A Web We Can Weave: Considering Open Source Technologies in Our Classrooms.” Comupters and Composition. (Spring 2009)

This collaborative article, written by Erikson and his graduate studetns, investigates different Web 2.o interfaces and technologies the authors (who took a grad seminar class with Erikson) used in the seminar and also in their teaching. Erikson argues that it’s important for those in composition and rhetoric to become familiar with and be able to use the many Web 2.0 technologies students are using, the technologies that are part of their everyday litearcy activities. Drawing on Selber’s three-part literacy framework, Erikson advocates for more productive, rhetorically literate assignments and classroom teaching practices to make composition more relevant and answerable to the multiliteracy needs of today’s students. The graduate students each wrote a section about a different technology – YackPack, Facebook, GoogleDocs & GoogleGroups, podcasting, and wikis.

Quotable Quotes

“the use of Google and many other tools of the digital age are an integral part of the history of literacy in Western culture; to ignore this fact and to bridge the gap between students as digital natives and faculty as digital immigrants certainly calls the question about which group is truly more ignorant and less literate”

Questions teachers need to ask before adopting a Web 2.0 technology: 

What are my course goals for using this technology?
What goals can this technology help me accomplish?
What do I want my students to do with technology?
What are the ethical questions to consider when implementing any new media technology into the writing classroom?
How can I expect my student population to respond to new media?
Are there issues of access, funding, literacy, time, or space that I need to examine beforehand?

“the constant reminder that these tools were the ones in use by our students, and lest we consider those irrelevant to the concerns of English studies in general and Rhetoric and Composition in particular, we can only turn to the current national election process to see the role of tools like YouTube in the candidate debates, blogs in disseminating political views by pundits and citizens alike, and how can one forget Barack Obama’s early morning text message to his supporters about his Vice Presidential choice. Because these tools are ones in the hands of today’s students, defined as digital natives (Prensky, 2001), they should be ones worthy of functional, critical, and particularly rhetorical literacy education within graduate programs in Rhetoric and Composition, not only to transform the undergraduate writing curriculum but also to change the presumption that all academic discourse is print in nature, particularly in light of concerns by the Modern Language Association (2006) about the crisis in scholarly publishing and the impact on print production processes as well as on the academic reward system for faculty caught within the paradigm shift between the print and the digital.”

Notable Notes

see what the students are using and use that – don’t just rely on Blackboard because it’s safe and easy

great YouTube video by Michael Wesch at Kansas State University

May 25, 2009

Reyman, Copyright, Distance Education, and the TEACH Act

Reyman, Jessica. “Copyright, Distance Education, and the TEACH Act: Implications for Teaching Writing.” CCC 58.1 (Sept 2006): 30-45.

Reyman argues that the TEACH Act (2002) limits the pedagogical possbilities of digital distance education by restricting access to copyrighted materials in a way that mimics the needs of a face-to-face, lecture-style, module-oriented, teacher-directed classroom. Writing teachers use digital spaces differently than content-driven lecture courses and need more flexibility in how they can allow their students to share and access copyrighted material for educational purposes. Also, since the TEACH Act places the responsibility for following copyright restrictions on the institution (not the individual teacher), the writing teacher loses some of her autonomy and academic freedom. Compositionists, Reyman argues, need to advocate for the rights of distance education students to a quality education, an education, due to the technological constraints, might look differently than the traditional classroom. Instead of fearing the openness of digital technology, educational copyright restrictions need to embrace the possibilities inherent in that technology for enriching education.

Notable Notes

TEACH Act is not designed to restrict fair use, but it doesn’t open it up to the realities of the digital learning environment

distance education is online courses and courses that use digital tools like Blackboard

restrictions like taking down copyrighted material so students can’t access it later, restricting access to the site to students, making sure the teacher moderates the use of the copyrighted material, material for class activities (not individuals) only

Technolgy, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002

January 23, 2009

Weathers, “Teaching Style: A Possible Anatomy”

Note: For my major exam in composition pedagogy, history, and administration, I am surveying some of the popular texts used by beginning instructors and TAs. One of them is The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook, a collection that, over its four editions, has been edited by Gary Tate, Edward P.J. Corbett, and Nancy Myers. I reviewed the table of contents of all four editions and selected the essays and articles that were repeated across the editions. Only three – Weathers, Ohmann, and Lunsford/Ede – were in all three editions. I will read all the articles that appeared in 3 or 4 of the editions. The following essays appeared in the third edition:

Tate, Gary, Edward P.J. Corbett, and Nancy Myers, eds. The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1994.

Weathers, Winston. “Teaching Style: A Possible Anatomy.” 294-299.

Weathers frames his essay around asking how composition teachers can make the teaching of style relevant, viable, and credible for students. He advocates three complimentary approaches for teaching style. First, he argues for explaining to students how style, which can be described as “the art of choice and option” is what allows people to be better communicators by allowing them to express themselves as individuals. This theoretical argument for the importance of style underpins, Weathers hopes, the relevancy of style as a way to exercise freedom of expression in a democratic society. Second, Weathers points out that ideological arguments about why style is important don’t help students enact stylistic techniques in their own writing, so he argues that instructors need to spend practical, hands-on time in the classroom teaching their students how to recognize, imitate, use, and adapt stylistic techniques. Third, Weathers encourages teachers to make a practice of composing in front of their students, such as on the blackboard. This intimate experience gives students an inside view of how writing happens – a perspective they need but don’t often see.

Quotable Quotes

“Style is the proof of a human being’s individuality; that style is a writer’s revelation of himself; that through style, attitudes and values are communicated; that indeed our manner is part of our message” (294).

“Style has something to do with better communication, adding as it does a certain technicolor to otherwise black-and-white language” (294).

“Style, by its very nature, is the art of selection” (294).

“We are an amazing lot of piano players refusing to play the piano” (298) – about not composing in front of our students.

“Believe me, the teacher’s struggle amidst the chalk dust can become the student’s education” (299).

Notable Notes

no reference to social context in constructing style; style as part of a social culture, not just an individual expression

refers to Corbett in discussion of imitation

writing and composition as a practical art

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