Sunday, February 22, 2015

Revising the Writing Process

With word processing, software, however, revision was easy. Words, sentences, and chunks could easily be moved around, reorganized, rearranged, reintegrated, and the whole text would flow forward as a result”
Chapter 2 of Digital Writing Matters provides us with a few anecdotal accounts of successful technology implementation in the classroom, as well as multiple strategies and examples of how digital tools have and can enhance the traditional writing process.  By breaking down the traditional writing process on pages 50-53, and synchronizing each step with examples of digital tools to consider, such as or VoiceThread, DeVoss not only gives us concrete examples that we can use in our own classrooms, but provides us with the insight needed to embrace this technology. Therefore, this chapter is really building off some of the things we discussed last week. Throughout our discussion, I noticed that the general consensus, something that was introduced at the beginning of this text, is that one of the most crucial things to keep in mind when teaching with technology is that it’s not the tools that matter most, but how we use them to enhance our student’s abilities to read and write. The quote above, found on page 47, sort of sums up the main things I took away after reading this chapter. In order to successfully teach with technology, we have to reorganize our student’s research habits, rearrange the way we think about revision and reintegrate this new methodology in the classroom.
DeVoss & co. note that “few elements of writing practice have been affected as deeply by new digital tools as the process of inquiry, research, and content development” (53). The endless access to information is something we should embrace. As we discussed last week, it gives us more time to focus on the content of our writing, but it also poses one of the biggest potential threats when it comes to our student’s writing. For this reason, I think emphasis on how to how to use search engines and find credible websites is crucial. So, how do we do this? Joyce Valenza gives us a few examples of websites on page 54 of Digital Writing Matters, but how do we ensure that they are developing efficient search habits when they’re researching an assignment online? I realize this is sort of a loaded question, but we’ll never be able to fully monitor our student’s search engines, and the sources they cite in bibliographies are probably not the only ones that they've consulted. As an aspiring teacher, it would be helpful to hear from those who are currently trying to answer this question.

This chapter touched a lot upon our process of revision, and after reading it, I started to feel a little more hopeful that this is one area where the technology is really beneficial to our writing. As the text discusses, things like spell check, citation generators, and word processors themselves enable the process of revision to be less grammar-orientated, and more focused on “what matters as a writer: communicating with your audience” (57). For too long, peer-review has been equated with copy-editing. I can still remember all the red mark-up’s that I would get back on drafts I wrote in high school, highlighting places I should add a comma, sentences that sound too awkward, and other technical aspects of my writing that though important, don’t help us evolve our writing through revision, but instead edit it. Editing will always be necessary, but thirty years ago, much of the drafting process was done before it was typed. This is no longer the case, and as the text points out, it’s important that we encourage our students to regard their writing as “living documents,” a process made even easier through the use of collaborative word processors, wikis, and other digital writing tools” (53).

As the chapter of the text declares, in order to successfully integrate technology into our classrooms, we really have to consider how the writing process itself has been revised by the digital world. I think we can all pretty much agree with the claim that “a lot of these kids will grow up not really writing [in a traditional sense], but having to learn to communicate in modalities that weren't available to us when we were kids” (DeVoss 49). We read about new media, a concept I wasn't entirely familiar with, in “New Media from Borges to HTML” by Lev Manovich. The article not only helped clarify what new media is, but also introduced this idea that computer scientist and developers of these technologies are “important artists of our time, maybe the only artists who are truly important and who will be remember from this historical period” (14).  I can’t pretend to know much about art, not nearly enough to decide if I agree or disagree with the Manovich’s assertion, (what do you guys think?) but this article highlights a few of the ways that composition has drastically changed with the expansion of new media. Students now have more options, and sometimes more of a need to improve the visual design of their text than they ever have had before. Stories and other forms of writing that were once conveyed strictly through text can now be enhanced digitally with media collages, music, and other “mash-ups” that arguably allow students more freedom, and more creativity in their writing. Obviously, this will not be the case for every assignment, but should we allow our students to experiment with different forms of media in their writing? I don’t think anyone would argue that we should or could do this for every assignment, but how can we revise our own understanding of the writing process to include new media technologies that may appeal to students who don’t benefit from the traditional writing process? For those of us who aren't exactly enthusiastic about graphic design and multi-media (raises hand) this can seem like a daunting task. I agree that baby-steps are key here, and I think that we also have to let go of some control, and allow for a little room to explore. If we “provide writers with a wide range of playful, low-stakes opportunities to brainstorm, freewrite, draft, compose, and edit (with text, graphics, sound and still and moving images) using computers, digital tools, communication technologies, and network spaces” we may help shift the emphasis from achieving the perfect final piece, to an appreciation of the writing process, and a better understanding of what it entails.

