Syllabus Muse?

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So here's a question.

I'm working up my syllabus for a course I'm teaching this fall, a doctoral seminar on Computers and Writing. I've got tons of notes on it, but I'm struggling a little bit with exactly how I want to (a) organize it, and (b) reduce the readings to a manageable set. Later today, I'll probably toss up a page that offers up my progress-to-date, but in the meantime, I thought I'd ask for a little collective wisdom. Here are my constraints:

The course is going to be 1/3 workshop, 2/3 seminar. That is, each week, we're spending at least an hour in our lab, where I'll be running a series of hands-on intros to a broad range of tools and platforms. The goal will be familiarity rather than mastery, of course, but I'm a big believer in the doing alongside the thinking.

One corollary of this is that I will be asking the students to work outside of class on their technology skills, and so I'll be requiring a little less reading than I normally might for a seminar. I'm pretty much decided that I'm not ordering books--my plans are to go with 3-4 chapters/articles per week.

And of course, the problem here is that a given week's topic could pretty much be the theme for an entire course, so I need to really distill rather than overwhelm. At the same time, I've got shelves and shelves of stuff I could use, not to mention all the stuff online. I'm still debating internally about whether it's best to shoot for a rough chronology of C&W or to focus on more recent developments for the most part.

Nothing to it but to do it, I suppose. Look for updates later today. Oh, and the collective wisdom part is this: what texts, perspectives, ideas do y'all think are indispensable for a course on C&W, one that's likely to be the only sustained exposure to the sub-d that these students will experience?


Given that this is the one course your students will have in this area, you don't really see yourself as laying foundations for students to carry out research in this area. Or maybe the course still needs to operate on the premise of "here's one area in which you might specialize."

If it's not about doing research in C&W then maybe it's about teaching writing with technology. In practical terms it's that secondary job qualification of having facility with technology. Given that context here are the two main things I think they'd need to consider (which I'm sure you already know, but since you asked...)

1. A better sense of the immense scope of what we are involved in here, that C&W isn't just some relatively new specialty in our discipline, which doesn't mean everyone needs to study tech but it does mean that we will all find our profession transformed by these changes, to say the least. All the usual suspects here like Shirky, Rheingold, etc.

2. Recognizing that much of our disciplinary knowledge about compositional practices is technology-specific, that everything from revision to organization to the relationship between author and audience is redrawn in different technology. And furthermore that it's not just different on the web but different with each technology blogs to wikis to YouTube etc.

Maybe they could get some experience with this doing something on PraxisWiki ;-)

Again, I know you know all this stuff. If I were hiring someone for our Prof Writing program in the area of workplace writing or publishing and editing, I'd still want someone who could make effective use of these technologies, who could capitalize on what we teach students in our tech-intensive courses, and could help students understand the uses of technologies in professional writing contexts.

Thanks for this, Alex. You help me crystallize some of my own thoughts, and I'm grateful for that... ;-)

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This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on August 13, 2008 1:54 PM.

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