The Epiphany Project
Session Notes: Teaching Literature In A Computer Environment

Anne Woodlief, Virginia Commonwealth University

Pedagogical Goals

  • More active participation with students better empowered as readers by learning how to generate and articulate their own informed interpretations in writing.
  • Generation of multiple interpretations in a collaborative "class hypertext" which can be compared and negotiated.

Reader-oriented theory in action.... needs:
More effective presentation of useful information about texts and contexts
More challenging of superficial interpretations
More consciousness of reading strategies
More fluent, articulate and honest student writing
More learning from each other
More personal connections with texts

Best learning comes from maximum personal engagement
Thinking through problems and open questions
Engaging visual as well as aural senses
Absorbing information at individual paces
Having sense of choices and control of learning
Expressing ideas and getting feedback
Comparing ideas/writing with other students
Being able to communicate easily with the teacher

Drawbacks of traditional teaching
Learning is often too passive
Students learn little from other students
Some students may be "silenced"
Rigid pace doesn’t match different learning styles
Limits of time and materials available

Computers to the Rescue!

Teaching With Hypertext: Re-reading Texts From "Inside"

Modeling of Reading Strategies

Kinds of Hypertexts
Class Hypertext
Study Hypertexts
Interpretive Hypertexts:
Student-generated, Teacher-generated, Dialogic, Collaborative
Interdisciplinary Hypertext
The Web as Hypertext

Electronic Discussions

Why Talk Electronically?
To have a record of class discussion for review
To verbalize thinking on issues and open questions
To compare ideas/writing among all students
To communicate easily with the teacher and each other
To improve persuasive and critical thinking skills with peer audience
To work together in groups, in and outside of classroom

Collaborative Classroom

Full participation of all students
Learn from each other
Build on other class discussions
Teacher is coach, respondant
Personalizes course and learning
It's cool!

Time consuming
Student and teacher effort is great
Must teach computer basics
Teacher has less control

Modes Of Discussion
CONNECT: Post and Respond
DAEDALUS: "Real-Time" Discussion
WEB/INTERNET: Plug into a Virtual Community
(lists, web-based discussions) E-mail, Newsgroups, Forums

Messages Of The Medium
Active Discovery
Sense of Choice
Free Expression of Thinking
Focus on the Text
Develop and Debate Interpretations


Computer phobia lives!
Constant "new" learning
Access and help problems
Time and effort

Goals Achieved:
More careful reading
Good question formation
Value of dictionary, research seen
Stronger interpretations
Better analytic and thinking skills
Personal connections made

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