Composing Online: Integrating Blogging into a Contemplative Classroom

Composing Online: Integrating Blogging into a Contemplative Classroom

Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4341-3.ch005
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This chapter invites writing instructors to consider integrating blogging practices as a writing exercise that both supports the 21st Century Google-aged learner and the contemplative writing classroom. The author suggests that blogging mirrors traditional personal voice writing and, if supported by a mindful practice such as freewriting, can assist students in bringing all of their faculties into the classroom, thus providing a more holistic and meaningful learning experience.
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Five years ago, I did not know anything about blogging, nor did I belong to any online social network. So when I was required to use WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook while in my doctoral program, I felt like a fish out of water. I did not own a laptop or smartphone, and I did not feel I was as technologically adept as my white peers. As the only African American in my program, I felt much like the African American students that Samantha Blackmon (2007) acknowledges do not have equal material and intellectual access to computers in comparison to their more affluent white counterparts. Needless to say, I kind of hated the Rhetoric and Technology course I was required to take, and my dis-ease exhibited itself in the shoddy work I produced. I did not want to engage in Twitter discussions, create a classroom community through Facebook, or blog my responses to classroom readings. I wanted pen and paper. And I wanted to be in an embodied classroom, where, according to Janet Emig (2001), “learning takes place within authentic communities of inquiry with physical others” (p. 273).

I eventually got over my disdain for composing with technologies, perhaps simply because I could not get around it. When I began teaching Professional Writing, the textbook I adopted heavily supported online communities for professional networking, Websites for professional portfolios, and wikis for collaborative work. I could not ignore the responsibility I had as a classroom composition teacher to meet my Google Generation students where they were and to equip them with the necessary tools to be meaningful contributors to their technologically empowered communities. I needed to get with the program—literally—and effectively integrate technologies into my writing curriculum so that I could help writing students make meaning of themselves and others with the communication technologies with which they were familiar. And of course, as any good teacher does, I had to first familiarize myself with these technologies, particularly with blogging.

I have been using WordPress in my writing classrooms for four years now, and my appreciation of it increases with each new group of students. This essay explores my most recent endeavor with integrating WordPress into a contemplative reading and writing space I created for Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Improving Writing students.

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