Open Call for Essay Ideas and Proposals (April – June 2013)

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 74 Read ideas and post comments to shape the direction of our book-in-progress. Share your suggestion or submit an essay proposal (200-300 words, with links if appropriate) by posting a comment here on paragraph 1, which the editor will move into a new section below (with credit to you) for further discussion. Five outstanding essay proposals during the first phase have already been selected to receive $300 subventions. New proposals are still welcome, but no additional subventions will be awarded. All authors must post their proposals in advance and submit full essay drafts by August 15, 2013 (1,000 to 4,000 words, including citations, links, images, etc.). Instructions on how to submit full essays to come soon. Learn about our editorial process and timeline for the Fall 2013 open peer review and freely-accessible digital publication, possibly with a scholarly press.

  • 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 1
  • Readers: What topics and issues would you like this book to address?
  • Contributors: Share an idea or submit a 200-300 word essay proposal.
  • Everyone: Discuss, debate, and offer constructive feedback on others’ ideas.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 11 Why write on the web? Which arguments do you consider most persuasive for why liberal arts faculty and our students should write on the public web? Or if you’d like to take the other side, why not? Put another way, which arguments about internet technology and liberal arts teaching and learning are least persuasive and/or should be avoided?  (Jack Dougherty)

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 5 Evidence of student learning: We would like to read more about the effectiveness of this web writing approach. Does it improve student learning? Does it help us to teach more effectively? (Dina Anselmi and Kath Archer) An example from a specific course, before and after incorporating web-based writing, would be interesting to read (Carol Clark).

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 4 Defining success in web-writing: I’d like to read more about: How do you know if web writing is successful or not? Why write on the web — just to seek a bigger audience?  What if the audience doesn’t turn up?  Must web writing necessarily include the cultivation of consumption? (Kristen Nawrotzki)

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 3 Learning from failure: I would like to read more about: What could go wrong with web-based writing assignments? What went wrong for other educators that I could learn from? (Chris Hager)

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 5 Annotating documents on the web: When teaching students to closely read a text, particularly an historical document with unfamiliar language or sentence structure, I’ve experimented a bit with creating an annotation-based web assignment. For example, in my Ed Reform Past & Present class, I’ve uploaded an out-of-copyright text to a Google Document and turned on the “comments” sharing feature (see Catherine Beecher 1846 or Horace Mann 1848 for public annotation). This allows me to insert comments or questions alongside the text, and for students to add their own remarks, to prepare for a richer discussion in class. But I have no idea what I’m doing with this. I’d love to read about faculty who have done more with this type of web-based annotation writing, and other tools they recommend, particularly cross-platform solutions for sharing annotations on PDF documents. (Jack Dougherty)

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 1 Web-Writing Across the Curriculum: One of the longstanding big issues in the teaching of writing has to do with writing-in-the-disciplines.  We know that student writers can learn very effectively when they practice writing in a subject area that engages them.  And most liberal arts institutions have accordingly by developing some sort of Writing-Across-the-Curriculum approach.  The hitch is that writing varies a great deal in different disciplines, as does writing pedagogy. Faculty in different areas have different levels of preparedness, confidence, and inclination for teaching writing, not to mention different approaches. I wonder whether there’s anyone out there who can speak to how web-based writing has helped or could help facilitate collaboration among faculty who teach writing from different disciplinary backgrounds. (Chris Hager)

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 1 Digital Badges for Student Work:  In my conversations with graduate students or faculty about creating digital editions, we often discuss how they will know when their digital edition or project is successful. To some, peer-review is what will make it successful, to others, acceptance by an online publisher or organization, such as NINES. More recently, Mozilla announced Open Badges, which will allow scholars (authors, students, etc.) to receive a badge (recognition or public support) from an entity, such as a publisher, as a public show of support for one’s writing or project. I would like to see a discussion that really explores how this concept of open badges could be utilized by academic institutions and faculty for work submitted by students. (Anna Kijas)

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 4 Student writing and civic engagement: I’d like to read more about: Writing for the web can be seen as a form of civic engagement, as students write for and engage with public audiences.  However, I’ve run across student web projects (such as senior theses) that haven’t generated the commentary that they merit, despite using platforms that allow for conversation. How might we help students reach audiences and engage in rich, multi-faceted conversations with the public? In a broader sense, how might the goals of web writing intersect with those of experiential learning and civic engagement? I’m intrigued by the experiments Jack describes in “If You Build It…,” but I’m eager to hear about other strategies as well. (Lisa Spiro)

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 3 Social Media to Teach Audience: I’d be interested in writing about using social media networks to teach audience. I would route this discussion through an assignment I’ve run multiple times in a technical/professional writing class in which students write professional biographies. For these documents, I have them think about audience needs by adapting their biographical information to three networks: 1) A Personal Website; 2) LinkedIn; 3) Twitter. Students think about the needs and affordances of each kind of network, as well as learn about using each in their job search. I set specific length and content requirements for each of the three, and the students produce three separate versions of their professional biography. In discussing this assignment, I would talk about the way that students, while often not able to grasp abstract concepts such as audience, do have an innate sense of the conventions of various kinds of websites. Utilizing this sense suggests the importance of writing for the web: our students already have some understand of its conventions. (Andrew Pilsch)

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 4 Wikis Across the Curriculum: A small group of colleagues and I use free wikis (we’re very committed to free tools and platforms which students may use easily outside academic contexts) as collaborative authoring spaces for students in learning communities that range from our intensive first-year learning communities to our senior capstone seminars.  We have developed a wide range of practices for these wikis, ranging from collaborative brainstorming on “tough” topics, to the creation of archives of research, analysis, brainstorming, presentation and results delivery to community clients for whom students have been conducting commissioned research. (Lesley Smith)

