icite iclaim

A "New Way to See" Students as Researchers and Writers:
A Review of i-cite and i-claim
James P. Purdy
  introduction | multimedia affordances | students as researchers | conclusion | references  


In 1981 Mike Rose raised concerns about the ability of print text to represent accurately complex composing processes, contending that the structure of a print book reinforces the idea that writing proceeds through orderly, linear steps (p. 63). Ultimately, he concludes that print cannot account for the "complex, dynamic, nonlinear process of composing" (p. 69) and that "writing is simply too complex and unwieldy a process to be taught from a textbook." As a result, he calls for the use of other media in offering writing instruction (p. 70; see also Rose, 1983). The personalization and interactivity that Rose (1981) advocates have yet to be achieved on a broad scale in instructional media used for composition courses. Two multimedia CD-ROMs from Bedford/St. Martin's, i-claim and i-cite, however, begin to answer the call for a new direction in composition instructional texts.

The i-cite CD by Doug Downs (2006) opens with the assertion that "i-cite presents a new way to see sources-because there are things you can't do in a book." i-claim by Patrick Clauss (2005) does the same for argument, substituting argument for sources in this opening claim. These CDs indeed offer possibilities not available in print books. They incorporate video files and audio clips; allow viewers to magnify images; and permit users to interact with, manipulate, and create multimodal texts. Yet the most striking-and valuable-way in which these CDs differ from other instructional texts used to teach argument and source use is not their use of multimedia; it is their construction of the researcher and research processes. These CDs emphasize that discussions of research and writing must include the non-print media that our students encounter and produce. They also emphasize that students' experiences with texts in non-academic contexts can serve as bridges to academic work and, therefore, our discussions of research and writing must value and ask students to build on, rather than leave behind, these experiences.

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