Bridging the Composition Divide: Blog Pedagogy and the Potential for Agonistic Classrooms
by Janice Wendi Fernheimer and Thomas J. Nelson
Since the emergence in 1999 of online self-publishing tools such as Blogger, blogs have grown exponentially in many arenas--political reporting, private life, and education. As many readers will know, a blog (contraction of "weblog") is a web site composed of generally brief, frequent entries arranged in reverse chronological order. The convenience of easy-to-use, form-based interfaces has led to an explosion of the so-called blogosphere. As of November 2005, Technorati.com (a search engine that specializes in blogs) indexed 21.9 million blogs in its database, and there are estimates that 80,000 new blogs are created every day (approximately one per second) (Dyrli). Though blogs have been used in many ways, they tend to exhibit certain identifiable generic attributes, including a blurring of public and private modes of writing or behavior. This article will consider how we as writing teachers might use this new genre. We will first consider how the quasi-public, semi-private generic attributes of blogs trouble the traditional divide in writing instruction between expressivist and social constructivist theories. Then, we will discuss a model for using blogs in the writing classroom to promote intellectual community and agonistic engagement in the proto-public space of the classroom. Rather than using blogs as a tool to facilitate a type of online journaling, we will focus on the implications of using a single, multiply-authored class blog as the central interface for the writing classroom.
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