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September 25, 2001
Going Public
With Student's Writing
On The Internet

By Amy Williams, Staff Writer

   FRESNO STATE -- In the past, going public with student writing meant producing the occasional in class magazine or writing for the college newspaper.
     Today, the demand for public writing reaches beyond the confines of the classroom experience, according to Emily Isaacs, an assistant professor of English at Montclair State University, and Phoebe Jackson, a visiting professor of literature at William Paterson University of New Jersey.
     They cite the Internet as offering a broad new range of possibilities on personal and class Web pages, allowing students' writing to reach an "infinite virtual audience."
    While many scholars argue quite forcefully for public writing, few discuss the values of the experience, the ethics involved with asking students to engage in this kind of writing, or the approaches and strategies that are employed when students attempt to do so.
     Is it even ethical of us to assume students will necessarily benefit from such a practice? What kind of problems can we expect to face? What are the effects on students and their writing?
     Isaacs and Jackson explore the range of what constitutes public writing: in-class oral presentations, in-class publications, print or electronic, and printed materials resulting from service learning projects.
     Then they theorize and reflect on the issues that such practices raise. It surprised me that the authors are all able to support the publication of this kind of student writing and to take a critical look at the embedded pedagogical and ethical issues. This is worth a close read.

    [Editor's Note. The order this excellent work click on -- Public Works: Student Writing as Public Text (Boynton/Cook Heinemann, 2001), edited by Emily J. Isaacs and Phoebe Jackson. $19.]


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