Blog Post

a beginning & the writing technology wiki


As a new HASTAC Scholar, I figure I give a brief introduction about myself, my research, my teaching, and my plans for my weekly blog posts.

First, I'm a PhD Candidate in the Composition & Rhetoric Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where last year I served as the Coordinator for our online writing center. To be brief, my research focuses on the effects of digital technology on the self-sponsored collaborative writing occurring within the fan community of writers on If you are interested in more, feel free to read my dissertation abstract at

My interest in technologies of collaboration dovetails my research. For example, since many of us are just in the first few weeks of our teaching this semester, I thought it might be productive profile one of my (hopefully) ongoing projects: the Writing Technology Wiki. It would be wonderful to have other writing instructors and their students contribute to the wiki and help the project continue to grow!

The project began last fall in one of our intermediate composition courses, taught by Scot Barnett, and was supported by a DoIT Engage Technology-Enhanced Group Work grant.  Basically, as you can tell from the name, it's a wiki about digital writing technologies. More specifically, students in the course chose a technology for a new media project and then did research on the tool, writing encyclopedic articles about them. These were solo-authored articles, but then students came together to collaboratively write category articles (e.g., word processors) under which their solo-authored article fell. This gave students a way to reflect on both forms of authorship as they related to using a wiki. In addition, one requirement for each article was that they discuss the technologys strengths and weaknesses in writing intensive courses. The goal in this was for the students to begin to redefine and enrich what they considered writing in addition to the course opening up the options of semiotic resources available to students.

The project also gave students a chance to develop a critical understanding of knowledge production on Wikipedia. In the past few years, only a handful of students in my courses could explain how Wikipedia articles get writtenmuch less explain how policies and guidelines get set or how disputes are settled. It's the kind of experience where students learn about why Wikipedia is an amazing project but also why they might not want to use Wikipedia in their school writing . . . beyond the fact that their teachers told them not to!

Again, I invite anyone interested in contributing to contact me.  Also, I couldn't have executed this project without the help of two colleagues, Scot Barnett and Annette Vee, and our educational technology consultant, Timmo Dugdale.

I'll end this first post with a few of my ideas for the coming weeks. In part, Scholars are charged with writing about technology-related stories on our campuses. So I plan to start with my own department (not known for anything related to technology!) because we have, surprisingly, several people working on digital (humanities) writing research (all of it occurring outside the classroom). Our university also has a Science and Technology Program, which hosts many events.  And the Games, Learning, and Society (GLS) group (leaders in games and learning research), based in our Department of Curriculum and Instruction, hosts the annual GLS conference. I'll also be covering a couple of rhetoric and composition's professional gatherings in the spring: the 2010 CCCC convention and 2010 Computers & Writing conference.

I'm sure there'll be much more.

And I'm very excited to be a HASTAC scholar and have this opprtunity to share with and learn from everyone here!



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