Assignments

  1. Quizzes, homework, and in-class assignments: (20 points)
  2. Personal website: (20 points)
  3. Multimodal analysis: (20 points)
  4. Video remix: (20 points)
  5. Issue/cause website: (20 points)

H01 students only

  1. Reading forum posts: (15 points)

Quizzes, homework, and in-class assignments (20 points)

Description

On any day on which readings are assigned you should be prepared to demonstrate your comprehension of those readings, not simply by discussing them in class, but also by being quizzed on the content of the readings and/or successfully completing any assigned proof-of-reading activities. On workshop days, you may receive an in-class assignment grade based on your participation in and/or completion of workshop activities.

Quizzes will typically be given at the beginning of class. Because it is not practical for me to provide students with alternative quizzes for each class period, missed quizzes cannot be made up. If you are absent or late and miss a quiz or any other in-class activity, your grade for that quiz or activity will be zero.

Evaluation

Where appropriate, quizzes, homework, and in-class activities will be graded on a percentage basis (i.e., correctly answering 4 out of 5 questions on a quiz will lead to a grade of 80% on that quiz). When such grading is not appropriate, these assignments will be graded on a pass/fail basis. Your final quiz grade will be calculated from the average of your daily quiz grades.

Personal website (20 points)

Personal website description

Your first major assignment will be to create a website where you can showcase your work over the course of the semester. This assignment will serve two purposes: First, it will provide an opportunity for you to explore basic HTML editing and web-based content management using the WordPress platform. Second, over the course of the semester the site will serve as a record of your activities and accomplishments in the course.

While all elements of your site are expected to function and display correctly in a variety of web browsers, because we will use a CMS, the project will primarily focus on your mastery of the WordPress platform and the appropriateness of the website—its design and implementation, the text and other media it contains, and the overall appeal and effectiveness of the site and its organization.

Your site will be designed for a professional audience—i.e., potential employers, peers and colleagues in your chosen field. Keep this in mind as you work on it. When assembling the sections of your site and the material it contains, you should do so in a way that will present the best version of your work for this audience of professionals.

Personal website requirements

Your site’s use of color, typefaces, images, and any other media should be legible and appropriate to its content. For example, the site should make effective use of visual material like photographs, illustrations, or embedded video, when appropriate, and these materials should be presented using the best practices of web design and accessibility.

Further, the site’s content and design—from the tone of linguistic elements to the style of graphical elements to the arrangement of the interface—should be appropriate to the genre of the professional website.

Finally, if any material on the site is not wholly created by you, you must acknowledge the original author and link back to his or her work or, if the work is not online, provide a complete source citation that will allow your readers to find the original.

In addition to these general guidelines, your site should contain the following specific features:

  • A home pagenot a post (see MM for the distinction between pages and posts and how you can set a page to be the home page for your site)—featuring a brief description of the purpose of the site along with an image. Your description should be detailed (1–2 paragraphs). Do not write “this is a website for my class.”
  • An about page—again, not a post—featuring a brief introduction of yourself. It is not necessary for you to divulge personal information about your life—for example, do not include personal information like your address. Rather, you should provide a description of yourself as the author of the site, connecting your skills to the purpose for the site described on the home page. For example, if you wanted to emphasize how the projects on the site showcase your design work, on this page you would give visitors to the site background information about you as a designer: How you became interested in design, your career goals, etc. This page should contain at least 150 words of text and at least one image (not including images that are part of your site’s template). The writing should showcase your wit and ability to connect with your site’s potential visitors. If you did not create the image(s) on the site, you must include a full citation for the image(s).
  • A portfolio page highlighting the digital work you will create as part of the course (although you can feel free to include any other digital work of yours that you feel would be appropriate). This page can be blank for now.

Prior to your submission of the site, you should hide or delete any unnecessary pages or posts (such as the initial blog post) as well as any unused menu items or widgets.

Personal website grading

You will submit this project once. I will evaluate the site across the following categories:

  • Design: The site adheres to the best practices for Web and multimodal design as articulated in Writer/Designer.
  • Accessibility and requirements: The site is logically ordered and structured and adheres to best practices for linking (using text tags instead of URLs, linking to all online sources, placing links where they are needed) and image use (using descriptive alt tags, providing citations and links to the original source for all images not created by you). The site meets all of the requirements laid out in the assignment description above.
  • Readability and effectiveness: The text and other multimedia elements are free of major and minor errors in structure, syntax, and grammar and display the quality of writing appropriate for a professional audience.
  • Multimodality: Multimodal elements are effectively incorporated into the site to complement, comment on, and/or extend the written text taking advantage of the affordances of those modes to serve the goals of the site and its audience.
  • Citation and research: All media used on the site that are not the sole creation of the author are fully cited. If the original source exists online, there should be a clickable link to that source.

