As regular readers of this magazine may be aware, our January publication was a special issue issue entitled "CMC: Previews, Predictions, Prognastications". Two contributors to that issue, Tari Fanderclai and Greg Siering, are also co-coordinoators of the "Netoric" project, and recently they took their contributions to CMC Magazine to that additional forum for further discussion.
Fanderclai and Siering have kindly allowed CMC Magazine to access the logs of those MUD discussions for inclusion in this issue. The kind of virtual communication both engendered and led by the two authors is precisely the kind of reader-response the editorial intent of this publication seeks. We hope you'll explore these logs, which are summarized and linked to the originals, and consider joining the folks at Netoric for future discussions.
If you are not familiar with Netoric, or with M**space in general, there are numerous helpful tools available through the " MediaMOO Guide For Netoric Guests". Generally speaking, the Netoric Project is a series of real-time discussions, conferences, and workshops for those who use computers in the teaching of writing, and has been an ongoing forum since the Spring of 1993. According to Siering,
"The Netoric Project provides the computers and writing community with an ongoing forum for professional development and collaboration. Not only does the project regularly bring together geographically distant colleagues; it also promotes the value of networked communication many of us advance in our own classrooms."Without further ado:
Preceding the February 7 gathering at the Netoric Cafe, Fanderclai posted an invitation to Megabyte University and other related bulletin boards, asking all comers to please read her article, " MUDs in Education: New Environments, New Pedagogies."
The February 7 Cafe gathering involved more than 20 individuals logged in from Wyoming, Michigan, Indiana, Arkansas, Florida, Texas and California, among other sites.
Some of the questions addressed, specifically, by members of the discussion included "Does cyberspace alter the context (for the writer)?" and "Are we teaching our students 'how to read the discursive situation,' and should we be?"
Fanderclai's discussion-starter was this:
"Many of us have been incorporating the use of internet sites and resources into our writing classes for some time now. This week, the Tuesday Cafe begins a series of discussions in which we'll be reconsidering some of the uses we've made of these new environments and thinking about the preconceived notions we bring to those environments and the metaphors we use for our interactions there. How are we limiting ourselves and the potential learning experiences these spaces offer for us and for our classes?
Many of us have been incorporating the use of internet sites and resources into our writing classes for some time now. This week, the Tuesday Cafe begins a series of discussions in which we'll be reconsidering some of the uses we've made of these new environments and thinking about the preconceived notions we bring to those environments and the metaphors we use for our interactions there. How are we limiting ourselves and the potential learning experiences these spaces offer for us and for our classes?"
The complete log is available on the Netoric home page; new users be warned - as one Netoric regular noted in the 2/7 discussion, "This is like rollerskating in a buffalo herd. Not too bad, as long as you stay on your feet!"
Then, preceding the February 14 gathering at Netoric, Fanderclai posted a similar invitation to MBU and other boards, asking visitors to the Cafe to read Siering's article, " Reconceptualizing the Virtual: Bringing CMC Back into this Reality" before joining the discussion.
The February 14 Cafe involved slightly fewer people overall, and consisted of primarily the same participants as the previous week.
Siering's conversation-starter was this:
"The main question I have connects to what I see as the main argument against my article: If we attempt to redefine the virtual and emphasize communication over 'alternative realities,' do we lessen the potential of MUDs to move us beyond our real-life situations? Tari, in 'MUDs in Education: New Environments, New Pedagogies,' critiques the reproduction of traditional school environments on MUDs; does a communicative rather than virtual focus lock us into reproducing what we already have in real life?
How can we emphasize views of communication and work that can be accepted today while still promoting new views of communication and work (play, decentered authority, etc.)?"
Discussion about metaphors and MUDs took participants everywhere from the classroom to the Star Trek: The Next Generation holodeck. The complete log is also available.
Siering and Fanderclai welcome inquiries about the Netoric project and suggestions for future Netoric events and discussion topics. E-mail Fanderclai at email@example.com or Siering at firstname.lastname@example.org. On MediaMOO, Greg is known as "GregS"; Tari's alias is "Tari." ¤
Copyright © 1995 by Mick Doherty. All Rights Reserved.