Hopefully I've helped outline some of the main points in the readings for this week. It’s difficult to make assumptions about what works in the classroom when I don’t have experience teaching, and I realize some of the questions that I’ve posed require much more space and time to fully consider, but any feedback would be much appreciated!


  1. Jennifer, this is a really great post. I’ll try to respond to each of your three Rs below:

    With research, I think the best way to show students some good practices is to let them see other’s documented experiences with finding sources and synthesizing those to form one product, whether written or in another mode. I really like the Valenza example you mention, how she helps relieve frustration and depicts how others have worked via blogs. Students love models, especially for new tasks, and they really do help students put their own work into perspective (just think about how Alex has supplied us with digital storytelling examples). It shows students that an end product is attainable. You could even make a mock research project where you videotape your own process and show students how to work through something like Google Scholar: How do you keep you sources in check? How do you know what is best for your project or argument? How can you manage a group research project? This is tough. That’s why I would also enlist the help of your library staff and have them take your students through the process in small, manageable steps. I emphasize small, manageable steps so that students are actively engaged, especially middle/high school students.

    When I teach revision, I begin by showing my students several versions of The Rolling Stone’s gem “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. There’s that one, the Otis Redding version, and the kids love the Brittany Spears one – but I set it up as the idea that a song, a poem, a piece of writing never dies – it always exists and is open to your own or someone else’s interpretation. So, even though they may turn in a final version of an essay that I grade, their essay, typed into a Google Doc and shared with every 8th grader, lives forever and is accessible at any time by the students. They can be 40 and check it out if they want. Are they likely to do that? Doubtful. I also let kids rewrite essays as many times as they want throughout the semester. Now, I tried a new thing this year with editing since each kid has an iPad at my school. Last year, I, and their peers, would write on Google Docs in a different color text when editing. They could open the text at home or in the library and see the edits. It was OK but a lot of students did not read the comments, even when I directly referenced a rubric. The edits barely improved their papers. So, this year I had students take their essays (in PDF format) and their rubric (PDF too) and drag them into a video app – Explain Everything. They (or me, or a peer) would read their essay aloud and simultaneously comments and right all over their PDF essay and the PDF rubric. This way each kid usually went home with 2 or 3 videos of someone editing their paper. It takes a while to get used to doing it, talking and writing, but after a few times it’s easy. On second rounds of revision, I found that their papers were a lot more focused and made a lot more sense than papers I received the previous year. The future of editing? I’m not sure, but it worked. I actually cannot wait to try it later this year.

    As for reintegration, I think, as Alex said, that the best way for teachers to do this is through baby steps. DeVoss and co. also say, “Keeping pace with technological change feels overwhelming. But good teaching practices…are far more important than any changes in technologies” (59). From personal experience, I would say that maybe “risk-taking, baby-stepping” is a better way to put it. If you have the tech available and think it will possibly help your students, you have to take the actual risk of using it in the classroom. Over time, I think that we will see the study of various type of media be incorporated into the public classroom, like we are seeing integrated into the college one. Just as there have been changes in art, we will see the study of media change as it becomes more and more incorporated with how we make meaning and express ourselves.

  2. Jennifer, great post!

    I really appreciate the fact that you document the chapter's assertion that "one of the most crucial things to keep in mind when teaching with technology is that it’s not the tools that matter most, but how we use them to enhance our student’s abilities to read and write." I definitely agree with this assertion (at least in terms of how you frame it), and I sometimes have to remind myself of its sentiment when being glutted with tech-possibilities overwhelms me. The reading and writing abilities are what we, as educators, are helping students develop.

    Unfortunately, I think it's easy to put the cart before the horse.

    I've seen a few coworkers lose their minds after finding some new bit of technology absolutely enthralling. Even with the best intentions, these teachers have ended up putting their carts before their horses, losing sight of the fact that reading and writing is the end destination. With that being said, even my skepticism gets smacked by my skepticism -- after all, if technology is changing what it means to be an effective reader and writer, I have to wonder about what that aforementioned end destination actually looks like.

