After a semester of testing out the all-computer writing classroom, during the somewhat-contested reign of Web 2.0, I append the following update to my earlier post on Computers and Composition. Soon, I will add a version of this page to the Pedagogy and Games subpages.

The question of the day is how is the composition class a social or 2.0 experience? To any of us who have taught comp, we know how learning to write is a tremendously social activity. What many of the tools below emphasize is the ways in which research is also a fundamentally social activity. We not only stand on the shoulders of giants, but we follow their RSS feeds, we enjoy their bookmarks, and we page through their PowerPoint presentations. Social software presents a means for students to reciprocate by offering their own shoulders to other researchers, as well.

The second set of tools has to do with building a browser that is a research engine, something that can act as a notebook (literally, in the case of Google). From Diigo to Zotero, student writers can build a custom browser that can enhance their research experience, while often linking them to other scholars or at least allowing them to share information easily.

For last, I save the novelties.

I. Priceless readings

No doubt the reading list for such a course grows daily. Here are some tested readings on for the composition computer classroom.

  1. Gettysburg PowerPoint, PowerPoint Valentines
  2. Why I Blog” (parts 1 and 2) selected blogs, Reconstruction (6.4) 2006, an excellent resource on what motivates blogging.
  3. Social Bookmarking Tools, somewhat dated but extensive article on social bookmarking software

See also this excellent set of top readings compiled by Liz Losh of UC Irvine.

II. Commenting

How to give feedback on blogs?

It’s challenging to give feedback on electronic documents or at least it has been before Diigo. As I’ve written previously, Diigo is social bookmarking and annotation software. With Diigo, the respondent can comment directly on the blog, mark those comments as private, and send them to the student, who in turn can see those comments and the lines to which they refer.

III. Online research tools

  1. Google Notebook, Docs, Scholar or like utilities from Zoho (such as Projects and Creator).
  2. Diigo,, citeulike, et al: Not just good for social bookmarking, also good for finding other like-minded researchers by using tag searches or Diigo’s new “interest neighbors.”
  3. Zotero: the little browser extension that can manage bibliographic information as well as (and, at times, better than) subscription services.
  4. Netvibes, students can set up a continuous feed of blogs, books, bookmarks, search results, et cetera. For more specifics see this post by William J. Turkel.

IV. More fun suggestions:

  1. Tag Crowd, have students use this web-ap to examine their papers and see what their most common words are. Helps with over use of words (with “common words” included) and to get a sense of keywords (with “common words” filtered out).
  2. Use for students to examine and disseminate their PowerPoint presentations
  3. Traffic Tracker’s: using Blogflux, eXTReMe tracking, or Technorati to keep track of the referrers to their blog to begin conversations with those who have noticed them.

For more tools and applications in the classroom, check out an excellent resource and inspiration to this post: Academic Hack, a blog of technological tools run by Dave Parry, Ph.D. candidate at University of Albany.

2 Responses to “Computers and Composition 2.0”

  1. 1 Used computers

    Children are into learning innovative ways and they sure do understandthem fastre than us.

  1. 1 Teaching Web 2.0 at WRT: Writer Response Theory

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