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Elision and Depths of Engagement

One value of hypertext for students is, ironically, the ability to hide information. When we talk or write to a student, we usually present our information with our audience in mind-- leaving out information that isn't of interest, or which might confuse, or which they already know. Being able to frame your thoughts in the context of your audience is a powerful skill.

One way to practice that skill is to take a relatively small topic, and preferably one which the students know a bit about already. Have them create a simple set of texts on the topic ...perhaps in the form of a five-paragraph essay. Then have them write three alternate 'middle' paragraphs: one set, and then another, for different audiences. They might write variants for someone who knows almost nothing about the topic (defining all their terms); for someone who knows more (requiring research and skipping the basics); or for someone who is interested in a different but related field.

Goals - Students will:

  • present information for different audiences
  • elide to make a text more accessible and useful
  • examine their own knowledge at different depths of engagement

Evaluation will be based on:

  • coherence of the writing despite (paragraph) substitution or elision
  • appropriate contextualization of the writing for the (assigned, chosen) audiences