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Developed by Ira Shor and pro- moted by James Berlin (cf. Why should we care so much about examin- ing the habits or routines we barely notice in our daily lives? Giddens argues that it is routines that help us maintain a conti- nuity of social action between individuals because they speak to our human need for connection to others. Consequently, by deroutinizing social behaviors, we uncover the values undergirding them and can begin reflecting on what these values mean — how they shape research papers writing help our sense of self and our conceptions of the commu- nities of which we are a part.
Particularly in this course, we focus on going beneath the surface of, or deroutinizing, our technol- ogy use in order to uncover those values and their influences on us.
The course is organized around an examination of the rhe- torical codes surrounding technology use in our lives.
Each unit begins with readings dealing with competing notions about the topic of the unit. During each unit, students typically write a couple of one- to two-page mini- essays or short responses and three drafts of an essay assign- ment.
I grade using a portfolio system, in which students submit their work at the end of each unit as well as at the end of the semester. The Assignments The following descriptions outline three assignments from the course just described.
The first is a short writing assignment from the first unit. Though short, it is vital for setting the context from which the class will operate throughout the semester. The next two assignments are both formal essays, from the second and third units. Throughout the discussion that follows, I have tried to go beyond summarizing a particular assignment in order to situate each one within my course goals, and I reflect on chal- lenges I have faced with each of them. Assignment 1: Keeping a Technology Journal The purpose of the first writing assignment is to use writing to help students deroutinize their daily technology use. As a class, the students must begin making visible the taken-for-granted impact of technology on everyday life.
During initial class dis- cussions, students hear the word technology and think of their cars or of the computers in dorm rooms and labs. Students must carry a notebook with them for two separate two-hour periods over a COURSE DESIGN weekend. In this notebook, they must record every incident or act in which they use a technology and the time of that use. Students need to be told that we do not expect completeness with this journal, but rather that they use their judgment about the level of descriptive detail. I do suggest an approximate number of pages for the two time peri- ods, but beyond that each student has to figure out his or her own way to keep such a journal.
During the follow-up class, students begin for the first time to deal with the question of how to define what counts as technology and how to make technologies visible in their daily routines.
Once, for example, a student had me add social security numbers to our list of technologies, but there was a mumble of disapproval among his classmates. Now it is with him daily, allowing him access to the library, dorms, the gym, food service and so on. Through this kind of class discussion, students come to their own understand- ing of the Foucauldian concept that technologies and their power in our daily routines are not centered on objects but in the ways those objects are used and in the actions of people and institu- tions.
Such discussion leads us to the subsequent writing assign- ments. The assignment reads: For this essay, you will need to choose a particular technological object or practice of college life and define its purpose and use as well as explore how your experience as a student has been influ- enced by this object or practice. Your audience for this essay will be future first-year students, people who have not attended col- lege or been on the Penn State Altoona campus before. This assignment is ultimately an act of analysis of the cultural codes that operate to define their best college essay service experiences as college students on our campus. The objects or practices that students have cho- sen to write about have included student ID cards, bus routes, parking regulations, e-mail accounts, phones, registration proce- essay writing service law dures, campus coffeehouses, the clock tower, pizza delivery, study lounges, and the duck pond that was built in the center of our campus. As a result, I have decided that, while students can write about a specific software application such as e-mail or a specific online Web site such as the advising site, they cannot write about computers in a generic way. The prevalence of popular narratives in which com- puters, like a fairy godmother, act as a force of good are so pow- erful that it is a rare first-year student who can resist using them as the beginning and ending of their analysis.