September 1996

Root Page of Article: Scenarios for Computers in Composition , by Maureen Burgess and Lori Mathis


^These stories represent a range of student and teacher expectations for and attitudes about computer-mediated writing courses at Ohio State University, courses offered through the English department and administered by our Computers in Composition and Literature Program (CCL). Questions about how to incorporate computers into a writing classroom without making the machines appear `gimmicky' is a perennial concern for our instructors. Generally, we respond to this question by emphasizing the various ways that computers can support teaching goals, and we regularly discuss with our instructors how we can be critical of as well as innovative with the technology that we have available in our writing classrooms.

In our administrative work for CCL, this question of how to incorporate computers has reached a new and urgent level with the increasing popularity of the World Wide Web. We have encountered a growing number of requests from our instructors and students to address the Web as an aspect of the computer-mediated classroom. To address these requests, we have had to first recognize that teachers and students approach the Web, and computer technology in general, with an array of perceptions and attitudes. Next, we have had to consider how to train teachers to responsibly and critically use the Web in their writing classrooms, if they choose to use it.

Keeping these concerns in mind, we have developed in-house Web workshops for our teachers, one focused on strategies for Web reading, and one focused on Web writing. To make these workshops accessible to our teachers, who are specializing in English studies, we have designed the workshops to build on familiar concepts of reading and writing printed texts. We call the workshops Web reading and Web writing workshops to self-consciously highlight the relationships between 1) browsing Web pages and traditional interpretive reading practices; and 2) designing and coding in HTML in relation to writing strategies for the printed page. We also make these workshops accessible by teaching Web reading and writing within practical course design contexts, such as teachers writing a syllabus or developing writing and reading assignments for students.

Web Reading Workshop

Maureen Burgess describes --a workshop given in the Spring of 1996 to 15 participants, comprised of faculty and graduate student teaching associates who were already familiar with browsing the Web. She details the workshop's activities that emphasized 1) how teachers can and need to develop criteria to help their students analyze Web sites; and 2) how Maureen taught her own writing class to read, analyze and write about personal home pages. Attached to this section will be handouts used in the workshop as well as the teaching materials and student papers from Maureen's class.

Web Writing Workshop

Lori Mathis describes how CCL conducts Web writing workshops for English faculty and graduate student teaching associates who may have never seen HTML or thought about designing a Web page before. She carefully details methods for teaching this group (including the use of templates), the rationale for these methods, and future plans for revising them. Attached to this section will be handouts used in the workshop, as well as HTML templates for syllabi and professional Web pages.

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