Town Hall III: @ School, Work, and Play — Computers and Writing 2009

I’ll have to leave this panel before the end in order to catch a ride back to the airport. I’m going to try at least to summarize what each speaker says at the beginning, which will no doubt leave the impression that this was a one-way event. (I’ll also miss the digital arts display this evening, which is too bad.)

Jeff Grabill, Michigan State University

Steve Krause, Eastern Michigan University
Virginia Kuhn, University of Southern California
Charlie Lowe, Grand Valley State University
Dan Melzer, Sacramento State University
Cynthia Selfe, Ohio State University
Kathleen Yancey, Florida State University

Begins with a pitch for CW 2010 in Purdue next year. (I’d love to go.)

Jeff Grabill, Michigan State University

Began by stating he has been listening over the past few days to the problem of sustainability within a university context. Valuable outcomes are research and learning (research is easier to produce than learning).  MSU is looking hard and carefully at what elements are doing well and what are not. We need shared concerned, and what big ideas are we really concerned with at these events? The notion of talking about shared work tends to make people nervous.

What do digital writing processes look like? Do deep digital engagements mean anything new? How do we measure and understand the differences that technology brings to writing program? How is the digital meaningful in communications theory? 

We talk about applications, but not about platform systems and underlying data structures. Need to think very carefully about platforms, less about applications.

Systems, standards, platforms, theories.  Do we own the platform?

Virginia Kuhn, University of Southern California

The virtual is real. Looking at a picture of something fires the same neurons that fire when we encounter the thing.  Intentionality — you can choose to control your brain and body, but in a mediated world, it can impact us in really physical ways that we don’t really recognize.  The line between the platforms we create and the humans we are is blurry.

Charlie Lowe, Grand Valley State University

The idea of agency comes from Cope’s presentation. We think about giving our students agency in the classroom, and can tie them to the new media multimodal spaces. Promote multimodal compositoin with our technologies… have students join a blogging community that’s invested in the subject. Gives students agency.  Hearing about students using videos in the classroom — gives students agency to do academic wriitng in a way that the research paper doesn’t (since we hold the keys to that genre, but students are redefining the genre).  Tech Ret listserv — debate over teaching coding (several people have referred me to that conversation and I’ll have to look it up).

Dan Melzer, Sacramento State University

CW is an argument for bringing the writing that students are doing outside the classroom into the classroom. We’re seeing that combination.  Listed several examples of students leveraging their new media skills to engage in the world, and teachers who leverage social media to help motivate students. [We have to be careful about colonizing those spaces.]

Steve Krause, Eastern Michigan University

Comments on the weirdness of speaking in the darkened room. Reacting to what he saw and heard… “We have to talk about the Twitter thing, obviously.”  The undercurrent. [He’s referring to what emerged as a bit of mob mentality during yesterday’s keynote.]  The experience of jumping off a cliff — presenters who talked about teaching an online course for the first time. We have to give up our authority as a teacher to let this real student-centered experience happen.  Says “I just don’t have enough colleagues who are willing to do that back home.”  Giving yourself the chance to experiment.

Cynthia Selfe, Ohio State University

Sometimes it takes great courage to surrender.  How do we sustain the efforts that we set in motion, so that they last longer than we do? Mentons C&C, digital archives, C&C Digtal Press.  Learned how much sustainability involves compromise. 1) Make sure those efforts are institutionalized, within some supporting structure that itself will outlive our involvement. C&C has been instutionalized within Elsevier. Involves international collaboration for work that’s been outsourced by the company. On the other hand, C&C will continue under someone else.  Reliance upon large-scale mass consumption. 2) Building on the margins of existing university infrastructure. State of Ohio will continue to preserve the narratives (content of the digital archives will be migrated forward “automatically” and its content discoverable and accessible to large numbers of people).Free to many people, globally. 3) Involve a large number of collaborators, asking associate and assistant profssors, and graduate students, to particpate, to sustain the press (recruit projects, contribute their own). All volunteer for the press; that’s a downside. However, each will also receive benefits from their associaion with the project.

Kathleen Yancey, Florida State University

School, Work, and Play.  Dinner companions said “I’m a fan of Play.” Quinn Warnick “School is work, there is no play.” Jentry “Work is serious play.” Brian Frohman “Work hard, play hard, school hard.”  Work is totally ubiquitous. Play is how people learn. School, alas, somehow, is a place where play becomes work. At the same time, school can provide context where the play of work is rewarded. Reflection on work-play makes explicit what has been learned, what might be learned next.  Is is possible to create a context, and a framework around learning, so that students will work/learn/play this way.  Has to be explicit about what’s been done, and the meaningfulness of it.  Clear from presentations that there are moments when this works already; would like to see more documentation of those moments more widely.  Why our approaches matter, what made them matter to students and to us? Work on this, by playing with possibilities.Hasn’t come up yet — at same time we’re talking about all this, Iran is using many of these tools for social action that is in some cases life-threatening, and there will be much to be learned from that.

Agile software development is a form of collaborative writing. Public archives of open source development are ways to study the development of software.