“The Changing Space of Research”: An Article by James P. Purdy

Before Web 2.0, research and writing were separate, spatially and conceptually. Research took place in the library and then writing happened elsewhere. Even if writing took place in at study tables or a computer room within the library, these spaces were still separate from research spaces, as were the activities: research came first, then the writing second. With Web 2.0, James P. Purdy argues, students are creating their own research spaces by bookmarking pages, subscribing to RSS feeds, and personalizing sites such as JSTOR, and these research spaces are not fixed geographically, but are available wherever the internet is accessible, nor are they limited to a particular project, but will continue to be available after a paper is finished and students graduate; therefore, these self-created research spaces challenge the authority of an academic monopoly on knowledge. People today are using the internet as the primary source of research and so it would be blind to continue to insist on library-based research (sources selected by professors and staff), rather than helping students to develop the critical skills they will undoubtedly need to evaluate sources of information in the digital age. Most importantly research and writing have become interconnected tasks, helping students to realize they are not just consumers of knowledge, but active producers, evaluating, summarizing, criticizing, expanding, and integrating what they read while they read it. The writing students produce then becomes a real part of the knowledge pool, instead of disappearing in the teacher’s wastebasket after grading or in a box in the students’ garage, so students can see a real and immediate, lasting significance to their work.

Purdy, James P. “The Changing Space of Research: Web 2.0 and the Integration of Research and Writing Environments.”  Computers and Composition, forthcoming 27 (2010): 48-58. Web. 16 April 2010.

“Educational Blogging”: An Article by Geoffrey Middlebrook

Over 112 million blogs crowd the blogosphere, mostly self referential blogs about personal experience. Geoffrey C. Middlebrook argues that teachers of advanced writing courses can use blogs, since they conform to current student-centered, active learning models. It is a space that writers can develop their voice and explore their interests “in a medium that appears to have life and longevity,” offering the potential of a wide and authentic audience and for developing a students’ disciplinary and professional identity, “an incipient sense of self in the discourses of one’s field.” Blogs can empower students, stimulate the initiative to write, engender information sharing, help reputation building and facilitate personal expression. He insists that his students adhere to the course objectives to “write clear, grammatical, well-structured prose; discover and convey complex ideas critically; appreciate the nuances of good argument; identify and speak to specific audiences in a voice of authority and persuasiveness; and address the academic, public, and professional aspects of writing within disciplines and career fields.” Although some may argue that Blogs may actually harm reputations, Middlebrook’s students have won awards and received high-level job offers. However, he warns that in a recent study students appreciated the use of technology when used effectively, but felt it was a waste of time when managed poorly or poorly integrated into the class.

Middlebrook, Geoffrey C. “Educational Blogging: A Forum for Developing Disciplinary and Professional Identity.” Computers and Composition Online Spring 2010. Web. 25 April 2010.

Teaching Writing Offline (With Online Support)

Even though Scott Warnock’s book Teaching Writing Online: How & Why focuses on writing classes that take place entirely over the internet and hybrid classes which are about half online and half in person, any writing teacher in the digital age can glean important advice from his book on how to update and enhance their own teaching practices. Here are some suggestions I thought I would adopt and adapt, with comments and musings about why they are significant.

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Multiple Simultaneous Drafts: Google.docs and Writing

When I started the master’s program at San Francisco State, a friend introduced me — against my will — to Google docs. Now listen, he insisted, this will make it easier to write and print out your work. I now use Google docs for almost all of my writing, including creative writing.

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“HOT Blogging”: An Article by Lisa Zawilinski

Zawilinski’s article “HOT Blogging: A Framework for Blogging to Promote Higher Order Thinking” gives an excellent overview of the potential benefits of blogs in the classroom for teaching Higher Order Thinking (HOT). She claims that the Internet is this generation’s defining technology for literacy and that this population is both self-guided and in need of guidance.

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Consider Your Audience

Recently a professor told me to consider my audience. She said that my style was far too informal for a grad paper. I needed to consider what writing was appropriate for academic discourse. Academic discourse? Who did she think I was writing to? She was my only reader. I felt, then, that I could play around a bit with the essay form, experiment a little. I even included a couple of allusions that only she would understand. It did not work. She wanted me, I realized, to speak into an imaginary space where scholars speak, not to each other, but into an imaginary library.

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New Literacies: What are They and What Does This Mean for Writing?

What are new literacies? How do new literacies differ from old ones? How does this affect how we write and how we teach writing? To address these questions, I will look at three articles: “‘New’ Literacies: Research and Social Practice” by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel, “Sampling ‘the New’ in New Literacies” by the same authors and “Looking from the Inside Out: Academic Blogging as New Literacy” by Julia Davies and Guy Merchan from the New Literacies Sampler.

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