Mindmap January 5, 2015

Mindmap for Weeks 1-3



Moe, P. W. (2012). Revealing rather than concealing disability: The rhetoric of Parkinson’s advocate Michael J. Fox. Rhetoric Review, 31(4), 443-460.


This article by Peter Wayne Moe examines the Parkinson’s research advocacy rhetoric of Michael J. Fox through Prelli’s theory of the rhetoric of display–particularly the notion that language may conceal as it reveals and that rhetorics may reveal but they also may conceal–in order to show that the rhetorical display of the disabled or revealed body challenges traditional notions of rhetoric and affirms the visual body as a powerful tool in the rhetor’s arsenal. Moe relies on Lawrence J. Prelli’s introduction to the collection The Rhetorics of Display (2006)to serve as the theoretical foundation of his argument that the physicality of the rhetor can be powerful as the text or speech of the rhetor. Prelli claims that language mediates what we see, thus language, rhetoric, and the visual are connected (445). The disabled rhetor, claims Moe, is pressured to conceal the disability through views, expressed in the Classical period by Quintilian and Cicero, that the ethos and efficacy of the rhetor is tied to the rhetor’s physicality, thus the rhetor should be healthy, strong, and capable of steady speech.

Moe’s object of study is Michael J. Fox’s 1999 testimony before the Senate subcommittee for the purpose of urging the Senate to increase funding for research into Parkinson’s Disease. Fox made the rhetorical decision to go before the Senate unmedicated so that the full spectrum of his symptoms were on display. Conservative political commentator and radio host Rush Limbaugh was Fox’s most visible critic, claiming that Fox was exaggerating his symptoms and attempting to manipulate the audience.

Moe contrasts Fox’s advocacy rhetoric which reveals his disability to past examples of rhetors (Roosevelt, King George, and Thomas Eagleton) who attempted to conceal their disabilities in order to shape their rhetorical ethoi. Moe compares Fox’s revelation to metaphorical coming out of the closet of LGBT persons (447). The content of Fox’s speech, according to Moe, was a simple three-part argument explaining the prevalence of the disease and that there is no treatment other than symptom management, a complaint at the lack of funding for Parkinson’s research, and requesting that the Senate provide funding. The speech was powerful, according to Moe, because the delivery, with the lack of motor control, jerky movement, and shaking accompanied by a reasoned argument and steady voice (which some Parkinson’s patients do not have). Fox used metaphors of war, calling himself a soldier and referring his advocacy of Parkinson’s research as a fight against the disease. Moe claims that Fox challenged traditional notions of who can be a speaker by rejecting the audience’s preconceived notions about speakers while also anticipating that his delivery would be an emotional affront, which risks reinscribing such responses as normal. Fox undermines the way in which disability has been associated with deceit and femininity by showing that the deceit in this case is the medicated body and he revealed his true bodily state by not using medication. By using war imagery and exhibiting mental acuity, he challenged the view that disability because disability is embodied.

Moe concludes by arguing that in revealing his disability, he has strengthened is rhetorical efficacy and he has shown that that the disabled or revealed body is a site of rhetoric and that there is a strong relationship between rhetoric, language, and the body.

I chose this article because I plan to use Lawrence Prelli’s Rhetorics of Display as a theoretical grounding for my research project focusing on whether the use of visual activism in pro-breastfeeding campaigns undermines attempts to normalize breastfeeding as Brett Lunceford contends. Moe’s exploration of Michael J Fox’s bodily rhetoric is an example of the use of Prelli’s theory in the examination of a rhetorical performance. It challenges the position that Lunceford takes that revealing bodily activity that is normally concealed from view makes that activity a spectacle and therefore undermines the notion that the activity is normal. For those working in the field of visual rhetoric, the article provides an example of an essay focused on rhetorical delivery, an underexplored area of current rhetorical scholarship.



Works Cited

Moe, P. W. (2012). Revealing rather than concealing disability: The rhetoric of Parkinson’s advocate Michael J. Fox. Rhetoric Review, 31(4), 443-460.

Prelli, L. J. (Ed.). (2006). Rhetorics of display. Univ of South Carolina Press.

