Obviously one of the key takeaways from this text is that digital texts afford opportunities for connected reading that exist, but only to a much lesser extent, with print texts. In thinking about how I use reading in my First Year Writing class, it's apparent that I think of it from a very individualistic, linear framework, even though many of the texts I assign are online and I have students do online research. So how can I make better use of the opportunities for connectivity afforded by digital texts? I usually have my 121 students research "a topic." You know, pretty standard comp class stuff. I think a lot of what Hicks and Turner are talking about doesn't really work in that sort of environment.
This year, I want to move more towards focusing in on a specific set of topics, particular aspects of communication and rhetoric that students just starting out in college should be thinking critically about. I think I want to focus on issues of free speech--where to draw the line between freedom of speech and freedom from speech, which institutions, if any, should be involved in policing that line, what role individuals play in making that distinction, how to deal with hate speech, how to persuade institutions to act ethically, how to persuade people engaging in hate speech, etc.
If students are all focused on a topic, it will be easier to form reading groups, because they'll be able to talk with one another about what they're finding and offer observations on one another's writing, informed by a collective understanding of the topic and the material. I think I'll assign a few key texts near the beginning, and with those model some of the critical reading and response skills that I want them to have, but then let them find digital texts in reading groups and share information and responses to the texts with one another. Figure 7.1 on page 135 is especially useful in thinking about ways to make my students' reading more connected next year.