Techne in action online : rhetoric and the webcenter
Cambridge, Darren Robert
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The study examines the application of rhetorical theory to the design of Web-based online community systems intended to promote the public good. It describes the rhetorically-informed process used to design an online community system, the American Association for Higher Education Carnegie Teaching Academy Campus Program WebCenter. Drawing on contemporary readings and classical rhetorical theory and complexity theory, Chapter 1 examines the limitations of existing software engineering methodologies and describes rhetoric as a theoretical, practical and productive architectonic art which is distributed within a rhetorical ecology and can be deployed to encourage invention and judgment. Chapter 2 articulates the rhetorical ecology into which the WebCenter was designed to intervene, tracing the evolution of the "scholarship of teaching and learning" and examining the institutions, groups, and technological environments involved in the discourse around this term using concepts from publics theory and organizational learning theory. Chapter 3 explains the design of the WebCenter as a rhetorical forum, making use of Star's concepts of infrastructure and boundary objects, and introduces elements of the resulting design. Chapter 4 explores the use of artificial intelligence systems within the WebCenter as heuristic devises for invention and judgment by drawing on studies of scholarly communication and Burke's rhetorical writings. Chapter 5 compares the expectations charted throughout the design process with the observed use of the WebCenter as implemented and suggests improvements to the existing system based on the results.