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Teaching Digital Composition: Tips, Approaches, & Benefits


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These are the notes for a talk I gave at Emory University, for their Symposium on Digital Publication, Undergraduate Research, and Writing in January 2013.

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Teaching Digital Composition: Tips, Approaches, & Benefits

  1. 1. TEACHING DIGITALCOMPOSITIONA Few Tips & ApproachesAmy GoodloeProgram for Writing & RhetoricUniversity of Colorado at BoulderJanuary 29, 2013
  3. 3. Help students understand therelevance of digital literacy Forget what you’ve heard about so-called "digital natives”Dont worry about your own levelof digital literacy
  4. 4. Start small Scaffold digital activities to help students build confidence Allow enough time to account for technical difficultiesTry composing in digital genres yourselffirst, when possible
  5. 5. Encourage students to use "everyday"digital tools Recommend a range of digital tools for specific projects and provide help linksSupport students using your expertise inwriting and rhetoric, not tech support
  6. 6. Give students opportunities for low-stakes"play" with digital composing tools Create online communities for students across multiple classes to engage with each otherProvide an online showcase for strongestexamples of student work
  8. 8. • Digital Literacy Activities• Writing Online• Multimodal Composition
  9. 9. Digital Literacy Activities
  10. 10. Discuss the changing nature of literacyEngage in rhetorical analyses of digitalcompositionsExperiment with current and emergingtechnologies for research, reading, andwriting
  11. 11. Rhetorical AnalysisStudy the • Blogs, wikis, orrhetorical forums onpractices of an relevant topicsonline discourse • Discussions oncommunity Wikipedia pages
  12. 12. Rhetorical AnalysisStudy rhetorical • What is the rhetorical purposeprinciples for of interface design?web and • How dointerface navigationaldesign elements impact readers?
  13. 13. Understanding the rhetorical purpose of typical blog layout
  14. 14. Technologies of Writing Experiment with • Social tools that bookmarking enhance reading, • Google Docs • Evernote writing, research, • Annotation collaboration, tools (Word, and peer review PDF)
  15. 15. Google Docs “comment” featureDiigohighlighter &sticky notes
  16. 16. Technologies of Writing • Blogs Experiment with • Wikis different • Web site builders platforms for • Social media web publishing • Prezi • Glogster
  17. 17. Writing Online
  18. 18. Contribute to existing blog, wiki, forum, orother digital environment• Edit or compose a new wikiHow article• Edit a Wikipedia entry• Enter a forum conversation and inspire a response• Make strategic use of social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  19. 19. Build a blog, wiki, or web site individually,in groups, or as a class• Create or redesign a web site for a service learning partner, to raise awareness about an issue, to showcase research, etc.• Work collaboratively with students in other sections of the same class (or in class taught by other faculty members)
  20. 20. Sample class research wiki
  21. 21. Multimodal Composition
  22. 22. Audio and Photo Essays• “This I Believe” exploratory essay• Personal narrative (audio only or with photo slideshow)
  23. 23. Video projects• Public service announcement• Animations• Digital storytelling• Flash talks• Interviews• Mini-documentary research video• Episode commentary or scene analysis• Strategic remix of digital media content
  24. 24. Sample PSASample audio essay
  25. 25. Sample animation to explore an insight inspiredby research (made with Xtranormal
  26. 26. Re-mediation• Composing the same message in multiple modalities to study how the message changesPresentations• Stand-alone PowerPoint or Prezi with text, images, and video
  27. 27. Sample research project on Prezi
  28. 28. Visual projects• Comic books or cartoons• Infographics• Digital posters (Glogster)• Mind maps• Blog headers
  29. 29. Excerpt of personal essay in comic book format
  30. 30. Sample mind map presenting research (made with VUE)
  32. 32. Meets established goals of writing instruction Composing processes Rhetorical knowledge Critical thinking Discourse conventionsGoals established by WPA, NCTE, CCC, and CCHE
  33. 33. Goal: Composing Processes As readers in digital environments: • Students can more easily view how ideas emerge through a process of conversation and refinement As writers: • Response from real world audiences leads to desire to revise • Digital media composition requires a multi-step process • Can’t produce a rhetorically powerful digital composition project the night before! • Requires planning, research, collaboration, problem- solving, drafting, feedback, revision
  34. 34. Goal: Rhetorical Knowledge As readers in digital environments: • Easy availability of digital environments and genres allows students to study how writers respond to real rhetorical situations and employ rhetorical strategies As writers: • Gives students opportunities to compose for real audiences and purposes, using contemporary genres and publishing platforms
  35. 35. Goal: Critical Thinking As readers in digital environments: • Allows us to study how arguments work in action: types of evidence, persuasive strategies, impact on readers, nature of dialogue and disagreement As writers: • Gain deeper insight into the rhetorical strategies and appeals used in digital formats by composing in them • As composers, students start to recognize subtle strategies for establishing credibility and persuading audiences
  36. 36. Goal: Discourse Conventions As readers in digital environments: • Reading digital texts helps to raise awareness of the role of conventions in both print and digital genres As writers: • Gives students practice at adapting conventions based on their target discourse community • Provides insight into the purpose of conventions that students often struggle with in print writing • Structural elements, such as introductions, transitions, “units” of thought, coherent progression of ideas
  37. 37. Additional BenefitsReinforces traditional writing skillsImproves digital literacy skillsValidates multimodal literaciesInspires greater student engagementPrepares students for the future of writing
  38. 38. Reinforces Traditional Writing SkillsIn their research into the pedagogical benefits of digitalstorytelling for college students, Oppermann and Coventry(2011) found that: Being asked to communicate in the ‘new language’ of multimedia brings students a greater awareness of the component parts of traditional writing. Digital storytelling helps students develop a stronger voice and helps students more accurately and firmly place themselves in relationship to the arguments of others.
  39. 39. Improves Digital Literacy SkillsToday’s college students don’t have the digital literacy skills theyneed to compete against today’s high school students • But many don’t realize it, as they’ve been told they’re “digital natives”Digital composition projects enable students to: • Identify deficiencies in their digital literacy skills • Remedy them while working on a project they find meaningful
  40. 40. Validates Multimodal LiteracyLiteracy researchers have long emphasized the value of multiplemodalities in human communication (text, sound, visuals)• Age of print: printed text is easiest to produce and distribute (multimedia is for pros only)• Digital age: relatively easy and inexpensive to produce and distribute text, audio, images, and videoAssigning multimodal composition projects validates the rhetoricalpower of multiple modalities
  41. 41. Improves Student EngagementComposing for real audiences and purposes inspiresgreater investment• Students have a genuine interest in conveying a meaningful messageRelevance of assignments spurs greater effort• Helps students see writing as having a legitimate purpose beyond “term papers”
  42. 42. Opperman and Coventry (2011) found that digital compositionprojects allow students to: • work on authentic assignments • develop their personal and academic voice • represent knowledge to a community of learners • receive situated feedback from their peers Due to their affective involvement with this process and the novelty effect of the medium, students are more engaged than in traditional assignments.
  43. 43. Prepares Students for the Future of WritingToday, elementary school students are producing multimediaresearch projects• What kind of research projects will they expect to do in college?• What kind of projects will employers expect all college graduates to be capable of producing?What will count as “good communication skills” in the future?
  44. 44. ResourcesPlease feel free to make use of the tutorialsand other resources on digital compositionavailable here: http://digitalwriting101.netSelect the Teaching Digital Writing tab toview resources specifically for instructors.