Thursday, May 18, 2006

First-Year Composition: Lessons in PR

Part of “closing a semester” is the look back at the teaching I’ve done and time spent in considering how I might improve my work for the coming semester. I have some ideas that include incorporating Wiki-writing in a collaborative note-taking enterprise, a shift in projects to include a broader look at cultural influences and how they are composed, and a reflective writing that begins with a “digital fast” – six hours without digital media. These ideas are in development right now, but I can feel the excitement building.

An article found among the papers I’ve been reviewing bounced me into thoughts about first-year composition. I don’t remember now how I came to print and save it – who recommended it or why, but the six facets given as fundamentally definite for “the future of the PR industry” (Ross Dawson, Marketing, March 2006) seem equally to define the shift my students must realize in learning to be better writers for the 21st century. Here’s the list re-worked a bit to reflect emerging demands on composition:

  • People expect more. We have become vastly more demanding in our dealings with content and service providers. Details matter. A “conversational tone” isn’t necessarily easier to write. The idea of “paying” attention has more meaning today.
  • Information is transformable; media are participatory. Effective composition requires competence in multiple modes of production and perception. Connection drives meaning.
  • Information exchange is more a conversation than a “lecture.” People expect to be included and extend greater value to practiced participants.
  • Information flows in every direction and along multiple channels. Learning to “read” layers of data is essential. Learning to compose in layers of intentional expression is expected.
  • Credibility shows. The old catch-phrase “information wants to be free” is more true today than ever before, and now information has a means of escape. Know – expect – you can be seen, and compose yourself accordingly.
  • “Influence Networks” – those few folks close, familiar, and interested in what you have to say – are the source of greatest opportunity and determination for your future. Nurture the networks. Pay attention to the networks.

2 comments:

narrator said...

This is a wonderful rumination on how communication works in education. I love it. I need to think, reflect, consider, then respond more deeply. And I'd love your reactions to http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/05/25/socol when you might find the chance...

John-Michael said...

Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for teaching. Your evident concern for and involvement in the development of your students is heartening. I do become weary (though I fully understand and empathize) with the frequency (to the omision of all positives) of negative expressions of disgruntled teachers. You have lifted my spirit of hope. Again, "Thank you."