ENGL 6580/7580 Computers and Writing



Spring 2008
2:40-5:40 p.m.                                                    


Instructor:      Dr. Maria A. Clayton
                        PH 329 (MTSU Box 70)
                        898-2585 (office); 849-8369 (home; no calls after 10:00 p.m., please)

You may leave a message on my voice mail at either number, but it is up to you to follow up if you don't receive a return call within one day. E-mail address: mclayton@.mtsu.edu; as rule, I do not respond to student email over the weekend. 


I invite you to access the About the Instructor segment at http://www.mtsu.edu/~mclayton


Office Hours:   MWF 8:00-12:00; other times by appointment Be sure to let me know you need to see me so your trip is not wasted.


Please Note: Students with disabilities that may require assistance or who have questions related to any accommodations for testing, note takers, readers, etc., must inform the instructor and provide certification from the Office of Disabled Student Services (898-2783), so arrangements can be made as soon as possible to accommodate their difficulties.


Required Texts and Materials:


Birkerts, Sven. The Guttenberg Elegies. New York: Fawcett/Columbine, 1994 [ck w/bookstore for pub. info on the newest edition].


Monroe, Barbara. Crossing the Digital Divide. New York: Teachers College P, 2004.


Selber, Stuart A. Multiliteracies for a Digital Age. Carbondale: So. Illinois UP, 2004.


Sidler, Michelle, Richard Morris, and Elizabeth Overman Smith, eds. Computers in the


      Composition Classroom: A Critical Sourcebook. Boston: Bedford, 2008.


Digital storage device of choice


Email account and internet access—we will use our D2L website's email for our course communication; this will allow you access to your instructor and classmates as well as keep your academic and personal email separate. Internet access is required for utilizing our course website through D2L. We will have a D2L orientation class day set up in our schedule. You will want to make a habit of checking the course's announcements and Discussion areas on a regular basis, at least two to three times a week, particularly when you are absent.


Recommended Texts:

Hawisher, Gail E., Paul LeBlanc, Charles Moran, and Cynthia L. Selfe. Computers and the
      Teaching of Writing in
American Higher Education, 1979-1994: A History. New
Directions in Computers and Composition Studies Series. Eds. Gail Hawisher and
      Cynthia L. Selfe. Greenwich: Ablex Publishing, 1996.


Hawisher, Gail, and Selfe, Cynthia.  Gaming Lives in the Twenty-first Century.  New


      York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

---.  Literate Lives in the Information Age: Stories from the United States. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2004.



Course Description and Objectives:

The course focuses on practical and theoretical implications of computer technology and of the Internet and World Wide Web for the teaching of writing. The course is aimed at developing students’ understanding and proficiency in the adoption of these technologies [Instructional Technologies or IT] not only for personal use, but, more importantly, for improving the pedagogical basis for integration, resulting in greater degree of student-centered focus in the courses they might teach. Students will immerse themselves in historical origins, pedagogical theory, and practical applications of computer technologies in writing. More specifically, the course objectives are to


A.     Increase student knowledge about how computers and the internet contribute to their own composition process.

B.     Use D2L for course delivery to guide and model for students through the development of rhetoric/composition, content-specific, mini-courses and modules/lessons delivered with the software.

C.     Engage students in a dialogue about writing and about new pedagogies in teaching writing.

D.     Move students towards merging pedagogical theory and practical application to gain a “real world” feel for the efficacy of using computers and the internet in the writing process.


Course Requirements:

The course consists of  a reading, writing, working with IT, and presenting oral reports components. The graded activities are varied: 


Annotated Bibliography


In order to familiarize yourself with the history, theory, and pedagogical applications of IT integration. Engl 6580 students are asked to read scholarship in the field and annotate ten items; Engl 7580 students are asked to read and annotate fifteen items. Annotations are to be 150-250 words and written from the third person perspective and in the literary present tense. They should clearly identify the topic discussed in the article, state the piece's thesis clearly, and offer a succinct summary, which includes a brief statement of the article's usefulness for its targeted audience, individuals like you, interested in IT adoption/integration into the writing process. To avoid duplications (not very useful for our purposes), you will enter your selections as soon as possible on the website Discussion area. Refer to the detailed handout for more specific information and to the schedule for the due dates for drafts and final copy (two samples are provided in the website).

