Valarie Meliotes Arms, Drexel University, USA
English teachers have long recognized that “authentic” assignments involving real world tasks produce better writing because students see the immediate purpose. With the help of an enthusiastic IT group and a willing, though occasionally “reluctant” and skeptical faculty, I synthesized much of my research on pedagogy and classroom experience to develop English Alive: A Hybrid Learning Community for students from all majors. English Alive provides a multi-pronged approach to engaging students with technology that allows for data gathering necessary for assessment. We focus on authentic assignments drawn from the professions and the use of the full range of 21st century communication technology. We have reduced teacher class time in favor of more student online writing time and first hand experiences. The program is built on ‘projects” that require students to recognize the value of primary and secondary research in something as basic as describing a local community. The class also emphasizes the techniques for clarity in communication, whether the final project is a presentation, a poster or an essay.