ENGL 824 Blog Community Analysis

Community development seems a common concern for instructors in online writing courses, so one might assume that those of use concerned with community share the same goals; however, when embarking on an exploration of whether an assignment sequence or pedagogical tool has been successful in develop community in an online course, it’s prudent to explore what we mean when we reference “community.” What do we hope to achieve when we aim for community development? How do we best accomplish it? According to Jeremy Brent, community is actually an undefinable term because it is “moving, divided and incomplete” (219). What we long for when we talk about community is “the continually reproduced desire to overcome the adversity of social life” (Brent 221). Indeed, desire to overcome or achieve a purpose is a central component of other attempts to articulate community. Garrison and Vaughan describe community, or the “community of inquiry” “as the ideal and heart of a higher education experience” (14). They claim that the driving force behind community development is “purposeful, open, and disciplined critical discourse and reflection” (Garrison and Vaughan 14). While Garrison and Vaughan suggest that community is disciplined and purposefully created, Trena M. Paulus suggests that off-topic discussions have a hand in the development of an academic community “in the absence of a physical co-location” (228). For Paulus, community building requires the development of connections and the establishment of common ground. Off-topic discussions help students engage in “grounding,” the establishment of common ground or the “‘mutual understanding, knowledge, beliefs, assumptions, pre-suppositions, and so on’ (Baker et al. 1999, p. 3) that exist among people communicating together” (Paulus 228). Grounding goes hand-in-hand with connecting, which involves “affinity (small talk and humor), commitment (a sense of presence) and attention (negotiating availability for conversation)” (Paulus 229). Paulus explains that “connection is about interpersonal relationships, whereas common ground is about information exchange” (230). We can conclude then, that the development of an academic community in an online writing class requires both informal socializing with those whom we have established common ground as well as purposeful discussion and collaborative action to achieve academic goals.

Old Dominion University’s English 724/824, entitled “Online Writing Instruction,” has given us an opportunity to examine the way in which community is created, or not, via the use of blogs. Students were required to post five successive blog entries reviewing scholarly articles on some aspect of online writing pedagogy. No two students were allowed to review the same article. My analysis of the community of learners in this course as well as the blog entries leads me to conclude that blogs are not the most effective tool for the development of community in an online course, though I do conceded that they may have some role to play. A review of blog entries for the course reveals that only about half of the students in the course engaged in commenting in any significant way. In fact, it seems that five of eleven students did not comment on others’ blog entries. Comments seemed to be based around several themes: seeking clarification about the article, expressing interest, agreeing with the article, or expressing disagreement with some aspect of the article. Of the approximately 57 comments posted in response to blogs, around 42% of those comments were posted by two very active commentators. Another student who posted nearly 16% of the comments on the blogs did so two days before the blog analysis was due. Some students responded to the blogs posted on their webpages, while others did not. One interesting thing to note is that there seemed to be a correlation between length of time in the Ph.D. program and lack of engagement with the blogs. Only about 22% of the blog comments were posted by Ph.D. students who entered the program during or before the fall of 2012 despite the fact that they make up 45% of the course enrollment.

Students were not required to comment on each other’s blogs, but even if they had been required to do so, engagement with each other’s blogs would not be the most effective community building activity this course has afforded. Garrison and Vaughan say that communities of inquiry are open, and Paulus suggests that negotiation and the personal are important aspects of community building. Lori E. Amy claims that “the discussion lists and bulletin boards we ask students to use mimic virtual social spaces, such as the internet chatrooms in which many students ‘hang out’” (115). She claims that “Dissensus and healthy conflict are crucial arts of the contact zone, and we do need to structure spaces in which we engage one another in open, honest exchanges that engender ‘active, engaged discussion’ capable of sustaining passionate disagreement through which we can educate one another” (Amy 119). I agree with Amy on this point; however, I disagree with the notion that discussions and blogs that are posted for a grade mimic informal, online social hangouts. In discussing Blackboard, Gillam and Wooden develop a critique that is relevant to blogs. They say that Blackboard “positions the writer primarily as the isolated recipient of information, who contributes his or her thinking in discrete little bullets to the discussion forum or via various assessment instruments” (27). Blogs, like Blackboard discussion forums, encourage students to write in solitude, particularly when, as in the case with English 724/824, students are not allowed to write over the same subject.

Interestingly, accidental violations of the assignment rules had the potential to engage students more deeply, since the shared knowledge of the articles gave them a common ground, an element vital to community, according to Paulus. Gillam and Wooden state that “we must encourage them [students] to see their complex ecological makeup and that of their collaborators, to mindfully participate in the formation of a new ecological community with their peer group, and to become cognizant of the ways in which those complex ecologies influence knowledge formation and communication” (28). The few occasions in which students accidentally reviewed the same article provide strong evidence that we are the product of our ecological makeup. For instance, Kelly Cutchin and I both reviewed Gillam and Wooden yet our summaries and reviews highlighted different aspects of the article and different applications of the theories discussed. Despite the fact that I had unintentionally violated the assignment guidelines, I found it exciting that someone else had read the same article I had and I purposefully sought out that review. This was the one instance in which I found myself hoping that my fellow student would respond to my comment and checking to see whether she had done so.