Learning Object Creation and Presentation

During our first weeks of class, we will discuss the types of practical applications you are interested in trying out in a module, unit, lesson, etc. [you decide what to call it]. We will use class time to gain direction, clarify technology issues, discuss sound pedagogical rationale for integrating the technology (ies) of choice, but probably the majority of the work in creating your learning object will have to be done out of class. At any point, you can ask for/receive advice from classmates and instructor; you can even consult with ITD personnel. Your learning object will be shared with the class, including the pedagogical rationale behind it. Practice your presentation to insure its effectiveness and clarity. You will also want to insure it meets the 20 minute time limit. You  will provide pertinent handouts for the instructor and for classmates, as well as offer a link to your learning object through the website. One of our goals will be to refine your learning object with the intent of submitting it to MERLOT and to LT & ITC's Educational Research Repository [ERR].

Formal Essay and Presentation

You will write a 1500-2500 word formal essay presenting the research and pedagogical approach used in creating our learning object, hopefully using at least some of the sources you selected to annotate for the bibliography and present your key findings to your classmates in an oral presentation (20 minute time limit). The extended objective for this essay is to be submitted for conference presentation and possibly for publication. You will adhere to MLA format and provide copies for your classmates. You will want to organize your material so that your classmates can take notes on the paper's content for discussion purposes. Refer to the detailed handout for more detailed information and to the schedule for the due dates. Practice your presentation to insure its effectiveness and clarity. You will also want to insure it meets the time limit.  It is always a good idea to get feedback on a rough draft before final submission.


ENGL 7580 Students


In addition to contributing extra items to the annotated bibliography assignment, students working towards their PhD will also take on the management of the Selected Reading List, a growing resource on the website. Tasks will include adding new items contributed by classmates as part of their research, re-organizing items under appropriate headings, insuring entries are in correct MLA works cited format, and the like. PhD students will also collaborate with Dr. Clayton on presentation preparations for Scholar's Week [Mar 31-Apr 4] and MTSU's IT Conference [Apr 6-8].


Course Goals



Assigned readings from the required texts will be the basis for class discussion, started on the website and wrapped up in class. You are expected to participate in the current week's DB and come to class prepared to contribute insights from the reading and from exchanges in the DB. You will earn HW credit for items such as class participation, input in the DB's, periodic checks on annotations, and the like.



I maintain an open door policy so students can come to discuss their progress in the course or issues brought up in class. Let me know if you plan to come so I can be sure to be in the office.


Course Policies


Attendance--Class attendance is extremely important to you and your classmates' success in English 6580/7580 because unlike the lecture course where your class absence affects no one but yourself, English 6580/7580 is structured around your participation in class.  Your presentations—Learning Objects and Formal Papers—are the subject matter for a good bit of the course. Since there is no way to make up participating in a classmate’s presentation, class attendance is a must.  


Late Work--It is vital that you submit your work on time, particularly since your work is the subject matter for the date assigned. Refer to our course schedule. All late writing assignments must be completed within one week of due date and will suffer late penalties—one letter grade per day late. Work not completed within one week will earn a failing grade for the assignment and jeopardize passing the course.



Although the cou4se is graded on a Pass/Fail basis, individual assignments are graded using the 10-point scale (A=90-100, B=80-89, etc.) and will be weighed as follows:


Annotated Bibliography


Learning Object


Learning Object Presentation


Formal Essay


Formal Essay Presentation


Homework [Annotation RD check, DB participation, etc.]


To earn a Pass for the course, the final average must add up to 70 points or higher.

Plagiarism--Needless to say, plagiarism will result in course failure. If you have questions about how to properly document outside sources in any of your assignments, ask for assistance from the instructor.


Keep this syllabus and refer to it often during the semester!!! In essence, this a contract between us which establishes the guidelines for your successful completion of the course.