Learning to Communicate: Bakhtin's Theory (continued)
Most instructors of composition utilize some form of in class discussion or activity to discuss readings or student writing. Yet these kinds of activities are conducted orally after students have reviewed a piece of writing. Rarely do beginning composition students willingly respond to one another in the classroom discussion-it is too easy to blend in to the rest of the class and to fear making a foolish comment.
However, when students begin to communicate and share ideas online, their perception of audience begins to shift. Although the instructor is certainly still part of the audience, the other students who reply to their messages play a more central role as an audience with people from different backgrounds who will interpret writing very differently. The students who would never respond to one another in the classroom for fear of being rejected or contradicted are much more likely to make their opinions known in an online environment where they can contemplate their words before the rest of the group has access to them. And as more of their classmates participate, individual students begin to formulate a new concept of audience. They begin to recognize the biases, opinions, and preconceived notions of their audience, which allows them to practice writing for the addressee.