Predicting the future of digital rhetorics in the classroom

I found the article “Computers and Composition 20/20:…” by Janice Walker, et al to be interesting in ways that didn’t actually change my way of thinking that much. The article compiles predictions by a number of scholars, but I was most interested in those who were talking about the pedagogy of composition and computers. Douglas Eyman talks about how quickly literacy practices are changing and with that, our pedagogy has to change as well. But more importantly, I think, he discusses how “the answers may change,” but our pedagogy has to remain fixed on the important questions of composition and rhetorical theory in terms of using these new technologies (328). This seems very true to me. There will always be newer, faster ways to compose, but if we remain rooted in rhetorical theory we will be well placed to address new modes of composing.

I also found it interesting that the questions posed by Hawisher and Selfe in 1991 are still questions we ask today and will likely be questions we ask 20 years from now. They worried back in the 90s that we would be concerned with providing “equitable access to technology for all students,” preventing the “use of computers as … ineffective teacher substitutes,” and preparing competent teachers to provide computer instruction (328). Just because the technology continues to change doesn’t mean that these core issues will. I think our students will have more access to technology in the classroom, but it will continue to be dated for the most part, and there will still be issues with wealthy districts having better access compared to lower socio-economic districts. Similarly, as the use of technology increases in the classroom, there will continue to be struggles over the role of teachers in terms of how prepared they are to use the technology and whether or not the technology can replace the teacher in certain roles. We see this issue now with computerized grading.

I really like Fred Kemp’s ideas on research and what that means to the future of the composition class. As a teacher of FYW, I love the access students have to more and more information. I think it’s true that they are writing better informed, more timely research papers than was possible even ten years ago. But as Kemp mentions, our job as instructors is to teach them to differentiate between good sources and weak ones. No longer are the sources vetted for the students as in research journals. Access to the Web means access to varying qualities of information, so it becomes more important than ever that we help students navigate this information.


1 thought on “Predicting the future of digital rhetorics in the classroom

  1. While I agree with you that technology will continue to evolve, your comment about wealthy schools having more access made me think. My kids attend a school that isn’t necessarily considered wealthy, but one thing I’ve noticed is that the corners aren’t usually cut in the technology department. I wonder if some lower socio-economic schools try to make up for what they know they lack in regards to technology.


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