Re: snapshots

janet heilke (hceng028@DEWEY.CSUN.EDU)
Sun, 7 Jan 1996 14:56:53 -0800

> But I've been intrigued by one possibility: the resurgence in
> epistolary culture that Email seems to be bringing about.

Yes, Michael. I had the good fortune last summer to teach "computer
skills" to our summer bridge students. These "skills" included word
processing, email, and internet. By far, the greatest interest was in
email. The students took off with that. In fact, to even say that they
were most intensely involved with email is a gross understatement. At
first they treated their posts much as notes passed in class...even their
posts to me. By the end of a few weeks though, and certainly into the fall
semester, they had gained a certain rhetorical expertise that one couldn't
have flogged into them under other conditions. By the fall semester,
I watched as they adjusted their voices to different, even a
recognition of different audiences is a BIG plus in my pedagogical book.

They had become the "experts," and I kept running into them over and over
in the open labs as they were helping other students out with various
computer applications, not just email, which speaks to the 'carry over' of
their success into other computer applications. They could learn more on
an "as needed basis" (echoes of Fred here?). In addition, they came to me
with inquiries about getting their own computers. Keep in mind that many of
these students are considered "at risk" in that they come from the barrios
and ghettos of LA...and they were thinking of internet accounts instead of

A new world seemingly opened up for them. Of course, some forged ahead of
others...but over 200 hundred students were able to function comfortably
with computers after a few short weeks. They met in the labs, they emailed
each other and me...they are now the unofficial helpers in the labs. I
know I am rambling here, but I think of the kids passing notes in Jr.
High...they are usually the kids who *DO* become more literate, aren't
they? Or am I nuts here? Think of the power of note passing. Think of the
potential of harnessing that power. As kids write to whom they
want...about *what* they want, they acquire skills...and in acquiring
those skills, they become more confident. Oh, I better hush now. But you
catch my drift.

Oh and I must also say that there is something quite exiting about seeing
spontaneous posts to *lit on the MOOlists where students say some
fascinating things about the literature they are reading both inside and
outside their classes. I invite everyone interested to take a look
sometime to see what the students are saying when "we" aren't around. I
think you may be pleasantly surprised.

Nuff said for now.

Janet Cross
mumbling that she is trying not to gush too much