EATAW / Athens Conference 2005
Abstracts of Keynote Presentations

“Teaching Writing As Information Management”

Dr. Mahmoud T. Arani and Dr. Elizabeth O'Dowd, Saint Michael’s College, U.S.A.

In the last few decades, the process approach to teaching writing has become well-established in TESL. In this approach, the creation of meaning and the importance of generating, formulating and refining one's ideas have been emphasized. Thus, the prewriting and revising stages have become the main components of instruction, with a central focus on the writer.

The presenters argue that while the process approach is quite an improvement over traditional product-oriented approaches to writing instruction, it does not address the major issues that culturally, educationally, and linguistically diverse international students face when writing in English. The presenters propose a more comprehensive model which goes beyond process. This model emphasizes the importance of product and of skill-building in the drafting stage, with a focus on elements of information management. These elements include shared schematic knowledge, discourse purpose, thesis development, rhetorical structures, and information quantity in intercultural written communication. After the discussion of the model, participants will have the opportunity to see and to do some of the writing activities that this model proposes, to discuss their instructional value, and to suggest ways to adapt and extend them.

“Writing Software as a Tool for Teaching Genre”

Lotte Rienecker, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Among the many forms of teaching academic writing as a writing consultant – on and offline – one can expect the largest outreach when devoting time to writing instructional material in any form – online writing centers, textbooks, writing software, and of course, to writing conventional textbooks, flyers and handouts. Indeed, teachers of academic writing should write as many instructional materials as they possibly can!

I will present a demo of the program Scribo (”I write”), 2004 (first ed. 1998), written by myself in cooperation with reference librarian Tina Pipa.

Scribo is a piece of writing software for university students across disciplines that write all types of research papers, from BA projects to Master's theses. The content represents an integration of writing courses/tutorials and library courses/tutorials on writing and literature search.

Using the software is meant as a shortcut for the writer to focus and form a research question, design a strategy for literature search, write the introduction for the paper, and prepare for the first meeting with the advisor.

As an experienced text-book writer on academic writing, authoring writing software is a detour from authoring the more conventional instructional materials, and my expectations of such a medium were modest. Yet, Scribo has been sold as site licenses to a large number of H.E. Institutions in Denmark , and the interest among students and faculty has far surpassed my expectations of the product. Writing software offers an immediate dialogue between prompt, instruction, and writing that the conventional textbook does not.

“Universal Access to eLearning in the Information Society”

Constantine Stephanidis , Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH) and University of Crete , Greece.

The on-going paradigm shift towards an Information Society brings about radical changes in education.

In this context, technological advances are leading to the development of new forms of both institutional and informal education, which, amongst other things, overcome space, time and cost barriers, support the rapid elaboration and diffusion of specialized knowledge, and facilitate the design of new curricula. The above have the potential to create educational opportunities to anybody, anywhere, and at anytime.

However, as with all major technological changes, the emergence of eLearning can also introduce new challenges and barriers, and there is a danger that ordinary citizens may reject the new instruments and services, if the latter are designed without taking into account the individual needs and requirements of citizens.

In this context, Universal Access of eLearning technologies is of critical importance, and a systematic approach is required towards designing and implementing universally accessible and usable products and services, capable of accommodating diversity in the individual users, the different possible uses of the system, the technology used and the context of use.

The Writing Center Hellenic American Union Hellenic American University