Considerations for Women & Webbed Pedagogy

Julia K. Ferganchick-Neufang
University of Arkansas at Little Rock


The movement toward on-line writing instruction is quickly sweeping though our field, and those involved in this process are touting the benefits of writing on the Web--not without good reason. Students gain more experience writing when their discussions take place on-line; those who are afraid to speak up in face-to-face discussions have found freedom of voice; and our efforts to neutralize the teacher-centered classroom have gained new ground in the virtual world. Those of us who believe in the power of on-line instruction to improve our students' writing and, on a more political note, to democratize the classroom are quick to point out these benefits. And rightly so, if our goal is to convince others that computer-mediated instruction is well worth our time. It is a mistake, however, for us to ignore the problems that on-line instruction creates for women and people of color while unconditionally celebrating this new technology.

To fully explain my concern here, I must back track into the traditional classroom and discuss my research on student-to-teacher harassment. I encourage readers who are unfamiliar with student-to-teacher harassment issues to follow the hypertext map below, which begins in the traditional classroom, moves to issues virtual space, and then explores potential conflicts for female teachers in virtual environments, ending with a discussion of tentative solutions. However, I provide links to major sections of this hypertext here for those who prefer to go it alone. This symbol indicates a link the to the Works Cited page.


Overview of the Study

Examples of Student-to-Teacher Harassment in the Traditional Classroom

Issues of Definition

Problems with Virtual Space

Masculine Space

Real and Perceived Differences in Computer Expertise

Responsibility-Or Lack Thereof

Invisibility: It's ONLY Email

What Can We Do?
  Temper Optimism with Critical Analysis

Train and Prepare Instructors

Train Students

Create and Enforce a Discipline Plan

Ensure Safe and Supportive Administration

Works Cited

External Links Page