    Brian, I love your "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" activity! I, too, do my best to emphasize the value of multiple drafts. When I teach Creative Writing, my students do independent drafting, partnered editing, and group editing. By using a file-format that encourages group-editing (we use Google Docs at my school), the students can walk away with some wonderful, applicable feedback.However, I wonder how much of my draft assignments still fit into the print paradigm.

    After all, DeVoss & co wonder about the very nature of a drat: "Is a draft when the computer saves our work automatically? When we choose to share a version with colleagues? Or is a 'draft' something else? What is it when we revise a paragraph in an existing blog entry not because we want to 'say it better,' but because we want to improve the visual design..." (57).

    And although I definitely agree with you, Jennifer and Brian, about the baby-steps method, I found myself inspired by a bit from the text. Anne Moege is quoted as saying "'Trust them. Even if you are not entirely comfortable with the technology, allow your students to teach you throughout the process'" (45). As a dude finding himself to be more and more of a Luddite-technophobe every year, Moege's words are encouraging. I think when it comes to technology, teachers (myself especially) need to learn that it's okay to be uneasy, or even to fail at first. Either of these sentiments beats not giving something a chance!

  3. You make a lot of great points Jennifer!

    Like Brian, I will try to respond to your three “R’s” but also with some thoughts of my own from the reading. In regards to research, I think the use of technology for this is pretty straightforward. Beginning in middle school I was taught (by teachers across curricular subjects) you must evaluate a source for academic viability much like you would evaluate a paper or book source. Academic research articles published by universities, government websites, and other sources where the information presented is cited are usually safe bets. Websites like Wikipedia (where anyone can post and citations are not needed) are not. I think the technological aspect of teaching research is just a matter of teachers using generalization to teach students what they already know on how to evaluate a paper or book source, and using those skills to evaluate a website or online article.

    In regards to revision, DeVoss made a lot of points I had never thought about. I did realize that before word processing everything was done by hand, and I have heard quite a few complaints from my parents about the use of typewriters in their college days (1978-1982). However, I never gave too much if any thought into what exactly word processing has allowed us to do with regards to our writing. As DeVoss says word processing has allowed for collaborative writing, made possible through ongoing revision, peer response, and publishing. Word-processing specifically helps ELL students shift the focus on their content rather than language hurdles they might face and it also helps with legibility. Ultimately this collaborative revision process has allowed for “purposeful audience oriented writing by deepening connections (between writer and reader).”

    I think Reintegrating technology is the most challenging of the three for teachers and educators specifically. As DeVoss points out, students “need teachers who are digitally fluent and blend technology into lesson plans, assignments, and projects.” As new technologies emerge most teachers are unaware that certain technologies have been invented or even exist (myself included). Until starting my graduate program in the fall I had never heard of a wiki, Google docs, annotation studio, and had never read nor wrote a blog. I did take another educational technology class in the fall and had to create all sorts of online tools I could use in an ELA classroom. However, that class was probably the most useful class for me because teachers need to bridge ‘out of school literacies’ with literacies students need in school to make them successful and contribute to the student’s sense of accomplishment and self worth. I believe teachers need to continually be willing to educate themselves on new and emerging technologies that they can use in their classes and to be willing to collaborate with other teachers in their school and districts to come up with ideas on how to bring these technologies into the class and enhance the students curricular progress.

    As for my last thought on computer scientists and developers being artists, and “the only ones remembered from this historical period;” I would say no, primarily because computer scientists are just that- scientists. Some may appreciate what they develop as a form of art but their innovations are not art for everyone. Art is commonly juxtaposed with science and also has little real world value, but its value is found in what is evoked from its appreciator (according to Webster’s dictionary). Bringing me back to the point that computer developments are not art for everyone, but may be for some. But to say that these scientists are the only ones that will be remembered is extremely insensitive to the other painters, singers, songwriters, actors, writers, and other artists everywhere who will and do undoubtedly have an effect on our society now and in the future.

  4. I agree with the other respondents, Jenn, that your post is provocative and helpful in thinking about the role of new media and the writing process. We will discuss word processing a bit more in depth later in the course, but I'm glad that you highlight some of Devoss et al's points about how revision has been revolutionized by digital composing. As much as I appreciate Valenza's comments in that chapter, I think it's a problem to imply that careful citation (e.g. knowing the appropriate punctuation) doesn't matter (56-7). One of the greatest challenges, as Marisa points out, is getting students to use sources appropriately and knowing the "small stuff" like colons can play a large role in evaluating sources and documenting them accurately. At the same time, I believe we should be open to new forms of citation, such as the hyperlink, which is how Wikipedia operates - in fact, Marisa, edits to Wikipedia should not stand if they are not verifiable (i.e. they have to have citations, but they don't have to follow our academic formats).

