While there has been a strong history of using personal electronic devices in education (PDAs, desktop and laptop computers), some recent efforts have worked to establish the place of contemporary mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) in post-secondary education. However, it has not been fully realized and leveraged as a useful tool in many curricula. As a discipline, Rhetoric and Composition has been historically proactive in terms of researching and utilizing computing technology for writing instruction, evidenced by the rich scholarship since the 1970’s on computers and composition. Yet, there is very little activity in the discipline with regards to mobile technology as a writing instruction medium.
Much of my work centers on the design, development, distribution, and assessment of mobile learning technologies for use in university writing programs, writing centers, and composition classrooms. Generally, I am curious how these devices can play a pivotal role in contemporary education much like personal computing technologies did in the later half of the twentieth century. I am also interested in how digital modalities (including mobile environments) shape and inform the way we produce technical and professional texts.
Write Lounge represents my efforts to develop, distribute, test, and assess a mobile application designed for composition classrooms and writing centers. It is simultaneously a resource for "micro learning" on cross-genre writing topics and a collaborative space that anyone can access and communicate without having to login or provide any personal information. Originally, it was released on the Android Marketplace and on the Apple App Store, but later was revised as a "mobile web app" so that anyone, regardless of the type of Internet-connected device they had, could access it without having to login to an application marketplace.
To date, seventeen writing centers across the United States have contacted me to put their center's information on the app and countless students have used it to respond to each other's ideas and build knowledge together. It is in a state of constant, collaborative evolution.
CLICK HERE to access the mobile web app version.
When personal computing became truly portable in the late 1990s with the introduction of Internet-enabled palm devices and mobile phones, scholars began to define several aspects of this technology: what "mobile" really means for both the technology and the user, how these devices shape our culture of learning, and why this technology might be poised to revolutionize education just as personal computers did decades before. Towards these ends, I have identified three distict "generations" of definitions, each with specific concerns and a sharp focus on a handful of properties of device, user, and culture.
This project is designed to elucidate various development, delivery, and continued implementation and assessment of mobile applications for explicit use in writing centers. The text describes similarities between some writing center services, such as handouts and asynchronous tutorials, and affordances/capabilities of mobile devices. My hope is that this work is viewed less as a prescriptive set of guidelines for software engineers, but rather a more descriptive connection between technologies and practices we are already accustomed, and those on which we have yet to fully captalize with mobile devices.
In this project, I aim to illustrate how we might be informed and guided by traditional tech/professional writing practices for the web in moving forward with producing usable multi-modal texts for mobile devices. Results from an intensive, two-week English course in which mobile technology was used to complete projects will help to outline attitudes students have towards writing and reading with mobile devices, and ultimately aim to show the point of need to not only develop professional and technical texts for mobile environments, but build the special literacies that inform their production.