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Release: Oct. 14, 1999

UI rhetoric professor Diane Davis wins technology innovation award

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Diane Davis, an assistant professor of rhetoric, has won the 1999 University of Iowa President's Award for Technology Innovation, which recognizes the most creative use of technology in teaching in the past year.

Davis won the award, which carries a $3,000 cash prize, in recognition for her project, "The 'Electracy' Initiative."

"'Electracy' is what theorist Greg Ulmer terms the new kind of electronic literacy currently taking its place alongside oral and print literacies," she said. "It's part of the effort to re-think what 'writing,' 'reading,' and 'research' can be in the electronic age."

In her first year rhetoric class last year students not only wrote papers, read printed texts and gave speeches, but also developed their own multimedia-enhanced web sites through which to publish their own work and performances, Davis said. Before they created their own web sites, students spent time analyzing the successes and failures of other online "texts" and assessing the validity of information published online. Currently, Davis is teaching a new advanced undergraduate course called "Electric Rhetorics," which focuses this semester on hypertext writing and theory.

UI President Mary Sue Coleman said Davis's project is an excellent model for integrating technology into the curriculum. "It not only gives students the opportunity to acquire web literacy and hands-on technical expertise in on-line publication," she said, "but also opens up a range of creative possibilities and challenges that have resulted in a level of achievement that appears to reach far beyond the expectations of the traditional textbook-oriented classroom."

Coleman presented the award to Davis at the annual University Convocation Oct. 5.