L. A teacher responds to data...
Please write a page in response to the following prompt...
First, write about influences this quarter. For example, did your experiences in the groups affect the essays you wrote on your own during the quarter? Did the kinds of writing you do outside of school influence your group project? How did your instructor influence the writing you produced? What kinds of carryover did you see between all the potential influences and the different kinds of writing you do?
Second, how do you feel about the kinds of technologies that were integrated into the class? Are they worthwhile? How do they contribute to or detract from your learning and writing? Are any particularly useful for collaborative writing? Is there anything about them that affects writing in some sort of new or interesting way?
Third, if this kind of class were taught again, what kinds of changes would you suggest?
I think when I wrote this prompt I was trying to provide an opportunity for students to express polite generalities that I would probably ignore. And to a limited extent I got this- the engineers liked the use of technology, the early education majors liked the group work- but I also succeeded in encouraging some very blunt criticism in language that felt like it was addressed to a peer on AIM and not to the instructor at the head of class.
"The MOO was not worthwhile and did not contribute to my learning or writing in any way."
"Nobody enjoyed the group project and the MOO just confused everyone."
I would not want to deny my students the right to feel this way, and to express their feelings, but I cannot help feeling that I messed an important rhetorical lesson concerning how we express ourselves differently when using different writing technologies. This type of expression is well within the acceptable range of discourse in a fast-paced MOO or chat room environment, but when a teacher collects handwritten responses and leisurely reads them in his office, the impact of such blunt language can be somewhat more intense.