Teaching writing in a globally networked learning environment gnle diverse students at a distance
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TEACHING WRITING IN A GLOBALLY NETWORKED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT (GNLE): DIVERSE STUDENTS AT A DISTANCE. Jennifer L. Craig Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “TAKEAWAY” MESSAGES.

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Jennifer L. Craig Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Teaching writing in a globally networked learning environment gnle diverse students at a distance

TEACHING WRITING IN A GLOBALLY NETWORKED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT (GNLE): DIVERSE STUDENTS AT A DISTANCE

Jennifer L. Craig

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Takeaway messages

“TAKEAWAY” MESSAGES

  • Writing pedagogy must be refined and expanded in order to culturally and linguistically diverse students in distance environments.

    • Know our diverse students better

    • Know ourselves better

      • Investigate our unexamined cultural assumptions and the way that we teach writing

    • Become more adept and intelligent users of technology

      • Ever increasing combinations of screens and various realities (virtual, actual, and hybrid).


Teaching thesis writing in a gnle the singapore mit alliance 2008 2010

TEACHING THESIS WRITING IN A GNLE*: THE SINGAPORE-MIT ALLIANCE, 2008-2010

  • Who? Culturally and linguistically diverse students in a fast-paced 1-year engineering manufacturing master’s degree program.

    • Chiefly male students from Asia, Indonesia, India

    • Academically-gifted, high-achieving

  • What? Seminars were based on a writing-across-the curriculum (WAC) approach and designed to help students complete their theses.

  • Where? Students were in Singapore, and I was in Cambridge, MA. We worked over synchronous video.

    *Globally Networked Learning Environment, a collaborative and interactive environment facilitated by technology in a global context.


  • Assumptions that i learned to investigate more closely

    ASSUMPTIONS THAT I LEARNED TO INVESTIGATE MORE CLOSELY

    • “Knowing” our culturally and linguistically diverse students is straightforward.

    • Writing is taught the same way and means the same thing in different global contexts.

    • Synchronous distance technology transmits information completely and accurately.


    Investigating these assumptions in the singapore mit gnle

    INVESTIGATING THESE ASSUMPTIONS IN THE SINGAPORE-MIT GNLE

    • I surveyed the cohorts of 2008-2010 at the end of each summer, a few weeks after they had submitted their theses. Initially, my purpose was to learn about their responses to WAC pedagogy.

    • Then in 2010, I surveyed all 3 cohorts later in the year, asking different questions.

      • All surveys were approved by MIT’s Committee on the Use of Human Subjects.


    Assumption 1 knowing culturally and linguistically diverse students is straightforward

    ASSUMPTION #1: KNOWING CULTURALLY AND LINGUISTICALLY DIVERSE STUDENTS IS STRAIGHTFORWARD.

    • In the annual surveys, students reported that the majority of them were non-native speakers of English.

    • However, the 2010 survey gave a richer profile: multi-lingual, multi-competent users not only of English but also of other languages.

      • Students used their language abilities to occupy various roles and identities in global contexts.


    Assumption 2 a writing pedagogy is universally familiar

    ASSUMPTION 2-A: “WRITING” PEDAGOGY IS UNIVERSALLY FAMILIAR.

    • In the annual surveys, students reported a high degree of satisfaction with the WAC approach.

      • Rated comments on drafts and writing conferences as most useful.

      • Rated short instructional lectures were useful.

  • However, the 2010 survey revealed students’ lack of familiarity with WAC approach.

    • 33% of respondents never/rarely experienced active learning or group activities in the classroom.

    • 75% of the respondents had rarely/sometimes been in active, informal discussion with their teachers.

    • More than 50% had never/rarely participated in a writing conference.

    • More than 50% had rarely/sometimes received written comments on a draft.

  • Respondents reported that by the end of the seminar series, more than 50% were comfortable/very comfortable with these methods.


  • Assumption 2 b writing is taught the same way and means the same thing in different contexts

    ASSUMPTION 2-B:“WRITING” IS TAUGHT THE SAME WAY AND MEANS THE SAME THING IN DIFFERENT CONTEXTS.

    • Data showed that most students had learned writing in EFL contexts. For many of them, this meant

      • Emphasis on linguistic features and language acquisition;

      • Lack of experience with lengthy pieces of writing;

      • Teachers will pay attention to and correct grammar, spelling and syntax rather than focus on larger organizational issues, clarity and coherence.


    Assumption 3 synchronous distance technology transmits information yes it does

    ASSUMPTION 3: SYNCHRONOUS DISTANCE TECHNOLOGY TRANSMITS INFORMATION. YES, IT DOES.

    • Technology did create a learning environment that was

      • Collaborative and interactive

      • Multi-vocal

      • Multi-disciplinary

    • The environment was richer than asynchronous and non-visual technology could have created.

    • Most students responded that it was not difficult to learn to write over synchronous video.


    Jennifer l craig massachusetts institute of technology

    ASSUMPTION 3: SYNCHRONOUS DISTANCE TECHNOLOGY TRANSMITS INFORMATION COMPLETELY AND ACCURATELY. NO, IT DOESN’T.

    • Rich social space seems to be fundamental to establishing ownership and agency in a writing classroom

    • However, distance technology cramped the social space of the writing classroom and often affected interactions.

      • Influence of “real” time was dominant.

      • Singapore classroom was not set up for easy discussion and for active learning.

      • Class time was constrained by technicians and schedule.

      • Myriad small, subtle, important details of tone, body and facial language were stripped away.


    How did i refine and expand writing pedagogy in this gnle

    HOW DID I “REFINE AND EXPAND” WRITING PEDAGOGY IN THIS GNLE?

    • Knowing diverse students better:

      • Developed a linguistic profile activity.

      • Allowed time for them to emerge as multi-competent English language users.

    • Clarifying WAC and what we meant by “writing”:

      • Was explicit about WAC approaches, describing objectives in detail and clarifying expected behaviors in active learning and writing conferences.

      • Clarified differences between EFL and WAC.

      • Used EFL and ESP strategies to help them control language at the sentence level; helped them identify errors; but clarified my role in regard to correction.


    How did i manage technology more effectively in a writing classroom

    HOW DID I MANAGE TECHNOLOGY MORE EFFECTIVELY IN A WRITING CLASSROOM?

    • Identified and discussed the ways in which technology cramped the social space of the classroom vs. the experience of F2F interactions.

    • Invited perceptions of the technology from their perspective.

    • Included more verbal warm-up work and writing to help us build relationship and empathy.

      • Quick writing; virtual “muddy cards;” more small group work


    Developing as teachers and researchers

    DEVELOPING AS TEACHERS AND RESEARCHERS.

    • Refining and expanding writing pedagogy for linguistically and culturally diverse students at a distance means

      • Knowing more about integrating second language acquisition approaches into the writing classroom.

      • Becoming more adept at managing various technologies and multiple screens in virtual, actual, and hybrid learning environments.

      • Examining unquestioned cultural assumptions and biases inherent in pedagogy and classroom practice.


    Thank you

    THANK YOU!

    • Are there questions or comments?

      • Please feel free to contact me:

        • [email protected]

      • A copy of this presentation is available on

        • http://jennifercraig.info/


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