To increase the chances of establishing common ground, blogs from the assigned readings could be required, but this changes the purpose and intended outcome of the assignment from resource compiling, writing in the disciplines, and reflection to simply an assignment focused in writing in the disciplines and reflection. Even if that were the case, there still might be potential issues with the community building, as blogs assigned for a grade are reflections of power differentials in the course and may not allow for truly open and honest exchanges. Try as we may, we students are keenly aware that the blogs will be graded. It’s possible that students may take that into consideration when responding to each others’ blogs. DePew and Lettner-Rust explain that “the power to survey and assess gives instructors sole authority in the class” (178). We students are aware of that authority when we engage with others’ work. True community development through the forging of connections must be facilitated in other ways that allow for collaboration, negotiation, and shared experience.

One of the most interesting aspects of the blog engagement or lack thereof in ENGL 724/824 was that most of the Ph.D. students who engaged with blogs were newer students, while students who have been in the program for several semesters did not engage to a significant extent. There may be numerous reasons for this, but I feel that this resulted in part from a pre-existing idea that we are already members of a strong academic community. Even though the stated goal of the blog assignment was not to build community, the community analysis assignment suggests that it is an intrinsic goal. I would argue that the Facebook backchannel and group assignments have built community more effectively. Both have been places to discuss assignment expectations, to negotiate, to support, and to collaborate. Both have allowed for the forming of informal connections in an open manner while sharing information and working toward a goal with a purpose.  Smaller group projects have required negotiation, information sharing, and connections, while the backchannel has served to make navigating the course akin to a larger group project. While students need to develop the backchannel themselves, they can be encouraged to do so. Kelly shared a 34 page document of our June 17 WebEx chat with the backchannel to support discussions of community. Daniel shared a Wordle that he created from the text. A backchannel chat from before, during, and after the course meeting in June 17 was 112 pages in length. Navigating the course itself seems to create more community than the blogs have done because rather than solely replacing the instructor as the knowledgeable informer, we have created knowledge socially and equally via the backchannel and group projects.

Works Cited

Amy, Lori. “Rhetorical Violence and the Problematics of Power.” Role Play: Distance Learning and the Teaching of Writing (2006): 111.

Brent, Jeremy. “The Desire for Community: Illusion, Confusion and Paradox.” Community Development Journal 39.3 (2004): 213-223.

DePew, Kevin Eric, and Heather Lettner-Rust. “Mediating power: Distance Learning Interfaces, Classroom Epistemology, and the Gaze.” Computers and Composition 26.3 (2009): 174-189.

Garrison, D. R., and Norman D. Vaughan. Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles, and Guidelines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Gillam, Ken, and Shannon R. Wooden. “Re-Embodying Online Composition: Ecologies of Writing in Unreal Time and Space.” Computers and Composition 30. Writing on the Frontlines (2013): 24-36. ScienceDirect. Web. 28 May 2014.

Paulus, Trena M. “Online but Off-Topic: Negotiating Common Ground in Small Learning Groups.” Instructional Science 37.3 (2009): 227-245.

Pedagogical Tool Review: Wiggio (A Desire2Learn Productivity Platform)

When I set out to do a review of a pedagogical tool to facilitate student-centered learning by fostering engagement in either a hybrid or online-only course, I intended to focus on the a variety of tools embedded within Desire2Learn (D2L) that could be used for just such a purpose, but the uniqueness and complexity of Wiggio, a productivity platform used to facilitate group meetings and collaboration, necessitated an in-depth look at this particular tool. The capabilities offered by Wiggio are not new, but what Wiggio does that many platforms do not is offer a combination of capabilities that is usually achieved through the use of multiple platforms or programs, and while Wiggio is embedded in D2L, those who do not use the D2L learning platform can still benefit from Wiggio.

