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READING AND WRITING IN AN ONLINE WORLD is a combination text and online course designed to serve as a comprehensive rhetoric, reader, research guide, and handbook. The text provides students with an introduction to critical reading and writing and an overview of a variety of writing tasks, ranging from reflective essays to critical analysis to argument and persuasion assignments.
The online course is designed to enable instructors to pick and choose from a wide array of assignments and activities which can be customized. The complete course is available in Blackboard, WebCT, and Course Compass platforms.
I. LITERACY FOR AN ONLINE WORLD.
II. WRITING FOR THE WORLD.
Designed for either a Distance Education course or a course that emphasizes online learning, this small textbook is complemented by a robust course site with an online rhetoric, research tutorial, handbook, and online anthology. In addition, the course site features quizzes, self-review exercises, and collaborative writing assignments. All assignments, exercises, and activities (developed using Blackboard.com and WebCT) can be modified by instructors.
This course introduces students to valuable resources they will want to read throughout their lives—online newspapers such as the New York Times, award-winning magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly, and respected Internet magazines such as Salon. Students read and discuss these and other texts on the course Bulletin Board.
Students are encouraged to write for the online world, not just for their class. In addition to completing standard essays, students are encouraged to submit writing-either early drafts or final copy-to public online forums and Web sites. Suggested sites are included with each writing assignment.
The book and matching course site feature:
The book is divided into two major sections: Literacy for an Online World, and Writing for the World.
This section introduces students to literacy skills for the information age, and includes an overview of reading and writing sites on the Web, a chapter on critical reading, a chapter on technological literacy, and a chapter on information literacy (finding, evaluating, and citing sources).
This chapter introduces students to a variety of online reading and writing sites. Some of the "writing sites" are actually forums that accompany online newspapers and magazines. These sites invite readers to post their views and to respond to other readers' opinions.
This chapter encourages you to, take time to learn additional technical skills as you move through the course; in particular, you are encouraged to use your word processor powerfully, to develop expertise with e-mail, and to learn how to multi-task by reading in one window and taking notes in another.
This chapter reviews ways to locate information on the Web and in the library, and includes guidelines for evaluating sources.
This chapter introduces you to close reading and critical reading strategies, especially important in online reading and writing. The Web site includes interactive exercises that help you master these strategies.
When writers write, they have different purposes and audiences; thus they have various ways they go about gathering and organizing information for different tasks.
This section of the textbook includes a chapter on seven different approaches to writing, with optional assignments included for each category. The Web site module that corresponds to each chapter includes specific assignments along with interactive exercises for gathering ideas and revising a draft.
Note: The course Web site can easily be adapted by the instructor. No technical skills are needed. Students view only assignments that an instructor has selected for inclusion in the course. Students should check the Assignment area at the course site to find out which modules they are expected to complete.
Each chapter includes alternative suggestions for writing on the Web. Whether or not instructors require it, students are encouraged to try out ideas in public online forums, submit essays to zines or electronic journals, or use Web site response forms to send letters to politicians or advocacy groups.
Using informal essay format, students write about their personal views on a topic they will return to in another paper and share their drafts with one another on the course bulletin board. One assignment suggestion stipulates the requirement that students write about why they believe what they believe. This assignment helps students gain critical thinking skills as they learn to examine their own views and respect each other's views. It also suggests that people can choose to modify their views when they gain new information or adopt new beliefs. Students begin to realize that their views on most topics differ for many reasons—different family backgrounds, different cultural values, different books and media that they have all been exposed to throughout their lives. Other personal writing options are included.
Students select a reading from the Online Anthology or from the Composition Times to use as the basis for a summary-response essay. Additional reading-to-write assignments are included. (Classes that keep a Weekly Reading Journal for the first few weeks of the course may be asked to summarize and post brief reactions to news stories and articles in magazines. For this assignment, they can select one of their entries and expand it.) Students learn paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting skills. Students need only basic technology skills to complete this assignment, since course readings are provided for them at the online site.
To encourage students to read widely and examine sources critically before formulating their own opinions, students write an exploratory essay in which they present the results of their investigation into different views on a topic. This assignment is designed to give students a deeper and broader view of an issue than they are used to getting in daily news reports and television programs. Interviews and site observations are encouraged as part of the searching and investigating process. In addition, students are expected to explore library and Web sources. (Chapter Four can be assigned at this point in the course. Also, the Research Tutorial exercises would be useful at this point, so that students can learn and begin practicing standard citation practice).
Many current issues are good topics for problem-solution essays. This assignment gives students an opportunity to use the skills they have been gathering in earlier essays. They have to define problems, evaluate existing solutions, and then argue that their proposed solution is best. Research and documentation skills are essential for successful completion of this assignment.
By analyzing a source critically and evaluating its arguments, students have an opportunity to look at the rhetorical features of different kinds of texts, in particular, argumentative texts. By learning how writers construct arguments, students have valuable preparation for writing their own argument essays in a subsequent assignment. Ideas for Web projects for this assignment are included in the chapter. (Web site evaluation exercises are included with this chapter; additional exercises are included at the Web site for Chapter Four.)
After reading widely (perhaps as a result of completing an exploratory essay on the same topic), students complete an argumentative or persuasive project in which they examine opposing views before proposing their own claim and supporting evidence. Ideas for Web project for this assignment are included in the chapter.
Much real-world writing varies in format and organization, depending on the purpose, audience, and publication for which it is intended. This chapter presents some principles that students can use to write whatever type of writing they are expected to produce in later courses or on the job.
Here you will find a brief guide to designing and creating class Web projects, including samples from a range of courses. A handy list of Web resources is included, such as sites offering free server space; web creation sites and tutorials; graphics sites; and sites offering organizing and note-taking software.