Print Volume 24.3 (September 2007)

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Written arguments and collaborative speech acts in practising the argumentative power of language through chat debates
— Leena Laurinen & Miika Marttunen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

This study deals with the quality of argumentation and collaboration in students’ chat debates. The argumentative interaction between students is analysed by categorising their speech turns into seven functional categories. The argumentative task-related parts of the students’ discussions are further analysed into collaborative and non-collaborative speech acts. Argumentation patterns are revealed when the results of both analyses are combined with observations on the students’ writing styles. Students (n = 24) participated in 12 dyadic debates concerning either nuclear power (NP) or genetically modified organisms (GMO). We found that the majority (67.2%) of the speech turns in NP debates and almost half (47.8%) of the speech turns in GMO debates belong to the argumentative categories (explore and deepen; arguments; opinions). Furthermore, there are four types of debates that could be placed in the continuum of sophisticated argumentative debates (written code of language was used)—oral-like debates (the quality of argumentation was quite low). Irrespective of the level of argumentation, all the debates were collaborative. The study shows that students acquired the skill to use language collaboratively. Most students embedded short collaborative semi-oral utterances in their written arguments to provoke and scaffold the debate.

Implementing an open process approach to a multilingual online writing center: The case of Calliope
— Liesbeth Opdenacker and Luuk Van Waes, University of Antwerp, Belgium

This paper briefly describes the main characteristics of Calliope, a Belgian online writing center. Calliope began with the collaborative development of a theoretical framework based on a process approach to writing with a recognition of differences in learning and writing profiles. In this paper, we describe our theoretical framework, how it was developed, and how it is used in our classes (blended learning). Starting from a description of the content model, we also describe three key components of the multilingual online writing center: (a) the Feedback Editor, (b) the collaborative writing environment, Escribamos, and (c) the e-portfolio tool. We conclude the paper with a discussion on technical and content-related problems we encountered during Calliope's development process.

Weathering wikis: Net-based learning meets political science in a South African university
— Tony Carr, University of Cape Town, & Andrew Morrison, Glenda Cox and Andrew Deacon, University of Oslo

Wikis represent flexible tools functioning as open-ended environments for collaboration while also offering process and group writing support. Here we focus on a project to innovate the use of wikis for collaborative writing within student groups in a final-year undergraduate political science course. The primary questions guiding our research were in what ways could wikis assist collaborative learning in an undergraduate course in political science and how we could support educators’ in the effective use of wikis? Curiously, wikis may serve as a mediating artifact for collaborative writing even among students who are reluctant to post online drafts. The paper raises questions concerning the nature and limits of lecturer and tutor power to deliver transformative educational innovations in relation to the capacity of students to embrace, comply with, or resist such innovation. In analysing the negotiation of the use of wikis in the course by and among the lecturer, tutors, and students, we draw on two principles in activity theory, which Yrjö Engeström argued are central to his model of expansive learning: multi-voicedness and contradictions [Engeström, Yrjö. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit; Engeström, Yrjö. (2001). Expansive learning at work: Toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization. Journal of Education and Work 14(1), 133–156.]. We add a third principle, transparency, to more fully capture what we observed.

Text-making practices beyond the classroom context: Private instant messaging in Hong Kong
— Carmen K.M. Lee, Lancaster University

This article explores the ways in which instant messaging (IM) texts are produced by a group of university students in Hong Kong. Even though there exists a body of research on linguistic issues of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in non-Western contexts, much emphasis has been placed on the features of CMC English used by ESL learners. Instead of focusing on one particular language, this article reports on a number of language-related issues that are specific to the Hong Kong CMC context such as the use of Chinese and English, invented Cantonese spellings, and code-mixing. Drawing upon qualitative data such as observational notes and interviews, my study analyzes the text-making practices associated with the use of IM (ICQ and MSN Messenger) within the New Literacy Studies (NLS) framework [Gee, James Paul. (1996). Social linguistics and literacies. London: Routledge; Barton, David, Hamilton, Mary, & Ivani?, Roz (Eds.). (2000). Situated literacies, London: Routledge; Street, Brian V. (1998). New literacies in theory and practice: What are the implications for language in education? Linguistics and Education, 10(1), 1–24], which is a social practice approach to the study of reading and writing in real-life contexts. This article concludes by arguing that learning to produce texts in IM involves an entirely different process from that of formal language learning in the classroom. In a multilingual society like Hong Kong, teachers and educators need to be aware of such differences so as to bridge the gap between actual uses of language in students’ private lives and the form of language used in the formal classroom context.

