Web-based curricula should encourage students to make situated design choices. Rather than simply privileging technological imperatives, instruction should integrate technical proficiencies with rhetorical analysis, medium-specific concerns, and consideration of larger cultural contexts. Redesign projects offer rich opportunities for pursuing these pedagogical principles. Reflecting on student examples, this article explores redesign as a method for teaching critical engagement with technology and contextualized web authoring. Through research and revision of an existing web site, students employ rhetorical approaches and gain more complex understandings of web development. Redesign projects also slow the pace of web instruction and provide students opportunities to develop situated strategies and reflect critically on their authoring choices.
A pedagogical problem growing out of virtual classrooms is the temptation to act without communal accountability, the reciprocal commitment among individuals to maintain the health of their interconnections. Drawing on an ethnographic study of a fully online composition class, I argue that teachers can encourage accountability within virtual sites by conceiving of the online classroom as an emergent phenomenon. The relationships and activities among language, physical reality, and interpretant provide the matrix out of which place organizes itself. This ecological orientation provides local and systemic strategies for fostering communal health. I begin my exploration of online place by describing the value of complex systems theory and emergence for conceptualizing place. Next, I describe the roles of language, physical reality, and interpretant, pointing out the contribution of each to the configuration of virtual place and to communal accountability. Then, I focus on the emergence of place, which reorganizes language, reality, and interpretant, opening up a new dimension to communal accountability.
This paper discusses the role of blogs, wikis, and online discussion boards in enabling rational-critical debate. I will use the work of Jürgen Habermas to explain why wikis, blogs, and online bulletin boards are all potentially valuable tools for the creation and maintenance of a critical public sphere. Habermas' story ends on a sad note; the public writing environments he argues were so essential to the formation of a critical public sphere failed as commercialism and mass media diminished the role of the community and private persons. Unfortunately, the Internet will likely suffer a similar fate if we do not take action to preserve its inherently democratic and decentralized architecture. Here, I describe the integral role that blogs, wikis, and discussion boards play in fostering public discussion and ways they can be incorporated into college composition courses.
Attention to email exchanged among a small group of student peers supercedes discussion of networked computer labs and is distinguished from research on collaborative classroom work in general, on online peer tutoring in writing centers, on email communication in online professional writing courses, and on online discourse in general. Email peer response within small groups is different from larger-scale, one-to-many computer-based communication tools (CBCT) on class mailing lists, bulletin boards, blogs, and wikis on the one hand and smaller-scale, one-to-one email exchange between an individual student and a peer tutor on the other hand. The benefits of assignments that require small groups to respond electronically and asynchronously to each other's drafts are analyzed and illustrated: rhetorical/thematic, discursive/environmental, technological, logistical/time management. The practicalities of students' exchange of drafts, deadlines, and other guidelines are explained and illustrated in typical student email responses and model instructor handouts.
As scholars, writers, and teachers, I believe that we should try harder to understand students' perspectives on the use of computers in their academic work. This article begins to provide a sense of students' perspectives on questions of technology, thus presenting a fuller picture of the context within which we teach. Drawing on a variety of methods, including a survey and the writings of a small group of students enrolled in a Writing and Technology course, this article expresses some of these stories generally hidden from an instructor's perspective and reveals that, despite what the media might tell us, students are not as prepared to utilize technology as we might assume. Furthermore, the student narratives suggest that English departments and writing programs can play an important role in assisting students who are unfamiliar with computer technologies, helping them to gain the computer literacy they need to succeed at the university.
Keeping with the currency of the print-based journal, Print to Screen focuses on the themes found in the recent issues of Computers and Composition, and includes multimodal commentaries that explore and remediate relationships between print and screen.
Section Editor — Elizabeth Monske