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 2 Writing Tone on the Web: Do we have different expectations for writing tone or style on the web, compared to more traditional formats? Kristopher Purzycki described how his students in an online advanced composition course “seemed to struggle with finding a voice that was appropriate for this space” (see MediaCommons, May 20, 2013). But in my response, I contend that good writing should stand on its own two feet, regardless of its paper or online format. Try this exercise: ask yourself, “What makes a good web-essay?” List the criteria or qualities you value most. Then ask, “What makes a good (traditional) essay?” or even better, find a set of guidelines you used (as a teacher or a student) from several years ago, before writing for the web was feasible for you. Do your criteria differ? I tried this exercise in my first draft of “What Makes a Good Web Essay?” and was intrigued by the stronger similarities than differences. But some may have other points of view. (Jack Dougherty)

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 2 What Digital Writing Does: Web writing is rampant writing. The digital opens our words not only to broader, less predictable audiences, but also to reuse, reinterpretation, repurposing, and reinvention. Our words are not just our words, they are words in community with others’ words. Writing on the web — digital writing — is a genre enacted, moveable, and in play. In the digital age, all writing is always already public. What this means is that when we write, we are no longer just looking in the mirror, we are looking into a camera lens. Our words photograph us, put us on display, they make vivid our lives and thoughts in ways that privacy has always protected. But now writing pushes us out into the world, presents us, shines us up, and shows us off. Whether that writing is a status update, a tweet, a blog post, an article, or an ebook… by the time we’ve done typing it, it has already begun to work its way out of the cave and into the sunshine, into the wild world that we describe and experience, and that describes us and will experience our words. In the Fall of 2012 and the Winter of 2013, I worked in open, online environments with students, learners, and participants of all ages, interests, and levels of experience to explore what digital writing does — does to us, does within itself, does to and for our audience, does all on its own on the web. In my essay proposal, I’d like to further explore this territory, using my successes (and failures) with digital writing experimentation as fodder for deeper contemplation, forkable thought, and with an eye toward the meta, that this writing itself is doing what I propose digital writing does. (Sean Michael Morris)

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 2 Teaching How to Plagiarize: The Web is often blamed for enabling students to easily plagiarize the words of others in their writing. Can we turn this around by creatively using digital tools to teach students to recognize and avoid plagiarism? In a May 30th TweetChat (#digped) hosted by Hybrid Pedagogy, Sean Michael Morris mentioned that taught his students to “intentionally plagiarize to demonstrate changes in authorship in the digital” (tweet by @slamteacher) Other participants were curious about this idea, and I linked to my Avoiding Plagiarism Exercise, still in old-school Microsoft Word format, which requires students to plagiarize and properly paraphrase in different formats to understand subtle distinctions. What are your experiences with student plagiarism and the web, and how have you taught students to address this vital issue in their writing? Essay ideas and proposals on this theme are welcome. (Jack Dougherty)

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 What Motivates/Discourages Students about Web Writing: In the May 30th TweetChat (#digped) hosted by Hybrid Pedagogy, both teachers and learners reflected on the underlying motivations and barriers to student writing on the web, both inside and outside of class. I framed the topic this way because of the disconnect between how our students’ informal writing on the web (FaceBook, Tumblr, etc.) versus the formal classroom writing that rarely happens on the web, yet raises so much potential when it occurs. Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens mused that one motivator is “work is validated by an outside audience,” while a detractor is “work is ready by outside audience” (tweet by @FionnualaDarbyH). Linda Levitt wished that “grades were not such a strong motivator. Need to find alternatives” and wondered about digital portfolios for student career development (tweet by @lindalevitt). (Sidenote: See also Jason Jones’ take on e-portfolios in his MediaCommons essay, “Using Web Writing to Banish the Greys.”) Valerie Robin searched for more intrinsic rewards and asked “How do we promote the love of writing?” (tweet by @vrobin1000). Others questioned whether that the love of writing can be taught, or only revealed. Clearly, this theme spoke to many and deserves more attention. Do you have a particular point of view to share? Essay ideas and proposals are welcome. (Jack Dougherty)

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 4 Sister Classrooms: Digital Connections Across Disciplines: Dr. Amanda Hagood’s environmental literature class at Hendrix College and Dr. Carmel Price’s environmental demography class at Furman University were sister classrooms in the fall 2012 semester. These parallel courses of study were linked through the use of student-produced class blogs, which were used both informally by students posting and commenting on lessons learned in each class, and instrumentally by the instructors. The blogs were used strategically to prepare students for three joint discussions that took place via video conferencing over the course of the semester. These group discussions brought students in both classes together over common readings on environmental issues such as the conservation movement, environmental justice, and endangered species. Overall, the addition of these blended learning elements added both depth and scope to student learning; in evaluations, students remarked time and again that this exposure to “different perspectives” on environmental issues expanded their own perceptions, and the added audience of a sister class pushed them to refine their arguments and ideas more so than they might in a traditional closed classroom. In the future, Hagood and Price think these blended learning techniques might be even more effectively leveraged to bring students into the day-to-day learning of their sister classes-challenging students, for instance, to plan lessons that they could then deliver to their parallel class through telepresence technology. Such focused and formalized interactions might help to overcome one important challenge discovered in this project: students need as much (if not more) time, structure, and preparation to develop meaningful telepresence relationships as they do face-to-face relationships. To learn more about this project you can participate in the June 4th, 2013 NITLE Shared Academics event (http://www.nitle.org/live/events/178-intercampus-teaching-networked-teaching) or contact Hagood (naturalstate395@gmail.com) or Price (carmel.price2967@furman.edu) directly.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 3 Digital Curation/Exhibit Building as Web Writing: I’ve been working with students in a number of classes at my liberal arts institution to create digital resource projects and online exhibits, sometimes digitizing analog content and sometimes gathering and displaying born-digital content. (See some examples here: http://mcclurken.org/selected-student-digital-projects/.) Over the course of the last eight years, students have used MediaWiki, WordPress, and Omeka to curate and share these sources and exhibits.  I’d like to propose an essay exploring these forms as a particular type of web writing, the benefits and issues related to the use of these assignments (and of these tools) in teaching and learning, and a few suggestions for incorporating these assignments into other classes. (Jeffrey McClurken)

