Using Safari Live Web-conferencing Technology in Technical Writing Courses

The following is a presentation proposal for the Fall 2012 conference of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Using Safari Live Web-conferencing Technology in Technical Writing Courses: How Nonhuman Software Can Rehumanize Online Learning Spaces

Over the past six years the New York Institute of Technology (NYiT) has radically revised its core curriculum. This new Discovery Core seeks, among other things, to enhance all the core courses with various types of oral presentation assignments. NYiT also has a well-established online campus that has been operating for over two decades. The new Discover Core presents unique challenges to the online program, because the core seminars, writing courses, and various major courses offered online must meet the new core curriculum pedagogical requirements. An intriguing curriculum design challenge is how to implement good oral presentation projects in online courses. My talk will address this question in the context of my online technical writing course by suggesting the following:

  • Some online learning spaces can seem impersonal and alienating to some learners.
  • Web-conferencing tools like Safari Live can rehumanize learning spaces by opening up synchronous, nonhuman meeting spaces through which human contact is electronically mediated.
  • These mediated meeting spaces can provide a sense of human contact in an online course and thus approach the rehumanization of online courses.

In a brief PowerPoint presentation, I will introduce the Safari Live web-conferencing software, discuss the technical writing oral presentation assignment, explain student experiences, discuss effective ways of setting up the assignment, and discuss various challenges, failures, and successes of this assignment. It is my hope that the round table discussions will help me develop and improve the assignment design and that my own experiences may benefit others.