Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Notes from Annoying Yellow

The Google Docs experience incited that techno-skeptical part of me that disagrees with the belief that online spaces actually decenter the classroom. I am still not convinced that face-to-face (or atleast real-time phone or chatting) interaction can be divorced from digital space interaction when working on a joint document. Synchronous chat is one thing—I don’t think anyone is ever trying to get anything cohesively created with synchronous chats. Without one common agreement on where a thesis is going, I think the writing will remain fragments until (eventually) the ideas meld together through active editors in the text. In many ways, I think this format forces one person to become an editor (as Shawn mentioned in class). Look, I think it is possible to make a cohesive paper through Google docs without meeting with the other collaborators; but I think it will take a whole lot longer if the group doesn’t hash out the motives over the paper over coffee.

I feel like some old dogmatic comp teacher here, but I just can feel the frustration with the lack of focus. It seems contradictory to work towards an argument and yet not spend time planning with a group of voices. I don’t mean to say that multiple voices won’t be apparent in the document, but having a document written by as many as 12 people requires some serious face time before it become somewhat cohesive.

On the flip side, I had fun writing a paragraph with Shawn when it was just him and me. He wrote a sentence; I wrote a sentence in reply; he wrote in reply to me; etc. And, oddly enough, it read like a cohesive paragraph. And small groups (2-3 people), if they worked slow or not simultaneously, could put together a very cool collaborative document. However, I am still skeptical of collaboration w/o f2f.

Also, as long as I am sounding like a old codger, my opinion is that Google docs is most helpful as a revision tool. Collaborating with others to write a document requires much more social interaction; but when someone posts a draft on Google docs, it becomes a great forum for outside editors to revise and add to the document. This type of revision is a type of collaborating towards a document, yet it deals more with established text instead of the pre-writing process. For the pre-writing process, I would recommend using other social tools in cyberspace (a/synchronous chats, etc.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dispositions, Weapon Bags, and Toolbars

I thought the Thomas and Brown article was incredibly informative to our classroom discussion regarding design and pedagogy. Through engaging with the World of Warcraft and reading this article, I was reflective of the learning processes occurring in my quest. Here is my central observation: awareness of the toolbar is a key dispositional ability and this connects gaming learning to software composition.

I logged onto to WoW and the first thing I saw was a bar at the bottom of the page; I logged onto Photoshop, Comic Life, Word, etc. and the first thing I saw was a toolbar. In Thomas and Brown’s article, they discuss disposition and awareness of the learning environment. Action in the learning environment is accomplished through the toolbar. What am I selecting? What is the tool I am using? What will it do?

A game like WoW encourages the user to select and place things in the toolbar and experiment to find out what these tools do. If you can’t use it, the game indicates when and why you can use. (ex: certain weapons cannot be used until you reach a certain experience level). In the same way, a palette in a design software program encourages experimentation. The main difference between Wow and a program like Photoshop is that WoW starts you in a world and gives you direction while Photoshop gives you a blank digital page. Both encourage imagination and both require dispositional knowledge. So how do we combine creating and playing? Is that the big question in this class?

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Killed a Cougar, and I Felt No Remorse.

Damn you, World of Warcraft! I told myself that I would play it from 10am -12pm today, and I ended up starting at 9:30 and playing until 1:30. I had a lot to do today: I had a book review and a blog to write, some research to do, and a computer lab to manage. But instead, I just couldn’t stop myself from killing little beasts alongside the road. Ugh. . .I have been told that WoW is addictive, but I did not think it would appeal to my insatiable desire to acquire fake money and weapons.

Okay, I’ll back up a little and share my whole experience before I start venting about by weird fetishes and lack of time management.

I initially chose to be a member of the Undead because they looked freakin’ cool. But, for my first tour of the World of Warcraft, I wanted to have friends to share my experience and help me out. So, I abandoned my aspirations to be a wicked awesome zombie killer and I became a Tauren: the Native-American, large teddy bears with horns-type characters. I prompt hung out with Chris, Rachel and Jerry.

Initially, it was fun hanging out with the group for a little while. Yet, the “Playstation-gamer” in me wanted to go off on my own and do individual tasks. The social aspect was a little frustrating at first—I really just wanted to call Chris on the phone and ask him what I should do. Once I figured out how to text, I kept just wanting to talk to Chris because I just wanted to learn how to talk, joke, dance, fight, jump, etc. Basically, I just wanted to know how to maneuver my character to be able to play the game.

