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Teaching in the Computer Classroom

While not all sections of COCC300 are taught in the computer classroom, the integration of computers into the syllabus is a part of the innovative nature of the course and can be your greatest ally in creating a responsive classroom. If you are assigned to a computer classroom and haven't taught there before, see a Comp Faculty member and the Writing Center module, "Teaching in the Computer Classroom," for strategies to use the computers effectively.

What you might like to know at the outset is that the computers can do an enormous amount to facilitate communication between the students and instructor and among themselves. E-mail and bulletin boards give students the technology to talk back and forth about their topics, to send each other (or you) drafts of their essays or proposals, and to give workshop comments on-line. Such communication can get students much more involved with drafting and revising their papers during class (when other students and the instructor are available for comments or advice) than often is seen in the traditional classroom. Furthermore, when students are working on their drafts in class, you have the flexibility to respond to their individual questions and concerns as they crop up rather than trying to anticipate those concerns and plan group activities to build skills you hope they will transfer to their drafts when they go home (although we encourage these as well). All of these factors can help you respond to your students individually. Also, by encouraging your students to send you questions via e-mail about things that confused them during class and by noticing where the majority of students are in their writing process of a particular essay, you can keep a finger on the pulse of the class--and speed up or slow down the general pace as necessary.

Those of us in the computer classroom often find ourselves using parts of most class periods in mini-workshops with a single or small group of students, something that does allow us to stay in touch with the individual needs of our students and, we hope, meet those needs. During successful classes, we also find our own presence becoming more and more unnecessary as the term goes on. Students tend to spend much more time in the computer classroom working on their own writing and talking to each other about it as they sit at their terminals. We would like to think that this means computers can help students become a community of writers which privileges its own.