Wiggio, which is marketed primarily to academic communities, offers a host of productivity and collaborative tools ranging from a convenient method of setting up a face-to-face meeting to holding group meetings in video chat while synchronously working within a word-processing program. The FAQ section gives a quick run-down of the offerings: “mass messaging (emails, text messages, voicemails), scheduling, file sharing and editing, polling, conference calling, video conferencing, and project management” (Wiggio.com). The program is entirely web-based and requires no software downloads. Users can access a free version of the platform by making an account through Wiggio’s website, but there is a premium version available, such as that embedded in D2L. Wiggio can be used to set up a group by first defining asynchronous group communications such as listserv email exchanges, receipt of short messages by SMS and longer messages via email, receipt of a daily summary of communications, or discussion boards with no mailed message. Once a group has been established, group members are invited. Text-based or video messages can be sent by group members to other group members from within the platform. Rather than having to upload a video message, the program includes an embedded video recorder. Without changing navigating to a new webpage on the Wiggio site, group members can share files, share links, launch a meeting via teleconference or video conference, create a to-do list, create a poll, send a message, or schedule an event or meeting on a group calendar. Sub-groups can be created within established groups. The meeting platform allows users to chat via text, share files, share a desktop, share video and audio, use a whiteboard, and synchronously edit a shared document. This combination of capabilities is akin to adding Google Docs to WebEx in an interface that also allows for file sharing, emailing, text messaging, video messaging, surveying, and calendar scheduling. Wiggio has a bit of a minimalist feel, and there may be fewer bells and whistles in the combined interface than may be found in systems that offer similar capabilities separately, but Wiggio’s developers argue that the features that are left out aren’t necessary for productivity and collaboration. This argument is convincing because it’s likely that Wiggio users will feel that the convenience of a one-stop-shop for group communication and productivity outweighs the loss of a few features that they could do without anyway.

A survey of the capabilities offered by Wiggio clearly suggests that the platform can be used to encourage student engagement in an online or hybrid course, but the question of how the platform can be used specifically to support best practices in online writing pedagogy remains. Perhaps one of the first places we should look for guidance on the value of Wiggio in online writing instruction would be the “Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction” published by the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Principle 11 states that, “Online writing teachers and their institutions should develop personalized and interpersonal online communities to foster student success” (Oswal). In the rationale for the development of this principle, the authors explain that a feeling of connectedness to each other and the instructor helps students be more successful. While encouraging student engagement with the goal of student success in mind is a worthy goal, best practices in writing pedagogy call for strong student engagement because it encourages students to grapple with theoretical concepts it helps them to understand writing as a social activity. In “Mediating Power: Distance Learning Interfaces, Classroom Epistemology, and the Gaze,” Kevin Eric Depew and Heather Lettner-Rust apply Paulo Friere’s advocacy of “problem-posing education” to composition pedagogy by claiming that a participatory and liberatory approach to composition, much preferable to an instructor-centered approach, can be facilitated “through experiential and participatory activities, such as open dialogue, collaboratively designing or modifying assignments and allowing for student interest to alter the direction of the syllabus as a means of creating an egalitarian dynamic among students and instructor” (177). Such a participatory and liberatory approach requires a class design that allows for such open dialogue to take place. InBlended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles, and Guidelines, D.R. Garrison and Norman D. Vaughan advocate for the development of a Community of Inquiry which requires that students have the opportunity to express themselves openly, that they have opportunities for reflective and interactive learning, and that students are guided by a teacher who provides “students with a highly interactive succession of learning experiences that lead to the resolution of an issue or problem” (25). Common distance education tools, such as discussion threads and blogs, do allow for some dialogue to occur, but participatory and interactive activities are often difficult to facilitate within learning management systems, and often the conversations that take place within discussion boards (the most common tool for facilitating group communication) are aimed at satisfying the instructor rather than being an organic and student-driven exchange of ideas. As a solution, many instructors have turned to the use of multiple supplemental tools (such as Google Docs) to achieve pedagogical goals. By offering several tools for facilitating collaboration, Wiggio allows for the development of this kind of participatory class environment. In “A MOOC with a View: How MOOCs Encourage Us to Reexamine Pedagogical Doxa,” Halasek et al., describe how a MOOC that they created challenges the notion that MOOCs cannot support effective pedagogical approaches to the teaching of writing. Halasek et al., found that the large enrollment in the course prevented them from taking what they call the “Teacher Knows Best” role (the teacher provides the instruction and feedback) and required students to take a larger role than the “Attentive Student” role (the student listens to content and follows directions; in fact, the roles seemed to have reversed here (157). Halasek et al. found that “no longer solely (or even largely) responsible for the shape of the course, the direction it took, or how the participants engaged the material” (160). Though the CCCC recommends an enrollment of no more than 20 students in online writing courses and the MOOC that Halasek et al. created had an enrollment of tens of thousands, we may be able to learn something from the way in which the MOOC encouraged student-centered learning. Perhaps the multiple ways in which students can interact in Wiggio and the participatory activities it allows could facilitate this type of role-reversal in online composition courses.

