Reblogging as Writing: The Role of Tumblr in the Writing Classroom

Reblogging as Writing: The Role of Tumblr in the Writing Classroom

Meghan McGuire (University of Delaware, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0562-4.ch007
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This chapter explores how multimodal composition and social media conventions can support writing and introduce students to writing to multiple audiences. This chapter will outline an assignment from logistics of Tumblr as a space to help students establish regular writing practices in online spaces. Additionally, this chapter will illustrate some aspects of resistance that students may have with the assignment and provide strategies that respond to these resistances to make the assignment more effective.
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Students are writing more now than ever before. This is due to what Andrea Lundsford (2013) referred to in her study on the writing habits of Stanford University freshmen as “life writing”: text messages, tweets, status updates; most of their communication is facilitated by smart phones, tablets and social media applications. Yet, even with this increase in writing they do on their own time, when students enter the writing classroom, some students may still struggle with the composing process; sometimes the very act of writing seems daunting, and often they wonder how the writing we ask them to do will be applicable to them outside the classroom and in their future careers.

Writing teachers struggle as well to find ways to help students see that writing is not just a classroom activity, but will benefit them in their professional and civic communities for the rest of their lives. If writing teachers can find ways to capitalize on these “life writing” skills, there may be more opportunities to provide richer moments for context-specific writing, where scenarios replicate the kinds of writing students will encounter in professional capacities, at the same time giving them reasons to think more critically about who their audience is. While incorporating social media seems like a useful way to help students transition from life writing to academic writing to professional writing, the challenge for writing instructors is to find ways to use these applications in purposeful ways that complement the learning objectives of writing courses.

This chapter outlines a meaningful approach to incorporating social media into the writing classroom that gives students the opportunity to think about writing in larger situations than writing essays for their teachers. Using Tumblr in particular, students can explore the writing process in their future professions and develop regular writing habits by composing messages with text and images according to social media conventions.

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