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Discussion and Example of the Voiced Essay

This section further examines the affordances of audio and its dominant form in the composition classroom by focusing on excerpts from a student's 20-minute audio essay about standardized testing. The example is what I call the "voiced essay," which, though it may take advantage of the affordances of digital audio, nonetheless retains the shape and form of the essay tradition dating back to Montaigne: solitary authors sharing their thoughts, occasionally punctuated by outside sources that often serve to extend the original thoughts and/or engage the reader. The author is the driving force, and the outside sources are meant to be completely under control; the author's voice, although not necessarily authoritarian in tone, must be the dominant thread that holds all together. Just as a traditional research paper would raise eyebrows if it consisted of only the introduction and conclusion composed in the author's voice while the remaining nine pages were blockquotes, the voiced essay often replicates the traditional author-dominant essay form. I am not arguing that such voiced essays are detrimental in and of themselves—because they can indeed be powerful drivers of digital literacy and composition skills—but I do argue that given the limitless creative possibilities that audio composing technologies provide, there are a multiplicity of ways to have students harness the affordances of audio and develop their digital composing capabilities in the process. In short, given the constant emergence of different types and forms of digital texts, instructors should be more open to pushing the boundaries of the voiced essay and pursuing new forms.

Audio 2: Assignment Context and Affordances

Audio 3: Student Excerpt: "Standardized Testing" Introduction

Audio 4: Discussion of "Standardized Testing" Introduction

Audio 5: Student Excerpt: "Standardized Testing" Sample Question

Audio 6: Discussion of "Standardized Testing" Sample Question

Audio 7: Student Excerpt: "Standardized Testing" Classroom Example

Audio 8: Discussion of "Standardized Testing" Classroom Example