This Department of English project was designed to encourage first year undergraduate students to develop socially and intellectually supportive relationships within a small peer group. The tasks they completed across the academic year were designed to require them to think creatively about their study in the first-year, and to help them develop the research and writing skills required for degree-level study. In particular it introduced them to possibilities for writing in what is known as the 'digital humanities' - a growing area of multi-dsiciplinary research.
The entire first-year cohort of over 200 students was organised into small groups of 7-8. Over the course of the year, each group was required to produce an online critical edition of a short text drawn from the first-year syllabus. Groups had a series of four facilitated meetings with the project leaders over the course of the year. Between these meetings students were set a number of research and writing tasks, intended to make use of, and develop, key learning on core first year modules. The project was designed to make extensive use of online technologies, helping students to think about the specific requirements and challenges presented by writing for the web.
A strength of this project was the opportunity it provided for students to engage collaboratively with writing and explore inventively the potential of the on-line platform - some students were very enthusiastic about this. A drawback was that the activity took place outside the core compulsory first year curriculum, making it optional for students and something they needed to struggle to find time for.
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