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Kevin Brock University of South Carolina firstname.lastname@example.org @brockoleur http://www.brockoleur.com/writing/4c14. Against NCTECCCC's OWI Effective Principle 2 on Technology as Not-Writing. A moment in Online Writing Instruction.
University of South Carolina
http://www.brockoleur.com/writing/4c14Against NCTECCCC's OWI Effective Principle 2 on Technology as Not-Writing
“An online writing course should focus on writing and not on technology orientation or teaching students how to use learning and other technologies.”
So how to deal with it?
First: a brief discussion of “functional literacy” (Selber)
Second: an examination of how platform/medium is integral to understanding writing (online and otherwise)
Third: a consideration of relevant public models (OSS development) for comparison
In each case, the argument centers on recognizing how writing and technology are connected rather than distinct or separate from one another
Basic definition, paraphrasing Selber (2004): the capability of a given writer to employ a technology (e.g., a computer) for a particular end in relation to a specific activity
However, this doesn't describe only instrumental knowledge:
“If technology is indifferent to its own ends, and if public policy encourages the marketplace to determine those ends, then it follows that technical experts and other elites will continue to control the shape of technology and to benefit from the effects of the tool metaphor” (p. 39)
From the rationale for OWI Principle 2:
“Unlike a digital rhetoric course an OWC [Online Writing Course] is not considered to be a place for stretching technological skills as much as for becoming stronger writers in various selected genres […] Students should use the provided technology to support their writing and not the other way around. It must be clear that OWI teachers and students alike do not need to be technology experts, computer programmers, or Web designers to accomplish the instructional purposes of an OWC.”
To facilitate a warmer embrace of technology related to writing, why not turn to real-world examples of collaboration taking place in/around online writing?
Open source software (OSS) might be a helpful model to explore, with relevant projects like:
Examining these to understand how collaboration occurs does not require technical expertise!
Institutions have different resources and serve different populations of students (with varying forms of access)—we can't assume a particular level of preexisting knowledge or ability.
However, as an effective example practice for OWI Principle 2 notes, “To maintain the appropriate focus on writing, OWI teachers should be provided professional development in the institution’s technologies sufficiently in advance of a scheduled online course.”
From the 2005 NCTE Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies:
“Digital technologies have increasing capacity for individuals to adapt the tools for their own information and communication purposes […] Students and teachers will need assistance in the skills of multitasking, accessing 'just in time' information, problem solving, and prioritizing tasks and resources to accomplish the goals of their assignments,” since “the quality of the ideas and the effectiveness of the communication media will become more important and more relevant to students”
Overall, the Position Statement is well-crafted and insightful, but Principle 2 specifically fails to provide students, instructors, programs, and institutions with a clear articulation of technology as it relates to writing.
Ideas for revision and improvement: