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MediaCommons Survey Response: ‘How has reblogging and reblogging culture on sites like Tumblr and Twitter complicated the notion of authorship?’

I proposed to respond, and was invited this week to post a response, to the MediaCommons frontpage survey question and video interview with Max Marshall: How has reblogging and reblogging culture on sites like Tumblr and Twitter complicated the notion of authorship?

Here’s the interview with Max Marshall that, along with the survey question, prompted my response.

My response, “Laminated Identity: Author(iz)ed Sharing on Facebook” and the conversation that follows, is posted on MediaCommons.

MediaCommons Survey Response: ‘How has reblogging and reblogging culture on sites like Tumblr and Twitter complicated the notion of authorship?’

I proposed to respond, and was invited this week to post a response, to the MediaCommons frontpage survey question and video interview with Max Marshall: How has reblogging and reblogging culture on sites like Tumblr and Twitter complicated the notion of authorship?

Here’s the interview with Max Marshall that, along with the survey question, prompted my response.

My response, “Laminated Identity: Author(iz)ed Sharing on Facebook” and the conversation that follows, is posted on MediaCommons.

1st Daily Challenge_September 29_A Piraty Kind of Exercise

For my New Media class, one of our assignments is to complete Daily Create challenges (for five days in a row starting whenever we start). I meant to do the one from yesterday, which looked like a lot of fun as it was making a picture out of string, but alas, I started today. The challenge for today was to write about something unexpected that was stolen by pirates (let’s just say I couldn’t resist the topic). Hopefully, tomorrow’s challenge isn’t mind-boggling.

Prompt for September 29, 2014: What did the pirates take – remember, it was an unexpected item!

My response: http://tdc.ds106.us/writings/a-pebble-for-the-lies/

It was another blistering day along the coast, with the winds out to sea and into a roiling storm in the east. We should not have been there, spying as we were from behind the sea grapes, but rumors of pirates spreads fast in our village and we were never ones to turn down a chance for adventure. But what we saw, it made no sense. Yes, the pirates were there, with the ship moored in deeper waters and rowboats aplenty lining the shore. They should have been an impressive sight, clothed as they were in the most expensive finery we had ever seen as if they had come ashore to celebrate, but instead they scrabbled about the sand, cursing and picking at pebbles. Their captain was red faced and shouting at a brute of a man, who was hunched as if the words assaulted more than his ears, more than his pride. They had come thinking our sands were golden with treasure, the captain shouted, lured by the words of a sea witch whose lies had reached his first mate. If they could not gather treasure, they would gather pebbles instead and bury the sea witch in depths so dark that even the sharks would not be able to descend upon her to feed. We watched until sundown, in confusion, in amusement, and in fear. We watched until sundown as all the shore’s pebbles were rowed back to the ship and sailed away into the night.

Even Small Tasks Should Have Music


Mapping the Ecology of My Classroom: Jepson G20

On Wednesday nights this semester I teach ENGL 201U, Critical Writing and Research, at the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. The class is offered face-to-face for 15 weeks, although there are online requirements. I teach the class in Jepson Hall G20, a collaborative computer lab originally designed for English writing classes (and recently redesigned for film studies) in consultation with our Writing Center director, Dr. Joe Essid. The classroom is rectangular, with two standard door entrances and a bank of windows facing an inner hallway. The classroom has no outside view; it’s an internal room in the basement of the building. One of the long walls holds the projection screen, which is served by a bright, relatively new, widescreen, high definition projector. The instructor station and computer, where the controls of the projection unit are housed, is in a corner opposite the projection screen, which means an instructor who uses the screen must navigate multimedia presentations and components from the “back” corner of the classroom. There is no wireless keyboard or wireless “clicker” for navigation.

Students in my class sit at a computer workstations situated around large round tables. There are 6 or 7 workstations per table, but my class has only 13 students, so space is never a problem. I expect them to log into their computer workstations and to open our course syllabus, a shared Google Document. Students engage in online activities via their workstation computers multiple times during every class session. They sometimes view additional material on the projection screen that may not be available on their own screens, although I’ve minimized instances when projection-screen-only material exists. I alternately sit or stand at the back of the room at the instructor computer, navigating various online resources, sit or stand at a portable highboy table that generally holds my text and notes, and walk around the classroom.

The first night of class, I walked the students through a rhetorical analysis of the classroom environment. This is something I’ve been doing with students since I taught high school English, and I’m always fascinated at the reaction to “reading” a room. In this case, our classroom is equipped with top-of-the-line technology (placement of the instructor console aside), painted attractively and professionally, not institutionally (dark-grained woodstain has that effect), brightly lit, and arranged for optimal online collaboration. Personal collaboration with those sitting within one or two seats of each other is also optimal, but the height of the iMac monitors makes cross-table collaboration (and, frankly, lecturing) almost impossible. Our analysis concluded that the room was designed with collaborative, computer-aided instructional experiences in mind. Its design and color match the other classrooms in the building, many of which are also computer classrooms or computer labs, and it fits into the small private liberal arts college oeuvre.

classroom ecology map

Affordance Map of the Ecology of my ENGL 201U classroom at the University of Richmond.

That’s our learning environment. Following Bateson’s (1972/1987) logic, the classroom environment is an ecological unit, a distributed intelligence, that works together toward learning. Individuals cannot and should not be separated from the collective in this environment; the environment itself affords distributed, collaborative learning (p. 470). The affordances of the environment can be mapped among students and their interactions with technology, instructor, text, and furnishings.

iMacs afford students “trace-making” abilities (Gibson, 1979/1986) that enable them to participate in instructional activities by writing answers in Google Drive. iMacs also enable them to collaborate in peer reading sessions and to provide meaningful written feedback to one another. These affordances are often combined with the affordances of clear instructions, models for writing, and learning activities found in their textbooks. Textbooks also afford homework and portfolio project assignments, significant aspects of the course.

Furnishings afford collaboration, vital to discursive formation. Whether the collaboration is formal (part of learning activity) or informal (sharing common experiences and the like), the result is strengthening of discursive ties among the members of the class. I join in such collaborations whenever appropriate and possible to continue building stronger ties. Round tables ensure students are able to talk with one another (although the iMac monitor heights removes the collaborative affordance across each table). The data projector and screen enable me as instructor to display instructions or resources that students can then use in their independent and collaborative work, affording additional trace-making without requiring students to have multiple monitors. And even the monitor size afford multiple windows to be open, enabling additional collaboration with the larger Internet through searching and copying data in one window and interacting with, revising, even sampling that collected data in another window.

Of course, the furnishing also afford plenty of distractions. Large monitor sizes and fast Internet connections also afford non-instructional resources to be viewed, downloaded, and manipulated. However, I consider this affordance to be part and parcel of a 21st century connected classroom, and I seek to engage the “non-instructional” materials in the instructional experience as texts to be read and analyzed. So when NCAA March Madness breaks out and games are streamed and watch, I will work to bring such material into the ecology of the classroom in a meaningful way. To me, this is the challenge and goal of 21st century instruction. The streaming game is part of the ecology of the class, too, and I can ignore it, attempt to ban it, or incorporate it into the instructional objectives of the class. After all, I am also part of the ecology and among the affordances into the classroom.

References

Bateson, G. (1987/1972). Steps to an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Gibson, J. J. (1979/1986). The ecological approach to visual perception. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

[Classroom header photo: Jepson Hall G20. CC licensed image from Flickr user (and UR staff member and my master’s degree grad school classmate) Kevin Creamer]

Responding to Case Study #2 Outlines

I read and responded to Amy’s ENGL894 Locklear Case Study 2 Outline and to Jenny’s Exploring the Flow of Information in LLL via Rhetorical Situation and Genre Theory. Each took a different approach to the application of theories to object of study from each other and from the one I took in my outline, and I found that difference instructive and reflective of the continued emphasis our theorists place on difference in discursive formation.

Both Amy and Jenny took a more formal approach to the outline than I did. Their outlines included the standard numbers and letters (mediated, I noticed, by Microsoft Word’s formatting expectations and defaults, a particular pet peeve of mine), while my outline consisted of a table that (I hope) functions as an operationalized comparison and contrast rubric for the case study (mediated, I admit, by the focus on “compare and contrast” and a desire to place my theoretical conversants in a concrete framework). I also noticed that Jenny and Amy carefully examined and summarized the theories they seek to apply, while I more generally mentioned my applied theories and focused more attention on addressing the questions of the final assignment. In some ways I feel I shortchanged my outline (and I’ll regret that in the days leading up to March 23); in other ways, however, I’m working to convince myself that I directly addressed the expectations of the final assignment, important in a 3,000 word response that includes a brief literature review.

I found Amy’s presentation of nodes and activity in MOOCs very different from what I expected. As I consider MOOCs, I gravitate toward the technology that makes MOOCs possible as network nodes and activity. It’s this focus on non-human members of the network that I especially appreciate about ANT. I found Amy’s focus on the pedagogical theory and human agents as nodes an interesting and useful boundary for her discussion. Ultimately, each of us seeks a boundary within which to develop a coherent theoretical application to our object of study. Amy’s boundary differs from the boundary I would choose, but that difference tells us something about our individual network and rhetorical experiences. It also makes class-sourced collaborative models of theoretical applications to networks more valuable, in my mind, to scholarship and to pedagogical outcomes. I have a sneaking suspicion that the two instructors are of the same mind in this conclusion.

la leche league logo

My La Leche League cake. Drawn in buttercreme: Creative Commons licensed image from Flickr user Sondra

Jenny’s focus on ordering nodes in her outline was also unexpected. Throughout this semester, probably starting with Vatz, I’ve gravitated away from applying frameworks to theories (my tabular outline an obvious contradiction, alas). I’ve willed myself to avoid imposing order on the theoretical chaos in my head. Jenny’s outline was a refreshing shift, but one important aspect I noticed was that each “ordering” of nodes was dependent on the individual theory. Instead of using a set of common criteria (like my use of the assignment questions) by which to compare and contrast theoretical stances, she developed individual criteria for comparison based on her summarized analysis of the theories themselves. Doing so likely required more effort than a standardized set of comparison criteria, but the result is that she likely has a much clearer handle on each of the theorists’ main ideas as they relate to her object of study.

In both cases, I learned from each interpretation of the assignment. My “meta” moment has less to do with the theories or their application to objects of study and more to do with each of our different executions of the assignment itself. From a pedagogical standpoint, multiple interpretations of an assignment are difficult to assess in a rubric, but they better reflect many of our theorists’ perspectives on the importance of difference in discursive formation. That’s an important lesson for my own pedagogy.

References

Van Ittersum, D., & Ching, K. L. (2013). Composing text / Shaping process: How digital environments mediate writing activity [Webtext]. Computers and Composition: An International Journal. Retrieved from http://www2.bgsu.edu/departments/english/cconline/composing_text/webtext/chat.html

Lock, A. (2014, March 3). ENGL894 Locklear case study 2 outline [Google doc, outline].

Moore, J. (2014, March 2). Exploring the flow of information in LLL via rhetorical situation and genre theory [Google doc, outline].

[Top Image: Mediated by Microsoft Word. Creative Commons licensed image from Flickr user Erik Eckel]

Theory Application Rubric: A Class Construction

This rubric really is a social construct: class members collaborated (with a great deal of momentum generated by Maury’s contributions) on the beginnings of our rubric. While each of us likely added or removed bits of the collaborative work to personalize the rubric, I’m proud to be part of this socially constructed, class-sourced rubric development process.

We recognized two major areas of focus for the rubric:

  • Articulation and contextualization of the theory
  • Application of theory to specific OoS (explained with clarity)

After reading the hypertext theory readings, I recommended a third area of focus, which I’ve included in my rubric:

  • Mapping of theory to local context (praxis)
seattle awareness map from 1978

Seattle Awareness Map, 1978: Mapping Seattle’s historical landmarks. Creative Commons licensed image from Flickr user Rob Ketcherside.

