tfw fall 2011 module research project

Project Overview

In this collaborative project we are going to attempt to answer the question: how do contemporary writing technologies and practices cause us to reconsider our definition of writing. As we redefine writing we’ll also be questioning constructs like audience, identity, originality, authority, ownership, materiality, and collaboration. To address our main question, we’ll be conducting a study of Web 2.0 spaces—spaces in which people are spending a considerable amount of time, often engaging in new and emerging writing practices. We’ll also be observing how people are writing in their real life professional spaces. Our findings in these small studies will inform our understanding of what it means to write and be a writer today. From there we will speculate as to where writing is heading in the future.

Update 9/20/11: Download the Excel template

Project Specifics

In the online space, students will record and define every single function of the site that they are able to observe, as well as make observations about the nature of the content they see on the site. Functions can be as varied as needing a username and password to login to being able create a status update to being able to upload video to being able to integrate with a third party application. For each function, students will create a short definition of what the function is and using our readings as a guide, determine whether that function can be considered a form of writing.

In the real life spaces, each student will observe how 1 person writes in their professional space. Each student will create a sketch of what the environment looks like and will note which surfaces are being used for writing, what the subject is doing when they are writing, and how the technologies around the subject facilitate, distract, or are a neutral influence on their writing. It will be key to look for patterns of activity as the subject moves from one writing space to the next. The subject will be anonymous in all documents you produce as a result of your observation.

Project Constraints

There are several constraints to this project in order to ensure that the workload is tolerable, everyone is able to get the most out of the project, and the project stays within the short 4-week timeframe:

  • Without exception, all students must work in groups; the project will be too much of a burden for someone working individually.
  • Each student must keep a record or log of the work they do for the project that they will submit with their final reflective essay. It will be useful to have evidence of that work. This will ensure that students are assessed based on the work they complete.
  • Sites to be analyzed will be selected based on accepted research standards, not based on what students in the class tend to use most often. Some of the sites we analyze might be completely new to your group.
  • Update 9/20/11: Within each group, a system of redundancy and review (a Reflexive Cataloging Methodology) must be incorporated so each site is reviewed and updated by all group members.
  • Each group will analyze one site. The results will be pooled together to create a large data set.
  • Findings will be framed by our readings on writing, Web 2.0, and gaming.

Module 3 Project Schedule

  • 11/17: Hand out the module research project
  • 11/22: Groups announced; plan the study
  • 11/30: Findings due; email the Excel spreadsheet to BW by 11:00pm
  • 12/1: Discuss the findings as a class
  • 12/8: Discuss final paper assignment
  • 12/8: Discuss implications of findings as a class
  • 12/19: Final paper due

Module 2 Project Schedule

  • 10/13: Hand out the module research project
  • 10/18: Groups announced; plan the study
  • 10/24: Findings due; email the Excel spreadsheet to BW by 11:00pm
  • 10/25: Discuss the findings as a class
  • 11/10: Discuss final paper assignment
  • 11/10: Discuss implications of findings as a class
  • 11/21: Final paper due

Module 1 Project Schedule

  • 9/15: Hand out the module research project
  • 9/20: Groups announced; plan the study
  • 9/26: Findings due; email the Excel spreadsheet to BW by 11:00pm
  • 9/27: Discuss the findings as a class
  • 10/4: Observations of subjects working in professional spaces due online
  • 10/4: Discuss final paper assignment
  • 10/6: Discuss implications of findings as a class
  • 10/17: Final paper due

Additional details will be provided for specific stages of the project.

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