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UsingI, Robotin the Technical Writing Classroom: Developing a Critical Technological Awareness

Authors
Journal
Computers and Composition
8755-4615
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
28
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.compcom.2010.12.001
Keywords
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Critical Technological Awareness
  • Critical Thinking
  • Literature
  • Pedagogy
  • Positivism
  • Science Fiction
  • Technical Writing
  • Technology
Disciplines
  • Linguistics

Abstract

Abstract This article calls for technical writing courses to be more engaged in discussions on critical technological awareness. Being critically aware of technology means looking beyond a socially constructed artifact's assumed practical benefit and critiquing its effects and development. All discourse surrounding technology should be the purview of the field of technical writing. Because much technical writing pedagogy ignores cultural issues related to technology, this article promotes student engagement in discussions about social constructions of technology to foster critical thinking. This article concludes with a discussion of student responses to an essay assignment based on Isaac Asimov's novel I, Robot. Asimov envisions a high-tech world where technologies of the 1940s are amplified and new ones imagined to create stories where humans must interact with not-so-perfect robots. The novel offers a chance for students to reflect on how contemporary technologies, such as computers, are enmeshed into the social fabric of twenty-first-century life. Additionally, I, Robot generates classroom discussions that bolster student engagement and highlight the impact of contemporary (and future) technologies on workplace practices and the culture at large. Some topics that I, Robot addresses are issues of gender in technological fields, military beginnings for consumer technologies, and labor issues.

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