While we can apply theory to our OoS, I think it’s important to be able to map the theory to localized instantiations of the OoS. If theory can’t be mapped to specific aspects of practice in the field, then it hardly seems useful (in a pragmatic sense) to the field or its scholars and practitioners. Not that every theory needs a Spinuzzi-like operationalized exemplar to be valid — but we need to be able to identify specific ways that teachers in local contexts will be able to apply theoretical constructs and principles to pedagogy, and how scholars will be able to apply theory to specific recommendations for action in the field.

We also discussed how or whether to assign grades or points to each aspect of the rubric. Most of us chose to avoid assigning grades: our goal was to develop a rubric that could be applied to both assessment and praxis, and my sense is that assessment needs to be localized at the assignment level rather than generalized at the development level (see Discussion below for more on this subject). As a result, I did not include point values, nor would I want to do so without first sharing the rubric with the person to whom I applied it.

My (class-sourced) Theory Application Rubric

Articulated and Contextualized (Theoretical Understanding)

  • Theorist(s) who developed the theory
  • Influential predecessors to the theory to theorist
  • Main premise(s) of the theory and key attributes
  • Limitations of the theory
  • Relationship to other theories in the field and importance to the field
  • Existing canonical or well-respected applications of the theory

Applied to Object of Study and Explained (OoS Understanding, Application)

  • OoS contextualized and explained
  • Theory attributes mapped to OoS attributes
  • Portion(s) of the theory used and discarded, and why
  • Contribution to understanding or re-seeing the OoS
  • Practical benefits of applying the theory
  • Limitations (blind spots) of this theory as applied to this OoS
  • Additions to the body of knowledge surrounding OoS and/or the discipline

Mapped to Local Context (Praxis)

  • Local context(s) to which theory can be mapped
  • Specific person(s) responsible for activated mapping
  • Social and political boundaries defined by theory
  • Aspects of theory mapped to specific lived experience
  • Anticipated social action to be achieved by mapping
  • Assessment process of localized mapping defined

Applying the Rubric

Foucauldian Analysis of Live-Action Role-Playing Games as Networks

Maury applied specific aspects of network construction with Foucaultian theory to LARPs. Below are the results of applying my rubric to her case study.

Theoretical Understanding
Characteristic Addressed Comments
Theorist(s) who developed the theory Yes Foucault
Influential predecessors to the theory to theorist No The assignment did not call for the need to contextualize the theorist among others.
Main premise(s) of the theory and key attributes Partially Foucault offers a broad range of theories; those applicable to the OoS were appropriately selected.
Limitations of the theory Partially The limitations of the theory may have been demonstrated by absence in the case study.
Relationship to other theories in the field and importance to the field No This was not a required component of the assignment.
Existing canonical or well-respected applications of the theory N/A The scope of the assignment did not require this level of exploration of the theory.
OoS Understanding & Application
Characteristic Addressed Comments
OoS contextualized and explained Yes Thorough explanation of the OoS and its context made it accessible to a complete noob.
Theory attributes mapped to OoS attributes Yes Of special note were connection to archive, positivity, absence, and monument.
Portion(s) of the theory used and discarded, and why No It’s difficult to nail down Foucault to a single theoretical stance or even set of stances; as a result, this is an appropriate omission.
Contribution to understanding or re-articulating the OoS Yes Among the strongest aspects of the case study. Application revealed relational and contingent character of the game’s discourse.
Practical benefits of applying the theory Yes Among benefits noted are recognizing the change in meaning that occurs as the game is played.
Limitations (blind spots) of this theory as applied to this OoS No Given the broad range of theoretical position Foucault offers, it’s difficult to identify limitations.
Additions to the body of knowledge surrounding OoS and/or the discipline Yes The networked description of the OoS via Foucault focuses attention on specific connections within the game, and it broadens an understanding of Foucault’s archive and monument.
Praxis
Characteristic Addressed Comments
Local context(s) to which theory can be mapped Yes LARP as distinguished from cosplay, historical re-enactment, creative anachronism, and boffer-style LARP.
Specific person(s) responsible for activated mapping Yes Very detailed; notable are Game Masters along with many other actors on the network.
Social and political boundaries defined by theory Yes The field of game play is clearly articulated and connected to the field of discourse.
Aspects of theory mapped to specific lived experience Yes Another strength of the case study, mapping specific lived experiences of LARP to theoretical aspects.
Anticipated social action to be achieved by mapping Yes Closing statement addresses the specific social action expected: multiplicity of discourse emerging from a single LARP.
Assessment process of localized mapping defined Yes In the same closing statement, successful mapping with be demonstrated by multiple discourses from a single LARP.

