Networked-Computer Technology and Classroom Changes
For example, where in the past our interactions via networked computers have been limited mostly to electronic text, the future will promote the sharing of voice, graphics, and full-motion video, as well as text---Rheingold's "cybernetic architectures." This more full-bodied electronic dialogue can occur at any time, between multiple readers/writers, and from distant locations.

Let's briefly imagine a writing course where students use networked computers as the basis of their interaction with texts, both those being read and those being written, and with each other. Much of this may be obvious but it never hurts to reestablish connections to our theoretical underpinnings.

Basically, with the networked-computer classroom, class meetings, and consequently, learning contexts, are no longer defined by specific rooms and times. Class is always in session, and students and teachers can talk with each other when they want to, several times a day, at any time of the day.

Everyone's contributions to the networked-computer classroom are preserved for review and response. Responses to assigned readings are "posted" for everyone in the class to read, much like posting a notice on a bulletin board. Students and teachers access, read, and respond to each other's posted responses to the assigned readings. These responses become a "dialogue" between students and teachers, between students and students. As students and teachers explore the course topics, they learn how to critically address the issues raised. By responding to the writing of others, and integrating responses to their own writing, students learn about the importance of clear, concise, and cogent writing.

When writing, students can draw on a wide range of databases, indices, and other collections of information. Hypertextual links can be established between their writings and these source materials. This facilitates not only a way to cite and support ideas but the reuse of classification systems by different people at different times to satisfy different needs, which, according to George Landow, will facilitate the writer/reader's involvement in a non-linear, non-hierarchial dialogue with multiple texts.

Similarly, MOO (Multiuser-domains Object Oriented)-based synchronous group discussions (which have the distinct feel of oral communication as well as the advantage of accommodating multiple voices and perspectives simultaneously) can easily be included, in whole or part, in the students' writings.

The result will be a multimedia, hypertextual document that can be shared among class members as a dialogic web where each can respond to the writings of others from their own perspectives, from their own societal and cultural contexts. This ongoing dialogue can generate further responses and the discussion will grow and evolve as suggested by Brautigan's notion of "mutually programming harmony."

Based on these criteria, here is a representative student project from one of my classes where I tried to promote cybernetic ecology. The course, offered at both the graduate and undergraduate level, was entitled "Computers and Composition." Szeying Tan and Christina LeMaire created an online project , well, here, let them tell you about their project themselves . . .
"Our project, The Q Zone, is a literary work of sorts that mimics a virtual environment/zone/world. It prompts the reader to explore cyberspace and its many facets. The Q Zone, in many ways, is a massive hypertextual book with surprising tangents that removes the static reader and places him or her in different interactive environments. Enter The Q Zone."

Note: This link leads out of this webtext. The current URL for this link is