My "something online" for #wideemu cc @nkelber

The illustrious organizers of WIDE-EMU stressed multiple times that Phase 2 submissions be before rather than on October 1, 2011, so I apologize for already being behind. In some of the proposals submitted so far, I noticed remixing, rephrasing, and revising of the initial guiding question, "What evidence do we have that teaching writing--especially in digital environments--works?" I'd like to do the same, somewhat piggybacking on/off Nate Kelber's question about the effectiveness of learning management systems. That is, what evidence do we have that teaching writing in a more open digital environment works? We have our ethical, moral, pedagogical, and technological positions about/against Blackboard and/or learning management systems in general, but which comes first: the digital environment or writing that works? And while it may be healthy and/or helpful to rage against Blackboard (I sure have), I want to engage others in a discussion that rises above vocalizing the wealth of problems we might have with even the very idea of an LMS.

"Books were good at developing a contemplative mind. Screens encourage more utilitarian thinking." #wymhm

A new idea or unfamiliar fact will provoke a reflex to do something: to research the term, to query your screen “friends” for their opinions, to find alternative views, to create a bookmark, to interact with or tweet the thing rather than simply contemplate it. Book reading strengthened our analytical skills, encouraging us to pursue an observation all the way down to the footnote. Screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating this idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day. The screen rewards, and nurtures, thinking in real time. We review a movie while we watch it, we come up with an obscure fact in the middle of an argument, we read the owner’s manual of a gadget we spy in a store before we purchase it rather than after we get home and discover that it can’t do what we need it to do.