Writing is a social act. Once a writer sets their thoughts to any medium, whether paper, blog, status update, there is the potential for audience interaction. Andrea Lunsford has found that this potential for audience, or even the knowledge of a predetermined audience, helps students engage more with their writing. She has also found that, contrary to what many English instructors fear, text speak (at least at Stanford) does not make its way into students’ academic writing — this indicates that students today are far more aware of audience than students of previous generations. Much of our lives are now taking place in writing.
The role of the academic institution is changing in that instructors now have to rush to catch up to the students that they are teaching. The way that an 18 year old in 2010 views content, form and audience is vastly different from how an 18 year old just ten years earlier might have. For some the new web and technologies are exciting, for others they are terrifying. Both the CCCC Position Statement and the Chickering/Eherman article emphasize the need for regular student/faculty interaction. The C/E article says, “Communication technologies that increase access to faculty members, help them share useful resources, and provide for joint problem solving and shared learning can usefully augment face-to-face contact in and outside of class meetings.” Lots of student/faculty interaction (whether during class time, office hours, or via e-mail) can only help instructors and students learn from each other as they work toward the same goals of helping the student become a better writer.
Even in my attempt to craft this blog entry I find that the technology is getting in the way of expressing my thoughts and ideas in writing. I spent so much time setting up my account, learning how to navigate this site, and trying to wrap my head around “where I was” in cyberspace, that it paralyzed my writing. So, while all of the exciting possibilities of new technologies are there, it will take a lot of time for all of us to get on the same “page”.