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Faceless students, virtual places: Emergence and communal accountability in online classrooms

Computers and Composition Volume 22, Number 2 ISSN 8755-4615 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


A pedagogical problem growing out of virtual classrooms is the temptation to act without communal accountability, the reciprocal commitment among individuals to maintain the health of their interconnections. Drawing on an ethnographic study of a fully online composition class, I argue that teachers can encourage accountability within virtual sites by conceiving of the online classroom as an emergent phenomenon. The relationships and activities among language, physical reality, and interpretant provide the matrix out of which place organizes itself. This ecological orientation provides local and systemic strategies for fostering communal health. I begin my exploration of online place by describing the value of complex systems theory and emergence for conceptualizing place. Next, I describe the roles of language, physical reality, and interpretant, pointing out the contribution of each to the configuration of virtual place and to communal accountability. Then, I focus on the emergence of place, which reorganizes language, reality, and interpretant, opening up a new dimension to communal accountability.


Fleckenstein, K.S. Faceless students, virtual places: Emergence and communal accountability in online classrooms. Computers and Composition, 22(2), 149-176. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved August 2, 2021 from .

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