Discussion

Theoretical Understanding

The rubric we crowd sourced was intended to address broadly the way a theory is constructed in its time-space and context. Since our assignment was to apply a theory that we had all worked on together in class, neither the assignment nor our execution was expected to spend a great deal of time explaining the key components of the theory, its place among theories, or other contexts related to the theory itself. It was assumed that we’d bring to the assignment that understanding without having to articulate it in the blog post.

However, as a hermeneutic, the rubric offers a useful set of tools for assessing and presenting major theoretical aspects to a reader. Of particular importance as we move forward in our case studies will be explaining more of the influential context of the theory — its predecessors, its influences, its turns and negations, its relationship to other theoretical stances. And a conference paper-length application would certainly be expected to use a literature review to place the theoretical stance(s) in appropriate context. As a result, although this case study implicitly precluded most of the contextual background of Foucaultian theory, the rubric itself is likely hermeneutically sound.

OoS Application and Explanation

In the case of Foucault, nailing down a single theoretical stance, or even a set of theoretical positions, is quite difficult. As a result, omitting some of Foucault’s theoretical positions is necessary in anything but a monograph-length study (and even then, I’m not sure). These omissions don’t necessarily mean they don’t apply to the OoS or that there are no mappings between the theory and the OoS. I take these omissions to be practical realities, and would likely consider them so even in a graded assignment (unless major issues were left unaddressed, like statements or discursive formation). That same breadth of theoretical perspective necessitates the OoS itself to define its limits within the frame of theoretical reference. In a more narrowly focused theoretical stance, I’d expect more explicit statements about the OoS boundaries as defined by the theory. In the case of Foucault, I sensed little of LARPs that Foucault would not address. While this was never explicitly stated or even implied in the analysis, the results speak for themselves — there is no shortage of LARP when applying Foucault. As a result, even though the application does not always address every aspect of the rubric, I don’t think the rubric is faulty.

Praxis

I surprised myself in finding the Praxis section of the rubric the most informative and applicable section of the rubric. I found concrete mappings between theory and localized context. I don’t consider this section to repeat the OoS application and explanation section; to me, the object of study is not necessarily localized. In the case of LARPs, for example, the localized mapping went so far as to specify a single LARP (Three Muskateers), while the OoS itself remained a more general discussion of LARPs. However, even this general discussion worked to localize the LARP by differentiating it from other similar activities. My mapping the OoS in lived experience to theory, both LARP and theoretical understanding benefitted. As a reader with no LARP experience, the localized mapping offered a clear theoretical underpinning to the concept and practice of the LARP while clarifying in concrete examples some of the more difficult concepts of Foucaultian theory. Mapping theory to localized experience offered a win/win experience for me as reader, and I believe that same experience applies to extending knowledge and understanding of both fields.

visualization of map of the internet, 2005

Map of the Internet, 2005: Mapping a global theory to a localization. Creative Commons licensed image from Flickr user Cesar Harada.

Localization

This rubric, like all others, requires a flexible, local application bound up in real experience. The fact that the assignment did not fulfill all requirements of the rubric makes neither the assignment nor the rubric unsuccessful. The assignment called for different expectations than the rubric (which, of course, reveals in practice the importance of developing rubrics prior to, rather than in response to, assignments), so the rubric could not be fully applied to the assignment. Furthermore, the rubric addressed a broader conception of theory and OoS than the format and length of the assignment could achieve. I believe it’s important to recognize ways the rubric can’t or won’t measure exactly what it needs to measure in each and every instance. Every assignment — and every response to every assignment — is a localization, and each requires a flexible application of the rubric. This does not make the rubric an inefficient or inaccurate measurement tool; on the contrary, it reveals the value and significance of local context in measurement.