    I do think the larger message about how we can use new media in the writing process is very important, and I think we need to take our cues from practicing teachers like Brian and Allen. Thanks for sharing your strategies and experience with us!

  5. Jenn, thank you for your post and contextualizing things in the way you did. As someone else who does not have the experience yet in the classroom that some of our classmates do, many of the questions you asked definitely aligned with many of the things I was asking myself while reading.

    I would tend to agree that it's definitely important to instill in the students efficient and appropriate search habits, but at the same time I think it's important to not scare students away from using tools such as Wikipedia, for, As Alex noted, Wikipedia does have a system in place to use citations in order to back the things noted on it up. I think it's also important to keep in mind that as a living breathing online document, while information may not always be 100% accurate due to the nature of what it is, it's editors always strive to make it as close to accurate as possible. As such, while it may not be appropriate to use as a primary source, at the very least, due to it's citation system, it can always be suggested as a secondary source and as a source to be used to spark ideas in research and further knowledge. I hesitate to follow the thought that I've heard many use in regards to it as if to say it is a black or white resources (meaning either all good or all bad.) I think the truth of something like Wikipedia, which is the case with many things, that it's up to us as teachers to get across how and why tools like this can best and most appropriately be used.

    In regards to revision, I would agree that it is definitely encouraging to learn that tools like Google Docs are being used in the classroom effectively to really enhance processes like peer review that did at times seem to be very little more than copy editing a peer's paper. I think Alex makes a great point though, that as teachers we have to find a balance between focusing on the ideas a paper makes and the technical (and clear and succinct) ways in which they are being said. While the digital editing tool in word processors seem to get better with every revision, leaving the total work of these features more to the program instead of continuing to balance ideas and grammar with students I believe leads us down a potentially dangerous path. As has been previously noted, we just have to continue to find ways to integrate technology like this without allowing it to take over basic functions that are really the basic building blocks of reading and writing to begin with. As a music major in a previous life, one of my professors always stressed that in jazz improvisation, "It's important to learn the rules before you can break them." I believe the same is true in this circumstance as well. Brian, I very much appreciate and am happy to hear about your revision policy with your students throughout the semester. I think to a certain extent, not allowing this to happen more often can paint teachers as "not walking the walk" as far as encouraging re-writing and revision. I'd be very interested to hear more about how this works for you.

    I think as technology evolves and our understanding of the meaning of texts and writing evolves it's important, within appropriate restraints, to allow students different methods in being able to explain how they understand these things in the best and most clear method they are able. It then becomes essential for us to become open-minded as teachers in how these things could be represented in a multimedia and multi-modal fashion. I agree very much with Allen and the reading that as teachers who might not be as technologically adept, it's okay to let students who might be more so teach us and take the reins a little as far as this is concerned. As this kind of "remix" philosophy to pedagogy seems to still be in it's infancy, I think it's important for teachers, while being cautious that it is providing what our students need, is not dismissed simply because we are scared of something new or different.

  6. Thank you Jenn, for helping us outline the important points and bridge the readings in your post. And also, it is inspiring to read the comments from other classmates, especially from the practicing teachers like Brian and Allen.

    In terms of research in a technological context, I noticed that most comments here mentioned Wikipedia. I agree with Erik’s idea that although Wikipedia is not 100% accurate, it is a good helper to resort to when we run out of ideas. And I give my credit to it because I don’t think people will edit it arbitrarily although it is open to public, and the resources have their origins, although not in a proper MLA format. One way I use Wikipedia is when I find something worth exploring on, I use the hyperlink to the original sites for further and explicit explanation. But yes, it is still our responsibility to teach students how to use technology to do research properly. Brian’s way of make a mock research project to videotape the whole process is worth a try.

    When it comes to revision, I have always doubt whether technology is good or evil in this process. We cannot ignore the convenience that the word processor has brought to us: multiple versions, easy editing, saving for a longer time, and alleviating the trouble of proofreading… however, although it enables the process of revision to be less grammar-orientated, and more focused on “what matters as a writer: communicating with your audience” (57), I see potential danger lying ahead. While we are enjoying the automatic correction and identification of spelling and grammar mistakes, we are simultaneously losing the fundamental element involved in writing: language. I’m not saying form is more important than content, but for the middle/high school students, especially for those whose mother tongue is not English (like myself), acquiring the basic knowledge of the language seems to be more important. We don’t want to see students writing in fragmented sentences or misspelling when there’s not machine to help them do the correction.

