Clark had some great points on digital rhetoric, and I definitely noticed connections between her arguments in favor of incorporating digital rhetoric in the classroom and the ways we have been using digital rhetoric. One aspect I identified with was how digital rhetoric can help strengthen an argument in ways traditional writing lacks. For example, she talked about Ray, a student from China, who was able to make his arguments much more powerful by providing visual rhetoric in addition to words. In traditional papers, we often limit ourselves to text, and consequently limit the arguments we can make. With digital rhetoric, we can incorporate pictures, videos, hyperlinks and much more, making our arguments stronger and more engaging for the audience. In this class, we have been encouraged to add media to our blog posts, and I find the posts much more engaging to read when they contain images and links.
One aspect I hadn’t thought about until reading this paper was understanding the impact of writing for a public audience. As an extreme example, Clark talked about an undocumented student who posted a personal essay on her ePortfolio chronicling her illegal arrival to the United States. Clark made the student take down the paper in order to protect her, but the situation prompts some tough questions. When is a professor allowed to step in and make a student remove work? Is this considered censorship? Was threatening to fail her student the right course of action to take or was she taking advantage of someone who had little power? Conversely, what if students feel uncomfortable making all their work public but are afraid to speak up for fear of having points deducted?
I can’t think of alternative methods of teaching modern-day rhetoric, but one thing I think our classroom could improve upon is the connection between audience and writer. We are able to receive instant feedback on our blog posts, but the audience interaction stops there. Very rarely do students reply to comments that other students have left on their posts, thus eliminating true dialogue. In addition, although we do peer editing in class for our papers, the final draft is ultimately what goes on our ePortfolios. In future classes it might be interesting to post a close-to-final draft online and see what kind of feedback the online community provides, which would include feedback from beyond just our classmates. Of course, this could get tricky with all the internet trolls and Negative Nancies of the world, but it may be worth exploring.