If we can use Wiggio to challenge the “banking concept of education,” what strategies might we use in order to do so? Ken Gillam and Shannon R. Wooden suggest an ecological approach to the teaching of composition designed to help students understand writing as part an ecological act done within a community and for a specific purpose. The assignment sequence incorporates distribution, emergence, embodiment, and enaction. The ideal online course incorporating these principles, according to Gillam and Wooden, would include scaffolded assignments beginning with group negotiation of a topic of exploration, data collection via a group constructed survey, multimodal presentation of findings, a collaborative annotated bibliography, and an individual final project (a problem/solution paper accompanied by a reflection paragraph). Another example of a collaborative assignment sequence is described by DePew. In order to facilitate students’ development of rhetorical literacy and a sense of audience awareness, he suggests students use literacy narratives to develop a literacy survey, the results of which they will use to compose a corroborative report. How might Wiggio be used to facilitate these assignment sequences described by Gilliam and Wooden and DePew? Wiggio can be used to facilitate group communications in a variety of modes (email, text, teleconference, video conference, video messaging, and video conferencing). Surveys can be created within the Wiggio interface. Without leaving the interface, students can collaborate synchronously on projects and easily provide their peers with feedback. While it’s very possible for students to conduct such collaborative projects with other technological tools, Wiggio offers all of necessary tools in one interface.


 Works Cited

CCCC. “A Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction (OWI).” http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Groups/CCCC/OWIPrinciples.pdf (2013): 1-35.

DePew, Kevin Eric. “Preparing Instructors and Students for the Rhetoricity of OWI Technologies.” N.d. M.S.

DePew, Kevin Eric, and Heather Lettner-Rust. “Mediating power: Distance Learning Interfaces, Classroom Epistemology, and the Gaze.” Computers and Composition 26.3 (2009): 174-189.

“Frequently Asked Questions.” Wiggio.com. 2001. Web. 16 June 2014.

Halasek, Kay, et al. “A MOOC With a View: How MOOCs Encourage Us to Reexamine Pedagogical Doxa.” Invasion of the MOOCs: 156.

Garrison, D. R., and Norman D. Vaughan. Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles, and Guidelines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Gillam, Ken, and Shannon R. Wooden. “Re-Embodying Online Composition: Ecologies of Writing in Unreal Time and Space.” Computers and Composition 30. Writing on the Frontlines (2013): 24-36. ScienceDirect. Web. 28 May 2014.


Blog Entry #5 Redux – Wach, Broughton, and Powers

Wach, Howard, Laura Broughton, and Stephen Powers. “Blending in the Bronx: The Dimensions of Hybrid Course Development at Bronx Community College.” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 1 (2011): 87. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 June 2014.

In this article, Wach, Broughton, and Powers describe a faculty development program at Bronx Community College (BCC) in which faculty members are trained in hybrid course delivery over a six month period (June to January). BCC, a branch of City University of New York (CUNY) is very supportive of a move toward hybrid course delivery as it helps use an online environment to build an active, collaborative learning environment in blended versions of high-enrollment courses. Wach, Broughton, and Powers explain the faculty training program that requires a six month program beginning with a face-to-face workshop (on topics such as pedagogy, best practices, content presentation, disability accommodations, instructor presence, facilitation of communication, collaboration, and assessment) lead by experienced online instructors. After the initial workshop, course-developers (instructors in training) spend several months developing an online hybrid course with the oversight of peer mentors and student technological assistants who help faculty and students with technical assistance, tutor student peers on content-related issues, and assist faculty with content presentation. The development and assessment of hybrid courses is guided by the use of several types of documents: a contract created by the new instructor outlining how the course will be developed, a teaching guide that outlines best practices and expectations for instructors, a learning unit planning guide emphasizing engagement, collaboration, and improvement of student learning generally, and an online course development checklist that new course-developers use for self-evaluation through the development process. In November, following course development, mentors, guided by a rubric, perform an evaluation of the newly developed course and make suggestions for revision. Revisions are made in preparation for the course to be launched the January following the beginning of the program.

