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Cultivating an Authentic Voice in the Online Environment

Session 3
Laura DeSena — NYU, West Milford High School, NJ, Innovations in Online Education, Inc.

Self is delineated in the writing process: authentic writing evolves in critical discourse with audience, subject, and sources of information. Discussion boards, blogs facilitate this development. This session considers writing as practice in the art of self-discovery and self-expression, even as the writer engages in dialogue with authoritative texts (external sources) and with peers. The challenge is to guide students toward establishing voice and vision: I/the subjective eye. The context is an environment of infinite resources that overwhelm the voice of the student writer: “cutting and pasting” is easier than thinking; regurgitation is easier than inquiry and discovery. We will explore free writing as an essential stage of authentic writing: composition, research papers, blogs (leading) and discussion board postings (following). Original writing must involve a study of self: innermost thoughts, belief systems, moral values and aesthetic values. Authentic writing is a journey through unfamiliar territories: the subject matter and the subjective eye. Exploration involves questioning, challenging, testing — not merely absorbing and restating. The desire to understand beckons us further. "Research can engender dialogue across centuries, across oceans, through infinite cyberspace. It represents a human desire to move forward, to discover new places and fathom the nature of self in the process. It breaks through isolation to dispel ignorance, prejudice, fear of the unknown" (DeSena 9).

Work Cited DeSena, Laura Hennessey. Preventing Plagiarism: tips and techniques. Urbana,
Il.: NCTE, 2007.

Conversational Practice

Using a discussion board to concretize the chaos of collaboration: the generation of assignment ideas of participants for all fields requiring research and composition that are embedded in a context of critical discourse in the online environment.

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