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Tag: ENG 704

Computer-Mediated Pedagogy: Then and Now

Computer-Mediated Pedagogy: Then and Now

My student blog posts for ENG 704: Teaching Writing Online are rolling in and it warms that cockles of my bloggy heart. I think back to when I was a grad student taking Computer-Mediated Pedagogy from Dr. Kristine Blair in the early 2000s, then at […]

Looks Count for Blogs Too

Looks Count for Blogs Too

The first reflective blog posts based on the readings are coming in for my Teaching Writing Online class and I must congratulation all the early writers have done their first reflective post. The module ends on January 28, so yea early writers! There is even have one comment, a […]

What a Teaching Writing Online course can do

What a Teaching Writing Online course can do

Any way I look at it, teaching writing online is more work for faculty than teaching in the face-to-face classroom. It is also more work for students, but this post will be looking at it from the faculty side and counting the costs, most of them personal and paid for by faculty rather than the university. The 2003 Article by Kristine L. Blair and Elizabeth A. Monske in Computers and Composition, “Cui Bono?: Revisiting the Promises and Perials of Online Learning” accurately detailed those costs for that time, but that was thirteen years ago and there is more tech, more options, and potentially more expectations for what can be done in OWI (online writing instruction). It isn’t enough to be as good as a face-to-face classroom anymore. Now we need to do all that, reduce classroom costs for the university, and increase enrollment, all while making education more convenient for students.

One trend that Blair and Monske hoped would stop was the choice of the least prepared and the the least-powerful for online writing instruction. Given that it is harder and takes some individualized pedagogical choices, it only makes sense to have experienced faculty be the ones who teach online. However, grad students are paid less than full time faculty–much less. As a result, second and even some first year MA grad students commonly get the honor and the challenge of teaching writing online, the reasoning usually being something along the lines of, he/she is such a good writer/poet. fiction writer, literary scholar that she/he will do a great job. Often they end up doing a pretty good job, especially if they get faculty mentoring along the way. The dedication that such students bring to their own writing and in the case of second years, what they know or intuit about the face-to-face classroom combine to create a writing teacher ready to overcome obstacles and do a superior job. What this steep learning curve means for their personal life and their own course load is another matter. Monske, Elif Guler, Chris Harris, and I held a roundtable at the 2015 CCCC in Tampa about solutions for this. No one in that room believed that universities will listen to the ethical argument and stop placing inexperienced grad students as primary instructors in online classes. The best solution we could agree on is what my university has done, institute a Teaching Writing Online class. The second part of the roundtable recommendation was to require the course for grad students slated to teach writing online, but that has not happened. To be truthful, it never may. However, I have hope for it happening informally, in the same way the grads chosen to teach basic writing have credit for Theory of Basic Writing.  Since that is offered every spring, it is only reasonable to choose GAs who have taken the course over ones who have not. However, Teaching Writing Online is only offered every other spring (odd-numbered years) and is an elective for the MA Writing rather than a required course for the Rhet/Comp track. That means fewer GAs available with course credit and the continued use of GAs without coursework in OWI.  Chances are that every single one of our MA students who go on to teach will be teaching online at least part of the time. They need the class. Also, not only composition classes teach writing online. Creative writing and secondary dual credit courses are other venues.

So, what can a course in teaching writing online do? here are a few things:

  • Familiarize future teachers with a variety of LMS. These change. If you learn the needed functions rather than the needed steps for a specific software, you will never become outdated.
  • Emphasize building in redundancy and different channels of communication. Triangulate. If a student missed the announcement on the site, they might read the email instead. If they miss the email, they may view the video reminder.
  • Learn the Discussion Board from the faculty viewpoint, i.e., using open-ended prompts.
  • Learn other uses for blogs besides a diary-like personal space.
  • An essential view of the online classroom as much more than a container for files.
  • A forgiving nature for students who get confused even though the instructions seem obvious to the instructor.
  • Learn ways to workshop online
  • Learn ways to conference with students online

This is a far from inclusive list. The most important though, I believe, is to see the online writing class as living, breathing space, not a warehouse for files. The most commonly used LMS, Blackboard, was created using the file cabinet paradigm, and remnants of that foundation still haunt it. Learning alternatives and enhancements can only help.