I chose to review this article because of its relevance to my own project of creating an effective hybrid course and then creating a workshop describing how such a course could effectively be created. That BCC has such a streamlined, formal process for the training of new hybrid instructors is very impressive, but without such strong institutional support for such faculty development, similar lengthy training programs would be difficult to undertake, particularly since those involved receive incentives from the institution to teach hybrid courses and act as peer mentors. While not all institutions have the same goals, interests, or resources, the program at BCC seems to be a good model for making a concerted effort toward increasing the number of hybrid courses as well as the quality, so anyone interested in faculty development and departmental or institutional moves toward increasing hybrid offerings would have in interest in examining this model. One thing that I felt was missing was a deeper discussion of the theory or ideology driving BCC’s and CUNY’s move toward hybrid courses, as such justification for course development could be useful to others.

ENGL 824 Blog Entry #5 – Gillan and Wooden

Gillam, Ken, and Shannon R. Wooden. “Re-Embodying Online Composition: Ecologies of Writing in Unreal Time and Space.” Computers and Composition 30. Writing on the Frontlines (2013): 24-36. ScienceDirect. Web. 28 May 2014.

In this article, Gillam and Wooden utilize ecological theory to describe the way in which writing courses should operate as learning communities as interconnected and collaborative. The central problem with online writing courses is that the current tendency in online writing pedagogy is to plan courses in a way that emphasizes the cognitive-process model, valuing the writer as a solitary individual who works alone, while more recent scholarship and best practices in composition studies place more emphasis on collaboration in a community of inquiry. One problem with online education is that the way in which course set-up tends to value and privilege strong writing and communication skills, the very skills that students should be developing in the course. Referring to Garrison and Vaughan, Gillam and Wooden explain that online courses encourage both personal but also purposeful relationships. They issue a call to action to their readers: bring the personal back into the class through collaborative group projects that make community a “content-oriented” goal of the course benefitting from the interconnectedness and collaborative nature of these activities. Gillam and Wooden advocate an online course that incorporates the principles of distribution (that learning is situated and negotiated between a variety of sources), emergence (the adaption and coordination in the process of creating knowledge), embodiment (through recognition that student embodiment impacts the process of learning and writing even in online classes), and enaction (the final product). In order to satisfy these principles, Gillam and Shannon describe an online course containing scaffolded assignments beginning with group negotiation of a topic of exploration, data collection via a group constructed survey (the design of which requires emergence and enaction), multimodal presentation of findings, a collaborative annotated bibliography, and an individual final project (a problem/solution paper accompanied by a reflection paragraph). The assignment helps students understand writing as ecological, writing for a community, and writing for a purpose instead of presenting writing as a solitary act done by an independent writer (35).

While I am focused on hybrid course design, I felt that this article was beneficial for me to examine because of the focus on writing as enaction of the ecological. The notion that writing is the result of engagement in an ecology makes community-building in the writing course seems not only desirable but necessary. The writing that students do in their future careers will be ecological in nature-steeped as it will be in the conventions and purposes of specific discourse communities-so one could argue that writing instructors have an impetus to teach writing as ecological enactment. Another reason that I found this article very useful is that I was drawn to Garrison and Vaughan’s notion of “communities of inquiry” and part of the aim of my project will be to build such as community. After reading Garrison and Vaughan I still wasn’t quite certain how one might facilitate the building of such communities. Gillam and Wooden put the notion of “community of inquiry” into action in the course design that they discuss in this article.

ENGL 824 Blog Entry #4 – Arms

Arms, Valarie M. “Hybrids, Multi-Modalities and Engaged Learners: A Composition Program for the Twenty-First Century.” Rocky Mountain Review 2 (2012): 219. Project MUSE. Web. 28 May 2014.

Arms’ case study explores the development of the English Alive pilot program at Drexel University, which was built upon the recognition that technology has caused the younger generation to communicate differently, to be innovative, and to incorporate technology into their everyday lives; therefore, writing classes should reflect the digital world our students navigate effortlessly while also helping students meet the goals of traditional composition courses. Relying heavily on WAC principles, the program helped students develop reading, writing, and critical thinking skills through a hybrid course delivery model; it allowed students to look for real-world examples of course concepts within their chosen disciplines which they would then write about; and the course encouraged the development of multi-modal projects to explore their learning and to provide a written rationale for the development of those projects. Arms came away from the project with eight key “lessons”:

1. Use sound research, such as that into the connection between technology and students’ improving communication skills, as a foundation.