[Top of page: rubric - Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Diana]

The (rhetorical) situation hits the proverbial (CPU) fan: Response to first case studies

I had the opportunity to respond to Chvonne and Leslie’s case studies. Chvonne applied rhetorical situation to Snapchat, and Leslie applied hardware theory to the Noel Studio. Each application made accessible their object of study in useful, helpful, even utilitarian ways:

iphone screenshot

Installing Snapchat on the iPhone – Responding to Chvonne’s post

  • from Chvonne’s analysis I am convinced that I should download Snapchat as a different, direct means of communicating, especially with my daughters as they grow older;
  • from Leslie’s analysis I am compelled to question my own institution’s decision to isolate the academic support areas for speech, technology, writing, and subject-specific tutoring in separate centers

Chvonne’s analysis required me to problemetize my understanding of social media. As I considered her application of rhetorical theory to Snapchat, I starting thinking about social networks in terms of Biesecker’s approach that discourse invokes the rhetorical situation: Does Snapchat, as a social communication medium, fuel its own discursive formations? In other words, are Snapchat users compelled to share an “authentic situation/experience/moment” before they use Snapchat? Or does Snapchat compel users to identify and share that “authentic situation/experience/moment”?

Chvonne rightly describes Snapchat as a “site of discourse,” but I am intrigued to consider the possibility that Snapchat is itself a discursive formation that reflects the exigence of its founders to combat the documentary profiling that traditional social networks offer/require. Snapchat’s philosophical foundation, which plays a prominent role in Chvonne’s analysis, may offer the opening response in a diachronic discourse with other social media philosophies regarding, in Chvonne’s words, “what counts as connection, what counts as authenticity, and what counts as communication.” These are exciting questions that I’m eager to follow through Chvonne’s continuing applications.

Leslie’s analysis provided a detailed analysis of the communication network of the Noel Studio. Its focus on information transfer limited and frustrated her, but it succeeded in offering a cogent, detailed understanding of the flow of information in, out, and around the Studio. Hardware as a theory is new concept to me, but my experience as a freelance web developer and SOHO office network consultant and developer means that using hardware as a critical lens results in a high level of accessibility to the object of study. I found myself wavering between network hardware and computer hardware in the analysis. Computer hardware requires all data to reveal itself and its meaning to the CPU as some point while traversing the system. Network hardware does not require data to reveal its meaning; it simply passes the signal, switching as needed to control the flow of data traffic. As a result, I’m not sure there is a single, controlling CPU in the information transfer system surrounding the Studio; I think each node contains its own CPU. The Studio space itself is the physical manifestation of a virtual network that connects nodes via strong and weak ties.

To me, this suggested the likelihood that some of those weaker ties become stronger ties as a result of their common experience of seeking assistance at the Noel Studio. This enables organic growth of the network, and contributes to the popularity of the space itself and its services. Applying this to other academic support systems suggests that careful attention to the physical and virtual space in which nodes can connect is vitally important to the growth and advancement of the services being provided. Organic growth is difficult to come by; creating a space in which weak ties can be strengthened in the communication network is one way to accomplish that kind of growth. Want to grow your Writing Center? One important consideration is its space. How does it enable and encourage the interactions of nodes that have little else, other than physical proximity and shared exigence, to connect them?

