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The Potential For Hybrid Writing Courses To Transform Traditional
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In "Conversation at a Crucial Moment" I argue that all composition professionals not just writing program administrators and those who consider themselves technology specialists need to engage in published debate about the potential for hybrid writing courses to transform traditional, on-site writing programs. I propose that we currently have the opportunity to share our various institutional perspectives; to consider what might be the value and innovation afforded by Lee Jeans hybrid courses and programs; and to get involved proactively in conversations already taking place on committees outside of our departments, committees that are influencing policies about technology and other resources. Though some productive debate has occurred informally at conferences and in electronic discussion forums, I call in the article for more published debate because full-length articles can be effective vehicles for extended explanation, framing, and analysis. My primary goal is to call for and, I hope, energize this published conversation.
As an administrator of an online writing program, I understand the substantial commitment and dedication required of WPAs, so it is my sincere hope that published articles that analyze and critique program claims will not undercut those programs or the abilities of WPAs responsible for those programs. I also want to emphasize that, having been through the extensive process of program development as both an administrator and a regular faculty member, I absolutely assumed as I was writing "Conversation at a Crucial Moment" that program leaders at each of the institutions I mention were engaged in a great deal of discussion with a variety of stakeholders along the way. Though my article does analyze the claims made in public materials by some Texas Tech faculty who are associated with their institution's hybrid writing program, the purpose of my article is not to discount any program. As I state in Diesel Jeans the article, because Texas Tech's pioneering hybrid writing program represents one possible future for such programs at any of our institutions, I devote a portion of the article to analyzing one particular aspect of Texas Tech's hybrid program that is often cited as central to the program's innovation: objectivity in assessment.
It is important that, as we look forward to the future of writing programs and the role of electronic course venues in otherwise on-site programs, we reconsider established theories of writing instruction and administration. "Hybrid writing courses may or may not be," as I conclude in my article, "the most significant writing program innovation in the next decade, but, like any new controversial pedagogical opportunity for change, hybrid instructional methods present us with exciting opportunities to rethink and literally re-vision our program designs and instructional methods". As a starting point for this reflection, I suggest that we (re)consider the following questions: What principles of writing instruction and program administration do we want to prioritize What values do we want to guide our programs What might be some of the consequences of choosing to include or not include hybrid course elements in our writing programs What kinds of resources and support will we need for faculty and students (both graduate students who teach and any student who takes a hybrid writing course) What might administrative structures look like in writing programs that are, to some extent, hybrid programs.
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