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 7 Distant Writing: We teach students to read closely their sources. With digitized materials, it’s now possible to read distantly, to look for macroscopic patterns in vast corpuses of text. Is there an analogue for writing? Can there be such a thing as distant writing? I’d like to propose an essay about algorithmic experiments in writing, in ‘writing’ writ large.  When the reader ‘chooses their own adventure’ through something like a Twine-manufactured body of evidence (see Chad Black’s history class, for instance https://twitter.com/parezcoydigo/status/339468084744179712) then the ways and means of scripting all that should be explored, how we teach that, what it might imply. Also, I’d discuss such things in the context of trying to teach ‘em. (Shawn Graham)

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 5 Web Writing and Citation: Essay Proposal — The Internet is often blamed for a perceived increase in plagiarism. Students engaged in a culture of remixing and piracy, with easy access to texts that do not need to be retyped, will naturally include unattributed quotations in their essays, according to this way of thinking. The web, however, is an inherently citational medium. The primary markup language used to create web pages implies citation: the “hypertext” in HyperText Markup Language (HTML), refers to electronic text that includes hyperlinks. A link is a way of crediting a source or referring readers to additional information. Moreover, the original importance of citation has not been lost as the web has grown. Communities continue to create and enforce their own citational standards. One of the earliest conventions created by Twitter users was the “RT” or “ReTweet,” a way of giving credit when quoting another user. Posts passed around on Tumblr teach users how to find the creators of images and give them credit. In 2008, a major controversy broke out in the feminist blogosphere over allegations that Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon had appropriated ideas from another blogger without giving credit. I want to consider the ways that, by participating in  and studying online communities, students can gain a stronger understanding of citation standards as community standards, as well as of the purposes served by citing sources. Such an understanding helps students to credit sources appropriately not only in web writing but also in more traditional academic work, especially if they understand academic disciplines as communities. (Elizabeth Kate Switaj)

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 7 Writing in Public: For the past year I’ve been experimenting with Writing in Public, using open google documents to reveal the long process by which academic writing occur.  Using bitly I’m able to track how many readers click through to pieces, which I share via twitter.  Readers interact by tweeting or leaving comments in the document.  So far two publications and one submission have resulted from the process, which is credited in the work itself. Writing in public derives from my work on the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s and 1980s.  I follow in the footsteps of other women who sought to erode the distinction between public and private to reveal the politics underneath.  Writing In Public also derives from academic writing practices that mystify the labor writing  takes.  The commodification of ideas as currency in academia means that writing is often concealed until publication, leaving the interim versions in the struggle towards a publishable version unseen.  Finally Writing In Public helps to counter the isolation I find in writing. (See author’s writing projects) . . . So I began doing this for my own benefit, but this past summer participated in a more structured pedagogical version as a “group” leader for the @hastac feminist summer digital writing group, which included academics of all levels, including graduate It was a fabulous pedagogical experience I think for all of us and I wonder if perhaps more graduate students might be interested in learning about the process.  It sort of functions like a huge dissertation writing group, in that the whole world may be invited to contribute. I teach at a small liberal arts college  so adapting/adopting writing in public with those students has been trickier.  I struggle with having students expose their work in progress to a harsh and sometimes unforgiving world, so I’ve not yet had them do precisely what I do.   To take some of the pressure off the individual authorial voice, I’ve experimented with students writing simultaneously on a “collaboratively” produced paper using google docs. I  was pretty happy with those results.    For a final I had them expand their “contribution” into a webpage using just the final exam period, which meant negligible time for editing. (Michelle Moravec)

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 1 Writing about Virtual Sources: What I would like to read in this book: I’m personally interested in how the web, with its infinite amount of content to draw from, is necessitating certain changes or approaches (and perhaps one of the impeti behind this work) to writing. Web-based writing, I think, presumes that web-based content will be integral to the drafting, research, and writing process. JSTOR, Wikipedia, YouTube, video games, etc. are all becoming sources for citations or research topics themselves, for better or worse, versus the student papers of old that are drawn from solely or primarily analog materials, and I want to know how standards and practices are questioned and adapted when new content to write about appears. How to we write about things that are not embodied by or are themselves *physical* things, I suppose is one way to phrase it. (Nigel Lepianka)

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 1 Teachers & Learners – Share your Research-to-Writing Workflow: Jordan Grant facilitated a lively THATCamp Prime 2013 session on 21st-Century Research & Writing, where participants shared diverse strategies for moving from note-taking to authoring. (See also session notepad started by Allison Thurman, with links to many of the digital tools and web-based processes.) At first, I wondered if and how faculty “pull back the curtain” on this hidden aspect of our writing process to share our workflows with students. (See blog posts on this theme by Shannon Christine Mattern and Holly Tucker.) But this terrain is rapidly shifting. Perhaps a more productive approach is to flip the question and its assumption about who’s teaching whom. Here’s one way to reframe it: How are undergraduate & graduate students designing their writing workflows, with whom are they sharing it, and what does this tell us about teaching & learning on the web? First-person essay proposals are welcome. (Jack Dougherty)