2. Information technology specialists can be helpful in finding innovative ways to use technology.

3. Pilot program teachers should be allowed and encouraged to take risks and share their successes and problems they faced.

4. Courses should use rubrics based on course learning outcomes, particularly for multimodal projects.

5. Allow student to be “agents of change” and take ownership through inclusion in program assessments.

6. Used mixed methods to evaluate the new pedagogies.

7. Submit proposals to administration at every level to solicit support and potentially grant money.

8. Once the pilot is concluded, disseminate the results to a broad community for feedback.

She concludes by arguing that the program encouraged students and teachers to be creative, innovative, and motivated, and that it served as a reminder that “learning does not stop at the doorway to a classroom” (209).

This particular article differs a great deal from previous articles I examined because the program is based on the idea that an entire generation of students (digital natives) are very proficient in the use of technology. While that may be the case with some students, certainly issues of access and skill result in an uneven distribution of technological skill and know-how that Arms does not really acknowledge. In contrast, Stine acknowledged these barriers while also arguing strongly for hybrid education. While Arms’ suggestions are helpful to someone developing such a program, those opposed to the idea of online education could easily argue that Arms is too optimistic about students’ technological skills and that issues developmental students face in particular are being ignored. The article would likely be of interest to those wanting to find innovative ways to approach WAC/WID. Also, the article was valuable to my own project, as it is helpful to see a detailed case study, rationale, and an explanation of how the results might be communicated to colleagues.


ENGL 824 Blog Entry #3 Stine

Stine, Linda. “Basically Unheard: Developmental Writers and the Conversation on Online Learning.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College 38.2 (2010): 132-148. ERIC. Web. 28 May 2014.

In this article written in response to a gap in literature regarding the teaching of basic writing online, Stine argues combines basic writing pedagogy, adult learning theory, and research into online education to craft an argument that instructor’s must consider student’s technological skill, academic skill, and learning styles when considering teaching basic writing at a distance or in a hybrid course. Stine begins by reviewing what online learning theory hails as the factors that make online learning successful and the ideal student who would benefit from online learning that meets these characteristics. The problem, Stine points out, is that online learning theory assumes a student who is independent, confident, and self-assured regarding learning ability, but even this student needs certain attributes and resources to be successful in an online class. Stine explores the theoretical concept of the adult learner (a mature, independent, motivated student) and contrasts that model with the adult basic writer in an online learning environment. Stine then explains challenges that the adult basic writer faces that should be considered when planning a course: technology issues such as technological access and technological skill of lack thereof, academic issues such as educational level (which may impact their ability to identify or interpret cues), persistence in attempting to overcome difficulties, and their sense of connectedness to their educational community; and personal characteristics such as emotions and learning styles, including the need to feel positive to be successful, students’ personality types and how online teaching may help or hinder them (ie. introverts will likely feel differently about a text-based class than extroverts will), and how cognitive load impacts memory. Stine ends by posing a series of questions to prompt further research into and consideration of the topic. The appendix includes a helpful chart containing three columns exploring how factors that enhance adult learning are applicable to adult basic writers and resulting implications for making the move to the online teaching of adult basic writers.

I chose to review this article by Stine for the very reason that she wrote it: there seems to be a lack of attention to the teaching of developmental writing at a distance despite a good deal of literature focusing on the teaching of writing at a distance. The article is very useful because despite the fact that one can easily locate resources about adult learning, basic writing pedagogy, and online writing pedagogy, it is helpful to have these theories succinctly synthesized in this way. One of the most helpful tools that is included in the article is the chart that briefly applies adult learning theory to basic writing and then poses a question to help consider how these issues are complicated by an online writing environment. This article is unique in that it brings these three disciplines together to discuss the implications of distance education for basic writing students; therefore it’s valuable as a resource for those planning such courses.

ENGL 824 Blog Entry #2 – Stine

Stine, Linda J. “Teaching Basic Writing In A Web-Enhanced Environment.” Journal Of Basic Writing 29.1 (2010): 33-55. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 29 May 2014.