    As an aspiring teacher, I find myself in a predicament that I don’t really know how to integrate the advanced technologies into my future class, even though I have equipped myself with quite much the knowledge. I’m sure it’s safer to launch a “baby-step”, in that it’s not only easier for the students to accept, but also at a lower stake for teachers to assimilate into their classroom. But there is a seeming contradiction because the baby-steps may not be so interesting, and I assume that when students are using technologies to write, sometimes it is not their interests in writing, but in the technology that motivates them to do this. What we teachers need to consider is how to transform this interest into one on writing. So maybe it’s somewhat rewarding to give a bold attempt.

  7. (1/2) Jennifer, thanks for your post! This is really helpful in unpacking and reviewing the DeVoss chapter for this week.

    I want to begin with the issue tackled in BDWM of utilizing search engines to find credible websites (side-note: I really appreciated the practical resources offered in this chapter - a lot of super interesting looking tools and websites were offered). Like Alex, I was troubled by Valenza’s reasoning that “removing the ‘icky’ part of citation generation allows kids to “really focus on the content” (56). This is problematic because its seems to suggest that electronic citation tools can entirely replace the need for any basic citation knowledge. Like the sentiment of this entire chapter, I think we should revise our understanding of various composing tasks in light of digital tools, not to throw out the old ways all together — “we have suggested that [digital tools and environments] are revising our conception of the ‘writing process.’ Although this is true, it does not mean that the accumulated body of knowledge and practice about the teaching of writing is now irrelevant” (42). I tend to favor the idea that these two modes of composing (call them traditional and digital) need not be in competition, but rather, are mutually illuminating.

    Anyhow, I think your question — “how do we ensure that they are developing efficient search habits when they’re researching an assignment online . . . we’ll never be able to fully monitor our student’s search engines, and the sources they cite in bibliographies are probably not the only ones that they've consulted” — is a good one. DeVoss et. al. observe earlier in the chapter, “Digital environments have dramatically expanded writers’ ready access to content, even if they have also magnified the challenge of assessing that content” (43). I would suggest that magnifying the challenge of assessment actually improves students capacities for shrewd discernment when it comes to source selection and information evaluation. The notion that “oh, you read that on the internet so you think its true!” has become an almost laughable one. If anything, I think the web has made people more skeptical and critical, because they have to evaluate so many competing, unverified sources. If there isn’t a filer in place to assure that the material students survey is scholarly or accurate, then it seems they have to develop the skills to become the filer themselves. This seems like a useful exercise to me. To return to your question, I think students consulting outside or non-scholastic sources that remain uncited is actually productive and good practice assuming they’ve been armed with the basic premises of discernment.

  8. (2/2) Lastly, I wanted to tackle a peripheral moment I was struck by in this chapter that seems to relate to Borges and our upcoming digital storytelling assignment: “How will our understanding of conventional forms such as the essay evolve as qualities such as ‘unity’ give way to forms that emphasize ‘mash ups’ or what Jason Ohler has called ‘media collage’?” (57). I think new media’s unique ability to undermine unity and conventional forms is its most compelling aspect. The mandated unity and constraints of the five paragraph essay is arbitrary and limiting — I’m not a teacher so my take on this may be a little idealistic. “Essay” in a more literary sense has referred to a “mash up” of sorts long before new media (I’m thinking of Montaigne and Adorno’s “The Essay as Form”). Anyhow, I think new media’s potential to loosen the stifling constraints sometimes imposed upon student writers is exciting.

    Working on the digital storytelling assignment has been eyeopening for me. I feel inspired by the ability to express myself in new ways. Often times in the writing process, especially in the creative writing process, I get overwhelmed by competing ideas that seem contradictory or irrelevant. Writing straightforwardly on the page sometimes seems to frustrate the impulse to express things simultaneously or to follow thought’s non-hierarchial, often uncoordinated process. The digital assignment allows for a kind of layering and simultaneity that feels freeing and organic to the expression of story.