Technologizing Africa: On the bumpy information highway
— Dwedor Morais Ford, Clayton State University

Although the microcomputer and the Internet continue to advance rapidly in Western cultures, developing nations, especially those in Africa, are lagging behind—a situation that continues to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots of the world. This article offers the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of Africa on the information highway and documents the use of computers in the educational systems of three African nations: Ghana, Kenya, and Egypt. It documents the progress these countries have made in exposing their citizens to information technology and reveals the challenges they face in closing the digital divide that Africans continue to experience. In presenting how these countries adapt to technological change, one may better understand why Africa's ride on the information highway is rutted.

Non-existence of systematic education on computerized writing in Japanese schools
— Taku Sugimoto, Chiba Institute of Technology

In Japanese schools, from elementary to college levels, digital technologies are not widely used for writing education. It sounds paradoxical that computer use in writing education is not flourishing in a country where ordinary people, especially the youth, actively use the Internet and cellular phones to exchange written (or typed) messages, where schools are well-equipped with computer technologies, and where the government shows guidelines and rationales for using information and communication technologies in teaching and learning at schools. This article analyzes the background behind this paradoxical situation. After analyzing how much research on and the practice of digital writing education has been made in the country, this paper discusses the nature of writing education and digital discourse in the Japanese culture and its possible relations to the lack of computerized writing education in Japanese schools.

“Wanted: Some Black Long Distance [Writers]”: Blackboard Flava-Flavin and other AfroDigital experiences in the classroom
— Carmen Kynard, Rutgers University

This essay examines how students of African descent at a predominantly black college on the East Coast digitally perform their ethnic identities and rhetorics in a freshman composition course. The essay begins by showing how multiple uses of signifying frame students’ Blackboard discussions where they use a type of trickster motif to enact their agreements, disagreements, challenges, and questions, very much akin to Flava Flav's initial cultural role as part of the Rap/activist group, Public Enemy. Students’ online writing groups are then examined by focusing on one particular group, the “Black Long Distance Writers,” whose title signifies and signals the work of the African American writer and activist, John Oliver Killens, most notably, his seminal 1973 essay, “Wanted: Some Black Long Distance Runners.” The understandings of these “Black Long Distance Writers” bear the most powerful definition of literacy and computer-based writing instruction because their framework is not contingent upon making digitally divided minorities more technologically advanced and better at one type of English, its culture of power, or its academic discourses. Instead, these students experience rhetoric and writing as a way to alter the ways that knowledge is constructed for them and about them, “revocabularizing” the academy and its technologies. Such freshman writers are re-envisioned in this kind of cyberspace as constructors of and co-participants in black intellectual and rhetorical traditions … now AfroDigitized.

On the bright side of the screen: Material-world interactions surrounding the socialization of outsiders to digital spaces
— Sally W. Chandler, Joshua Burnett and Jacklyn Lopez, Kean University

Internet technologies are generally characterized as deriving from Western mindsets—the assumptions, values, and beliefs that determine how individuals perceive, interpret, and communicate experience. For composition instructors, the Internet's Western accent raises concerns about how students who do not identify with IT's dominant discourse can find a voice that is their own and that also empowers them as participants in online spaces. Numerous studies have explored how outsiders adopt, transform, and resist Internet discourses; at the same time, few studies have used participant observation to explore offline interactions that support the socialization of newcomers and/or outsiders in the use of digital technologies. This essay extends existing research through reporting findings from a reflective, ethnographic study of material-world interactions surrounding the socialization of outsiders to digital spaces.

Keeping with the currency of the print-based journal, Print to Screen focuses on the themes found in the recent issues of Computers and Composition, and includes multimodal commentaries that explore and remediate relationships between print and screen.

Section Editor — Elizabeth Monske

Print to Screen