The MOO-based Metacognitive Process
It is important for instructors to not allow students to stop after students participate in MOO-based conferences (engaging in reflection-in-action); instead, they should allow students to benefit from the MOO logs, including required assignments that employ the transcripts and support reflection-on-action. In the students' hands are precisely the texts that we teachers have been looking for: "readings that will engage students and will foster application and reflection to their own writing, learning, and lives"; and a source for "written excersizes that will compel them not only to write, but to contemplate what they're writing, what they're thinking and learning, and why." Therefore, I consider actual online activity--conferencing with peers, tutors, and me on the MOO--to be only half of each students' participation in MOO activities. The other half is spent in reflection and response to the MOO logs.
For example, after a writing conference with a "cybertutor," I ask students to print the saved transcripts and read back through them to recall the issues they and the tutors discussed. Before they begin revision on the paper at hand, I ask them to write directly on the log, annotating the transcript with their own thoughts which were happening during the conversation and which are currently happening. I ask them to record ideas on how they can encorporate the tutors' advice into revision, what suggestions they probably will not use, and what specific parts of the dialogue helped them improve their conception (or, perhaps, muddied their conception) of their writing project. I ask them to record all of the thoughts they had during online conversations and those happening during the annotation process itself.
When communicating on the computer, writers take part in sustained, substantial written conversation about their writing. When they meet with writing tutors, with their teacher, or with their peers online, they engage in metacognitive discourse, which is usually a complex activity for freshmen but becomes surprisingly natural online. Students automatically combine oral conversation and argumentative skills with un-apprehensive writing. The metacognition that takes place during computer-mediated conversation surpasses reflective writing and journaling in that it is interactively instructive and exists in a controllable, multi-media environment; and it has an advantage over traditional writing conferences in that it exists in a text-based environment, stressing the importance of strategic, transactional writing. And finally, the transcripts that are created during the conversations provide interactive texts that are used for reflection indefinitely afterwards.
Following are some examples
of students' online and offline activities to illustrate the process.
MOO-based Metacognition: Incorporating Online and Offline
Reflection into the Writing Process