Today was super fabulous, thanks to John Castronova and his rad students in WRA 1004 sec 002, the alternate universe version of my class. Or, the section that meets at the same time as we do in a different room. Today we met together in my classroom (307 Bessey is huge) and had a big group discussion about maps.
Both John's class and my class are going to be making maps as part of our third assignment for this course. His students are focusing more on discourse, and mine are focusing on literacy (literacies). I was really excited to see how well our students hit it off with each other--we had 47 students really engaged in small-group discussions and then the big group conversation generated some great conclusions.
So: what is a map? We revisited the literacy alien, because if WRA 1004 prepares you for anything, it should be the possibility of having your translation software fail while you are on an alien world. (That is a joke.) We talked about how a map shows relationships, and that maps are guides, but not necessarily physically (although they can be). We described "guiding" as showing an audience to specific information--leading your audience to knowledge. Maps are also often visual. They also have a rhetorical purpose, and an audience, and those can vary pretty widely.
John asked the question of this definition: how is this like an essay? Someone volunteered that it is very like an essay, and that you could describe an essay as a map of words. (That really blew my mind.)
So, I think everyone is looking forward to our classes being together again, and exploring this stuff further.
Here are links to all the individual maps I printed out for us to discuss:
Mind Map about creativity
Map of all the IP addresses of the Internet
Map of online communities (my favorite)
Map of Europe according to MTV Europe
Infographic about google search results for "it's a public health crisis" (is this a map? we didn't get to talking about this)
MSU Campus Map