Friday, July 27, 2007

Our useful in-between place

Last month, I presented at Distance Learning Administration about the early development of our first-year online writing course initiative at Drexel. As with most online learning gatherings, I found this to be a very stimulating conference, and as I often do when I come out of online learning conversations, I felt heartened.


Because I'm convinced that online writing teachers have a great niche. We are in a useful place between writing and online pedagogies.

Conversations about online teaching and learning frequently revolve around content. Many sessions about pedagogy wrestle with questions about how to better and more effectively deliver content. E-conversations on listservs also tend to delve into ways to get content into the hands, and minds, of students.

On the other hand, composition conversations about the pedagogical potential of writing online are still often in their early stages. Writing studies seems to continue to hold a tentative view of teaching online; it still appears that theoretical works about technology generate more interest than practical ideas and articles (with notable exceptions, of course).

Perhaps much like in the nascent days of writing across the curriculum, there is a great opportunity for those of us in writing instruction to carve out a distinctive area. We can help both our writing colleagues understand the value of the electronic environment for writing instruction while sharing with new distance learning colleagues ideas that in the online writing classroom, content is not always king, and that the learning techniques of writing courses can play a major role in helping teachers create better assessments that enhance student learning.

As you have conversations with colleagues in both camps, keep the useful tension of this position in mind. In our in-between role here lies a superb opportunity for us.


Post a Comment

<< Home