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Reviewing CW2K: H6 rHeTML: Theorizing Online Structure and Design

  • "(Fe)tisch: the Table as a Subversive Element in HTML," Stephanie Tripp, University of North Florida
  • "An Eye-full of Strategy: Visual Structures in On-Screen Argumentation," Anne Wysocki, Michigan Technological University
  • "Documenting the Documentary: A Study of Design and Structure," Scott DeWitt, Ohio State University, Marion

Although not planned as such by the speakers, this panel offered one of the most cohesive and clearest presentations on the pedagogical possibilities of using the Web in writing classrooms. Stephanie Tripp's theoretical discussion set the stage for the panel in the sense that she examined how the use of "tables" in HTML functions less as a simple tool to organize information and more as a source of visual pleasure. And indeed, the next two presenters, Anne Wysocki and Scott DeWitt, followed up with specific examples from their teaching experiences about how the visual element of the computer/Web interface necessitates that we think more critically about the mingling of visual and textual rhetorics in the creation of Web-based student writing projects.

Wysocki's presentation consisted primarily of a discussion of Web texts her students composed during an Honors writing course, and she argued well that we should not overlook how students can use visual presentation (and visual rhetoric) to assist them in creating complex texts that "speak" on a variety of levels, even the argumentative. Audience members became interactive participants in the panel as Wysocki invited us to examine her students' work and discuss how visual and textual rhetorics link to make meaning in more suggestive ways than just with text alone.

DeWitt's talk compared a few courses he has taught in which his students' writing is tied to considerations of document design, such as in courses that have students compose Web documentaries. As DeWitt traced his thinking about the courses he has instructed, he described how it is possible to craft a pedagogy in which students do not just create documentaries that report information (Scardamalia and Bereiter's "knowledge telling") but in which they also engage in the production of knowledges through original research and the consideration of document design (Scardamalia and Bereiter's "knowledge transformation"). And, in this way, DeWitt brought us full circle to Tripp's opening remarks about the emerging "post-literate electronic culture," suggesting though that such culture need not be un-intelligent or lacking in productive social and political engagement.

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