2000 Points, as part of Argument Series
At this point in the semester, you have spent quite a bit of time exploring a topic of interest to you. It is now time to take things to the next level. You will create a sustained argument, a research paper making a research-based persuasive argument about an important issue or controversy related to your topic, which you will then break up into about four posts on your website. Although this assignment is a more traditional academic essay, you should still adapt it to conventions of online writing: headings, images (with sources credited in a caption with working hyperlinks), very brief introduction, and shorter paragraphs. Keep in mind that most online readers only spend a few moments on a website, so deliver your main message quickly and offer those who linger multiple points of entry.
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Now that student-scholars have selected a topic and explained their historical, present and future interest in the topic, it is time to explore the topic through a series of academic moves in preparation for the Sustained Argument to follow. They should use this series to explore the topic with an open mind before they make any final decisions on their opinions regarding the topic.
Students are not allowed to change their topics at this point unless they improve or refine them. If students do want to change focus, they should discuss it with Ron right away to get approval.
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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.