Gliffy in the Classroom

Poking around on Gliffy, I was reminded of why my undergrad major was geography. The arrangement of spatial relationships fascinates me, from a geopolitical perspective to the arrangement of space and equipment in a computer classroom as discussed in Because Digital Writing Matters.

Thinking about this tool pedagogically, I’m reminded of an exercise I have my first-year compositions students do in-class: after being asked to write a paragraph or two describing their writing process, they are given markers and a sheet of paper and asked to represent that writing visually as a drawing, graph, or some other sort of image.

So, in place of, or perhaps in addition to, markers and paper, I imagine I could have students construct a room that best approximates or represents the original paragraph they wrote describing the writing process. The original exercise, with its move from words-in-a-row to an image-based composition, has, at its core, an eye toward teaching grappling with genres and the different conventions and rhetorical impacts those different genres might have.

The addition of Gliffy to represent a writing process would reinforce a lesson designed to explore genre conventions. It seems to me that it would also become an exercise in becoming more cognizant of style—the content, after all, would remain the same from writing to marker image to Gliffy. With the same story told three different ways, there might be some opportunity to explore that concept of style and how it can change not only from genre to genre, but within successive drafts of words-in-a-row writing as well. Or, like a version of the telephone game (where a sentence is whispered around a room to circle back to its origin, with change to the original sentence all but inevitable) it might be instructive to move from writing to markers to Gliffy and back to writing again to see what might have changed.

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One thought on “Gliffy in the Classroom

  1. Great ideas, Joe. I, too, am inclined to think about reading in terms of navigation. I often think about moving through and across text as I read, and, of course, we have plenty of metaphoric linkages between locations/orientations/bearings for the page and the same positional references in space.

    You might want to take a look at Google Sketch-up for rendering three-dimensional spaces as extensions of a text. Using readings to sketch floor plans of an argument or some other sort of topography that students then explain sounds promising to me–something I’d like to try.

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