    Here is a fabulous digital essay that makes these possibilities and some of the exciting implications quite clear: “Welcome to Pine Point”

  9. Great post Jenn. In reading it, I was struck when you said, “in order to successfully teach with technology, we have to reorganize our student’s research habits, rearrange the way we think about revision and reintegrate this new methodology in the classroom.” It’s true that these new technologies will allow students to write in ways that help them to focus less on copyediting and more on revision, and it may be true that these technologies will change the way students write, where words, sentences, and ideas are able to be moved seamlessly from one part of the essay to another (this is the opposite of effect the typewriter had on Nietzsche). Because of this, it is important to foster, in students, the ability to make use of the new skill set that these technologies enable. However, perhaps the most important benefit that comes from these new technologies comes, not from its impact on the student’s writing process, but in the form their ability to aid instruction. This can be done by allowing the instructor to observe and then analyze the writing process. The technologies that DeVoss points to, like Google Docs, enables teachers to track how an individual student writes, revises, or researches, which enables her to provide student specific instruction (53).

  10. Thanks for this! You hint at an issue in your Revision and Reintegrate that I’ve been- not concerned with, exactly, but thinking about. You make reference to two instances that might bear at least devil’s-advocate scrutiny:
    1. In “Revision,” you bring up how the physical typing of a document encounters significantly more surface level copy-editing than it used to, and that the writer (including myself, here, in this response) essentially copy-edits by hunting down and eliminating the dreaded red-squigglies. What this means is that, for some (especially those who do not have an intimate familiarity with the English language) their grammar is brought to them by the Microsoft corporation. I don’t think this is insidious per se, but I think it at least bears recognizing.
    2. In “Reintegrate” you mention how Manovich’s article calls computer software and language programmers the ‘new artists.’ While I don’t have any inherent aversion to the sentiment, I feel like ‘artist’ may not be the perfect term. I feel as if they are not creating art, but the medium, which others use to create art. What I find interesting about this dynamic is that the artist is now in a unique space, simultaneously presented with an almost daunting amount of freedom while also being shackled (unless they are sufficiently versed in the language themselves) to the language as given. An interesting side effect of this is that this flexibility fractures what would be one medium into a potentially infinite number of them, which I am realizing now is why “new media” is such a muddled term.

  11. Jennifer--great response! You brought up a variety of concerns we all have as teachers and perpetual students! My best advice (and it's the advice I received from other teachers) is to try anything at least three times before "writing it off," if you can forgive the pun. Seriously. The first time has a 50% chance of failure, but that does not mean that you will fail after refining the technique and how you implement the tool. I have found that I am less afraid of failure and I even openly admit that some of the programs we use in the classroom are trial and error as we learn how to use the program. Just a bit of unasked for advice, I suppose.

    Now back to the readings and your insightful synthesis of sources (and the fun)!
    -Research: The last research "project" I had my students do, I broke out the "#Hashtag Assignment" for the second time where students worked in pairs to create a list of hashtags they would use to "tag" the assignment if they were posting a tweet about the assignment. My students said an activity like this allowed them to create brief/concise topics to look for, as well as key words to search for, before they just started Google-ing the question(s). I will admit the implementation was a little rough--between having to convince students to do the task because of the potential benefits and some students' struggle to grasp the Twitter concept because they do not have an account, although they have certainly seen tweets with hastags--but I am working to revise how I present the assignment. Also, sometimes the increased exposure to assignments like this make the students feel more confident over time. While it's not focused on the research tools themselves, this assignment does help them feel prepared to approach the tools when they have an idea of what they are looking for prior to just jumping in.

    Revision: One of the interesting things I find about my students' papers is that they struggle to navigate the "audience and identity" aspect BDWM mentions as writing process strategies. Most high school students do not feel comfortable writing with the first-person pronoun, or even feel that their opinions of their peers' work does not matter when the "primary" audience is the teacher (The Grader) because they do not realize that they are the audience too. I am not saying that they cannot or will not write with the first-person pronoun, but I know that when I explicitly give them permission to use "I" they think that the paper becomes informal and loses validity (just two of my students' "concerns"). Although the use of "I" does not mean that that is the only way to express identity, but I do attempt to show they how "I" is an easier way of expressing ownership of ideas. I did have a question about the use of identity in BDWM though, especially with regards to whether the term "identity" is synonymous--or if not synonmously, as least in conjunction--with tone in this case: "Writers present an identity and address audiences, both real and imaginary, in their work...[Writer's] present multiple identities in their writing" (50)? Or is it purely identity through the synthesis of ideas from themselves and others? Maybe I am reading too much into this.