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 1 Online Research Journals: Essay Proposal: Scholars have used research journals in their traditional forms for many years.  In many university courses in research methodology, undergraduate and graduate students are also introduced to the practice of keeping a research journal.  Online resources provide new and innovative ways of setting up and utilizing research journals.  A utility like the blog or journal function allows students to contribute regularly to their research journals while also sharing them with professors who can engage in sustained conversations with students about their research as it evolves.  The same utility can also be used for students to make selected parts of their research journals shareable with classmates. Discussion of online research journals might include exploration of questions specifically related to pedagogy, such as:  How does the use of an online research journal help students, classmates and teachers?  Are there any potential drawbacks to using research journals in an online format, and if so, what are they?  We can also discuss ethical issues, such as the possibility that some students might prefer not to share their work in this way, particularly in situations where they are asked to reflect on issues of reflexivity (asking, for example, ‘what prejudices or biases might I bring to my work’)?  Finally, we can compare and contrast the utility of online research journals contained within existing courseware programs like Blackboard, versus the creativity afforded by other products available online which allow for more creative formatting, and the addition of photos, etc.  rather than the traditional ‘text only’ research journal.  It might also be useful to include student commentaries on what they like and dislike about using the online research journal versus the traditional bound volume. (Mary Manjikian)

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 2 How We Learned to Drop the Quiz: Writing in Online, Asynchronous Courses —Essay Proposal: While “MOOC” has become a four-letter word for many, online, asynchronous courses have the potential to reach those whose location or work/family situation makes attending an in-person class impossible. But how can these courses assess student learning without relying on traditional (and convenient) tools such as the ubiquitous multiple-choice quiz? This essay will share our experiences with two online asynchronous courses, Virginia Studies and Hidden in Plain Sight, designed to teach historical content and historical thinking skills to Virginia teachers. Specifically, we will address the challenges and rewards of using writing to assess both content knowledge and historical analysis skills and share the modifications we have made to the course design in an effort to improve learning. An iterative writing process has been especially effective. For each module, participating teachers write a hypothesis about a primary source, research related resources, revisit that hypothesis, and apply their knowledge to create a classroom activity. Along the way, participants receive feedback on each piece of writing. This process makes learning visible and leads to growth throughout the course. While designing and implementing these courses, we have made changes to encourage deeper analysis – including removing the multiple-choice quiz. This essay will address lessons learned and strategies developed for promoting meaningful learning and writing for a wide audience in an online, asynchronous environment. (Kelly Schrum, Celeste Sharpe, and Nate Sleeter)

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 3 What Can Liberal Arts Learn from Machine-Scored Essay Debate? Can artificial intelligence software reliably evaluate student essays? That’s what the EdX non-profit organization suggested in an April 2013 New York Times story that drew nearly a thousand comments. Critics calling themselves Professionals Against Machine Scoring of Student Essays in High-Stakes Assessment have responded with a research-based petition drive. Some computer scientists, such as Elijah Mayfield, have sought to reframe the debate by clarifying how computers can “describe” and “tabulate” texts, but not “read” them. Meanwhile, a generation of faculty and students have grown up with word processors that include spell-checking tools, as well as grammar checking (represented by those green squiggly lines in Microsoft Word), and still others pay fees for automated proofreading services by the for-profit Grammarly site. What can liberal arts educators learn from this debate about what machines can (and cannot) do to improve writing, and how should this inform our pedagogical thinking and practices? (See also an edited volume by Ericsson and Haswell 2006.) Essay proposals welcome on this topic. (Jack Dougherty)

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 2 Code-Switching between Classical and Contemporary Rhetoric: Essay Idea — While some faculty and administrators continue to believe that web writing may not fit into the long-standing goals of a liberal education, I contend that work in both traditional forms and composition in new media complement one another.  From ancient times, the liberal arts have, of course, focused upon rhetoric and should maintain this perspective. However, by teaching writing for the web, we can integrate the canons of rhetoric into contemporary use.  Teaching students how to invent, arrange, and deliver ideas, using memory and style, applies not only to traditional written compositions, but also to multimedia creations.  Multimodal genre and writing on the open web affords both a more comprehensive and timely education for the twenty-first century, leading to a transfer between these formats, and to greater awareness of their use.  All of these canons may be applicable in each format, and—to use the term as Maryanne Wolf does regarding reading in Proust and the Squid—enable code-switching between them.  Integrating writing for the web into our courses deepens not only comprehension of these concepts, but also improves application of these critical components of effective expression and communication. I will make use of these classical rhetorical concepts to argue for the use of the web in our writing programs and will illustrate them both with assignments and with student work from my web 2.0 classes. (Thomas Burkdall)

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 3 Refining Web Practices in the Composition Classroom: Essay Proposal — As Olin Bjork (2012) has recently noted, the digital practices and pedagogies that have emerged in the field of composition studies in the last twenty years are closely aligned with one of the prevalent research threads in the digital humanities: media arts studies. Like practitioners and scholars in media arts studies, composition pedagogues have most often designed curriculum that validates digital objects as worthy of study. In this way, the composition classroom (including blended f2f and online settings) has gradually evolved into a space in which web writing (e.g., blogs, wikis, web pages, social media, etc.) has moved beyond something unproblematically consumed by students as though it were no different than any other text to, as Kathleen Yancey (2004) notes, something that is richly situated and determined in a unique rhetorical context. The proposed chapter will explore this shift towards the increasingly complex consumption and production of web writing in composition classrooms, arguing that as this shift continues, practitioners and scholars must understand the complexities of emergent digital literacies tied to writing curriculum composition classroom. In the process, the proposed chapter will stress the need to engage students (something which Jonathan Foer [2013] has recently observed is of increasing interest both in and beyond the university) and cultivate a sense of self-efficacy (Ibrahim & Callaway, 2012) through and in web writing. To accomplish both of these goals, we will argue that practitioners must refine qualitative practices while integrating more quantitative practices. Further, we will suggest that such a rich view of web writing in the composition classroom provides a space of possibility for student growth in new and exciting contexts, something that is sorely needed in the sometimes alienating space of digital technologies and digital pedagogies. (James Wermers, Angela Clark-Oates, Allyson Bogges, Shillana Sanchez, Mark Haunschild)

