Creating a (Virtual) Interpretive Community
Ann Woodlief, VCU English Department Faculty Symposium, April 15, 1998

My major pedagogical goal is to create a community of active readers negotiating their interpretations of literature. All students begin with their own written initial responses, working through discussion and re-reading, to develop and negotiate interpretations. There are problems in usual classroom setup--the teacher's interpretation is controlling, students read passively, many don't like to talk.

For four years I have been teaching in computer-linked classroom, and now use a combination of the Web (for resources) and Connect.Net . [Hands-on demonstration of Connect.Net postings and discussions in the Nature Writing class.]

Conclusions: All students read more carefully and actively and write better in this collaborative environment, learning from each other. Challenges come primarily in adjusting to full participation and collaboration, not from the computer itself, and in the changed role of teacher as coach.