Assignment Three: “Is Technology Making Us Dumb?”

ASSIGNMENT INTRODUCTION

     Your task this week: you are going to write me a short essay.

      Your essay needs to be at least 1000 words long, and needs to contain at least five outside sources. 

     Your essay will respond to one of the articles we’ve read over the past three weeks.  The purpose of this essay: you are going to ask your audience—me and your classmates—to think about one of our class discussion topics a new, and interesting way.

     I’m asking you to submit an electronic copy of this essay in the Assignments Dropbox labeled “Assignment Three: Response Essay” sometime

     Let’s get into the weeds.

STEP ONE: Pick a Writing Prompt  

Write on one of these prompts:

Prompt One:  Mark Bauerlein and Nicholas Carr argue that digital technologies are making us dumber, encouraging a superficial relationship with important ideas.  But Bauerlein and Carr are wrong: digital technologies are making us smarter.

OR

Prompt One:  Mark Bauerlein and Nicholas Carr argue that digital technologies are making us dumber, encouraging a superficial relationship with important ideas.  But Bauerlein and Carr are wrong: digital technologies are making us smarter.

STEP TWO: Determine an approach.

You need to figure out how, exactly, you’re going to challenge our understanding of the topic you’ve selected.  Let’s say, for example, you’re talking about digital technologies.  You’ll take a look at our WEEK ONE readings, and determine what Mark Bauerlein and Nicholas Carr, or mark Bauerlein and Jean Twenge and would say about your specific topic.  In other words, you will rewrite your prompt into a summary that summarizes their positions on digital technologies.    

STEP THREE: Writing A Response         

You’ve formulated a claim.  Now respond to the claim.  Like this:

•           People like Mark Bauerlein and Nicholas Carr argue that digital technologies are making          us dumber, encouraging a superficial relationship with important ideas.  But Bauerlein             and Carr are wrong: digital technologies are making us smarter by __________.

     You’ll see that I’m disagreeing with Bauerlein and Carr, that I am challenging their claims.

     In this essay, you are disagreeing with Bauerlein, Carr, and Twenge.

     This is important: your essay won’t work if you say something like, “Bauerlein says Twitter makes us dumb, and he’s right.” 

     In this essay, you’re saying something new about your topic.  You are going to make your reader—me, and your classmates—think about a familiar topic in a new, and different way.

     Got it?  Don’t simply echo something you’ve already read.  Say something new!  (Which means you’re responsible for finding a suitable topic.)

     Incidentally, and since you’re saying something new, you’ll need to give me a more complicated discussion, one that focuses on the collateral lessons you learn on the internet, or the types of fluid intelligence the internet facilitates. Thus, your discussion will focus on types of web-based interaction, like social networking, file sharing, and online communities like Twitter, or TikTok.  I want your analysis to focus on sites you and your peers actually use: 4chan, for example, or Instagram.  Members of an immigrant generation, or people of color, conversely, may end up spending more time talking about specific social networking and community sites, so-called “Black Twitter,” for example, or Culture Collection on Reddit.      

     Get complicated with this!

Now that we’ve got the writing situation out of the way, let’s talk assessment: how will I be grading this paper?

      I will be focusing on five very specific elements:

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