Today's guest blogger is Jeanne Bohannon is an Assistant Professor of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Kennesaw State University. She believes in creating democratic learning spaces, where students become stakeholders in their own rhetorical growth though authentic engagement in class communities. Her research interests include evaluating digital literacies and critical engagement pedagogies; performing feminist rhetorical recoveries; and growing informed and empowered student scholars. Reach Jeanne at: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.rhetoricmatters.org/external-link.jspa?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rhetoricmatters.org%2F
Here’s the reality: many of us are Gen-X’ers (or older), and we sometimes (often) feel overwhelmed when we try to navigate digital writing spaces. We may even feel like imposters. But from social media posts to their own Tumblr or blogging pages, students are always already writers in digital environments, and we know that our students need us to facilitate their emerging expertise in these spaces.
Here’s the good news: we can mentor our students to use the same rhetorical behaviors that we know how to teach, just mixing up the texts they produce through these behaviors. Try one or both of the assignments below, using the guidelines for analysis as feedback tools that are familiar to most of us already. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Measurable Learning Outcomes
After completing this activity, students will be able to:
- Analyze visual arguments in multimodal writing environments
- Apply criteria for analysis to everyday pieces of digital, public writing
- Create digital content for public consumption (Part 2)
Background Reading for Students and Instructors
Acts of reading and viewing visual texts are ongoing processes for attaining learning goals in dialogic, digital writing assignments. Below, I have listed a few foundational items from Andrea Lunsford’s texts.
- The St. Martin’s Handbook: Ch. 16, “Design for Writing”
- The Everyday Writer (also available with Exercises): Ch. 22, “Making Design Decisions,” and Ch. 24, “Communicating in Other Media”
- EasyWriter (also available with Exercises): Ch. 1, “A Writer’s Choice” and Part Two, “Writing that Works”
- Academic Blogging Guidelines (Jeanne Bohannon)
Part 1: In class, students choose a website, blog, or other electronic text to visually analyze using these criteria.
- Aesthetics — How does the piece look to you as the viewer? Is it pleasing, disturbing, ineffective, what? How would you describe it to someone who didn’t have your educational or social experience?
- Characterization — Who or what are the players that relate meaning in this piece? How are they related to each other, to meaning, to the audience? What is their purpose? What is the author trying to say through them?
- Structure — How does the author organize the piece? Does it seem effective to you? Think about how this structure impacts negotiated meaning of the piece.
- Meta-Discourse — What does this piece say in its sub-text(s)? How does the piece comment on itself? What does the piece say about the genre in which it resides?
- Cultural Impact — What effect does the piece try to have on cultural constructs such as gender, race, class, age? Is it a re/mix or an original analysis of these constructs? Is its message negative or positive?
Part 2: Out of class, students develop a webpage or blog post based on Guidelines
Academic blogs serve many of the same purposes as traditional essays. Further, they also have the same parts, such as:
Students may already have their own blogs or websites on which they write. For instructors looking for free options, try WordPress or Edublogs, which provide intuitive, easy-to-use templates for web-composing beginners. I participated in a Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) initiative several years ago and found it to be a useful platform as well. Instructors may also find web hosting services on Wix and GoDaddy and even their own universities.
Do you have an idea for a Multimodal Mondays activity or post? Contact Leah Rang for a chance to be featured on Andrea's blog.