Notes from the Walter J. Ong Archive

Digging Composition 7

[Project Projector slide 4]

MOO-based writing projects can also be used to replace traditional essays. A more detailed version of the Anchorhold could replace a research paper on medieval female spirituality. Or such a space could even serve as a response to a group of readings, say for instance the entire Katherine Group, of which the Ancrene Wisse is a part.

MOO-based writing projects can even be used to create original arguments. A MOO argument may present a variety of issues and then suggest consequences through the ekphratic nature of MOO writing. Rather than list the harm pollution causes to waterways, students could construct natural spaces and show the harm pollution can do to the environment.

[Project Projector slide 5]

I recommend that major MOO-based writing projects be accompanied by a written analysis that explains the students' purposes and goals and how their MOO spaces attempt to achieve those goals. In most cases, students won’t become great MOO writers within a term, and to ask them for perfect and sophisticated MOO spaces is unrealistic, unless that’s the goal of the course, of course. So, whether they’re a writing class, a literature class, a history class, or even a science class, I think MOO-based writing ought to be accompanied by a more traditional piece of writing and that a large part of the evaluation of the project should rest upon that document. In such a document, students would explain not only what they did but why they did it.

[Project Projector slide 6]

Teaching students how to dig rooms and create objects does take work, and teaching them to become MOO literate enough to think critically about issues such as if their exit names are conducive to easy navigation, creating good messages, and showing ideas rather than dictating responses via descriptions takes even more time. Since this is so, why use MOO-based writing projects? I do so for a variety of reasons:

  • MOOs are effective tools for teaching rhetorical awareness
  • MOOs-based writing assignments are rhetorical rather than skill-based
  • MOO-based writing can serve the same cognitive and creative functions as the architectural mnemonic did for medieval scholars and writers.

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Last Modified: 8 November 2005
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