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Using Web 2.0 and the Public Sphere to Foster Public Writing in Composition Classrooms


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This is the presentation I gave as part of a coordinated Ball State panel at the Conference on the Future of English Studies in October, 20009 at the University of Illinois in Springfield. Here is the session summary: "Today’s students come to us with a different set of literacies than we have been accustomed to in the past. It is tempting to view this apocalyptically -- doom for the Humanities in general and English studies in particular. Instead, we must reconceptualize our own relationship(s) (intellectually and aesthetically) to developing technologies and new literacies. English can and should take a lead role in interdisciplinary study that foregrounds the historical, political, and cultural contexts of text production, developing technologies, and emerging literacies. In this panel, we propose to contribute to this process in a multi-modal presentation exploring multiple sights of contention, including political rhetoric, the public sphere, and developing technologies."

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Using Web 2.0 and the Public Sphere to Foster Public Writing in Composition Classrooms

  1. 1. Using Web 2.0 and the Public Sphere to Foster Public Writing in Composition Classrooms Casey McArdle Ball State University The Conference on the Future of English Studies October 16, 2009
  2. 2. Tim O’Reilly & Web 2.0 (2005) Web 1.0 Web 2.0 DoubleClick Google AdSense Ofoto Flickr Akamai BitTorrent Napster Britannica Online Wikipedia personal websites blogging evite and EVDB domain name speculation search engine optimization page views cost per click screen scraping web services publishing participation content management systems wikis directories (taxonomy) tagging (“folksonomy”) stickiness syndication
  3. 3. Blogosphere – Private Sphere Using Web 2.0 If an essential part of Web 2.0 is harnessing collective intelligence, turning the web into a kind of global brain, the blogosphere is the equivalent of constant mental chatter in the forebrain, the voice we hear in all of our heads. It may not reflect the deep structure of the brain, which is often unconscious, but is instead the equivalent of conscious thought. And as a reflection of conscious thought and attention, the blogosphere has begun to have a powerful effect. (O’Reilly)
  4. 4. Public Writing in the Classroom Sharon Crowley’s ideal Classroom While I can envision challenging courses in invention or style or argumentation being offered in such a curriculum, I would hope that such a course of study would not confine students to practice in composing. Rather, it would help them to understand what composing is and to articulate the role it plays in shaping their intellectual lives. The topmost reaches of an undergraduate curriculum in composing would study histories of writing, debate the politics of literacy, and investigate the specialized composing tactics and rhetorics that have evolved in disciplines, professions, civic groups, women’s organizations, social movements, and political parties—to name only a few sites where such investigations could fruitfully take place. (Crowley 262)
  5. 5. Habermas Spheres
  6. 6. Habermas Spheres Habermas Spheres & Web 2.0
  7. 7. Public/Private Authority Working with Web 2.0 <ul><ul><li>If the Internet is, or is able to become, a public sphere according to this Habermasian model, it would have to offer an arena for individuals to interact free of constraints. These interactions must have the potential to influence civil society and the state, and the public discourse that is generated in this site must be “legitimized” by the scrutiny and challenge of other citizens and the stake holders in the debate. (Weisser 50) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. In Kenneth Bruffee’s “Collaborative learning and the conversation of mankind,” he emphasizes the social nature of public writing, something common in nonacademic settings. He argues for students to go public with their writing to receive feedback because public writing in classrooms deemphasizes teacher authority and urges students to see themselves as responsible writers and to view writing as a social activity.
  9. 14. Web 2.0 & Public Writing: gives our students a chance to engage the text.
  10. 16. Web 2.0 & Public Writing: creates spaces that blend with other spaces.
  11. 18. Web 2.0 & Public Writing: uses the constructs of the medium to communicate.
  12. 20. Web 2.0 & Public Writing: move from the virtual to the real world.
  13. 22. Works Cited Bruffee, Kenneth. “Collaborative learning and the conversation of mankind.” College English 46 .7 (1984): 635-52. Crowley, Sharon. Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays . Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998. Habermas, Jurgen. “A Philosophico-Political Profile.” Readings in Contemporary Rhetoric . Ed. Karen A. Foss, Sonja K. Foss, and Robert Trapp. Illinois: Waveland Press, 2002. 130-145. O’Reilly, Tim. What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software . 2005 O’Reilly Network. 10 June 2009. <>. Weisser, Christian R. Moving Beyond Academic Discourse: Composition Studies and the Public Sphere . Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 2002.
  14. 23. <ul><li>List of Figures: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>