ENG 704: Choosing a Blog Platform

ENG 704: Choosing a Blog Platform

An earlier version of this post was done for an ENG 725 on “Teaching Writing Online.” I will be updating those posts to include what’s new since then and to better fit the new course. In my ENG 704: Teaching Writing Online class this spring, […]

More LMS review

After the great Moodle breakdown last semester, I had to scramble to find something to replace it that did not require me to do the upkeep. The one-click options that remained with my host were not going to work. Canvas has changed its terms. I’m […]

Yes, Pinterest

This is a  post for English 704; Teaching Writing Online, and it may be a brief one. I want to make sure writing teachers think about social media as more than just social, even the ones that are so highly gendered at this point that the idea of an educational use for them seems laughable. To that end, I wish to examine Pinterest as an organizational tool for the classroom. Yes, Pinterest.

The self-reflective board, Very Pinteresting, points out some reasons why. First, Pinterest is not as skewed female as one might think. I’ve noticed in my newsfeed that most of the new Pinterest members that I know in real life are men. They may be coming later to the game, but they are coming–31.8% to 68.2% women, a ratio that seems fairly familiar to me from my early pilot study on LiveJournal in 2004, detailed in my dissertation, A Public View of Private Writing: Personal Weblogs and Adolescent Girls (available through Ohio’s ETD). At that time LiveJournal was heavily gendered female, 65.2% to 67.3% from April 2004 through April 2005. On the last day LiveJournal provided statistics (2/13/2013), the breakdown stood at

  • Male: 6103828 (45.1%)
  • Female: 7421258 (54.9%)
  • Unspecified: 3212792

with unspecified consisting of parakeet blogs, cat blogs, or otherwise ungendered blogs. What I am suspecting here is that over time, heavily gendered social media evens out.

Known for its obsessive use by party planners, recipe gatherers, and meme lovers, Pinterest is really a wiki in disguise, one that uses images and user-set categories (boards) as primary organizational features. The social aspect is clear. You are pinning images on virtual bulletin boards and if others find your interests engaging, they will follow you as an entity or one or more of your boards. Let’s look at this from another perspective. If you want to find something quickly that is “trending,” Pinterest is a great place to look first.

Here are some examples. One composition studies researchers who is currently taking Pinterest very seriously is Alice Daer, an assistant professor at Arizona State University. two of her boards, Royale with Cheese and Gives Good Face are a boon to those obsessed with modern-day royalty or in the second, that hard to define quality that makes an actor a star. I have used Pinterest for more mundane yet hard to define collections, such as Human/Nature Interface or Oddities. I have no idea what I’m going to do with these images, but I am intrigued with them enough that I want to keep them. My use is a good example of an inner-directed Pinterest user. I’m collecting pins for my own interest with no nod to potential followers. Daer decided to try Pinterest to see how many followers she could gain, and by choosing subjects well and using her fairly substantial research skills, her follower lists dwarf mine — 2617 to my 37. Ah well.

In a composition class, Pinterest could be used either individually or as a class identity. Within it, class members could build boards on assigned or self-selected subjects. The visuality of Pinterest hides a system for noting links to text. That great photo of Princess Diana in Royale with Cheese may be the pin for a Princess Diana site with otherwise hard to find links. Especially if you are researching a subject that has a strong visual hook, try Pinterest. Others researching the same subject will find your board and you will then be able to see what they’ve found. If you like the functionality of a wiki but dislike how it is so heavily weighted towards text, try using Pinterest for research. It may surprise you.

ENG 704: Enter the Wiki World

This is based on an earlier post, now retooled for ENG 704. This post is for my ENG 704: Teaching Writing Online class, but others are welcome to read it too. Oh, the wiki. So lightheartedly named, so prone to being fundamentally a part of […]

ENG 704: Getting started with Teaching Writing Online

An earlier version of this post was written for a ENG 725 on “Teaching Writing Online” I’m teaching a graduate seminar in rhetoric and composition this semester and next week is the first week, the week to get our collective feet wet, and while we’re splashing in that virtual […]