teaching writing in a globally networked learning environment gnle diverse students at a distance
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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. Jennifer L. Craig Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “TAKEAWAY” MESSAGES.

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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.
slide11
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:
    • A copy of this presentation is available on
      • http://jennifercraig.info/
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