From Amazon to YouTube I: Video Transcript

Dr. Heidi McKee [Assistant Professor, English]: From Amazon to Youtube is a first-year seminar for Honors and Scholars students and it is part of the first-year writing program. In this class, I seek to help students become more effective writers and more effective rhetoricians — people who can make arguments for specific audiences and for specific purposes.

Writing has changed so much in the last 20 to 30 years with computerized digital technologies. One other goal of this class is to enable students to write in a wide variety of contexts and in a wide variety of technologies. Students write traditional papers what would be printed on 8½ by 11 paper…researching, reporting topics on how the Internet has impacted their lives. They also write collaborative reports in wikis and working on how to construct something with someone else and how to blend your ideas and perspectives together which, I think, is a very important skill given the increased collaborative nature of so much work.

The other technologies with which students work are websites. For the final project of the course, they research how the Internet has impacted a particular aspect of culture and they create a website and share their research with a wide public audience.

In this project they have to engage in both secondary and primary research. Secondary research involves using library databases, using books, using articles, using sources at Google. The primary research involves the students actually designing and conducting their own research projects. They design surveys and host them on the Internet.

They went through the university research ethics training which is the exact same training that we, as professors, need to go through ... so that they have the opportunity to really immerse themselves in the professional expectations for being a researcher.

They also conducted interviews with people in the community and people around campus about how the Internet has impacted this particular aspect of culture.

So, for example, one of the groups was researching issues of privacy with online technologies and they interviewed one of the members of IT who's responsible for the IT privacy settings that we have with all of our Miami computers and they will edit that video and embed it in the website.

So, in the process of working on this one final project, they will have worked with paper and pencil, Microsoft Word, Dreamweaver — a web authoring program…they'll have worked with a wiki where they kept their class schedules, as well as email and everything else.

And so, what really excites me about having access to the computers and plasma screens and the Internet in class, is that it really broadens the audience for students and enables greater collaborative work across networks and within face-to-face contexts. Those are the primary goals of the class.

[April 2009]