Basically, writing should be integrated, process-oriented, collaborative and authentic. Writing and teaching can delight, as well as instruct. Above all else, students must know why writing is important.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not sure how to begin the story of how I came to be sitting here with my laptop at Cafe Abir (just a moment, let me pick up my triple latte), writing a technoliteracy autobiography, but I will just get started and see what comes out. I can always fix things — make that, revise — later. After all, this changing piece of writing, which is morphing under my fingertips even now, is the climax of the story I wish to tell, the story of how my own composition process has changed because of digital technology and how that should affect the way I teach writing.