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Published:January 8th, 2006 08:41 EST
Judyth Piazza Chats with  Ted Nellen Founder of CyberEnglish

Judyth Piazza Chats with Ted Nellen Founder of CyberEnglish

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

The Internet has fast become a global system for communication and information exchange, and its use and that of the World Wide Web can enhance the writing classroom in several ways. Teachers and students can engage in consistent dialogue about assignments or issues which may help to foster a more positive, nurturing classroom environment. In addition to consistency, the feedback obtained in a web-based classroom is also more immediate than that in a traditional classroom. Use of the Internet provides students with access to millions of sources of information, and classrooms provide the structure to help students learn to discriminate between useful and frivolous sources. Additionally, students who learn the necessary skills for designing and composing hypertext not only become more competitive in terms of future job opportunities, but they also acquire the skills needed to publish their writing on the Web. Lastly, if students are aware that their work will be published on the Internet, it may inspire them to work harder, ask more questions, and revise their work more often. Internet based classes are of high interest and help develop skills of communication, thinking, and writing. The key to the success of a web-based classroom lies in the choices teachers and students make for use of this technology.

In his book, Writing Relationships, Lad Tobin states, "Student writing would improve if teachers played a less authoritarian role in their interactions with students and fostered more supportive student-student relationships." (1993, p. 4) The use of email on an Internet system promotes discussion between teacher and students as well as among students. The teacher becomes a participant in the discussion, leading and encouraging dialogue about writing, and modeling the use of computer mediated communication. When students have access to each other as resources for sharing work and receiving criticism, they become more involved, as the writing assignments take on a more social nature. Risk taking in writing may become more common as a student reads others` writing or receives regular, positive encouragement from the teacher and peers. At the same time, the teacher facilitates by designing activities, assignments, and his or her own Web pages containing information which relates to the needs of the students. The teacher determines needs both through email exchange with individual students as well as through observing student process and product as works are published on the Web. (Quinlan, 1996)

Analysis of student response to Internet based classes at John Carroll University in Cleveland indicates that engagement with new technologies provides students with the confidence they need to approach various new learning situations, especially those related to other emerging technologies. (Beadle, 1996) These students were given specific problems to solve in short periods of time. The students remarked that email was a convenient and useful way to communicate with partners and with the teacher, and said things like, "felt more free to voice my problems and concerns," "responses received quickly," and "I could address my problem as it was happening and she always replied." (Beadle, p. 20)