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SOFIA students prepare for presentation

November 4, 2011

Next Monday afternoon, four Monmouth College students of the SOFIA program will present their website on writing about literary analysis in Monmouth’s first teleconference focused on collaborative digital writing with Vanderbilt and Iowa State Universities. 

Located in the Barnes Electronic Classroom in the Hewes Library at 3:30 p.m., Monmouth College students and faculty will partake in Monmouth’s first ever teleconference in which students both from Monmouth College, Vanderbilt University and Iowa State University will present their pieces of collaborative digital writing. New to the English department this year is Communications Across the Curriculum and Writing Center Director Bridget Draxler who first had the idea for the teleconference while working with fellow writing center director John J. Morell of Vanderbilt University. Draxler explained the purpose of the teleconference is to, “get people thinking about writing in a different way.” While Monmouth’s presentation will be on the Writing About Literature website created by four Monmouth College students in the SOFIA program, other expected presentations are a Twitter Novel and one more event that is at this time unknown.  Draxler’s goal for the conference is to eventually have Monmouth College students work with other students at different schools, such as Vanderbilt or Iowa State, on other forms of collaborative projects.  

Seniors Leanna Waldron and Mary Grzenia worked with two incoming freshmen, Cassie Burton and Carli Alvarado, and English Department Professor Rob Hale during the SOFIA program (Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activity) to create the website Working from the ground up, or STEPS as the students have dubbed it (Students Teaching English Paper Strategies) is a resource for students who are looking for help writing papers.  Waldron explained that although the site offers strategies for students who are primarily writing essays on literary analysis, the strategies are flexible enough to be applied to almost any paper.  In addition, the site is focused on helping junior and senior high school students but is still helpful for the college student as well.  The value of the site lies in the fact that it is created for students by students in order to more accurately pin point student writing problems and solutions.

Creating the website was no easy task according to Gzenia. The four students met several times a day often for four hours at a time to create the original content for the site.  Grzenia explained that one of the biggest challenges was the digital aspect of the site.  Having to create a site that was both easy to use and visually appealing was more difficult than expected. “We broke into teams and each team made a map of how the front page would look.  Eventually the final product was a hybrid of the two.” 

Since the site’s creation this past summer, has gained some popularity both on campus and off.  Professor Erika Solberg is using the site in her English 180-Young Adult Literature class as a tool to help her students write papers.  In addition Burton sent the link to one of her high school English teachers who is also using the site as a resource in English classes at Burton’s high school.  Waldron, Grzenia, Burton, and Alvarado’s goal is to have students encourage one another to use the website continually and to eventually establish a hall of fame forum in which Monmouth College students can submit papers they were proud of or received good grades on as a reference tool for other student’s seeking help. 

Jennell Oddo
Online Editor

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