West’s article, “Weblogs and literary responses: Socially situated identities and hybrid social languages in English class blogs,” is a detailed account of the juxtaposition of academic literary study and online posting. She draws three students from her class and utilizes examples of how each one creates a unique, specific identity for themselves through their analysis of the text. Each identity is then broken down and compared to one another, offering similarities and differences based on the sample entries given. She concludes with an assessment that the fusion of something informal (the blog) and something structured (high school literature) can help improve the interaction of the students with regards to the text.
In my own experience, keeping some sort of journal where feelings about the reading assignment can be kept for use in class is not a new concept. The transition from small notebook on the side to internet blog seems a logical evolution of a good idea and making it more appropriate for a technology-based generation. What does stand out in West’s article, however, is that she is clearly not afraid of what her students might say. She shows this while discussing Evan and his use of “wtf” (592) in his blog regarding one of the books read for class. She argues “the use of this acronym in a school assignment can be read as dangerous; however, he chose not to spell out the actual word, which tempers this potentially inflammatory action” (592) in defense of her student’s use of vernacular when addressing a character in the text. This is significant, as she utilizes the student’s opinion and use of language to show that the assignment was done, understood, and an identity formed in the blog. West, however, fails to provide any evidence regarding the negative impact of such informal language on a high school level writing ability. The project offers a more comfortable forum of interpretation, but also seems to sacrifice the learning experience of formal writing.
West’s employment of blogging for a literature class is also significant, as she is establishing a technological pedagogical content knowledge with her students (Niess, et al., 2008). This is a considerable feat, as it moves critical thinking and text-heavy subject matter to a newer sphere of learning. With the completed blogs and established identities, a teacher can easily assess the needs and understanding of each student, and steer the lessons accordingly.
West, Kathleen C. (2208, April). Weblogs and literary responses: socially situated identities and hybrid social languages in english class blogs. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 51(7) 588-598.
Niess, Margaret L., Lee, John K., and Kadjer, Sara B. (2008). Guiding learning with technology. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons Inc.