Geolocating Compositional Strategies at the Virtual University » Abstract


As composition instructors learn to include new information technologies in their coursework, they also expand the writing classroom beyond its traditional borders. Many teachers take this as an opportunity to articulate their pedagogies with the non-academic dialects and forms that students navigate as a part of their everyday lives. These strategies bypass functionalist approaches to academic form by allowing students to experiment with the wide range of compositional options that they already have at their disposal. But as the writing classroom becomes increasingly mobile, it is in danger of neglecting the impact that context and location have on student writing.

Against the notion that the sphere of academia is inherently opposed to students’ lived spaces, we believe that geoblogging is a way of re-positioning the academy as one site within and amongst many other sites, never discrete and always in revision. Indeed, a pedagogy centered on the “virtual university” can be used to disrupt the very terms that create distance between the official and the everyday. In this argument, we show how geoblogging can be used to construct complex, process-based writing situations. Far from simply replicating academic conventions, geolocational approaches contextualize acts of analysis and composition by mapping them as practices onto a larger socio-cultural landscape. On this virtual surface, students learn to locate the forms and functions of academic writing within the actual spaces that they live in.

Throughout this webtext, we refer to the “Virtual University Geoblogging Project,” which we officially began in February 2007 and later presented at the Computers and Writing 2007 Conference on “Virtual Urbanism” at Wayne State University on Saturday, May 19th, 2007. The Geoblogging Project is a way of thinking through geoblogging in the composition classroom, its pros and cons, and its intersections with rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy. One part of the project is a collective map of “captures” (e.g., video, photographs, and audio) that we have embedded below and throughout this webtext.

The map is interactive. The captures are marked with map pins. To zoom, you can scroll with your mouse, or use the plus and minus signs in the upper left. To move around, you can click and drag or use the arrows, also in the upper left. Additionally, the map has a sidebar, which can be seen by clicking the arrow in the middle, on the right. The sidebar gives details for each capture and allows you to navigate through the map capture by capture. Finally, you can change your view of the map by selecting “map” (traditional), “satellite” (default), or “hybrid” (which is a satellite view with street names and the like).

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