Macaulay Honors College Essay 2014

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SLIDE What I am seeking is evidence derived from the content of the compositions created by students in online, open spaces, and the value of this experience as articulated by the students themselves.

Therefore, this project seeks to address the lack of systematic study of students’ writing in online spaces, the multimodal aspects of digital composition, and evidence that these practices foster the development of long-tail, real-world skills.

This study is an attempt to investigate the assertions made about the integration of digital writing in higher education through a combination of qualitative and quantitative research.

By applying digital humanities methods and composition theory to almost a decade of student writing produced in an online, open eportfolio system, I will look for evidence of the “value added” through the adoption of a well-supported, cross-curricular implementation of eportfolio technology.

SLIDE Which types of eportfolios are more successful in measuring learning outcomes?

The research is drawn from a case study of six consecutive years of eportfolios, culled from the Macaulay Honors College (Macaulay), a unique honors program within the City University of New York system that spans eight public university campuses.This group was chosen for study for a number of reasons, involving the particular set of benefits afforded to these students, as well as the demographics of the population itself.Each student is provided with a new laptop computer, dedicated advisors, and full tuition, theoretically eliminating some variables with regard to access and availability of tools and support.Although Stolley’s practice represents one extreme, albiet admirable approach, it is representative of a turn away from remediation back toward the fundamentals of computer programming (“In Search of Troublesome Digital Writing: A Meditation on Difficulty”).That the future of rhetoric is an ability to communicate with computers is at the heart of this movement.Claims in favor of this integration include that writing in public venues cultivates digital literacy through broader audience awareness, facilitates interactivity and collaboration between peers, and supports the creation and integration of multimedia artifacts into the writing process.However, most of these assertions are based on anecdotal narratives or survey results that focus on the experience of the faculty and administrators involved.SLIDE Just as this is a particularly strong sample of students to study, this eportfolio system also presents significant advantages.Not all eportfolio platforms are created equal; many proprietary programs are walled gardens available only to those within the university (often only in the class) and do not allow the students to access the backend in order to experiment with functionality and design elements of the site.As of the end of 2013, an estimated 20% of the Internet was built on Word Press, so working on this platform in an educational setting provides students with the opportunity to develop real-world skills.From a usability standpoint, WYSIWYG blogging platforms are a desirable content management system for use in higher education.


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