I was not that interested in socializing. When people wanted to socialize or duel, I just ignored them or declined. Once, I got help from another guy to kill the head of the razorbacks; but that was the extent of my social interaction with people in the game. I was all about the task-oriented game. Because of this, I found a few aspects of the game to be frustrating. First, I am all about fast-paced action fighting. It seemed like it took forever for me to kill plainstriders and boars. I am used to games like God of War where I press a whole bunch of buttons and my arms become nuclear warheads to kill everyone on sight. It irritated me that it took me five minutes to kill things, especially when it was part of my current task.

Second, I hated having to stride slowly across fields. Although the view of the plains and surrounding mountains were depicted in beautiful hi-def graphics, I couldn’t stand lumbering for minutes on minutes to get to my task.

I guess I am impatient with the game and I am not sure exactly why. Is it because I just wanted to earn my gold star and leave? Is it because I wasn’t excited playing a Tauren? Am I just not a social gamer? Regardless, I am sure that there are people like me that just want to do their thing and get their prizes. That is probably where much of the addiction comes from: there is always a new level and a new achievement. However, my anti-social behavior is something I want to address in class. If someone like me, who doesn’t care much about interacting with people, treats the game as more of a goal achieving experience as opposed to a social experience, is the pedagogical significance of the game still relevant?

Ugh. . .I think I am going to go back and play the game. . .stupid addictive game. Nothing says St. Patrick’s Day like Beer and mystical creatures. Maybe I’ll go play some rockband tonight to offset the fantasy buzz.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Identity Tourism and Americana

When I was in High School, a friend of mine made a very astute observation about white male middle class ego. He said, “ in our lifetime, guys like us went from bragging about how much horsepower their cars have to how much RAM and Memory their computers contain.” I didn’t realize it when he said it; but it eventually sunk in what he meant by cultural shift and control on both a domestic and international scale. White Americana has trickled its racist notions into the pervasive stream of ideology that dominates new media communication. Those white kids that used to fix up their cars now sit in a cubicle and create or play video games. And these white consumers then become the starting point for Nakamura’s Cybertyping when cyber identity tourism becomes a mainstay of game play.

I will give a personal example: I just bought the game Rockband for my Playstation. The first thing I do when I start my world tour is to create a character. What is interesting about the profile creation interfaces is that there is an assumption that race is not significant—it is merely coincidental. The assumption is that one creates a type of ‘Rocker.’ However, these rockers fall into the category of typically ‘white rockers’: Punk, Metal, Goth, Rock. Hence, the stereotypical outfits of white rockers are available to create your character. There is the ability to change the color of skin on the character, but the facial types are restricted to assumed rock facial types, like ‘pixie’ for women (a very thin face) and ‘meat head’ for men (a very thick face).

In its apparent avoidance of race, Rockband solidifies that white people own the profiles of rock n’ roll. It is this type of cybertyping that makes new media susceptible to subtle forms of overt racism. Of course, this happens all the time in profile creation interfaces. They are a space for identity tourism that both solidify dominant ideology and allow for blackface and cross-dressing among white male gamers.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Feminine Miss Geek

If there are two main ideas that I have (so far) gleaned from this course, it would these two: 1) technologies introduced into the classroom have the opportunity of being panoptic, and 2) the same oppressive ideologies that exist in the physical world also manifest themselves in the cyber world. The later point was definitely manifested in the three articles that we read—Romano, Sullivan, and Hawisher & Sullivan. The male gaze still exists online and discursive oppression in chat forums still exist despite the fact that the chat forum gives women more of an ability to speak and not be silenced.

I further shatter my hopes of technology being a liberating space in reading (and agreeing with) these three readings. Romano’s hope for reform of the female subjective self seems only partially possible in that women are able to speak in online forums, but they can only really control their own cyber personae and not the male oppression that speaks them. In this same way, Sullivan accounts the disturbing male gaze as perpetually objectifying women, and making them self-conscious in an online space that is able to transform hegemonic gazes (but traditionally refuses). When I got to Hawisher & Sullivan’s article, it then hit me: women are able to take control of their visual representation when they are able to alter the image on their own terms. Here is some hope to counteract male hegemonic gaze, and yet this ability to alter the image is exclusive in itself.

One characteristic that I noted about Hawisher & Sullivan’s 20-something women whom creating websites was that both of them were studying graphic design. Hawisher & Sullivan note that these women have more control over how they are visually portraited and they expose themselves to the male gaze on their own terms. However, they have the liberty to do this through their expertise: they are cyber geeks who know how to operate the internet and they are graphic design geeks who know how operate graphic design software in order to represent themselves in the ways they want to be represented. In contrast, the faculty example of Susan Hilligoss showed that Susan either did not have the time to make her own website, did not have the expertise to construct a site, or was restricted by the department from creating her own site; these days, the first two possibilities are more likely. Those women with the abilities to visually alter themselves, to mold their cyborg selves, can do so. But what about the women that don’t have the expertise to alter image? Are they still subject to the male gaze because they cannot shield themselves through technological abilities?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Expectations and Desires in Learning: a scattered synchronous chat

The three major evaluative thoughts I had about Thursday’s synchronous chat are 1) I learned a lot about learning 2) I am unsure whether any learning took place, and 3) it was lots of fun. I’ll explain.

When we broke up into two groups, our (Me, Chelsey, and Jerry) goal was to have one group that was to be more controlled and one that was more free. Chelsey assumed the role of the controller of conversation, making an effort to try and keep everyone in the group focused on a particular topic. Jerry and I had the opposite approach with our group: we opened up the conversation with a question and then let things happen in the group, occasionally inserting deviating comments.

What is interesting is that the opposite effect happened than what we hypothesized: the controlled group was out of control and the uncontrolled group wanted more structure. Particularly, in my group, we started looking at the question proposed:
“In Fragments of Rationality, Lester Faigley states that " Electronic discussions both invite participation and seriously limit a teacher's ability to control the direction they take. Just as the authority of the teacher is decentered, the authority of the text is also decentered in electronic written discussions, demonstrating Lyotard's claim that truth is local and contingent" (185). In what ways does a space with decentered authority and textual meaning foster a learning environment in the classroom? What are it's advantages and it's disadvantages?”
Many insightful comments were made about this question including these comments by Amy and Jeanette:

amybethm: I think the decentered-ness may give more individuals a chance to speak, but their comments could also easily be overlooked since we could all be typing at the same time.

dr.migglerstein: Lyotard's notion of truth as local and contingent captures the essence of synchronous discussion in the classroom - those fleeting, yet focused moments of learning that are difficult to monitor

After a apt metaphor by Jeanette about how the conversation in synchronous discussions flow freely “like Albion Creek, that just overlapped it's floodplain area,” the members of the group quickly became impatient that no one was controlling the conversation:

amybethm: (I'm already wanting someone to take control)

amybethm: I'm thinking I'd be annoyed if I were a teacher who was hoping to actually get something focused accomplished.

dr.migglerstein: I agree with Amy

And then there were some attempts to get the conversation moving in a productive manner:
amybethm: I'm curious, how many of your IM like this on a reg. basis?

donnajeanevans: I wonder if having different threads occurring simultaneously
generates unusual connections--critical thinking possibilities that could contribute
to new knowledge

My overall assessment was that Amy took a leadership role in the chat because she seemed the most frustrated that the conversation was not being directed; mainly her leadership came from asking questions. My other assumption was that Kristin did not want to be the leader, even though there might have been more restraint in the group because “the teacher” was in our chat. (That also might have been the reason why Chelsey’s group felt more free to be disruptive.) Either way, my assumption that our group would be more chaotic because we were not directed ended up being false. There was a genuine desire to have a productive conversation in the chat.

So, what I learned is that desires for productivity and interpretation of productivity is large factor in the motivation for conversation in synchronous chats. How do we measure this productivity? Does the conversation have to be productive? Is it a learning environment without being a traditional productive space? In short, did we learn anything from this experience?

But overall, I had fun.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Seeing is Living

In Kress’s article, 'English' at the Crossroads: Rethinking Curricula of Communication in the Context of the Turn to the Visual, he discusses the changing landscape of education literacy from a tightly organized discursive space being read to liberated non-discursive space being used by students. Kress notes this change in congruence with the changing visual society that emerged in the 20th and 21st century. With this article, I began to think about how image studies truly can be used in a composition class. These are my initial thoughts:

First of all, Berger was right: seeing comes before reading. And writing instructors have long embraced text and labeled image studies as low brow because of a desire to label seeing image as laziness while reading text is real ‘work’. But, as George and many others have pointed out, the visual world and visual literacies are inextricably tied to composition studies because images are essential to understanding and creating meaning alongside discursive text.

What I am interested in—being a computer lab administrator and all—is how software today is capable of allowing students to easily compose visual arguments. When Harris Leonard disallowed the creation of comics in his classroom, he stopped them from exercising the student’s inclusion of their voice within the classics (George 27-28). If his students had Comic Life, there would have been some brilliant expressions of visual literacy that would have showed competency in design and the conglomeration of the oral, discursive and non-discursive in composition and meaning making. I would love to expand on George’s article to express how software and computer knowledge gives students the ability to create visual pieces in a composition classroom.

I suppose I can start by looking at how Yancey proposes that the composition classroom pay attention to Circulation of composition, Canons of rhetoric, and the Deicity of technology. Particularly, the creation of visual composition through the computer screen is the beginnings of the circulations in the way that Yancey evokes David Russel: “Writing is alive when it is being written, read, remembered, contemplated,
followed—when it is part of human activity” (Yancey 312). Melding textual and non-discursive composition (thus, the crafting and reforming meaning) in a software program like comic life allows students opportunity to break beyond purely discursive modes and begin writing in a human way—a visual way—by seeing meaning as both discursive (words) and non-discursive (image).

As well, Wysocki develops several strategies for helping students analyse and compose visual texts. What I appreciate most about the Wysocki article is that she gives the potential instructor using visual rhetoric a ton of questions to ask their students about the visual world that surrounds us. These activities and questions eventually move from observation of visual rhetoric to creation of visual rhetoric. All the while, the processing of visual rhetoric is recursive: thinking about about visual rhetoric and creating it are a circulation process! So, after spending class time thinking about visual rhetoric, a student could essentially design a comic book in Comic Life that not only follows certain conventions in comic book making, but the student is also free to explore his or her understanding of visual rhetoric in an learning environment where the main goal in encountering, negotiating, analyzing and manipulating visuals.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Linear Sminear

All three pieces bat around one of the questions central to the Composition and Rhetoric field: how can the writer truly create something authentic and not just ideologically driven? It is unfortunate that American education remains an expedient machine intent on creating automatons under the guise of literacy. As Hesse and Wysocki and Johnson-Eilola mention essays and literacy respectively, it appears that a cultural laziness has gripped educators to use these terms broadly instead specifically; and dominate ideology is happy (and, no doubt, responsible for) umbrella statements that allow for constraint in student writing. Most notably, Hesse and Wysocki and Johnson-Eilola note that such sweeping definitions reinforce the expectations for linear composition, which not only complicates contrastive modes of discursive writing but also is a beginning of invaliding non-discursive modes of composition such as image and sound.

The pessimist in me thinks that computers and the digital screen will only manifest new ways of exercising power over groups of people; and the potency of this control will come from the fallacy that technological spaces are in fact neutral. The optimist in me believes what Baron says when he states, “the computer has indeed changed the ways some of us do things with words, and the rapid changes in technological development suggest that it will continue to do so in ways we cannot yet foresee” (31). The computer is not just a new means for control, it is a new means to reform literacy (and, by the way, Wysocki and Johnson-Eilola have totally ruined ‘literacy’ for me by exposing it as a Comp buzz word; now I have to search for a new word, and apparently ‘articulation’ is already taken).

So, question: if post-modern notions of space and time frees up the user of technology from learning linearly, whose to say that non-linearity doesn’t become the enemy by being a form of literacy that not everyone is comfortable with? If non-linearity becomes a dominant form of expression (and I am even wondering if it even could be a dominant form of expression in education), couldn’t it be just as exclusive as linear forms in that non-linear forms can be elusive in meaning while linearity at least attempts at clarity? This just one of those nagging questions that have whenever any idea is championed as a solution to education.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Digital Commonplace

Technology is a part of our lives. I’m stating the obvious here. Even if a person in America tries to say they are techno-illiterate, they must admit they know what email is and probably sent a few in the past week. If they said they don’t own a computer, they still use public computers to find a book in the library or check online current events. The digital revolution has come and it is interwoven into our social life. You can’t even enroll in classes or manage your finances at WSU without regular access to the internet.

Faigley notes Slouka’s contension that technology alienates the individual into pursuing technologic environments that are more appealing than real physical communities. Yes, there is a deliberate escape from reality in World of Warcraft and Second Life; but I am more interested in how the digital screen is interwoven into our reality as not only part of our social understanding of communication but our conceptualization of reality. Ten years after Faigely’s address to CCCCs, we have seen the literacy of technology move from innovative exciting social possibilities to commonplace social interaction.

Because this literacy has become commonplace, it seems more necessary to consider how to make writing applicable in a technological world instead of using technology in the writing literate world. The development of civic pluralism in society, as the New London group discuss, has made consumerism and productivity a part of our private lives. The vehicle of this production is technology: a tool for efficient, expedient production. Hence, literacy in technologies and technological spaces makes a part of a society. What is your email address? What is your account number on the database? Please enter your password. Having an email account takes priority over what you write in the email. Having the tool is more important than knowing how to use it.

So, I wonder if the New London Group’s emphasis on calling writing ‘design’ further prioritizes technological access over technological articulation? Are ‘available designs’ just a toolbar on the digital screen that gives us options to choose from but ultimately limits our creation?

Monday, January 21, 2008

PoMo o' that Messy Discourse

As a teacher and administrator in the computer lab, I experience the most frustration in trying to hold the attention of twenty-some students who have the internet, various games and software programs, and preference menus to play with on the computer as I talk. I have barely introduced myself and there are two people in the corner checking their email, three people off to the side checking facebook, and a guy right next to me is adjusting the background of the computer while playing chess on a sidebar widget. Part of me just wants to scream, “Alright, everybody! Just turn off your computers and look at me!” But that is just not how it works in a computer-based classroom. Faigley, Hawisher and Selfe, and Cooper are right to note that we must be attentive to the post-modern structure of the electronic space. If the electronic space is the beginning of a student-centered space for a classroom, I (as an instructor) have to come to terms with relinquishing the power previously held in lecture-based classroom when guiding a classroom in a electronic discussion.

When Cooper defines postmodernity as “a response to our increased awareness of the great diversity of human cultures,” she notes both the need to confront issues of power dynamics and also an awareness of the cacophony of cultures and symbols we encounter on a consistent basis (142).

When I see students enter into the computer interface, I see that they experience the space as a liberated and free space for them to express themselves without constraint. Besides what the class has already discussed regarding Foucault and the disciplinary functions that computers can employ in users (and I don’t want to dismiss this alternative caution towards the invisible supervisor; I just want to dwell on the apparent positives for the time being), a computer interface does allow students to escape a visible authority figure. In the transcripts from Faigley’s article, we see that the students are actively engaging with each other and with ideas rather than just appeasing the instructor. And though the dangers are that conversations can get off topic, Coopers suggestion of guiding students towards being consciously aware of how their voice is affective in social situations seems to optimistically suggest that a “teaching moment” could arise out of any train wreck of a classroom experience.

This liberated space is a fragmented space. Even while I write this blog, I have done the following:
• gone into iTunes to adjust my playlist to songs that will fit my current mood
• Checked my email twice
• Responded to one email.
• Checked the scores of a few Pac-10 games on
• Shuffled a few files on my desktop into a folder because I was thinking my desktop was too cluttered
• Adjusted the size of my word processing window three times.
I’m not looking for distractions either: that is just the nature of the space. I mean, electronic conversations can take place and be quite enriching while the users are concurrently playing games, checking email, conversing on other chat spaces, etc. The space is fragmented. But is this multiaccentuality or is it really lack of attention? Can this lack of attention get in the way of people seeing the power structures apparent in electronic spaces?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Pursuit of the Ideal

Let’s step out of the controlling gaze of the panopticon and imagine a technological space that can transcend assessment: liberating any person to express both their individuality and their culture without the expectancy of conforming to a ‘white’ way of thinking. In this ideal space, an individual can finally break away from the ideologically oppressive mire left in the physical world and enter into a space that will welcome difference and thrive upon unrestrictive expression for the sake of literacy. That is the dream, at least.

That was the dream put forth in through the large-scale computer literacy project by the Clinton-Gore administration that Cynthia Self mentions in her article “technology and literacy: A story about the perils of not paying attention.” Selfe notes that technology and literacy and inextricable, and that social implementations of technology tends to reinforce divisions of literacy and the digital divide. The idealism of thinking that placing computers in front of students (typically privileged students) will open up equal opportunities is misguided since oppressive ideologies still guide this technological implementation in education. According to Selfe, the potential lies in local attention to technology and literacy.