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 5 Innovation & Internationalization: Essay Proposal — With so much in academia in flux, two things remain certain: the increase in the use of technology, and internationalization.  As we think through the implications of integrating new technologies into the classroom, we also have be aware of how these new platforms affect international students.  I have spent six years living, studying, and teaching outside my home country among diverse groups of students.  During this time, I have thought a lot about innovative teaching tools that can better take advantage of the learning opportunities associated with internationalization.  I think blogging, webcasts or podcasts, wikis and other web-based collaborative tools may create a space where international students may actually thrive rather than simply having to sink or swim in a foreign learning environment.  For example, many Western students are taught from an early age to voice their opinions with conviction and this plays out in the familiar classroom discussion model at liberal arts institutions in which oral and face-to-face communication is the key.  However, many students, especially those from different learning cultures or those lacking confidence in their English language skills, may feel intimated in this environment.  Integrating other mediums of critical reflection may provide these students with an opportunity to engage with their peers in ways that allow their views to be heard.  At the same time, these tools may allow domestic students to engage in more meaningful ways with their international peers in order to more fully appreciate different cultural perspectives.  On the other hand, any web-based tool must be approached cautiously in a diverse classroom, particularly if students, both domestic and international, are not experienced users of technology as a result of their cultural background. (Holly Oberle)

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 5 Social Annotation and The Student’s Right To Protest:  Essay Proposal – Annotation has long been a channel for dialogue with official texts and ways of knowing. The potential of social annotation through web-based platforms is only just emerging, and, like many developments in the channeling and control of internet information and access, web-based annotation should be explored for its democratic and activist potential; its commercial and private investment interests must be contextualized as we start to “annotate the world.”  The monolithic face of the social web as represented by Facebook has fragmented into “cafe” spaces where people gather according to interest and modal creativity. Pinterest and Instagram use visual narrativizing; Twitter accesses one set of language skills while Tumblr enables another more discursive set.  Rap Genius and Social Book allow direct dialogue with published text. From a pedagogical perspective, these different types of social annotation platforms address multiple learning styles and individual student interests, a first step in developing a critical classroom (Shor 1992). I would like to propose an essay that will discuss ways some of these social annotation experiences can be used to develop critical consciousness in the writing classroom, and engage Ira Shor’s concept of the student’s right to protest. How can we take the idea of “backchannel” from classroom discussion tool to engagement with communities and critical dialogue with power structures? I will draw on research from my Introduction to English Studies class in which students used a wiki to annotate Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style (1959). This iconic style guide represents what Carmen Kynard (2013) called the “unquestioned and un(der)theorized” dominant center of standard schooled English. Some questions for future research that I will address in this essay include: How can annotation support the notion that no knowledge is neutral, as traditional guides to “good writing” would have students believe? In what ways do strong, critical, creative uses of social annotation enable students to “act on their conditions” (Shor) as writers, as students, as citizens? What are the benefits/limitations of different annotation platforms? What are the benefits/limitations of private annotation, such as marginalia or private blogging compared to public/social forms of annotation? (Laura Lisabeth)

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 8 An Experiment in Using Blogs and Web Writing during the 2012 Elections: Essay proposal – In the 2012 Fall semester I boldly (foolishly?) experimented with assigning students to write blogs and create web content…in all three of the classes I was teaching—an introduction to politics class, a course on parties and elections, and a judicial process class.  I had never assigned blog writing or created web content before, but it seemed as if the time was right.  In the late spring prior to that term, I had founded the “We Just Want Stephen Colbert to Come to Our College Super Pac,” engaging in a bit of political satire on this master of political satire.  My plan was to use the Super PAC as a vehicle for students’ civic engagement and have them join me in efforts to increase voter participation.  I saw the blogs and web assignments as another potential form of civic engagement. (See Lisa Spiro’s para 12.) I established a website for the Super PAC and also created WordPress accounts for each student in my classes.  Students were required to post a specific number of blog posts each week and the Intro level students were required to comment on a set of other students’ blogs on a regular basis.  Students in the Parties & Elections course worked in groups on political topics (e.g. voting rights, gerrymandering) and created articles for posting on the Super PAC’s website.  (In addition to the experimental use of the web, I also had students training to be election registration volunteers, election judges, and poll watchers.)  Given the many things going on at one time, I believe I did not give enough attention to (1) creating the web-based assignments and (2) supervising their conduct.  I’m not sure, then, how much success I had in this venture…or whether it constitutes a “failure” (see Chris Hager in para 6).  I do believe, however, that others may learn from my misadventures as a neophyte user of the web for writing assignments in my classes. (Susan Grogan)

