The Fifth C: Computers, Special Interest Group Session, CCCC 1998

Special Interest Group, SG1.8, CCCC, 49th Annual Conference,Chicago. Palmer House Hilton/Salon III, 3rd Floor. 2 April 1998.

Sponsored by the CCCC Committee on Computers in Composition andCommunication

Co Chairs:

Session Reports
[1995, Washington][1996, Milwaukee][1997, Phoenix][1998, Chicago]

The Fifth C SIG discussions, sponsored by the CCCC Committee onComputers and Composition (or 7C's), provide a public forum forconversations related to issues and agenda items before thecommittee. Discussion notes from previous sessions are available at

This year, we're focusing on Technology & Literacy Initatives,in reaction to Cynthia Selfe's address at the General Session thismorning: "Literacy, Technology, and the Politics of Education inAmerica." This overview came from a draft of Cindy's paper, titled"Technology and Literacy: A Story about the Perils of Not PayingAttention," that was available online at

In her draft, Cindy discusses the importance of not just usingtechnology, but interrogating it -- thinking about the ways thattechnology affects literacy and how we need constantly to examine thesocio-economic and political ramifications of our actions. We can allnod knowingly about the lack of resources for women and minoritieswhich Cindy outlines. Her poverty-bound definitions of whatconstitutes "literacy" (and, therefore, "illiteracy") strike home formany of us. And I think we can all agree that the starting places shelists at the end of her paper give us a sort of global to-do list.Our response to these issues, however, needs to be fairly situated.It's not difficult to think about how to respond to Cindy's to-do'sfor a particular school nor to brainstorm on what we can do toincrease access to minority teachers and students in a particulardepartment; but any attempt at global, profession- or society-widechecklists or solutions is going to bog down in generalities fairlyquickly. So what can we do here and now?

Cindy states: a curious way, neither the CCCC, nor the NCTE,nor the MLA, nor the IRA-as far as I can tell-have ever published asingle word about our own professional stance on this particularnationwide technology project: not one statement about how we thinkthis project's funding should be spent in English compositionprograms; not one statement about how excellence should be gauged inthis project; not one statement about the serious need forprofessional development and support for teachers that must beaddressed within the context of the project. [Draft of passageemailed to Traci Gardner, 26 March 1998]

Naturally, Cindy addresses these issues in her paper, but there'sroom for concrete discussion, discussion that can begin to fill theabsences Cindy identifies, but which is not bound to a specificschool.

Logistics: We'll divide into groups and brainstorm for 20 to 30minutes. Someone in the group will be responsible for taking noteswhich will be given to Traci and posted to the web after the meeting.The notes will be available from Afterdiscussing in small groups, we'll come back together to present ourideas and have a few concluding remarks.

Group 1
How should such literacy monies be spent in English composition programs? What kinds of literacy and technology projects should be funded? What guidelines can we suggest to ensure that money is spent on a wide range of literacy values and practices?
How spend it? What money?
Group 2
How should excellence be gauged in such literacy projects? What outcomes should these projects have as goals? How should outcomes be assessed and shared?
Group 3
How do we address the serious need for professional development and support for teachers within the context of the project? How can we ensure that teachers get the support which they need? What guidelines can we suggest to help project planners make sure teachers and students are able to benefit from these projects?

Forum: To enter the discussion online, go to the discussionforum related to Cindy's keynote at