Grabill, Banks, Walton each discuss the potential of technological spaces and they also discuss the power of these spaces. Grabill states outright that access to computers is an ‘issue of the justice’ in which the egalitarian dream of universal literacy is dependent. Meanwhile, Banks and Walton describe this space as white dominated. Thus, these articles in dialogue, portray technological spaces as empowering but ultimately restrictive. Additionally, both Banks and Walton discuss the problem, but how do we really open the space? Can spaces like BlackPlanet really diffuse white ideology? Or these spaces further alienate such space from mainstream white-controlled technological spaces?

Monday, January 14, 2008

No Subject

A question that comes to mind when reading Foucault’s “Truth and Power” and Giddens’ “Agency, Structure” is how does the participant in power structures willingly consent to a structure that has no subject? The simple idea that comes to mind is blind allegiance: willingly involving oneself in a system of ideas that seems to have no controlling agent. Foucault seems to think that this subject is hidden within historicism (117) while Giddens sees this absence of subject as important for our structured social system (66), but what is most intriguing about the necessity of the subject being withdrawn from social systems is that this breeds transformation of structures through a seemingly malleable social structure. Though ideology can be oppressive when the subject is elusive, the opposite can be true: ideology can then be diffused. Our blind allegiance can easily change allegiance.

A transformative belief in social structures appears to be a hopeful belief towards change and improvement, and yet Giddens’ discourse on the recursive nature of social structures does not give me great hope. Do we really have agency in these structures? Giddens is certain that we have the free will to act in structures, and yet he outlines a system that is socially recursive and interdependent.

The relate the social structures Foucault and Giddens discuss to teaching with technology in the fact that the agency that technology gives to both the teacher and student in a pedagogical setting is transformative, recursive, and constraining. For many technologies are aimed at being a transformative structure: a liberating social space that teachers drool over because they see students ‘open up’ in their expressions. However, these new social structures, developed through chat rooms, online gaming, and multimedia composition, are still built within the larger superstructure of society that is governed by, as Foucault states, power and truth. As Foucault describes the ‘specific’ intellectual, he envisions one who seeks to transform social spaces while being aware of the constraints of the power that controls new technologies. That is the hope of the teacher using technology in his or her classroom.

But, once again, are we afraid of being wowed by the technology and blindly forgetting the power that operates the technology? Does the subject disappear because we are not looking intently enough for it?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I am Panopticon

I admit that I am always drawn to the latest technology and consider it for classroom use. And in Bentham’s time, panopticism is the latest technology: a new hope for a utopian society—order and eradication of society’s ill humours. I could only imagine that if the time of 18th century reform thought and 21st century composition theory were to coexist in some parallel state, many composition instructors would consider the panoptic method of surveillance as means of social improvement to be a useful methodology in the composition classroom. Desiring to find new and interesting ways of viewing student writing (and then, in fact, controlling the writing process while controlling the individual), instructors want to embark on the exciting pedagogical adventure through new technology to help individuals succeed in a society by being literate. In fact, these presumptions are based on the fact that the classroom (and I am specifically the composition classroom) are directly influenced by the panopticon. Foucault rhetorically asks, “is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons” (Panopticism 228). And I shutter.

For it is a sobering and sad thought that technology is not a savior and that new means of viewing and correcting composition (as a form of discipline and behavior correction) is just another manifestation of panoptic control. But. . .wait. It’s too late! I am a computer lab assistant exhorting the great benefit of technology in the classroom— exclaiming the virtues of the latest software that makes assessment easier, fast, more indicative of individual literacy. And yet am I contributing to this panoptic ideology that has dominated our modern society. Ugh, I’m not an passionate teacher; I am just another part of the mechanism that is training students for a disciplined existence in society.

These readings, to me, were warnings to be attentive to the mechanism of education that we construct as we construct a classroom. Bentham’s Panopticon, as Foucault describes it, is a sinister mechanism of control predestined for social society. What is perhaps most interesting about this mechanism is its covert function. The chief observer in the tower is unseen: hence, “invisibility is a guarantee of order” (Panopticism 200). The ideology of the panopticon operates under consent in social reality on a consistent basis and it does so, in large part, because of a consistent awareness of surveillance.

So, while being immersed in the excitement of using new technologies in the classroom, are composition instructors perpetuating an institutionalization of the individual by using web communities and socially interactive software as tools in their classroom pedagogy? As Foucault notes in The Eye of Power, eighteen century reformers, in their idealism, “failed to see that [media forms of survellience] would necessarily be under the command of economico-political interests” (162). Are we idealistic thinkers, too? Are we not considering how new technologies are panoptic?