Sunday, September 05, 2004

English 666 Book Talk 10-05-04

21 Dog Years sounds like only a mildly interesting biography, so I was glad to have Amanda give us a summary and review so that I may reference it sometime as if I did read it! The idea that Amazon.com is a "dysfunctional" workplace strikes me since I am not sure I have ever been acquainted with workplaces that are not dysfunctional. The late nights, unconventional furniture, living on the edge, freaks seem quite typical to me since I have worked in more than 40 different work environments in my short life. All workplaces seem to have a peculiar character waiting for just the right writer to bring out.

However, it does appear the book is important for the history of dot.coms that it will continue to provide. Also, it seems an obvious irony that one of the most successful dot.coms sells mostly traditional printed and bound texts. This is remediation in action--the success of Amazon.com is perhaps tied to the idea that there is the recognizable book connected to all the interactions and purchases made on the website.

English 666 Notes 09-21-04
I am not accustomed to being so introspective about a class. Education seems to be so much handing out of information with little reflection and the nature of this class is much different.

1--I realized that I was reading some very different "Orbital" poem than the rest of the class. I linked into some long lyrical poem about space travel as a metaphor for grief. I have not been able to refind this poem since it does not appear to be linked to the Orbital site. Not sure what happened, but there is a dreary-toned poem about space travel out there.

2--The "Squiggly Line" essay brought up so many topics about writing that I have gone on to discuss it with my department chair where I teach. Really, the information about portfolios is most interesting to me since my school is working to assess student writing new ways while still adhering to the portfolio format. Fortunately, my chair keeps all the massive (teacher) paperwork that the school district imposes on the "correct" use of portfolios out of the picture and we focus more on standardized grading of papers using a "democratic" process which is reference in the "Squiggly Line" essay. This is also a case where the need to have a printed version comes up since sending the link to my chair does not work since it is posted on ODU's blackboard. I am quite sure though that there is a way to do it which is unknown to me. We really could use a copy anyway.

3--I checked out classmates' blogs. I agree somewhat with Shan-Estelle who comments about "Squigly Lines" that English professors and authors have not been able to get a handle on how to deal with various dialects, so she questions their ability to deal with technology. It's interesting that both dialect and changing technology in language seem inseparable since web communication could perhaps be referred to as a dialect, though I have never heard it put that way.

4--My thoughts about technology are similar to Carl's. Carl sees the future of printed volumes as secure but at the same time finds using Dreamweaver engaging. Much of me believes that language is not undergoing a revolution, but at the same time I see how easily my own views are revolutionized as soon as I get hooked on the web or software. I think it's one of those things that you wake up one day and 20 years have gone by and all has changed and you ask what have I been doing but going along.

Response to Essays, 8-31-04 Eng 666 Class 1st essay “Perspective” Author belabors the point about bistability. Good point about lost art from oral communication in which body was used, hence motion

Plato's concern that writing would prove detrimental since it divorces language from its original context sure takes meaning here. Would have liked to seen that Plato quote at the beginning of article rather than just the end.

I don’t know enough to appreciate the work that goes into these special effects texts.

2nd essay “Wild Things” I could not open (other than works cited) but like the leaves.

3rd essay “Orbital” In one way very corny, but in another way very good. Mood and tone maintained throughout. Wondering if author can write outside this form. I cannot help but analyze the text by what I know best and that’s content. The effects to me are of a different art form, and I am fully aware that I am falling into a predictable role.

4th essay “Squiggly Green Lines”

Abstract
1--The content of the abstract (along with its slight strayings from conventions) suggest a movement from traditional writing assessment.

Historical Context chapter
2—In response to new image of teacher grading student work, would it be fair to say coffee on wkdays, whiskey on wkends? Old and new?

3—I am finding it more cohesive to go the linear route. I remember these discussions 10+ yrs ago of how word processing changes the writing process, etc, and like the tracing of the research. I am so reminded of a short story I read so many years ago (and it had been written several years before that) of the computer put the writers out of business. I remember an adult (teacher maybe?) saying it could never happen since computer will never be able to think. I guess it is a child’s story (clearly I am going way back) and would love to get hold of it.

4—Ok, I am getting the point about computers being better able to deal w/ mechanics. As it says this has its limits though which is perhaps why traditional grading is still preferred. I hear this so often but suspect that even the theorists would not be able to ignore the kind of errors that kill even the best ideas.

5—There is much going on it this chapter, so many topics of discussion. Quite good coverage of historical context.

WWFear chapter

6—Find it hard to believe that 1971 was when study first showed that revision of writing was key. Long time ago in cybertime but not language time.

7—I am wondering what test group D&B used in 1983. Where there enough to study in a given location and was the control group in same location? Important questions I think considering the year. I see the point that teaching of “deep revision” became necessary.

Writing assessment chapter/ other 2 chapters

8—Funny how discussion still gets back to the mechanical errors. Some of this discussion seems a bit out of place now that momentum of change studies seems to be building.

6—How interesting that there is a grading program out there, though it’s not well tested. I really don’t think I could feel a “threat” from something to relieve English teachers of the most time consuming task. I think “tool” is key word.

7—I have found the study about lax approach to peer revision to be true among even honors students at high school level. I am missing the point about what is going on among the students that the study found valuable.

8—Noted that a more “democratic” process must take place between writers and teachers.

9—Again the studies that suggest change are counterbalanced by the reminders that survival in college means adhering to tradition. Previous sentence got a green squiggly line.

10—Ok, some researcher uses a physics analogy to jab at U of Texas’s portfolios which appear to be most innovative. It is not as convincing as the argument in favor of portfolios

Self-Assessment chapter

11—Clear summary of successful portfolios used in colleges bring us up to date.

Microsoft Word chapter

12—I am getting the sense that this part of the essay belongs in isolation to the rest.

13—This essay is connecting well back to the first studies noted by relating the Microsoft tools to some early findings.

14—Long conclusion.

2 comments:

larc said...

Liz,
I'm struck when reading your blog about my essay, "GSL," by the history of it all. That is, the 1971 date and the 1983 date spring up at me and say "hey, there was something going on in 'cyberspace' before Gibson even invited the word 'cyberspace.'"

That sense of history, the historical development of the media in which we writer, in which we compose, in which communicate feels so difficult to pin down and describe. Marshall McLuhan echoes in the background here, but it feels more substantial than McLuhan's insights.... or maybe more weighty...

This is an open question.... why does a sense of (textual/media) history matter when we are thinking about the rhetorics of cyberspace? (or when we are thinking about the teaching of writing)?

Liz Schleeper said...

2nd essay--Interesting distiction between retelling and repurposing a text and the various forms this takes in all media as we discussed in class.

3rd essay--The length and manageabilty of academic essays on web was another topic of discussion, and though I am one who tends to print when convenient, I pushed through reading this one on screen to get full effect of links. I think it's fine for the student but see why a researcher would want pdf document.

Overall, this class has been highly informative so far and awfully relevant to my professional world. I have been shoved a bit into a world and topics that are skirted around so often in education as I see it. Outside of technology classes, the adherence to traditional forms of writing is pretty strong, and I do not see much of a difference in attitude even among very young teachers.

The way I would summarize everything would be to say that the web and other media change the language and the mode language in such a way that there is a critital need for evaluation/ revamping of teaching language.