Category Archives: reading

When WAC Goes Digital

WAC programs are concerned with how (and if) instructors integrate writing into their disciplinary courses. They offer seminars on adding writing to learn activities to course content (Bean). They talk about how writing functions (Britton). They talk about informal writing (Bean) such as one-minute writing and bio poems, microthemes, assessing writing, and writing and students’ engagement (Light).

WAC hasn’t talked so much about electronic communication. There are just a few texts:

Reiss, Donna, Dickie Selfe and Art Young, eds. Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1998.

McLeod, Susan H., Eric Miraglia, Margot Soven, and Christopher Thaiss, eds. WAC for the New Millennium: Strategies for Continuing Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Programs. Urbana, Illinois: NCTE, 2001.

Searching The WAC Clearinghouse Bibliography, I found a few more articles:

Palmquist, Mike, et al.. “Network support for writing across the curriculum: Developing an online writing center.” Computers and Composition 12.3 (1995): 335-353.

Recent advances in computer and computer-network technologies make it possible to consider an alternative to the indirect, top-down pedagogy used in most writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC) programs (e.g., a pedagogy that views faculty as the primary audience for WAC training). Drawing on the results of a 4-year effort to establish a campus-wide, computer-supported writing environment, we suggest that computer networks and specifically designed instructional software (e.g., multimedia instructional materials and interactive writing exercises) can provide the basis for a network-supported writing-center-based WAC program. Our discussion focuses on development of network communication tools and hypermedia courseware to support WAC. (Added by Kate Kiefer on October 17, 2002 | Last Updated on October 29, 2002)

Ok, so now we’re talking. According to this abstract, Palmquist advocates ‘multimedia instructional materials and interactive writing exercises;’ however, what if students were the ones creating the multimedia materials? What if WAC advocated students’ acquisition of digital literacies? Ok, so I think I want to advocate CAC because it’s not like I want to say do away with writing on paper or that electronic writing is the only way to go. I do want to consider what happens when WAC becomes CAC and starts to emphasize and encourage not just writing, but multimodal learning and communication.

Sherman, Lawrence W.. “Postmodern Constructivist Pedagogy for Teaching and Learning Cooperatively on the Web.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 3.1 (Feb2000): 51-58.

Sherman situates WAC in a broader movement towards “Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environments.” He calls for all disciplines, particularly his own, Psychology, to adopt these online environments. He gives examples of these, including Blackboard, and one he developed for his own department. Sherman argues from a Postmodern position, saying that now more than ever students are aware of difference in their lives and in the university, and tend to distrust information from the teacher presented as fact. If it is presented as part of a forum, in which they can see ideas and conflict and join the debate, the knowledge they take away will seem “real” to them. (Added by Ben Miller on March 8, 2005 | Last Updated on March 8, 2005)

I agree with the last part about involving students in discussions in the field; however, I doubt Blackboard is the answer. D. and I were talking yesterday and I said that there were people on campus who will support instructors’ use of tools like Blackboard and WebCT; however, that’s not writing. And, she said something along the lines of…yes, but who is doing work to support different kinds of writing? Then, we wondered if there are any proffessors who are integrating technology and writing into their courses. To refine that a little more now, are there any instructors who are integrating technology into their courses other than as a means of course management, and primarily as a writing/designing/recording/filming/imaging to learn or to communicate activity?

Yes, that is what I want to find out. I know there are people in the field of Computers and Writing who are doing such things, but are any of them doing so as part of a WAC, CAC, or ECAC program?

Kiefer, Kate. “Integrating Writing Into Any Course: Starting Points.” Academic.Writing (2000). .

After teachers articulate their goals for incorporating writing into courses, working backwards from the goals to specific assignments can be relatively straightforward. This article provides a process for teachers to determine goals and then devise writing assignments to fit those goals. (Added by Kate Kiefer on October 15, 2002 | Last Updated on October 29, 2002)

Reading this abstract reminds me there was a recent article on Kairos “Why Teach Digital Writing” that I need to go back and read again.

Ok, so I want to talk about the “what” and the “why” of the question, not necessarily the “how” because that will be a local question.

What are digital literacies?
Why would WAC/CAC/ECAC want to encourage?
What can WAC learn from students’ use of digital technologies?

The how question that really widen things up and that I am still attached to is: How can WAC directors reach unaffected audiences? For example, if WAC integrated multimodal/new media compositions into their WAC workshops and seminars, I suspect that doing so might increase both their effectiveness and affectiveness. Can I ask it a different way? What are students learning and communicating by the ways they are using “new media?” Are they connecting these activities to their own and others’ lived experiences?

Ok, that is enough for now. Thoughts on this mess anyone?

Reading Notes, WAC – Odell

Odell, Lee. “Context Specific Ways of Knowing and the Evaluation of Writing.” Writing, Teaching, and Learning in the Disciplines. Anne Herrington and Charles Moran, Eds. New York: MLA, 1992. 86-98.

one-sentence summary: Odell argues that WAC faculty must help their colleagues understand students’ ways of knowing and that writing and content should not be evaluated separately.

86: A formalist evaluation of students writing would lead to comments such as “simple, clear, and authoritative,” whereas; a non-formalist approach could lead to comments such as: “writes well…but they write about nothing.”

87: defines ways of knowing as “thinking strategies that can be made conscious and can influence a writer’s (or a reader’s) reflection on the subject matter at hand.”

