Using George Hillock's contention that technology is a poor medium for education due to its ephemeral nature as her occasion, Marcia Peoples Halio's presentation demonstrated the power of the Internet as a place for teaching writing -- a power that is derived precisely from its active, changing nature. Halio argued that the Internet is an exciting place for students to write because it is a place where students can find real audiences and engage in real conversations. Her presentation handout suggested the wide range of activities available to students, and to instructors desiring to add Internet-based assignments to their courses.
Halio also cautioned teachers that, while the Internet has a number of benefits because of its *live* nature, it is important to remember that because it is a live medium with live people on it; it is important to prepare students for negotiating the virtual community. While most teachers often see this in terms of protecting students, Halio gave the interesting example of Holocaust Denial listserv members being threatened by students who were on the lists as parts of their classes. When students encounter these kinds of extreme rhetorics, it is easy for them to forget that real people are on the other end of those words -- people who could take your own words quite literally.
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