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Lazy Virtues: Teaching Writing in the Age of Wikipedia

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ISBN-13: 978-0826516169
ISBN-10: 0826516165
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Editorial Reviews

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"For those who value such a collaborative platform and students' rights to a traditional liberal arts education but are insecure with new technology, this book offers clear pedagogical grounding in theory, history, and tradition - and then gives practical collegial help."
--from the citation for the MLA's Mina P. Shaugnessy Prize for an outstanding work in the fields of language, culture, literacy, or literature with strong application to the teaching of English.

Informed, smart, incisive, this book explores the radical hypothesis that the Wikipedia movement, too often linked with declining standards of credibility and correctness, could teach English composition faculty something they don't know about "higher education, making knowledge, and teaching writing". Cummings succeeds with marvelous skill at this delicate task. He offers teachers a way to connect the "'disconnected' core courses of composition to a real, authentic, knowledge community" and to provide new audiences for students' writing. Cummings' passion for this task is great, and his advice is sound. Your writing class may "never be the same," he notes, after you read this book-and, by the end of volume, you realize just how right he is.
--Cynthia L. Selfe, Ohio State University, author of Global Literacies and the World Wide Web

About the Author

Robert E. Cummings is the Director of the Center for Writing and Rhetoric and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Mississippi.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press (March 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826516165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826516169
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,837,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RNS VINE VOICE on August 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The author, Robert Cummings, Director of First year Composition at Columbus State University, has come up with an imaginative and truly creative way to reach the computer-savvy Freshman students we see in our university classrooms today. Instead of viewing the Wikipedia as an enemy of academic research, he embraces it. Thinking about the comments of a football coach colleague who advised, "Train your players for the environment in which they will perform," Cummings came up with the idea of having his students write and submit text for Wikipedia.

Stressing that the standard way of teaching Freshman writing classes -- by assigning readings and essays from the standard texts -- reflects a disconnect between the "students' future writing lives" and the reality they'll face in their careers, Cummings illustrates how he uses the Wikipedia as a teaching tool that provides his students with a real-world "genuine audience."

English faculty and reference librarians will be very interested in Cummings' rationale for using Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP) in the Freshman English classroom, and consider the practical outline and guide he offers to accomplish his real-world application. After considering his sample Wiki writing assignment of "Writing About Film in Public Spaces," and perhaps trying the idea for oneself, readers can then determine for themselves if they agree with his statement that: "There's no guarantee your writers will solve global warming, but your writing class will never be the same."

Highly recommended for college and university libraries and faculty seeking to make their Freshman classes more lively and practical.

R. Neil Scott
Middle Tennessee State University
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