Students are always part of a much larger discourse, that of the discipline they are studying. Impressing that fact upon them is a key part of empowering them as learners, of helping them take an active role in their own learning.
- The simplest way to do this is to have students create a list of current materials about their discipline - a 'works cited' focused on recent publications. This is still one-sided, though.
- The next level is to annotate that list with their own responses. As they agree and disagree, they are establishing their own voice regarding the material.
- Linking among their own discussions and responding to each others' work is one more step, and sets up a community of discussion in much the same way that classroom discussion can.
- 'Publishing' that discussion (to the web, or as a 'zine, etc.) gives students more agency yet: now they are authors.
- Finally, try to get an 'expert' or two in the field to respond (via email, letter, forum posting, wiki edits)
I think that a wiki can be an excellent tool for this excercise. It easily accomodates each level, and very clearly presents the growing site as:
- a true publication at almost all times
- an organic work in progress
- part of a larger whole (the internet)
Goals- Students will:
- engage the public discourse in their discipline
- present their own voice in the public discourse
Evaluation is based on:
- aptness of their chosen sources
- quality of links to and from other texts
- proper engagement with the questions of the field
This is pretty certainly the most complex of these excercises, and assumes the "make links" and "annotate links" skills. To get high marks for the aptness of their sources and of their writing to the discipline students would benefit from the "depths of engagement" lesson as well.