Writing Pedagogy

In this new writing pedagogy,

Making Connections

In these online spaces, students and educators write not just to communicate but to connect. Whereas publishing was once the end point in the writing process, it is now a midpoint, the place where the interaction with readers and subsequent conversations begin through comments on or revisions and linking. Sharing one’s writing with a potential global audience is a means to creating networks of learners who share an interest or passion. Their interactions can continue for a lifetime. But while this sharing creates all sorts of opportunities for students, it also creates a new level of complexity that requires they become adept at navigating a more transparent life online and at managing a much more distributed conversation that is carried on asynchronously in many different places. Figuring out how to help students manage those shifts is, in large measure, where schools are struggling right now.

Collaboration and Risks

That collaborative aspect is another important shift to consider, as the Web continues to facilitate more and more opportunities for people to create together. Tools such as AppJet’s EtherPad, a Web-based word processor that allows people to work together in real time, Diigo, a research tool and knowledge-sharing community, and wikis provide spaces for students to roll up their writing sleeves and create together—an act that, again, adds another layer of complexity to the writing process but one that most see as an important skill moving forward. That has implications for every teacher.

The challenges for educators, teachers and learners however would be:

1. Are the learners ready to share their work with others, and display such work in their blogs or wikis opening to public?  What proportion of learners are willing to share such work?

2. Are the learners feeling safe, secure and confident when posting their work onto blogs and wikis?  How would these learners respond to critical comments and spams?  Are they looking for protected space in their blogs?  Are they “open” enough?  How about the privacy issues?

3. Are educators (teachers, coaches, learning technologists, librarians etc.) encouraging their learners to post their work onto their blogs or wikis and share them with the global audience?  Are these blogs or wikis part of the assessment?  Are learners offered choices of blogs and/or wikis?  Are FB, blogs, or wikis mandatory or voluntary tools in a course?

4. What level of support would be given to the learners when using blogs or wikis?

5. Are educators and teachers required to exercise a “duty of care” when their learners are learning through the internet?  What sort of care and precautions are necessary in an online “teaching environment”, especially if the learners are teenagers?

I have more questions than answers.

How would you encourage a culture of  collaborative writing online? Wikis? Blogs?

 What are the implications?

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