Saturday, April 21, 2012

Text 2.0

Even though I attended lots of sessions at 4Cs, spring break happened so I did not really have time to reflect on what I experienced other than my own session. But thinking back to it, there were lots of discussions similar to what we have been having at this seminar about the changing nature of writing and text. The narrative follows the line that composing on word processor was the last major shift: before this writers had the options of discarding or rewriting, but not reshaping text. The fluid nature of entities from paragraph to whole essay was a major sea change in our thinking about writing, and there were of course the lamentations for what we lost: we would never  again have the first draft of Hemingway's stories or The Waste Land or Dickinson's poems because writers would only save the final draft (I know there is an obvious gap in logic, because the same writers who would save previous drafts would also save previous versions on pc, but never mind).

The next change is, lots of speakers claimed, interactivity. Writers are getting used to instant feedback, from comments to hitting "like" on facebook to what not, as well as enhanced text qualities incorporating videos, photos, etc. In one session they actually talked about how two different groups of learners, non-traditional and traditional college age saw an enhanced text, with the former group focusing primarily on text, then pictures, and finally video and the latter having the order of pictures, then video, then text in trying to create meaning out of the text. As one speaker noted. "at this point if you are teaching a novel that has been made into a movie and there is no dedicated part of the class time to discussing the movie, students will consider that you robbed them of an experience." She noted that showing the movie was not necessary, but ignoring it, especially if recent one (she mentioned Jane Eyre), was for her students ignoring the text--for better or worse her students considered the movie part of the enhanced Charlotte Bronte text.

Back to the feedback issue, I have seen that with peer review--students do not mind giving "comments" if they are so labelled, even if they are critical, but using a different nomenclature, like "critique," short-circuits them. Also, the more back and forth they have between them in their blogs, the less resistant they are to both giving and receiving feedback--which may be their getting used to the process or getting used to seeing their blogs as another one of the platforms to which they respond to others' writing, as they do on twitter, facebook, etc. 


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Luke. I appreciate the note about what to call critique (comments) and how the speed of feedback/interactivity is a part of what's made 2.0 writing more fluid. I also appreciate that students get more comfortable with it over time.

    I wonder how we can start incorporate these comments and their rationale directly into our syllabi? I've realize I want this to be a regular part of my classes.

  2. To JRC:

    Mmm...not sure if formalizing the comments is a good idsea. Right now certain comments are covered by my syllabus (peer eval. , for example), but I want them to feel free to write to each other as much or as little as possible otherwise. And I have found that the students are more enthusiastic about an assignment if a formal grade is *not* attached to it (or is extra credit).

  3. I wonder how newer generations of comp teachers will encourage texts from their own students: images, videos, and finally text (as in words)? And I wonder how incorporating comments (aka feedback) might work in future texts: Will students be encouraged to practice creating multivocal/multimodal texts to mirror the kinds of texts being created on 2.0?

  4. Hi Justin:
    I also am eager to incorporate the rationale for these comments into my syllabus, though I do see Ximena's point. But I do want students (and other readers of the syllabus) to see that we are not using technology just because, but that there are essential reasons to our pedagogy.

    Maria, when I was in prep school, we were not allowed to cross out or erase words in composition. Supposedly it taught you mental discipline, but really it was my teachers' inability to see text creation as a fluid process. Hardly any teacher would support that now, and I am sure future comp teachers will also have very different conceptions of texts. I would like to think those of us here are a little closer to them than my prep school ones.

  5. I completely agree when you say writers are used to instant feedback. As you said when they post on Facebook, people encourage and want feedback. I had one posting yesterday were a friend of mine was actually looking for feedback to help improve himself. Some people took the easy way out and just clicked liked, but some actually gave him some specific about himself. It was interesting reading.