Linda J. Stine claims that the affordances offered by a hybrid developmental writing course make such courses a better option than either online-only courses or face-to-face courses and that such courses encourage development of reading and writing skills more than do face-to-face courses, which develop speaking and aural skills. Her goal in writing is review online learning lore, question that lore, and discussing the need for further research, Stine explores these three question issues: 1) how the teaching role is changed, 2) appropriate assignments, and 3) tools/methods to encourage self-reflection. Stine claims that these issues are important because they help us knowledgably adopt, adapt, and reject practices. In order to define goals, values, instructional methods, and learning situations we must consider the following issues: students’ technical skills and access; how to talk and when talking takes place; when and how to respond (students expect instant gratification, which can make the student teacher bond hard to establish or maintain); where to respond on electronically submitted assignments (Stine’s students prefer oral feedback); how to facilitate feedback for peer review (Stine suggests allowing students to decide whether to use Skype, phones, or track changes); and when, where, and how to structure components. In designing the learning experience, we need to pay close attention to the “Five I’s” (interaction, introspection, innovation, integration, and information) and to what she refers to as the Octoplus (connect, reflect, share, learn, practice, personalize, experiment, and apply). Stine explains considerations that need to be in developing web-enhanced courses, and she describes research that needs to be done in each area, such as research into how non-text based composition should be incorporated into developmental writing classes. She describes the affordances and constraints of several basic tools: chatrooms (for engagement) wikis (useful for peer review), and blogs (safe spaces for exploring learning). She provides an in-depth analysis of the value of discussion forums for working through stages of the learning process and fostering communication and engagement. Stine concludes by reiterating that the hybrid class is the most effective structure, but solely online courses can also be beneficial if they are well planned and if more research is done to explore what makes online only classes successful.

Before I read the article, I expected that there would be more discussion of how both the online and the in-person elements of a hybrid class work together. (It seems she’s written other articles addressing this issue in more depth.) Because the article focuses on online tools and how they can aid learning and help build community, I came to the conclusion that Stine’s target audience are those stakeholders who may not be familiar with the benefits of online tools. For those of us familiar with online teaching tools and methods, Stine is [preaching to the choir a bit. The article is still valuable for anyone interested in teaching developmental writing in a hybrid or online-online course, as it analyzes tools we often use and identifies problems adult basic writers might have with those tools.

ENGL 824 Blog Entry #1 – Harrington

Harrington, Anna M. “Hybrid Developmental Writing Courses: Limitations and Alternatives.” Research & Teaching in Developmental Education 26.2 (2010): 4-20. Education Research Complete. Web. 26 May 2014.

“Hybrid Developmental Writing Courses: Limitations and Alternatives,” was one of several 2010 articles exploring the possibility of using the hybrid course model in developmental writing courses. As the title suggests, Harrington believes that the hybrid model should be approached with caution as it has limitations that could be solved with alternative course delivery models in developmental writing courses. Harrington begins the article with a literature review establishing the need for attention to hybrid course delivery in developmental courses. She establishes this by reviewing literature suggesting that hybrid courses could effectively marry the success rate of online courses with the retention rate of face-to-face courses. Harrington establishes the importance of the discussion of hybrid course delivery by explaining that while they have economic appeal for the college, but that the cost of technology might prove problematic for students despite the fact that gaining technological skills in a hybrid course would likely benefit them in the long-run. The primary problem with hybrid courses, according to Harrington, is that while students need to develop technological skills, the lack of these skills may contribute to their struggles in their writing courses. She details issues that arise with hybrid course delivery: technological access, computer skills, community, and poor literacy skills (8). While many students have access to the internet, computer technology, and technical support, Harrington claims that most instructors assume that students have sufficient access to the required technology. That students may not have access or may be hesitant to seek assistance does not seem to concern some instructors who find it easier to operate under the assumption that all students have sufficient technological knowledge and support. Harrington suggests that the use of and reliance on technology in hybrid courses is problematic for developmental students they may have to learn computer skills while also trying to master literacy skills. Harrington also suggests that hybrid courses cannot build the same tight-knit community that face-to-face courses build. Harrington ends by suggesting alternatives to the hybrid classroom: modified course scheduling, use of computer classrooms, gradual easing of students into technology, and effective, convenient technological support. Ultimately, Harrington believes that face-to-face courses are superior to hybrid courses, so we must take that into consideration; however, writing teachers have a responsibility to help students learn to navigate and become comfortable with technology.

I would recommend this article for those seeking an understanding of considerations that should be made when developing a hybrid developmental writing course for a community college, though I would argue that many of the struggles these students face are faces by students at four-year colleges as well. Though Harrington has a clear preference for face-to-face courses, she does attempt to look at the affordances that hybrid courses offer in addition to looking at their limitations. This article is a good starting point for examining the debate regarding hybrid classes and would make an effective contrast to Linda J. Stine’s argument that hybrid courses are preferable to online and face-to-face classes, as they offer the best of both.