  12. Jennifer, you make a lot of really good point and raise some good questions. As someone, who is not teaching right now, I can’t say what I would definitely do in my own classroom, but I will say what I theoretically would like to do.

    As far as research, the use of technology in this is fairly straightforward. From a very early age, students have been taught to use credible sources and to always cite these sources. However, many people are saying that Wikipedia can not be credited as a source. I’m not sure that I agree. First of all, Wikipedia is not the same website as it was when we were in high school. It’s a much more credible source than it was even three years ago. I’m not saying I would let my students do all of their research with Wikipedia, but I would probably allow them to use it as one of their sources. They’re going to use Wikipedia anyway; I think we, as educators, should find a way to make it a useful source.

    With revision, DeVoss reminded me of all of the stories my parents would tell me when I was writing papers in high school and in college. “You’re lucky; when I was in school, we had to write term papers on typewriters and if you made a mistake, you might have to rewrite the whole paper,” they’d say. Whether or not they were just trying to scare me into appreciating the advantages technology has given me, I’ll never know. But it’s true. Something as common, in this generation, as word processors had made a huge impact on writing. And collaborative revision software, such as Google Docs, has taken that a step further. When I first started using it in college, I thought it was the most amazing thing. Being able to do group work without having to figure out when the whole group was free and able to work together was incredibly helpful. Collaborative writing is becoming a more and more prevalent practice and I think it’s great that technology is making it even easier to write with peers and learn from each other.

    Reintegrating technology is probably one of the most trying things that teachers need to do. Technology is always changing. Always; every day. Until last semester, I’d never used a wiki. I didn’t use Google Docs until my senior year of college. The day that a student comes into my classroom and presents a form of technology that I’ve never seen and have no idea how to use is not too far into the future. So, we as educators have to try to keep up with technology and learn how to implement it in our own classrooms, while still trying to teach students the basics.

And as far as computer scientists being the “only artists who will be remembered from this historical time period,” I’d have to agree. Art is relative, for one thing. And to a scientist, science is art. Being able to make a computer program from scratch, making something out of nothing: that’s art. How many of us know who Steve Jobs is? Bill Gates? Mark Zuckerberg? Probably all of us. How about Eric Whitacre? Wynton Marsalis? Even those last two names I only know because I was friends with a lot of music majors in college. I can’t even name a current painter. So, I’d have to agree that computer scientists are the artists whose names we will remember the most from this technological age.

  13. Excellent blog post, Jennifer! Your assertion that it is necessary for us to recognise how students both use and navigate technology in their study habits hits a core concern in the classroom, I do think. Like others have commented, Wikipedia is something that constantly comes up—both in student work and from teachers lamenting students’ use of it. I often get the feeling Wikipedia is given an undeservedly bad rep—like Erik points out, its editors strive for accuracy and they do their best to counteract saboteurs. I used Wikipedia myself in my studies as an undergraduate, but perhaps not in the way many professors see their students use it. The cited sources on that website is an excellent source of material for anyone looking for primary sources.
    Living documents are particularly an interesting aspect of how technology has influenced student work. Many of the comments observe how it changes the process of writing and revision itself. Jiuqing rightly points out that it brings up a concern of “is it good or is it bad,” specifically when it comes to the technical aspects of writing—spelling and so forth. One could argue whether or not writing on a computer negatively impacts our spelling or not—I rely on the red squiggly lines to tell me if I’m completely off base, but we also have the feature that automatically corrects your word for you, rather than forcing you to go back and think about the misspelling (unless your spelling was completely hopeless and even the computer itself has no idea what word you’re trying to use.
    But then again, would this bring us into the crotchety old idea that everything’s going down the drain because the old methods are being shafted. My father jokes about going uphill both ways in the snow when I complain about long T-rides, the old generation of university students could complain likewise of writing all their essays by hand and ending up with sore and cramped hands. It would be nifty to find out if there has been any conclusive research concerning writing with computers and linguistic skill. I do know there was an idea a while back suggesting that texting was actually improving the use of language, but I cannot recall the specific article claiming this, or if I imagined it.


MOOCS: A Problematic Solution to the Disinvestment in Public Higher Education

I agree wholeheartedly with Bady’s cynicism of the speed, inevitability, and necessity of the MOOC movement. From 2011-2015 I direct...