Course number: ENGL 303
Course name: Multimedia Writing
Term and year: Spring 2016
Instructor: John Jones, Assistant Professor
Email: john dot jones at-sign mail dot wvu dot edu
Google Plus: John Jones
Office: 231 Colson Hall
Office hours: M-T, 12-1 pm
“I have been a person of the book, but I am becoming a person of the screen. It is not an easy transition.” – Kevin Kelly
Screens have colonized our imaginations. Everywhere we go we are confronted by them—computer screens, mobile screens, television screens—and, increasingly, these screens have become the places where we write, read, and generally experience multiple forms of media.
In ENGL 303: Multimedia Writing, students will examine the rhetorical possibilities of digital media, using that media to understand the effects of the ongoing transition from print to screen on writing practices. They will not only learn how to compose screen texts in multiple media, they will also interrogate our society’s transition from people of the book to people of the screen.
As with Kelly, students may discover that this transition has not been an easy one. While this will be a writing course, not a technology course—students of all levels of technological expertise are encouraged to enroll—in this course students will be expected to use a number of different technologies as they learn how to write for different media. Students should be open to learning new technologies and plan to spend a generous portion of their time in the course experimenting with and eventually mastering the technological tools necessary for multimedia writing.
Students who earn a a grade of C or higher in the course will have:
- created and designed a website using the Wordpress content management system (CMS);
- produced a short video in which they synthesize and analyze a chapter from a course reading in a fashion that takes advantage of the conventions and expectations of visual media;
- produced texts for their personal website, issue/cause website, and forum posts that display an awareness of the needs of a particular audience and rhetorical situation;
- understood and be able to relate the best practices for the fair use of media that is copyrighted, Creative Commons licensed, or in the public domain;
- correctly applied the research and source citation methods appropriate for multiple media.
In line with the goals of the WVU BA Program in English, these objectives will enable students who successfully complete the course to
- interpret texts within diverse literary, cultural, and historical contexts;
- demonstrate a general knowledge of the social and structural aspects of the English language; and
- demonstrate a range of contextually effective writing strategies.
These texts can be obtained at the WVU bookstore or online using the ISBN numbers.
- Alred, Brusaw, & Oliu (2012). Handbook of Technical Writing. 10th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
- Kristin L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, & Cheryl E. Ball. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4576-0045-6
- Matthew MacDonald. WordPress: The Missing Manual. 2nd ed. O’Reilly, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-449-34190-9
These texts can be accessed digitally through the WVU Library website (requires library login). Any additional course readings will be made available on the course schedule.
- Howard Rheingold. Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. MIT Press, 2012.
- Sherry Turkle. Alone Together : Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Basic Books, 2011.
Required digital resources
- Regular access to a computer and the Internet (if you are in Morgantown, on-campus computer access is provided by the Office of Information Technology, the Center for Literary Computing, and the WVU libraries) as well as access to the following technologies:
- a computer with a microphone and webcam,
- a means of recording video (if you are in Morgantown, you can check out video recording equipment from Multimedia Services at the WVU Library), and
- software for converting video formats (like Handbrake for Mac or Windows) and for editing video (like iMovie for Mac or Windows Movie Maker for Windows).
- A MIX email account which is checked daily (privacy).
- A WordPress.com account (privacy).
- A means of keeping track of your course files, using a cloud backup service like SpiderOak (privacy) or Dropbox (privacy) that can automatically archive your work.
- Tools for tracking your research, like Evernote (privacy) for note-taking,
- Delicious (privacy) for tracking Web sources, and
- Zotero (privacy) or RefWorks (privacy) for managing research and formatting citations.
In this course, you will have a lot of freedom in choosing the tools you use to complete the assignments. Because we are not using Ecampus in this course, I will directly support the required software for the course (that means, if you have a problem with any of this software, you should contact me and I will help you fix it).
- Google Drive
- Imovie (Mac) and Windows Movie Maker (Windows)
If you choose to use software not on this list for a project (say, a different video editor) and run into problems, I will do my best to help you, but you should plan on troubleshooting technology issues related to such outside software on your own.