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 3 Exploring Diversity with Web Writing: Essay Proposal – Although many might squabble over the exact objectives of a “liberal arts education,” many lists, like AACU’s Essential Learning Outcomes, include statements like  communication skills and “intercultural knowledge and competence” as two objectives. Many scholars have discussed a major benefit of web writing: giving students a “real” audience outside themselves and their instructors (e.g., Nelson, 2008Turnley, 2005VanHoosier-Carey, 1997). Part of the “ah ha” moment of engaging with a “real” audience is that the audience’s understanding of what they read may be different than the writer’s intention. In other words, web writing not only helps make students aware of an audience, a critical component to being a “good” writer (CWPA, 2008); but, also, helps make students aware that the audience is different from themselves. Future educators, like/as graduates of the “liberal arts,” must also be good communicators and “culturally responsive to diversity” (Richards, Brown, Forde, 2006). In this chapter, an education and an English faculty member will present a web writing assignment designed for a 300 level education course that improves writing as well as increases awareness of diversity. In the heavily scaffolded assignment, students were asked to engage with texts about diversity, reflect on their own membership in various cultural groups, produce “This I Believe” style essays and post them to the course blog. Students then read and responded to one another and concluded the assignment with a final piece of reflective writing. In the chapter, we will frame this assignment in both composition studies and education scholarship and then provide a detailed outline of the heavily scaffolded assignment itself. The chapter will conclude with data and student responses from the first implementation of the assignment and a brief discussion of what we will change next time. (Jennifer Kidd & Rochelle Rodrigo)

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 4 Whose Test Is This?: The Final Exam as Collaborative Writing Assignment: Essay Proposal – In Fall 2012, in my section of our English department’s required introductory course for majors, I assigned a single essay prompt for the final exam and asked the 23 students in the course to write one answer, together, in a Google doc. I divided the students into teams, each of which was chiefly responsible for one aspect of the essay, such as “quotations and references” and “continuity,” but the class was collectively responsible for the quality of the final product, and any student was free to contribute to any aspect of the writing. I gave the class approximately four weeks to complete the assignment, with the first two hours of the three-hour final exam period to be used for final adjustments and the last hour for discussion of the finished essay. The essay prompt was an excerpt from an opinion piece in the student newspaper questioning the validity of English as a major. The assignment was to respond to the opinion writer in the “They Say/I Say” format encouraged by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s writing manual (2010) of that name. So the students were responding to an instance of public discourse and doing so in a way that required them to be public with one another about the purpose and value of majoring in English. Their response lives openly on the Web. Although the assignment provided an opportunity to learn some interesting things about collaboration and project management, and to examine critically such concepts as “voice” and “authorship,” its main purpose was to re-orient students’ thinking about the role of  final exams in learning. Is the best final exam one that enables the instructor to make a comparative evaluation of how much each student has learned? Or is it one that serves as a final opportunity for the class, collectively, to grasp the issues at the heart of the course, to debate those issues, to identify and articulate shared positions, to struggle with the art of persuasion, and to help one another become better thinkers and writers? I would like to write an essay explaining in full detail the process and outcome of this experiment, as well as the justification for it. (Paul Schacht)

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 2 Curation: Art and Social Science in Online Writing — Essay Proposal — Blog writing offers a platform for a particular form of reflexive writing that can be harnessed to teach the art and science of publicly engaged social commentary. Drawing on the experience of working with over 800 students writing blogs at Wheaton College in an introductory course in anthropology, this paper uses specific excerpts of student writing to explore curation as a mode of online writing that is simultaneously creative and scientific. Curating knowledge about culture requires students to reflect on key issues in the social sciences: the politics and ethics of representation, power imbalance and the circulation of knowledge, and social responsibility. As a practice of reflexive writing curation is not simply an administrative task in information sorting. Curation of cultural knowledge is an art requiring students to foreground audience, the sequencing and presentation of information and a self-conscious understanding of themselves as culture-makers. Learning outcomes associated with curation and blogging can be extended by the reflective use of the tools that define and stretch our understanding of “curation” and its audience. Two frames for teaching writing in the online milieu are particularly productive: “building” and “breaking.” By building digital tools that visualize, organize, contextualize or otherwise curate our course content, our students engage with potential audiences in new ways that can be channeled into reflective writing. When we critically analyze, test, and attempt to “break” digital tools that curate course-related content and then reflect on that act together and as individual writers, we become more critical users of digital technology. Reflecting on cultural relativism, the blog writing analyzed in this contribution encourages students to simultaneously build and break traditional frames for understanding our culture and the cultures of others. (Peter Coco and M. Gabriela Torres)

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 2 Writing and Remixing: Essay Proposal — In the consideration of digital technologies and their relationship to the discursive spaces provided both in the composition classroom and the products students create in said classroom, I’d like to author a piece that considers how elements of visuality and virality common to the web environment can be used to teach traditional composition concerns that relate to products that can be published either digitally or traditionally. Examples of elements such as synthesis, audience, joining and starting conversations (academic or otherwise) are ample in digital realms and can largely be taught by relating remix culture, discursive spaces such as blogs, social media, meme hubs like the Chive, etc. Conversations about the issues that matter haven’t change since the inception of classical rhetoric. How students relate to the items has, and can be taught using examples and conventions of new media. . .The inspiration for this comes from my own experiences with students, as I personally find that teaching ideas like “synthesis” with remix culture as found in the work of contemporary artists like Banksy helps students to understand writing in a way that they can parse as it is situated in their contemporary culture and in what could be described as “born-digital Millennial sensibilities.” (Kate Morgan)

