Integrating multimodal components into your assignment sheets and class materials
Experiment with genres. In your word-processing program, open up a handout you’ve created for one of the courses you teach, or a workshop you’ve facilitated. Think about how you might transform the handout into another genre—a restaurant menu, for instance, or a flyer. What if it was a booklet? Or a coupon? What content—words and images—would you need to delete? What content would you need to add? How would the shape of the page change?
Think across media. Imagine that you’re asked to write a 30-second radio ad for your writing course. The ad should work as an advertisement. It should interest, captivate, and engage. It should inspire students to seek more information and, ideally, take your course. What are some of the elements of a “good” radio ad? Which of these elements might you put to use? Create an outline for your radio spot, including music, sounds, and the script you might use.
Revise and re-mediate an assignment. Review one or two of your favorite writing assignments. Is there room in the assignment to ask students to include more attention to different modes? To include, perhaps, some work with typography—different font faces? Different font formatting (underlining, bold-faced type, etc.)? To include, perhaps, images to help illustrate key points (charts, tables, drawings, photos)?
Analyze an assignment handout. Choose one of the assignment sheets you recently used in one of your courses. Open it on your computer screen or print a copy of it. Use the highlighter tool in your word-processing program or a physical highlighter marker, and mark whatever appeals to your eye. Try to distance yourself a bit. If possible, you might sit down with a student or another instructor for this activity—ask them to identify what appeals to their eye. Do the formatting features emphasize what the most important information actually is? Or is there a dissonance between the formatting and the key information?
Reshape learning goals. Isolate the learning goals from the syllabus of your writing course. What happens when you add “with text and other media” to those goals? How do the goals change shape? How might these changed goals reshape your course? Your approaches to your course? For instance, if one of your learning goals is for students to be able to “demonstrate and practice strategies for idea generation” and you revise this to read “demonstrate and practice strategies for idea generation for text and other media,” how might this change reshape some of your in-class practices?