Macaulay Honors College Essay 2014

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Full Text (note slide advance prompts are included): When this call for papers came out, it was if I created it to match my dissertation project, since the research track – “Data-driven Evaluation of e Portfolios in an Age of Increased Accountability” – expresses my topic exactly.

This study is an attempt to investigate the assertions made about the integration of digital writing in higher education through a combination of qualitative and quantitative research.

By applying digital humanities methods and composition theory to almost a decade of student writing produced in an online, open eportfolio system, I will look for evidence of the “value added” through the adoption of a well-supported, cross-curricular implementation of eportfolio technology.

SLIDE For example, Karl Stolley has his students compose entirely in code, setting up their own servers and designing their own sites from the metaphorical ground up.

As Stolley argued in his keynote address at the 2013 Computers & Writing conference: Given the opportunity for extended encounters with difficulty (rather than the software tools that route around it), digital writers can become specific intellectuals: people whose deep technological expertise rivals that of their command of rhetoric–who are therefore able to learn, teach, and build things that scare the living crap out of others.With lower barriers to entry, and the familiarity of the basic composing functions, users comfortable with desktop publishing can transition to the online space with minimal instruction.In Word Press, the capabilities of the platform that extend beyond composing deal mostly with the design of the front-end: the choice of theme, the information architecture of the site, and the ability to draw in outside information to be displayed in the widget areas of the site.From blog posts, to scholarly journals, and of course the rising interest of popular media outlets, everyone seems to have an opinion of the integration of blogging technology in higher education.Even a cursory Google search produces a host of constituent assertions that support the use of online writing platforms, such as eportfolios, in college-level courses.As of the end of 2013, an estimated 20% of the Internet was built on Word Press, so working on this platform in an educational setting provides students with the opportunity to develop real-world skills.From a usability standpoint, WYSIWYG blogging platforms are a desirable content management system for use in higher education.The program is supported with Instructional Technology Fellows (such as myself) who run workshops, immersion events, and are available for consultation throughout their coursework.Therefore, although the test group is made up of a diverse sample of students, since they are provided with equal – and exemplary – resources in the pursuit of their studies, the Macaulay students represent a strong case study.Essentially these mediators are doing the work that makes online publishing different than composing on paper or in a word processor for the students.This is a missed opportunity currently being addressed by many innovative instructors in higher education.


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