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Technology and Creative Writing I: “Technology and Community in the Creative Writing Classroom”

by Jade Faul

This panel provided detailed insight on how to use technology in a field that has been slow to adapt to new technological movements and computer-assisted pedagogy, and this field is creative writing. Christina Olson opened the session by introducing the panelists and discussing their purpose: “Traditionally, creative writing has been a field that is not technologically friendly.” Therefore, this panel addressed the benefits of uniting creative writing and teaching with technology.

Jean Prokott next introduced the idea of establishing community in the creative writing classroom. A sense of community enhances communication and, thus, leads for openness in the workshop environment, which serves to better students’ writing, according to Prokott, and the communicative tools offered by technology can establish the sense of community and improve the educational experience.

Reed Stratton next discussed how he has incorporated the use of Desire2Learn, an online learning management system, into his daily agenda in the creative writing classroom, including the chat feature that allows students the opportunities to role-play the characters they create. Stratton stated this technology helps students better understand their characters while allowing them to communicate with one another, have fun and develop trust.

Jenny Amel discussed her experience with teaching creative writing in a non-computer classroom, confessing that the lack of technology is a disadvantage. She required students keep handwritten journals, but she could not access them as easily as she could online journals or blogs, thus making it harder to leave feedback and interact with students on their creative writing projects. Amel also noted that type script is easier to read than handwriting, but the absence of the backspace key allows students to understand more about their own writing processes.

Christina Olson next discussed her use of the chat feature to prompt class discussion from everyone, especially those afraid to speak in class, claiming that students establish a greater sense of community by getting to know one another via chats, which is vital to creating community in the creative writing classroom.

Lastly, Trisha Shaskan detailed how the use of Desire2Learn’s discussion board feature brought forth sophisticated and detailed class discussions regarding poetry. In one example, Shaskan had students cut lines of a poem, post them on the discussion board and discuss them. Shaskan admitted this use of technology seemed to inspire students to be specific in ways that they may not be otherwise and helped to establish community more than other approaches.

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