For our TLH community-facing project, we created a shared site for our classes on the CUNY Academic Commons, centered around the concept of “writing with and for a community.” Each of our courses has a two sub-page on the site: one of which gives an overview of the course and some background, and another of which has blog posts by students, usually with contextualization by faculty members. Then students from other classes read these blog posts and commented on them, sometimes even creating new imagery or artwork in response. In this way, we hoped to foster an intercampus conversation about space and place.
Notions of audience, place, and identity–as well as the use of images–are woven through our courses. Carrie Hall’s Composition II course (NYCCT) focused on how students can best choose and produce in a genre to reach a particular audience. Marta Cabral’s class, Art in Elementary School Education (CSI) learned how to teach art to third and fourth graders. Erica Richardson’s students in Literatures of the Harlem Renaissance (Baruch) blogged about a trip to the Met. In Belinda Linn Rincon’s class, Latinx Street Literatures (John Jay) students watched and blogged about the film La Ciudad, often including images in their blogs. Dominique Zino’s class, Cultural Identity in American Literature (LaGuardia), read literature that address issues of dislocation/relocation, identity formation, and alienation and wrote blog posts about space and power.
The project was, in many ways, a success: students gained a great deal from seeing what is happening on other campuses, and it made their projects feel more real to have a live audience for their blog posts. Carrie Hall’s class had the option of writing a unit with a fourth grade audience in mind, and the respondents, Marta Cabral’s class, were in training to be fourth grade teachers which allowed for vibrant visual feedback. It was also a great benefit also to have a variety of course levels so that beginning writers could see what upper level students are doing, and upper level students could take on a mentorship role and reflect upon how far they’ve come. That said, we did also have our struggles. Much of these had to do with scheduling and planning; we struggled to find anyone to assist with web design and needed to do it ourselves. Also, because we didn’t have our project in play until well into the semester, we didn’t have time to seamlessly plan in a way that would best benefit the project and the students. That said, this is the type of project all of us would be happy to do again with the benefit of experience.
While the public-facing project is mostly the website itself, we will culminate the project early next week with a brief online discussion between the five of us about the website and the benefits and difficulties of intercampus collaboration.