Online writing is the new normal for students who are often blogging, commenting, and tweeting outside of class. But how does writing really work in the lives of students?
That was the question the Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Research Center at Michigan State University sought to answer in a new study, Revisualizing Composition: Mapping the Writing Lives of First-Year College Students.
Working from the assumption that students lead complex writing lives, this study is interested in a broad range of writing practices and values both for the classroom and beyond it, as well as the technologies, collaborators, spaces, and audiences they draw upon in writing.
The study asked students in first-year writing classes from seven institutions to identify the types of writing they do, with “writing” encompassing everything from writing academic papers to sending text messages.
I know what you’re thinking…texting is writing?
Yes, texting is writing, along with making lists and taking lecture notes. That’s not all—texting is the type of writing that students report doing and valuing the most, making cell phones the top writing platform.
Other key findings:
- Students write for personal fulfillment nearly as often as for school assignments.
- Students prefer to write alone instead of collaboratively.
- Blogs, Twitter, and Wikis are not used by many of the students surveyed, but those who use these technologies do so frequently.
You can read more about the study’s initial findings and the researchers behind it on the WIDE site or download the complete white paper here (PDF).
UPDATE: Check out WILX Radio’s interview with Jeff Grabill, co-director of the WIDE Center, about the Revisualizing Composition study.
The Archive 2.0 project has completed its start-up phase and published a white paper entitled “Archive 2.0: Imagining The Michigan State University Israelite Samaritan Scroll Collection as the Foundation for a Thriving Social Network”. The project involves digitally preserving three Israelite Samaritan Pentateuchs and is being done by the Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) research center at Michigan State University (MSU).
Lead author Jim Ridolfo, graduate of MSU’s Rhetoric & Writing program and Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati, and WIDE co-director Bill Hart-Davidson were recently interviewed about the project for The Chronicle of Higher Education. They talked about the extensive field work conducted, cultural considerations in digitizing the collection, and what can be gained from a digital archive. Hart-Davidson explains:
[...] When an archive becomes a digital resource, it not only means that users can access it from all over the world. It also means that an archive transforms to become a place where interaction among stakeholder groups can take place. In many respects, this is quite different from a traditional archive, which is often characterized by tight control over the ways users can interact with artifacts and, perhaps less deliberately, with one another. Hushed conversations and gloved hands are no longer required in digital spaces.
It’s great to see this project gaining recognition. I highly recommend reading through the white paper to get a sense of the history and culture involved as the authors transform archival practices.
The Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) research center at Michigan State University has recently begun its Archive 2.0 project, which involves digitally preserving three Israelite Samaritan Pentateuchs. These scriptures are the first five books of the Old Testament and were written more than 500 years ago. Archive 2.0 will help preserve the texts and increase accessibility.
“Our project aims to provide an online space where two distinct groups of stakeholders in the Samaritan collection – biblical scholars and members of the Samaritan community – can both access and make use of these texts,” said William Hart-Davidson, co-director of the WIDE research center. “A digital archive has the potential to simultaneously preserve artifacts for posterity while broadening access.”
“Beyond access, the system also makes use of the latest in social networking technology,” said WIDE research assistant Jim Ridolfo, who conceived the project. “It will allow users to collaborate with one another on translation or vowelization projects, history or study of the Samaritan language.” (source: MSU News)
Hart-Davidson, Ridolfo, and WIDE interaction designer Mike McLeod are leading this project, and they will travel to Israel this spring to present the prototype design.
This project sounds like a great opportunity to show how digital archiving and social networking technology can increase collaborative efforts. It’s fantastic to see this innovative project being done by the talented people at the WIDE center.
To learn more about this project, please visit the WIDE website.