Web Writing as a Globalized Tool of Expression

Digital writing is focused on, if not limited to social media for most students, especially those in high school and early years of college. As Jen Rajchel, author of “Consider the Audience” on Web Wrting: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching & learning suggests, by the time of their freshman year in college, most students are immersed in networked media, forming a connection with friends and family through shared experiences on the internet. These experiences could include pictures, videos, favorite music and more. A change in context of the use of social media, specifically a shift from being focused on high-school students to being focused on college students, and possibly professors provides new ways of using the same media in a different way.

 

For personal, academic and professional reasons, the question of whom to be connected with and whom not to be connected with can be a critical question. Social media is an easily accessible way of reaching out to audiences on the internet through the availability of greater circulation. Rajchel compares web writing to thinking in public. This connotation has both advantages and risks. Web writing provides new writers with the chance to expose their work through a greater audience. This however, also leads to greater chances of being slaughtered by critics in case of mistakes. “Among the most important contours of web writing is the ability to negotiate publicness.” (Rajchel) As a result, the publicity that you get through the internet could be your greatest friend or foe depending on how you make use of it.

 

“When students publish online, they assume the responsibilities of authorship. The consideration of such implications for visibility is crucial for students, especially those who might not have picked a career path.” And so, the impact that your online work can have on your career, really depends on which direction you want to take your own career. Therefore there could be a greater degree of freedom on what you write about for some than for others. “Too often the digital fluencies of incoming students are confused with mastery of platforms and skills. Sophistication with media platforms should not be defined only by the ability to successfully complete a task on an interface” (Rajchel). The ways of manipulating a media platform usually goes much deeper than what most people think such platforms are capable of. Open-source platforms can therefore play a very significant part in the presentation of one’s blog.

Digital writing is, as mentioned earlier, widely used in pursuit of finding larger audiences. Many students who are web writers want their work to circulate beyond the classroom. Rajchel lists the ability to synthesize informaiton, read quickly and deeply, and enaging in discussions with candor and humility, as important aspects of liberal arts education that we learn from reading across disciplines, developing expertise, and delving in to discussions in school environment. These same qualities can be instrumental at improving a writer’s eloquence.

 

Another factor that has major implications on web writing is the issue of glottalization, not just as a result of the boundless nature of the internet, but also, especially in the United States, because of the cultural melting point that it has turned into. As a result, cross-cultural perspectives from a writer’s point of view can greatly attract approval from a wider, global audience. In the chapter “Web Writing as Intercultural Dialogue” in Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning, author Holly Oberle mentinos that “according to the Institute for International Education, the 2011-2012 academic year was witness to the largest enrollment of international students in the United States, with nearly 75,000 students from primarily China, India, Saudi Arabia, and South Kore.” Although this too could have a reactionary effect towards “intensifying stereotypes and stifling intercultural dialogue”, Oberle suggests that globalization of education might facilitate cultural exposure and understanding.

 

The turn towards web writing as one of the many teaching tools in a 21st century classroom is an exciting development if appraoached cautiously, and with vigil for opportunity, especially as it relates to cultivating more cohesion among diverse students.” Web writing can function as an influential intercutural dialogue platform as it changes the typical ‘one-person audience’ scenario into an interactive platform where multiple audiences can offer feedback and enhance the writing experience, adding perspective on the same topic from different cultural backgrounds. “ Writing on the web exposes students to a wider audience, and forces them to consider a pseudo-global audience and thus how they may be interpreted, as well as their own political and social biases” (Oberle). Another important part of successfully implementing web writing is to actively converse with the readers and reply to their feedbacks and comments. “What is extremely important to the success of web writing as intercultural dialogue is the active and consistent participation of the instructor.

 

In her article Blogging in the Language Classroom: It Doesn’t “Simply Happen”, Carla arena Refers to blogging as affective tool for conversations, to improve thinking skills, and a way to gathering an authentic audience. As Arena points out, blogging doesn’t “just happen”. It is a great way to ignite conversations on topics of all sorts, and as the conversation starts taking a particular direction based on the voices of the writer as well as that of the audience, it demands and excercises certain thinking patterns. A given topic is bound to attract certain audience groups and not so much other groups. This means that the writer starts gathering an audience with a similar voice or outlook. Arena puts an emphasis on tagging on the success of blogs.

 

Tags simply help readers to recognize the content of an article without actually having to go through it. “Tagging can take a community of bloggers to establishing dialogs on any topic that interests the group and keep them archives in one single online space with the advantage of its being dynamic. Often when you tag, you can get an unexpected feedback and start a new node in the communication network you are building up with others who share common interests” (Arena). Tagging can also provide a network of writers to maintain connection within each other’s blogs and convert audiences, and can therefore be a tool to attract new audiences.

Most academic writing done for school courses tend to be rigid in the sense that they demand a writer’s perspective  (i.e if it is not completely a research paper) on a narrow set of topics, which although does exercise the writer’s skills on focalizing on a theme, can also bog down their creative aspect. Academic papers, more than often, suppress a student’s creative side as the demand is mostly put on specific facts and details, and on a particular style of writing. Although this is helpful in gathering information, it lacks emphasis on insightful knowledge, and limits a student’s ability to explore a subject. Of course, this may not be possible in case of subjects like mathematics and physics, but some room for exploration would definitely lead to students to further understand certain topics through different perspectives. Having said that, it is important for writers on the web to study and understand certain of their own writing and that of their audiences, especially when the internet allows you to target certain groups more easily than traditional media. Digital writing classes can off this freedom to students who not only get to freely express the writers within themselves but also the advantage of sharing those ideas with readers and expanding on their work through the ideas of those readers.

 

The opportunity of reaching an unlimited audience allows the writer to expand on an idea through an almost infinite array of inputs. After all, ideas only expand when shared, and web writing is an excellent platform to do so. Writers have the freedom to completely chose what they want to express and then gather ideas from an audience on the same topic by creating engaging conversations and developing on the idea. Not only does this help further expand understanding on the writer’s part but also that of the audience. As Rajchel and Oberle both suggest, the opportunity for intercultural dialogue, and to choose one’s audience, both raise the potential to do so. Many classrooms which do allow students to explore topics and style of writing of their own choice are often not web based and therefore may limit the exploration of the style and theme. Others, do not even allow that freedom of choice on style and/or theme depending on the course and subject. This could inhibit students from realizing their potential as writers and also at finding their own niche as writers. Therefore, more classes that allow students to freely express their writing need to adopted in order to not only improve students abilities to better express themselves through writing, but also encourage a greater number of students to get involved in writing. As long as students have this freedom but are still guided by teachers at the fundamentals of writing, this would allow new writers to develop proper writing skills while developing their own niche as writers. Once students realize the potential of the vast array of writing, this would encourage students to write even outside classroom environments.

 

References
Arena, Carla. “Blogging in the Language Classroom: It Doesn’t “Simply Happen”. Web log. TESL-EJ. N.p., 2008. Web. 2 Oct. 2013
<http://tesl-ej.org/ej44/a3.html>

Rajchel, Jen. “Consider the Audience” Web log. Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning. N.p., N.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2013
<http://webwriting.trincoll.edu/engagement/rajchel-2013/>

Oberle, Holly. “Web Writing as Intercultural Dialogue.” Web log. Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning. N.p., N.d. Web 2 Oct. 2013
<http://webwriting.trincoll.edu/crossing-boundaries/oberle-2013/>

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