discourse community - the wiki

Blog » discourse community - the wiki

Posted on 08 Mar 2013 02:35

For my research on discourse communities, I decided to look into something near and dear to all of our hearts – our own class wikidot page. During class, we briefly mentioned how the class itself resembles a discourse community as described by Swales. We all use this media of discourse in our pursuit of learning to write in the field of engineering in order to improve the overall quality of our writing. I noticed that there are two main genres of writing used on the wiki, and those are the announcement pages and the class composed pages (consisting of the blog and the reflective annotated bibliographies). Both of these genres of writing have their own unique structure and function that together create a functioning discourse community.

Announcement pages are written by Andrew to keep us informed as to what the class will be doing. For example, there are certain pages that set up guidelines for what we will cover in a particular allotted amount of class time as well as other documents that describe project outlines and communicate deadlines for such projects. This genre of writing is testament to the classroom-like dynamic of this particular discourse community, with a central figure in charge of running and organizing the activities of the other participants.

The second broader genre of writing that appears on the wiki (the class composed pages) can be broken down into the blog and reflective annotated bibliography, although they both share a similar functional purpose. In the reflective annotated bibliography, groups of two write a summary of a particular document read for class and then proceed to provide an analysis of the work. The intention of writing the documents is twofold. For one, it allows the two primary contributors to delve deeper into the document and closely analyze it in a way that they would not have otherwise. However, the greater goal of the reflective annotated bibliography is to provide the class as a whole with a synopsis of all of the works that we have read throughout the semester. It is a method of discourse that allows the class as a whole to directly contribute to each other’s learning through their writing.

The blog has a similar purpose. The blog is the public space where we write our responses to prompts that Andrew provides us with. One of the benefits to the blog as a method of discourse is that we can all see, comment on, and learn from each other’s writing. This even further supports the idea that the class, through the wiki, acts as a discourse community because we are all striving together and learning from each other in order to achieve the common goal of improving our writing.

There is still some ambiguity with regard to who is an insider and who is an outsider in our discourse community. For one, everyone involved in our class knows the jargon that we use (i.e. reflective annotated bibliography, writer by writer archive, etc.), causing me to lean toward the fact that we are all insiders to some degree. Some might say that Andrew is the real insider in our discourse community, but I feel that all of us as a collective group are learning from each other in one way or another and are thus gradually becoming insiders more and more as we progress through the class.

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