Friday, January 11, 2008

Word to the Whys

By now, those of you in the 109N02 class have probably spent some time wondering (and rightly so) why an instructor of an English Composition class would have his class write weekly blogs. Judging from the responses I received to the prompt where I asked you to comment on your online reading and writing experience, many of you recognize that the majority of immediate communication on the internet has a fairly informal feel to it. While it is true that blogs often play fast and loose with some classroom essay conventions, we will come to discover that, by and large, they are still beholden to many of the rules we ascribe to Standard Edited American English. So consider this a warning that while your language may be more informal in your posting of blog entries and comments to the entries of your classmates, grammar and style still matter.

But let’s return to the question of just why we’re focusing on blogs in class. I have a dual purpose, I suppose. We are utilizing the blogs as a tool that will assist us along the process of composition—the informality that we assign to the genre, I find, coaxes students to produce a higher volume of writing than even in-class freewriting assignments. Secondly, we must appreciate that blogs are playing an increasing role in the dissemination of information and opinion, so through our experience in keeping blogs, we are studying them as a form of communication. Plus, they enable for feedback outside of the insulation of the English classroom, an invaluable addition to a writer’s learning experience.

So there we are: a brief defense of just why we’re keeping and studying blogs in 109N02. I look forward watching the evolution of your blogs and your writing selves over the quarter. And if nothing else, with blogs on the writer's faith, being/becoming a parent, legalizing marijuana, turning cars into cash, joining the U.S. Marines, etc., I’ll have plenty an eclectic read.

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