The Classroom as a Research Study: Digital Composition

It’s been about two years in the planning, but this month, two professors (and associates through the Western Massachusetts Writing Project) will be launching a research study in my classroom around the ways in which my students use technology and digital media in school and out of school. The study is entitled “In the Midst of Change: Young People Composing in a Digital World.”

The two visiting professors — Anne Herrington and Donna LeCourt — intend to observe the work that we do around composing with digital tools (in conjunction with a new unit I am doing around digital citizenship and the use of Glogster), and then they will be interviewing a few students about the compositional choices they make when they create something with technology. I admire both Anne and Donna for their work around composition and rhetoric. Anne and I were co-editors (along with Charlie Moran) of the book collection, Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change and Assessment in the 21st Century.

One focus of the conversations that we have had in the last year or so is what my students do with technology and composition outside of school. We are curious to know and document the kinds of writing with technology that goes on outside of the school walls. Anne, Donna and I (and another professor who is no longer part of the initiative) have long talked about ways to document the choices that young people make around composing with these new tools, and what influence the world outside of school has on the writing in school, and vice versa.

So, I am excited to see the project almost underway. I am also a little nervous. It’s strange to have visitors looking in at what is going on, although that nervousness is countered by the fact that I know the researchers quite well. Still ….

Peace (in the study),


One Comment
  1. It sounds like a lot of fun to have someone there to talk with as well in spite of being a little nervous. So often teachers are so isolated. I’m looking forward to what you find.

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