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 5 Problem Solving through Collaboration and Convergence: Essay proposal — In this essay I will explore Web Writing in the university community by reflecting on two online courses I have designed and taught at Mississippi State: Writing on the Web and Writing for the Workplace. My teaching working involves undergraduate students learning technical communication and rhetoric in interdisciplinary situations. These situations stem from a mix of academic concerns in which students develop a repertoire of discourse strategies that can be applied to literary research, workplace communication, and service learning. In Writing for the Workplace students collaborate online to discuss problem solving strategies in workplace case narratives. They create online documents such as texts, presentations, Wikis, blogs and Web pages. We discover through writing that these case narratives are concerned not simply with document and content strategies that are found in technical communication discourse communities, but that they also delve into issues involving ethics, multicultural discourses, interactions between users and technology, interactions deployed by user communities which mediate rhetorical aspects of the virtual public square. In Writing on the Web we explore Web Writing from three interrelated vantage points: writing content (design, strategy, and usability), online rhetoric (persuasion, interactivity, and dialectic), and convergence (media, ethics, and social responsibility). This essay will broadly consider the Web as an interactive virtual space that necessitates, by its very structure, opportunities for rhetoric and writing that draw upon a convergence of media and the potential for new modes of collaboration, modes that redraw the way we map writing in the public square from a global perspective. In so doing I will examine various rational for Web Writing including interactivity, discussion boards, and blogging and then contextualize these modes of writing from the standpoint of Web Writing theory. I will discuss the interaction between software technology and ubiquity, writing, and the persuasiveness of design. (Peter B. Olson)

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 1 Public Writing & Student Engagement: Essay Proposal – As we know, within the last several years, the field of Rhetoric and Writing has moved to consider and work within multimodal genres. I teach a course titled “Public Writing,” a requirement for entry into the various majors within the School of Business Administration and other schools at my university. As a required course, “Public Writing” does not immediately generate student interest or enthusiasm, and the typical inclusion of various civic debates tends to draw groans and sighs. The question facing me as I began teaching the course was two-fold: how can I interest students in social and political issues as topics of discussion and for written assignments, and how can I help them see the importance of writing well? The answer was multimedia and the incorporation of the web as course text and as medium of composition. As a firm believer in and practitioner of scaffolding, I design this course to build on the type of writing and research students should have completed in our first-year composition (FYC) courses to thinking more carefully about audience and about writing as more than words on a page. Students complete a traditional, contextual/-rhetorical analysis as their first major assignment; the text they must analyze must be a video that is a component of a larger website. The second assignment asks students to create their own video and to analyze their own rhetorical decisions in a short paper that accompanies the video submission. The final set of assignments asks students to create their own website that includes written text, visual images, videos, and a social media component. . . Previously, when I’d taught the course, I expected students to learn about social and political issues strictly from our readings and from print news sources or traditional broadcast news media. Students found this approach boring, and many merely skimmed the texts. When we shifted to learn about these issues through web-based media, students became far more interested. Now, students tweet relevant links to me outside of class and during class as we run a “backchannel” on Twitter. (Robin Gray Nicks)

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 2 Tweet Me a Story: Essay proposal – In my writing classes, I use Twitter to help students organize their thoughts for their news stories. I encourage them to write their leads (story introductions) and headlines (titles) in Twitter, and I’ve used exercises in both newswriting and editing classes. Students like using social media in class, and they begin to craft shorter and better sentences. Editors recommend 35 words for a lead; however, I recommend 20. I have used Twitter in scriptwriting classes to help students write punchier dialogue, log lines and tag lines. Twitter also could be used in creative writing classes, history classes, political science and even science classes for students to write concise statements and engage in online conversations. Additionally, I have assignments in which the students live-tweet events. This practice forces them to think on their feet and capture their notes electronically, which then helps them with building a story on deadline.  Once the students have captured tweets, I ask them to combine their tweets with narrative and photos/videos in the social media curation site Storify. This essay will examine the strengths of Twitter for the teaching of writing, the benefits of live tweeting and the benefits of combining tweets with narrative for an online publication. (Leigh Wright)

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 1 Crafting Historical Writing and Teaching Critical Thinking in the Digital Age: Essay Proposal — The limited opportunities in many introductory courses for students to develop and practice critical thinking and writing is an ongoing source of frustration for many educators. To address this problem, we have created a content-agnostic online history writing lab. Recognizing that our students are increasingly engaged with digital exhibits, visual materials, websites, and databases, we focus on helping students analyze and develop their own digital arguments. We designed Historical Writing and Thinking as an online asynchronous writing-intensive course that guides students through the process of analyzing, evaluating, and creating historical narratives. Students complete a series of carefully scaffolded assignments that help them develop their digital project and curatorial statement. The central pedagogical principle for our course is authentic learning as outlined by Marilyn Lombardi, and we focus primarily on four aspects: real-world relevance, ill-defined problems, reflection, and sustained investigation. Individual writing assignments are 250 words–appropriately short for a web audience. Students are given feedback on each piece, which they then reflect on and incorporate into subsequent submissions. Together these exercises create space for students to work out their ideas and build toward the final assignments.This essay will discuss the scholarship and teaching experiences that have shaped the development of Historical Writing and Thinking, with particular attention to how our course continues the tradition in the humanities of critical thinking and written communication by extending these principles into digital environments. (Celeste Sharpe and Jeri Wieringa)

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 1 Recognizing Reliability, Bias, and Authority: Essay Proposal – The successful acquisition and application of information literacy’s critical frameworks and skill sets has become a crucial component of a student’s development in contemporary higher education. One of the most significant areas of information literacy is outlined in Standard Three of the ACRL’s (2000) “Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education”. Standard Three states that, “The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system” (11).  Oftentimes, educators teaching information literacy apply this Standard, along with its performance indicators and outcomes, as a means to gauge a student’s ability to assess and employ credible web resources in academic papers. Indeed, this Standard’s primary purpose is to ensure a student can recognize factors such as reliability, bias and authority in sources and develop a serviceable understanding of how such factors can impact scholarship. Given relatively recent developments in our information landscape, including a marked increase in crowdsourced web writing, how do educators best address factors such as reliability, bias and authority in manner that is academically rigorous yet sufficiently responsive to a clear paradigm shift with regard to how scholarship is being conceived, produced, disseminated, and consumed? (Caleb Puckett)

