Madison Husa Mr.

Whicker English 151 March 5, 2012

Online Instruction VS. Discourse Community Before you can blink it seems that there is some new part of technology that has advanced. Whether it is from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4s, a MacBook Pro to an Ipad, or Skype to Facetime, the advancement of technology keeps changing. Take the well-known discussion of discourse communities, if everything starts to become based on using technology like the advancement of being able to take courses online; does that still fall in the lines of what is considered a discourse community? With the advancement of technology it is hard to sometimes keep up and in order for the class to be beneficial the teachers need to know what they are teaching. Taking an online class can be beneficial and really help any person with convenience, but is it still providing the same benefits that it would be to be in a class and to have that “discourse community.” In Kleine, Porter, and Swales article they give a great description of what is considered a discourse community and what characteristics really form one. Porter defines a discourse community as, “a group of individuals bound by a common interest who communicate through approved channels and whose discourse is regulated. An individual may belong to several professional, public, or personal discourse communities.” (Porter, 91). This is a broad definition, but when digging deeper into what more it contains, Swale‟s article, The Concept of Discourse Community will do that. There is always more discussion or even confusion that comes with discourse communities, but his article helps clear things up.

Madison Husa Mr. Whicker English 151 March 5, 2012

In John Swale‟s article, The Concept of Discourse Community, he further goes into detail and clarification of what a discourse community entails and proposes six characteristics that are necessary to use to identify a group of individuals as a discourse community. The first is that the discourse community must have a set of common goals. The second is that they must have a mechanism to communicate among the members. Third, the discourse community will use its mechanisms to provide information and feedback. The fourth is that they must utilize and possess one or more genres in the community to develop expectations. Fifth in addition to the genre a discourse community has acquired specific lexis, which is the vocabulary of a language. The sixth characteristic is that the discourse community has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and expertise; this is showing that discourse communities have changing memberships (Swales, 473). With these characteristics it is present that even though a class is taken online, it still fits these characteristics of being a discourse community. It is like any academic setting, but done in a new way because of the advancement that we go through. In Kleine‟s article What Is It We Do When We Write Articles Like This One-and How Can We Get Students to Join Us, he talks about the research procedure and uses a hunting/gathering model to coincide with the need to show the “strategic” and “heuristic” aspects. In his findings he discovered that starting points for their work was involved in the research communities. Conversations with their peers, reading the work of a peer, listening to a paper by a peer, and the use of language with a

Madison Husa Mr. Whicker English 151 March 5, 2012

community of readers in mind. (Kleine, 25). Even if you are taking a class online and you have discussion going on, and peers to edit papers you do not always get the same answers as you would if you are in a classroom and you are able to talk face to face about a paper or an assignment for that matter and you get the feedback you need to make it better. The problem with doing this online is it can add more questions and not be as beneficial for the person because it is not always the same for people when they are speaking to someone versus writing something down because it does not always come out the same way. That being said, you are still interacting and doing just the same as you would in a classroom. It depends on if you see it as being more helpful to be in a classroom versus the online teaching. With technology developing, it can often strain our ability to keep up with it. Such things that can go along with this are problems that can happen with the technical side of it and the unequal access that exists. To help teachers form better use of their technology, they need help from the school and departments. With this, it can help them create their own support networks and helps with teaching strategies. In order for students to want to engage in discussion while taking an online course, the teacher who is instructing it still needs to go about it in a way that will entice the students. Since new patterns of social relations are evident in the cyber world, this has resulted in the so-called “cybercommunities.” This term “community” encompasses both material and symbolic dimensions (Jones, 39.) This shows that even though the cyber world is considered a public place, it is still a private space where even just two

Madison Husa Mr. Whicker English 151 March 5, 2012

people can engage in conversation and even strategize a meeting or discussing what would be said in a classroom lecture. After looking through articles and seeing what the „main‟ point was about anything online, it is the fact that technology keeps changing and in order for it to be used properly people have to know how to use it and keep up. Before, it was said how teachers need the proper instruction on how teach and to use the web. With this being said this is a work in progress and those who do teach an online class have to go through instruction first. Whether or not it is up to the standards of teaching in a classroom, online instruction is still considered to be a discourse community. Because technology keeps advancing, you are able to work on a computer just as if you were sitting in a classroom. Skype has improved the quality by even doing discussion to a further degree.

Madison Husa Mr. Whicker English 151 March 5, 2012

Works Cited Kleine, Michael. “What Is It We Do When We Write Articles Like This One-and How Can We Get Students to Join Us?” The Writing Instructor 6 (1987): 151-61. Print. Porter, James E. “Intertextuality and the Discourse Community.” Rhetoric Review 5.1 (1986): 34-47. Print. Stedman, Barbara. “Hooked on ‘Tronics, or creating a Happy Union of Computers and Pedagogies.” The Online Writing Classroom. Harrington, Susanmarie. RIckly, Rebecca. Day, Michael. New Jersey: Hampton Press, Inc.: 19-29 Swales, John. “The Concept of Discourse Community.” Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Boston: Cambridge UP, 1990. 21-32. Print. “Introduction to the Online Writing Classroom” The Online Writing Classroom. Harrington, Susanmarie. RIckly, Rebecca. Day, Michael. New Jersey: Hampton Press, Inc.: 3-7 “Identity and Communication in Cybersociety.” Virtual Culture. Jones, Steven G. London: SAGE Publications, 1997. 36-54 “Identity and Communication in Cybersociety.” Virtual Culture. Jones, Steven G. London: SAGE Publications, 1997. 102-132

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