Writing Digitally is Not New

The CCCC’s goes to great length to establish an “official” position on teaching writing from within a digital environment (See http://www.ncte.org/cccc/resources/positions/digitalenvironments). The paper, like most position papers, is about recognizing a shift in the paradigm and establishing a set of guidelines, or a “position” for professionals in the field to use or amend as necessary for their given academic environment.  But what’s really curious about the “position paper” is that what is really addressed, is not so much the actual digital environment but the assumptions about teaching in the digital environment.

I would argue that these assumptions are no different for a traditional classroom where writing is being taught.

That “the focus of writing is expanding” goes without saying. What is it that the CCCC’s is trying to tell us that we don’t already know? Clive Thompson writes in Wired (http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-09/st_thompson)  that students are writing more now than ever and while they may not know, definitively, the definition of Kairos, they seem to know it intrinsically. In other words they understand the rhetorical value of their text(s), even if it is as mundane a task as persuading their peers to see one movie over another.

So what is so new about composing digitally that the Great and Wonderful CCCC’s saw fit to establish their position, officially, with regards to teaching writing in the digital environment? In a word: Ownership.

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2 comments on “Writing Digitally is Not New

  1. Ha! What a great point. As soon as I read the word “official” in quotation marks, I was struck with the irony. Part of the fun of the digital era, which the youtube video celebrates, is the flexibility and malleability. By constructing and posting an OFFICIAL post, which I imagine requires committee approval and debate to change, they continue to adhere to the permanence of print media, rather than engaging in the temporality of the digital world. BREAK OUT OF YOUR CHAINS, CCCC! (a little over the top, but true nonetheless)

  2. Interesting point, though it’s worth noting that CCCCs statements are situated within multiple nests of contexts, institutional and otherwise. Part of what they want to do is recap Chickering and Ehrmann, which may or may not be necessary. But the committee that wrote that statement was probably also thinking about what kind of “work” the document might do on individual campuses, or in NCTE’s political lobbying efforts.

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