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Digital Peer Review on #literacies chat

This evening, as a guest of Anna Smith and Emily Pendergrass, I will be helping to host the #literacies chat from 7:00pm-8:00pm EST. We’ll be talking about the theories behind and the opportunities of digital peer review  — plenty relevant for anyone beginning DigiWriMo, AcWriMo, or NaNoWriMo today! I’ve opened  a Google Document (#literacies/Digital Peer Review) for use before, during, and after the chat, especially for anyone who is interested but cannot attend.

For about three years I have been developing a process of peer review using two distinct but compatible metaphors: the organic writing and digital collaboration. It involves leading students through a generative writing process that uses vigorous peer review facilitated through online tools. I divide the composition process into three phases. We talk about writing as seeds (thesis)  and organs (brainstorming) in the first phase as writers are generating ideas and researching. Our second phase involves the organization of a composition, comparable to bones and skeletons. The final phase — which most people call editing — becomes the skin of the composition, the outer surface on which it’s often (sometimes unfairly) judged. We use open web applications throughout the process (lately I’ve used Crocodoc) to peer review each phase. I demonstrate the feedback that is appropriate for each specific phase, and we look at the text of a peer review together to shape subsequent sessions. I published an article on the the first part of this process (Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs) this summer on Hybrid Pedagogy. I am in the middle of writing its complement.

Any teacher who values writing in the classroom knows that peer review is tricky. We wonder how to best prepare our students for reviewing each other’s work and how to manage all of peer interactions that can happen outside our pedagogical reach. We look for ways to make peer review efficient and keep it from being an experience of surfaces. I suggest that use of peer review must be integrated as step into that process and that the connectivity of the web permits new, previously unavailable opportunities. My questions for tonight are:

  1. How is “peer review” a kind of compositional literacy?
  2. What useful adaptations have you found for teaching the skill of “peer review”?
  3. How have you used digital tools to revise “peer review” in the writing classroom?
  4. Would you like to try a digital “peer review” experiment with your #literacies peers?
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