Presentation Abstract

The Electronic Ethnography: Student Literacy Researchers on the Web

This presentation will examine the results of an assignment in a freshman composition class that encouraged students to produce ethnographies based on Internet communities. In the process they will collect literacy artifacts, "observe" in chat rooms and other RT environments, and collect interviews via email and other electronic means.

I am interested in comparing the content of such ethnographies with the more tradtionally based onessexecuted in my department in general as well as in my own classes.

As well as content issues, I am interested in ethical issues such as: telling communities when they are being observed, IRL students often do not identify themselves as researchers and merely lurk, or telling those being observed and obtain permission, which presents a potential problem of altering behavior, as it does in IRL situations.

Also I plan to explore how the format changes the end products as they are likely to include hypertextual elements, links to site information, etc.; and to consider how that changes the nature of the work.

I plan to conclude with some reasons students have found their investigations particularily useful and productive. If they are expected to thrive in the technological age, they should be provided with tools to help their critical filtering abilities.

This assignment is now in process and will conclude in late October, giving me plenty of time to work out the details.

Author: Jeanette Jeneault


Target Audience: Not Applicable

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