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 5 Genre, Audience, and Context: Rethinking Platforms: Essay Proposal – Web writing provides the opportunity to rethink questions of genre, audience and publication through the investigation of the chosen platform. As an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College, I chose to write a senior thesis that incorporated special collections materials and produced a website rather than a traditional paper-based thesis. Through this process, many of the questions that I grappled with in my classes as an English major such as tone, circulation, and audience were amplified as I considered the publicness of my own work. I also explored questions that I had not previously considered such as: the copyright of Special Collections materials, terms of service and intellectual property, sustainability, and the creation context through a specific medium. Through this work, I was able to more deeply consider the nuances of platforms moving forward in digital media.  It also changed the way I approached traditional papers. I began to recognize the capacity to leverage elements such as footnotes, titles, and citation in new ways. Through this essay, I would like to explore various modes through which web publication can raise questions of genre, audience, and context in a liberal arts setting. And in turn, how these questions engage critical thinking and provide a forum for creating best practices of online publication. (Jen Rajchel)

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 1 Engaging Students with Scholarly Web Texts: Essay Proposal – Scholars continue to challenge expectations for academic writing; the rhet/comp journal, KAIROS, provides wonderful examples of the sorts of engaging pieces of scholarship possible in this medium. How, though, do we prepare our students to engage texts that challenge the expected forms and formats of scholarly writing? This proposed essay will examine the reading challenges presented by scholarly web texts and offer suggestions for classroom engagement. (Anita M. DeRouen)

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 1 Problems and Possibilities with Student Digital Research and Writing on Slavery: Essay Proposal — I have invited students in my Composition II course an opportunity to conduct slavery research. Students have studied persons included in an historic Civil War document, which names former slaves and their owners. Approximately twenty percent of the students decided to participate. Of this group, almost thirty percent, four of them, elected to continue working on the project after the course. I set up a public wiki for our work. Each student was provided a password and given lessons on how to compose a profile of their subject. This project has experienced many successes including the students’ gaining experience in archival research and connecting with people across the globe. A failure of the project has been the students’ reticence to make the project their own and take the initiative to transfer their research findings to the Web. After the course, I administered a survey to glean how students had decided on their research topics. I have had conversations with the four students who continued working on the project. I have reached various ways of understanding how all topic choices were made and of understanding why even the four students who continued were slow to post findings.While these students have willingly moved onto traditional paths of writing about research the transcription project has lagged due to their not taking hold of our wiki space. Working with the students closely, I had witnessed many times their being unnerved by serendipitous connections, some of them online, some of them during archival work. I am interested in knowing what the problems and possibilities are of involving twenty-first century students in digital work on slavery. Is there something about traditional research methods and formats that provide a buffer that online formats does not? (Alisea Williams McLeod)

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 1 How do digital tools transform authorship? Essay proposal — I recently taught a cross-listed undergraduate/graduate course entitled “Writing Electronic Literature” at Kean University.  Throughout the course of our semester, my Writing Studies students received an overview of established and emerging forms of Electronic Literature including hypertext fiction, network fiction, interactive works, and digital poetry.  What was special about this course was not only did students read, review, and analyze these emerging forms of digitized literature, but simultaneously, students were also composing a variety of emerging genres of Electronic Literature. This paper will consider the process of narrative writing and authorship in a digitized environment.  How is storytelling transformed with the addition of digital tools?  Might digital tools facilitate narrative complexities more than traditional (analog) authorship?  Or do they distract from the processes of meaning building, and become a means to an end? What makes a digitized text “literary”?  How does one harness digital tools to enhance their own capacity to tell a story?   I will focus on the writing process of three students within the course to highlight these central questions that guided our class inquiry. These case studies will ultimately shed light on how digital tools transform authorship. (Mia Zamora)

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 1 Indigenizing Wikipedia:  I’d like to share an almost inadvertent teaching success, in which I assigned students to write entries on Native American writers for Wikipedia.  For a few semesters now I’ve had students researching and writing essays for an Omeka site, Writing of Indigenous New England.  Over this past spring break, though, I got sucked in to the #toofew project, in which feminist, queer and postcolonial scholars charged colleagues with improving Wikipedia’s content.  It took me about a week to figure out Wikipedia’s conventions and write a tiny entry that “took”; and it occurred to me that it might be interesting to let students do the same, as an interim exercise for their longer Omeka essays.  Each student was paired with a living author who was not yet represented in Wikipedia, and communicated with that author during the research and writing. The results were powerful—both for the authors, many of whom are elders and have little access to Web writing themselves; and for the students, who began to see me as a facilitator who could help them tackle particular writing conventions, rather than as a gatekeeper who somehow capriciously makes these things up.  I can describe some of these successes: students were extremely motivated to correct their work when some 17-year-old in Turkey was editing it at 2 a.m.; they got much more meticulous about their mechanics; they were forced to source everything; and they really grasped that professional writing unfolds over a very long period of time, with infinite feedback and revision.  Wikipedia is not unproblematic (and I can describe some of the essays that “failed,” too—sometimes because of Wikipedia’s own norms and not the quality of the student writing), but it was a much more powerful persuader than I, evidently, of many basic realities of professional writing. (Siobhan Senier)

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Source: https://webwriting2013.trincoll.edu/how-this-book-evolved/ideas/