Our Spring 2009 issue of Computers and Composition Online is a wonderful array of webtexts that foreground everything from Wikipedia to online learning, from high end tools such as Flash to the basics of blogging, all with the goal, as contributor Claire Lutkewitte contends, of reconsidering “what a composition is, how it is created, for what purposes, and for what audiences.”
Theory into Practice begins with Anthony Ellerston’s “New Media Rhetorics in the Attention Economy.” Ellerston relies on student work in a rich blend of theory and practice to articulate the need for a stronger functional literacy foundation that enables students to be more successful new media composers both inside and outside the classroom. As Ellerston implies, such a foundation is an essential basis for the critical, rhetorical elements of new media literacy, with critical literacy being a vital component of Carra Hood’s call in “Editing Out Obscenity: Wikipedia and Writing Pedagogy” for writing specialists to rethink the position that wikipedia is an inappropriate citation practice in student work. Indeed, Hood concludes that using students can experience wikipedia “as collaborating writers, rather than solely as readers looking for answers to questions or sources for a college paper.” Finally, Melanie Yergeau provides a compelling example of how multimodal literacies foster not merely rhetorical arguments but also personal identity. In “aut(hored)ism,” Yergeau combines new media theory and disability studies to challenge writing teachers to consider the extent to which they attempt to regulate student texts into a standard of normalcy that limit students as writers and citizens, using her own narrative as a student and teacher with Asperger’s Syndrome.
While equally diverse in context, our Virtual Classroom section consistently emphasizes multiple forms of democratic education. In “Composing Controversy: Moving from Debate to Dialogue with a Justice Talking Radio Broadcast,” Jacqueline Cason highlights a collaborative project in she and two other colleagues at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, created multi-perspective research assignments based on the format of National Public Radio’s Justice Talking radio broadcast. Cason relies heavily on audio technology and provides recommendations for implementing this tool in ways that help rather than hinder students from being successful. Through her study of two writing classrooms, Letizia Guglielmo illustrates the potential impact of a feminist course design on the development of community, students’ impressions of their place within the community, the decentering of the virtual learning space in “Feminist Online Writing Courses: Civic Rhetoric, Community Action, and Student Success.” Emphasis on community is also a common thread in our third virtual classroom feature, "Web 2.0 in First Year Writing," in which Claire Lutkewitte foregrounds the potential of Web 2.0 to foster collaboration and multiplicity, concluding that such “technologies have redefined what it means to write together and to create new knowledge together.”
Meanwhile, Professional Development highlights the talents of our very own graduate students at Bowling Green State University. First, Toby Coley and Joe Erickson warrant joint kudos for “New Media and Multimodality in Composition Studies: An Interview with Chris Anson.” We are honored to have Professor Anson’s voice as part of this issue, and we know his views of the impact of new media on assessment as well as his advice for faculty new to teaching with technology will resonate with our readers. Complementing this wonderful feature is “A Web We Can Weave: Considering Open Source Technologies in Our Classrooms,” a collaborative effort by Joe Erickson, Toby Coley, Eden Leone, Jeremy Schnieder, Ruijie Zhao, and Kris Blair. Based on a roundtable presentation at Computers and Writing 2008, this webtext overviews a range of Web 2.0 possibilities for both novice and experienced users, including familiar tools such as Facebook and Google Groups but also newer ones that include the audio application YackPack.
Finally, our three Reviews highlight three different genres, all with the potential for multimodal literacy development. Brittany Cottrill reviews Lorraine Stefani, et al.’s The Educational Potential of E-Portfolios: Supporting Personal Development and Reflective Learning, Jennifer Kavetsky reviews H. Corneliusun and J. Walker Rettberg’s Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader, and Hsiaoping Wu reviews Diane Penrod’s Using Blogs to Enhance Literacy: The Next Powerful Step in 21st-Century Learning. As always, I am indebted to our very talented graduate student staff at C&C Online, especially Design Editor Joe Erickson, who has also taken on duties as editor of our newly redesigned blog, CandCBlog, where we encourage you to dialogue about these diverse webtexts.