1984—that’s the year I learned what a computer was.
Bernhardt’s article, “The Shape of Text to Come” parallels Jeff Rice’s ideas in his book, The Rhetoric of Cool, so much so that I think he picks up where Bernhardt left off. What strikes me still is the initial advertising campaign for the first typewriters to hit the market. They were advertised as a tool to help bring forth literacy in children. Education and society were reluctant to believe in it.
“Such reading-to-do is more like making raids on print than having extended engagements with a writer’s ideas or arguments” (Bernhardt 153).
“Pedagogy in the Computer Network Classroom” by Janet Eldred talks about what Blackboard was like in the beginning as an electronic bulletin board—similar to that of Craig’s List. It’s interesting that the tips that Eldred suggests instructors to do, like a required number of posts with a specific word count and student facilitation of a discussion, is EXACTLY what we do today. It seems that the pedagogy hasn’t changed in the last 20 years. I think it’s time for a change. We have all ran into a brick wall at some time or another dealing with the Blackboard limitations. Need I say more?
Christine Haas’s article, “How the Writing Medium Shapes the Writing Process” could take a few typography tips from Bernhardt’s article when it comes to the crossover of writing to graphic designing. The look of it turned me off to the point where I didn’t even want to read it. Talk about the limitations of the printed word, lack of interactivity, etc. She discussed the results of a survey about how useful the computer is during the writing process and states that even though a piece may look polished and cleaned up, that doesn’t mean the content is there (9). No surprise there. The problems she points out in the studies she analyzes are ones that students still encounter today, like not being familiar with software which inhibits the writing process (17). Quite frankly, it’s no surprise to me that she found that writers do less planning when writing electronically (35). I think it’s just because of the visual effect of the words. If it looks good, it must read well.
I believe basic writers should be forced to do some form of pre-writing manually as well as electronically. As Rice illustrates so beautifully in his book, students make the connections to images at a higher than they may be able to do so in the written format. Basically, a picture is worth a thousand words. The electronic pre-writing could be something like an electronic collage with images and quotes to help inspire the writer.
McGee and Ericsson’s article on “The Politics of the Program: MS Word as the Invisible Grammarian” discusses we as writers and students already know. They predicted what has become an epidemic as worthy as the plague when it comes to basic writers. Spell-check is contagious. Once you get it, you never learn how to think for yourself again. Well, maybe not so drastically. I think Bartholomae’s technique to get Standard American English recognized by his students would work well to cure this problem. Make students read out loud! To each other. It would work if it was started early on in learning the writing process. Then, maybe students wouldn’t think that the only thing that separates their poorly written piece from Stephen King or some other notable writer is a good editor and spell-check.
There will be a computer in every classroom and an iPad in every hand. Just like Herbert Hoover promised in his 1928 presidential campaign, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” He claimed that everyone would be prosperous under a Hoover presidency, which obviously didn’t happen—thus “Hoovervilles” (shanty towns) and “Hoover blankets” (newspapers). That’s what Clinton proposed, at least the modern equivalent to it today. It hasn’t happened the way that anyone proposed in the 1990s, let alone today, as Cynthia Selfe’s article “Technology and Literacy: A Story About The Perils of Not Paying Attention” starts off with. She makes a lot of good points, but I feel like I’ve heard it all before. Don’t you?