88: meaning making as “deliberate,” “spontaneous,” and/or “context specific.” In this article he argues for context specific and deliberative and doesn’t address spontaneous much. However, his mention of spontaneous ways of knowing made me think back to last semester re: Masumi and affect…the affect is spontaneous before the mind categorizes and judges it.

89: need to do (and help others do) rhetorical analysis in order to make better evaluations

89: need to “give up facile generalizations about what constitutes ‘good’ writing’.”

90: need to “maintain balanced perspective” regarding different ways of knowing and others’ opinions on ways of knowing.

91: two WOK he mentions here are: noting similarities and identifying gaps.

91: faulty WOK are empty phrases and value judgements, such as: “it is interesting,” “it is amazing,” and “this is unfortunate…man must learn…”

96: while discussion engineering texts, he mentions two other ways of knowing: “explaining decisions,” and “providing a technical rationale.”

97: WAC specialists need to help others understand or overcome their objections to appreciating and evaluating students’ ways of knowing.

Top 5: In the article, he refers to Bazerman’s article in this same text on rhetorical analysis, as well as Miller and Selzer, but I’m working from a photocopy without a Works Cited so I can’t identify those texts right now.

Library Applications

I just discovered a new web app that Ellis Library (the main library here at Mizzou) offers: New Book List, where users can browse by category new offerings at the library. Very nice.

Here are some of the titles that caught my eye:

Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror
Web-Based Learning : Design, Implementation, and Evaluation
Digital Youth: Emerging Literacies on the World Wide Web
Putting Students First: How to Develop Students Purposefully
Palgrave Advances in William Blake Studies (I’m taking a 19th Century Brit Lit class this semester and according to the info at Amazon this volume covers (among other things) Blake and Gender Studies and has a chronology and bibliography, all of which might be helpful at some point.)

Now…if I only had more time!

Tonight’s Link Fest

via rebecca’s pocket: The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web: CSS and HTML typography design — this is great stuff here. Followed this site to the web designer who is doing the project, Richard Rutter at Good content and blogroll here.

From there, I clicked on a random commenter and found: Jason Santa Maria’s site and his post On the Subject of Design. Check out the books he recommends on design. This post would be of interest to visual rhetoricians.

One of the books Jason recommends is: Visual Literacy: A Conceptual Approach to Graphic Problem Solving by Judith Wilde, Richard Wilde. Also, he mentions: The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten.

Finally, one of the other books he recommended that is a little bit differrent than the others: A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech. After checking it out on Amazon, I’m thinking about ordering the deck of cards based on the book: Creative Whack Pack for some out-of-the-box thinking.

Good stuff. 🙂

Positioning and Potentials

cross-posted to 8040

Navigating Movements: An Interview with Brian Massumi
I’ve been reading Massumi and struggling with how capitalism connects with a theory of bodily movement. For some reason, I just wasn’t connecting things. But, now that I am making progress on that front, I have the desire to talk about lots of things.

One of the ideas that jumped out at me tonight is on page 10 where he states, “[Capitalism] starts working directly on bodies’ movements and momentum, producing momentums, the more varied and even erratic the better. Normalcy starts to lose its hold” (6th para under The constraints of freedom). This makes sense to me because tonight on 20/20 (I had it on in the background), there was a story about weight loss and flavours. I don’t know the whole story, but when one of the women said she didn’t have time to cook good food because her lifestyle is so busy, things just clicked for me. Capitalism works on us in a sped-up fashion and we think we have to keep going and going and going in order to be productive. Later in the article, Massumi links this with participation and with branding and marketability. We think we have to keep going in order to improve our CV or resume so that we’re positioned to make the next move.

When we’re positioning ourselves (or trying to anyway) we are operating on the field of potential. We have the potential to do so many things. And, there is thought in preparing to move and act on this field. Massumi even says in talking about anger, “The overload of the situation is such that, even if you refrain from a gesture, that itself is a gesture” (page 5). This made sense to me to think about it in the terms of an indrawn breath, or a barely perceptible tightening of the shoulder blades. While these are gestures in the strictest sense, thinking about these minute movements enabled me to think of that second before gesture.

We’re on this train of movement all the time that it’s really difficult to change directions or move a different way. That is, “Power doesn’t just force us down certain paths, it puts the paths in us, so by the time we learn to follow its constraints we’re following ourselves” (10). Capitalism works by keeping us moving. Massumi continues, “The argument is that capitalist powers have pretty much abandoned control in the sense of ‘power over'” (10). In this flow, it doesn’t matter which way we move as long as we keep moving so the system can profit. “Capitalism starts intensifying or diversifying affect, but only in order to extract surplus-value. It hijacks affect in order to intensify profit potential” (11). And, we all want to be effective, right?

In some breathwork classes I’ve taken the instructor suggested breathing in the dissatisfaction and then blowing it out and releasing it. I always resisted this idea because I thought, why would I want to breathe in “issues” when what I really feel like doing is push them away. But, now I get that in the out breath there is potential. …just a side benefit of the reading that I thought I’d share.

I am a happy camper tonight. It’s not that I don’t realize that there is a lot to be done, especially in regards to capitalism, the ‘affective media loop, and pedagogy, or even any looseness in this post, but that I feel more aware and able to talk about things. hee. Well, at least for the moment! as I’m going to go back and try to read another chapter of Parables and try and do some scaffolding.