".. the art of speaking and writing well ..."
CU Boulder PhD Candidate Allison Rowland has given some thought to teaching effective rhetoric. Students nominated Rowland for an ASSETT Teaching with Technology Award last year for her teaching of an upper division writing class with the topic of the War on Terror. She assigned her students to read a wide range of opinion pieces about the War on Terror. Then, Rowland spent class time at the beginning of the semester teaching students how to create their own blogs on blogger.com and write blog posts in response to their readings. She showed her students purposeful layout designs and readable fonts to encourage them to make their own blogs visually appealing. Rowland also challenged her students to do more than just write summaries of their readings but to also consider their larger online audience:
I didn't want to be their only audience ... When you have students create blogs, it opens up more conversations about audience ... When students see how many people see their writing, it is easier to encourage students to think about voice when they realize other people might read their blogs ... It makes you think about audience, voice, appealing to people, what will keep people reading ... It makes writing better knowing others will see it ... The quality of their writing on a digital public forum like weblogs is so much better than if they were just submitting an assignment to me as the instructor.
Rowland encouraged her students to ask themselves, "'What kind of writing keeps the reader reading? ... How should my writing change, depending on the audience?'"
Rowland wants her class to help students, "Make broader connections to the real world," and she believes that incorporating technological mediums into teaching is critical for that purpose: "We have to teach this ... across digitally mediated platforms." Rowland sees the blogs that her students create in her class as writing samples that they can show to potential employers to demonstrate their proficiency with technology. She said that one student has already told her, "'This blog got me my job.'" In nominating Rowland for the 2013 ASSETT Teaching with Technology Award, one student wrote that Rowland:
... [gave] us a vast opportunity for publishing, countless followers and readership, and an opportunity to expand our horizons in writing. I've never experienced a class that was so eye opening in appeal to the real world. [Rowland's] prowess in the forefront of modern technology for writing was breathtaking.
"I've benefited from excellent training at CU," says Rowland, and she credits how much the CU Lead Graduate Teacher Program taught her about teaching. Rowland strives to keep her classes interactive--with small group activities or independent freewriting periods interspersed with PowerPoint slides.
Rowland is finishing her PhD in the Communications Department at CU Boulder. She has accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor position at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York this fall. Rowland plans to continue, "... experimenting with ... a range of digital platforms," in her teaching.