I posted a while back about how I planned to use del.icio.us to organize readings in my "Writing Technologies" course, and after that post I ended up using del.icio.us to organize links for my "Rhetoric of Public Engagement" course as well.
(Note to practitioners: If you’re in class and say something like “Check out my delicious,” people will giggle. If you try to modify this by saying “Check out my delicious links,” people will still giggle.)
Organizing links is one thing, but mapping networks of online reading is another. I've underutilized del.icio.us in the "Writing Technologies" course—so far.
I'm not worried about it, though, as we've been doing other neat things. On Monday, students will be "turning in" websites on their research of campus handwriting, and projects include inquiry into handwriting on/for:
- public and private white boards
- ibooks (a branded scheduler we have at the U of I)
- class notes
- and hands
The projects about handwriting on hands are particularly interesting to me, reminding me of how valuable it is to have students develop topics. At least when I teach, this leads to inquiry into things I would never have thought of.
Our typewriter composition unit is gearing up, too.
As students will be using typewriters to compose a few of their graded assignments, I hauled my growing fleet of machines to class for a little typewriter composition primer. It took some a while to figure out how to turn the electric ones on; others avoided the return arms and manually return their carriages; another student stood before her manual typewriter, waited a bit, and then asked “Where’s the return key.”
Typewriter composition gets at the significance of technology in writing, a practice we often think of as entirely cognitive, linguistic, and rhetorical. The technological mediation/element in composition is something that, having taught this course, I would add to any overview of composition theory and practice.
Even more interestingly, understanding the typewriter (historically, mechanically, culturally in terms of its range of uses) means understanding the word processor as remediating typewriter technology and, in some ways, as simulacral. Our word processors are typewriters in ways that, I think this unit reveals, significantly structure our composition.
Next week, students in the course will turn in their first assignment written (not just typed) on a typewriter, and we'll go from there.