References

Parker, C. (2014, February 11). Case study #1: Applying rhetorical situation to Snapchat [Blog post]. Academic Cypher. Retrieved from http://cparker.grads.digitalodu.com/?p=143

Valley, L. (2014, February 11). Case study #1: Applying hardware theory to the Noel Studio [Blog post]. ENGL 894: Theories of Networks. Retrieved from http://lvengl894.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/case-study-1-applying-hardware-theory-to-the-noel-studio/

[CPU Heat Sink FanCreative Commons licensed image from Flickr user Paul Sullivan]

Response to Annotated Bibliographies: So Now I’m a Node

I responded to Maury’s annotated bibliography of VanKooten’s “Toward a Rhetorically Sensitive Assessment Model for New Media Composition,” and I also responded to Amy’s annotated bibliography of Bourelle’s et al. “Assessing Learning in Redesigned Online First-year Composition Courses.” I appreciated Maury’s conclusion that the model VanKooten offers is plausible because I trust her academic, pedagogical, and professional chops. I appreciated Amy’s intent focus on networking as it related to her chapter because I find her insights about connections among ideas enlightening, sometimes even intimidating, in their complexity and depth. I also wonder if Amy might have politely glossed over the fact that the authors had precious few assessments to offer (in a chapter titled “Assessing Learning…”) of their shift to entirely online composition courses!

In each of my responses I noted my perception that their summaries touched on the practical and pragmatic. Part of my learning curve in this PhD program is the practical applicability of what I learn to what I do. And I don’t refer only to teaching, which I’ve only ever done at the college level in a contingent capacity over and above my full time profession as an online content manager (and sometimes developer) and marketer. Granted, these two chapters focus more specifically on composition pedagogy rather than web development, professional communications, or marketing, but they are part and parcel of a clearly pragmatic theme running through the ODU English PhD program. I am grateful for this focus, as I fully expected to find little of the coursework, reading, or writing applicable to my real world of composition and research pedagogy or professional communications. I am a product of undergraduate and graduate programs focused solely on literary and critical theory with no attempt at application (beyond the literary text) or pragmatism. As a result, I am refreshed and encouraged by the focus on pragmatism in the midst of grounding ourselves in theory.

New media assessment model (diagram)

Crystal Van Kooten’s model of New Media assessment of multi-modal compositions. Courtesy ‘Live Action Network Theory‘ by Maury Brown.

That’s not exactly what I learned from these blog posts, of course. But it’s part of the learning network I feel I’ve become a part of, and this learning network is one to which I am able both to contribute and receive. As a node in this learning network, I am able to tap into multiple genres that inform not only my theoretical stances, but also my day-to-day professional functions. So when I read Maury’s summary of VanKooten’s chapter, I join the discipline’s kairotic moment in theorizing the assessment of my students’ new media compositions. I gain entry into this particular node of the network by virtue of the fact that Maury summarized the chapter, and I read her summary. Her summary motivates me to read the chapter myself and consider applying VanKooten’s assessment rubric in some way. And when I read

Classroom network visualization (diagram)

Classroom Network Representation based on Bourelle et al. Courtesy ‘140 Characters in These Streets‘ by Amy Lock.

Amy’s summary of the chapter by Bourelle et al., I join the discipline’s pragmatic concern about labor practices and centralized decisions made about online instruction. I find myself concerned about ways my own institution centralizes curricular decisions and uses contingent faculty—and picture myself differently as a result.

I am a node in the genre of the response, in the genre system of the assignment, in the activity system of the class, and of the boundary genre of English studies. I love being a part of this network.

References

Bourelle, T., Rankins-Robertson, S., Bourelle, A., & Roen, D. (2013). Assessing learning in redesigned online first-year composition courses. In McKee, H. A., & DeVoss, D. N. (Eds.). Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press. Retrieved from http://ccdigitalpress.org/dwae/12_bourelle.html

Brown, M. (2014). “Toward a rhetorically sensitive assessment model for new media composition” — Crystal Van Kooten annotated bibliography entry [Blog post]. Live Action Network Theory. Retrieved from http://mbrow168.students.digitalodu.com/?p=102

Lock, A. (2014). Annotated bibliography entry: Burelle et al. [Blog post]. Digital Rhetor: A Research Space. Retrieved from http://alock011.students.digitalodu.com/?p=214

VanKooten, C. (2013). Toward a rhetorically sensitive assessment model for new media composition. In McKee, H. A., & DeVoss, D. N. (Eds.). Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press. Retrieved from http://ccdigitalpress.org/dwae/09_vankooten.html

[I am a node! Cropped Popplet visualization of my storage network with my photo added.]