Writing in Public

As it happens, my institution has published a news story with quotes from many of the faculty about how they feel about students publishing their college work online. I have to say I have mixed feelings about what many of them say. I have to respectfully disagree with what the final respondent says: “All you have to do is look at 99 percent of the stuff posted online to realize that writing for a wider audience doesn’t always encourage more polished material.” That may be true, especially for young adults and teenagers, but I have to think it’s due in part to educators not teaching students what it means to write for a wider audience. My experience with my class tells me that most students don’t “get” that they’re writing for an audience, much less what that means. Once they do understand it, I find they start polishing their arguments and their writing. Most people writing online–in a blog, for example–consider it more like talking to friends than writing. Those that do take the audience seriously, I think, write fairly well.

I am also quoted in the article. If I’d known what some of the others had said before I handed in my quote, I might have said something different–just to stir things up.