Course number: ENGL 303
Course name: Multimedia Writing
Term and year: Spring 2017
CRN (section): 11021 (001) / 17973 (H01)
Instructor: John Jones, Assistant Professor
Email: john dot jones at-sign mail dot wvu dot edu
Office: 231 Colson Hall
Office hours: 1–2 Mondays and Tuesdays, or by appointment
“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 in multiple modes, from text to audiovisual communication, using that media to understand the effects of the ongoing transition from print to screen on communication practices.
As with Kelly, students may discover that this transition has not been an easy one. In this course students will be expected to use a number of different technologies as they learn how to write for multiple media. Although we will explore concepts in writing and rhetoric, we will also learn the technologies necessary for authoring and editing multimodal texts. Students must be open to learning with these new technologies and plan to spend a generous portion of their time, both in and out of the classroom, experimenting with and eventually mastering the technological tools necessary for multimodal and multimedia writing.
A note about multiple sections
This course combines two sections—001 and H01. Although students in both sections will meet at the same time in the same classroom, the requirements for each section are slightly different. Throughout this syllabus site, some assignments and other material will be labeled as applying only to the H01 section. Any material that is not labeled in this way will apply to both sections. If you have any questions about which section you are in, please contact me immediately.
Students who earn a grade of C or higher in the course will meet average standards of quality when:
- Creating simple HTML files and editing HTML
- Creating and designing a website using the Wordpress content management system (CMS)
- Producing a short video in which they synthesize or analyze a text, taking advantage of the conventions and affordances of audiovisual media to make their arguments
- Producing multimodal texts that display an awareness of the needs of particular audiences and rhetorical situations
- Correctly applying the research and source citation methods appropriate for multiple media
Additional course objectives (H01 only)
- Reading Digital Detroit and It’s Complicated and demonstrating how the major themes of these readings fit into current trends in digital culture by engaging in discussions with the professor and their classmates on the discussion board
- Effectively remixing a selection from the readings into a new, multimodal form
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. The Business Writer’s Handbook. 11th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015. ISBN: 978-1457675515
- Note: You are welcome to use any edition of this text—or Alred, Brusaw, & Oliu’s practically identical Handbook of Technical Writing.
- Arola, Sheppard, & Ball. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4576-0045-6
- MacDonald. WordPress: The Missing Manual. 2nd ed. O’Reilly, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-449-34190-9
- Note: If you wish to not purchase this text, it can be accessed electronically via the WVU Libraries and WordPress has extensive online documentation. However: regardless of how you access the text, you are responsible for all the material contained in it.
Additional required texts (H01 only)
Note: Electronic versions of each of the boyd and Rice texts can be read for free via the WVU Libraries website. If you are comfortable reading them in this way, you do not need to purchase physical copies of these books.
- boyd. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale, 2015. ISBN:
- Rice. Digital Detroit: Rhetoric and Space in the Age of the Network. Southern Illinois University Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780809330874
Any additional course readings will be provided by the professor.
Required digital resources
- Regular access to a computer and the Internet (on-campus computer access is available via the Office of Information Technology and the WVU Libraries) as well as access to the following technologies:
- a computer with a microphone and webcam,
- a means of recording video (you can check out video recording equipment from Multimedia Services at the WVU Library), and
- software for converting between video file 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 Google Drive (via your MIX account; privacy) or Dropbox (privacy) that can automatically archive your work.
- A tool like Zotero (privacy) or RefWorks (privacy) to help manage research sources and format citations.
In this course, you will have a lot of freedom in choosing the tools you use to complete the assignments. I will directly support the required software for the course (that means, if you have a problem with any of this software, after you attempt to troubleshoot the problem yourself, your next step will be to contact me and I will help you fix it). The supported software is:
- Imovie (Mac)
- Windows Movie Maker (Windows)
If you choose to use software not on this list for a project (for example, a different video editing program) and run into problems, I will do my best to help you, but you will be responsible for troubleshooting technology issues related to such software on your own.