public discourse writing class, revisited

I have a more substantive post brewing, but I am about to head out on a whirlwind (and probably ill-advised) trip back east to visit friends, and I don’t think it will get done tonight.

I wanted to mention a couple of things today, though, while they are still fresh in my mind.  I taught WR 222 again today, which is a composition class that focuses on non-scholarly public discourses.  When I do sessions for this class, I don’t have to talk about finding books, or scholarly articles so much as editorials, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, blogs, tweets, and the like.

The students come in very early in their process too; about half of each class is still in the “what should I write about” phase.  So I also focus on showing them places where they can browse lots of ideas, arguments, opinions and points of view.

This is the class I wrote about here, and here.

This year, I showed Newsmap again.  It was the first time I really looked at it since it upgraded, and it is improved.  Unlike last year, there is a search function now.  It’s still a slice of Google News, and the search bits have some glitches.  But for the students who don’t want to browse, and who still want the visual interface, it’s an improvement.  This tool was a big hit again, most of the students at least tried it, and some stayed in it the whole session.

I also showed some of the new additions to Google search- search options, unveiled this week at the Searchology conference.  I haven’t really figured out how to make the timeline thingy work interestingly.  And I haven’t browsed the options for narrowing down to recent information very much.

Mostly, I wanted to show the Wonder Wheel, which offers its own visual search interface  (h/t Caleb).  It’s pretty fun to browse up and down connected searches.  This one was popular as well, especially in the second class I taught today – in that group, I saw at least half of the group trying it out.

Usually, when students come in to the library and I’m teaching, they have topics and they’ve done some work.  I honestly don’t know how it would work to encourage open browsing in library databases – it might work out great, but still, I’m glad that when I have a reason to encourage it, it’s in this class where we can use these fun tools to do it.

2 thoughts on “public discourse writing class, revisited

  1. what i like about wonder wheel vis a vis other ‘visual search’ tools – aquabrowser, the old kartoo, ebsco, etc is the that google doesn’t try to show you the whole complex network, just the 2-6 closest nodes to your search.

    so much duh! because visual search is all about processing information spacially, and cluttered space messes things up.

  2. If you have some time this summer, maybe we should start on our public discourse article – which I see as connecting to the book idea because all the books I’ve seen seem to think of “the research paper” as a fairly set item whereas in my classes it is much broader.

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