I am in agreement with Maggie. ARG. I can't say I enjoyed reading The St. Martin's Sourcebook...oh, EXCEPT perhaps, the part in "The Tutoring Process" when the author(s) claim that,
"If both tutor and writer are experienced computer users, accustomed to chatting online, such 'emoticons' as wink or smile symbols can replace some of the interpersonal features of face-to-face tutorials" (24).
This is hilarious. And totally lame. As much as our daily lives involve technology, I think it is insane that emoticons could ever simulate actual human body language. Especially if we take into account North's essay which explores the holistic approach to tutoring. North writes that in order to implement the desired "participant-observer methodology," it is necessary for the tutor to "fit into [...] this ordinary solo ritual of writing" that each student has (39).
This field observation thing is hard enough when the student knows you're staring at them and poring over their paper. If it is so crucial that consultants feed on body language and other physical signs, it seems silly that this book would even suggest fake online "gestures." In fact, trying to squash this whole process onto the web makes the observation more blatant. Every pre-teen knows that the internet is this big, colorful, ambiguous space that you can do (almost) anything in. Shoving the observation and writing/brainstorming processes into a virtual realm, fraught with misinformation and impersonators, is sort of a weird idea.
At Friday's staff meeting, I happened to be in a group with Linda, who told us that many times students participating in online consultations will--after receiving the comments from the consultant--cop out on the actual chat portion of the session. I thought this might make for a nice discussion. The lines of communication are muy fuzzy on the internet. It allows kids to ditch out on the most important part (the observation part) of consulting, maybe because they're offended, maybe because they're excited to continue writing, or maybe because they're lazy. But, when students can hop in and out of this learning atmosphere without leaving a trace, I can't see why The Sourcebook is wasting its time discussing little yellow limited faces. Interaction is what's at stake. The essays we've been discussing are centered on student-consultant relationships, so to speak. How can we force this semi-intimate situation into a bizarre virtual one that includes thousands and thousands of other people, words, stimuli, and more processes besides the paper-writing one?
This is a pretty gigantic topic. I'm kind of regretting having launched into it...eek.