Multimodal analysis (20 points)

Multimodal analysis description

Note: this assignment is adapted from one by Kristin Arola.

This assignment will test your ability to analyze a series of multimodal texts for their effectiveness for a particular audience or group of audiences. You will select three multimodal texts (where “text” is understood broadly, including images, videos, websites, etc.) in a particular genre and analyze the potential goals of the author(s) and the effectiveness of the texts with regard to those goals along the dimensions of audience, purpose, context, and genre. In doing so, you should pay particular attention to the affordances (W/D, pp. 14–19) of the texts you are analyzing and their genre as well as the design choices made by the authors of those texts. (For a discussion of the rhetorical situation, a partial list of design choices, and examples of multimodal rhetorical analysis, see W/D ch. 2.)

This project will give you practice in describing the rhetoricity of multimodal texts—their persuasive goals and the ways that those goals are or are not achieved through the particular design choices of the author or authors. Additionally, you will practice creating your own multimodal project—integrating your sources and analysis—preparing you for the later assignments in the course.

Multimodal analysis requirements

You are free to choose the form that your analysis will take: it can be an audio file, a video, or a primarily textual document. The only requirement for form is that your analysis should be multimodal and all submissions should be posted on your personal website in a web-native format (i.e., a webpage or embedded audio or video file). Word documents, PowerPoint slides, or PDFs will not be accepted.

For the purposes of this assignment, “analyze” means to describe the ways in which the multimodal texts you have chosen use their different modes to make particular arguments for particular audience(s). This description will take the form of an argument, where “argument” means a claim supported by specific evidence from the text(s) along with whatever additional information is needed to connect the evidence to the claim. Whether you choose a primarily textual or audio-visual project, by “analysis,” I mean a coherent, well-organized essay, with an introduction, effectively-structured body section, and conclusion.

When choosing the modes for your project, keep in mind that the final product should serve an analysis of the modes and genre of the texts you have chosen for the project. For example, it will be impossible for you to adequately analyze a series of web videos without showing your audience screen shots or clips from those videos.

The project should be 1,250–1,750 words for primarily textual projects or 4–6 minutes for audiovisual projects. If you feel that either of these requirements is not appropriate for your chosen medium, please contact me and we can discuss a medium-appropriate length for your project.

Specific instructions for posting your analysis to your portfolio page will be addressed in class.

Multimodal analysis grading

This assignment will be submitted, in full, on two separate occasions. The first submission will be worth 25% of the assignment grade will the second submission will be worth the remaining 75%.

The purpose of these multiple submissions is to give you practice in revision and responding to feedback. Consequently, you should not think of these two submissions as a draft and a final project, but rather a complete project that you will subsequently have the opportunity to revise and resubmit for a potentially higher grade.

I will evaluate each submission across the following categories:

  • Requirements: The analysis meets all of the requirements laid out in this assignment description.
  • Content: The analysis demonstrates an awareness of rhetorical analysis and multimodal genres and affordances by crafting an effective argument, with examples, that addresses the audience, purpose, context, and genre of the chosen texts along with the modal affordances and design choices of the author or authors.
  • Style: The analysis demonstrates an awareness of professional tone, style, and essay structure.
  • Format/Conventions: The analysis demonstrates an understanding and application of layout, visual design, audience awareness, and information structure appropriate to the chosen medium and meets basic accessibility standards for that medium.
  • Citation: The analysis cites all sources and materials not created by the author in a manner appropriate to the chosen medium (see W/D ch. 4). There should be clickable links to all sources that exist online.

Video remix (20 points)

Video remix description

For this assignment, you will identify a short, primarily text-based article or book chapter on a topic related to multimodal communication or digital culture and create a video that remixes the major themes and arguments from that piece in audiovisual form. For example, you could choose a short piece on accessibility, and then create a video that remixes and illustrates this text. I will work with you to identify suitable topics and essays.

Here, I use the term “remix” to mean taking an original creative work and putting it to a new or innovative use. Just as an audio remix takes samples from different songs—a vocal track from one and a bass line from another, for example—and arranges them together into a new piece of music, your goal will be to take the original materials of the reading—the argument, the themes, the media—and combine them with your own ideas to make something new.

Although you will have a large amount of freedom in the final form of your videos, these videos must in some way translate the ideas of the original into new modes with the goal of more effectively illuminating the original content. Your video should not take the form of you simply reading or otherwise summarizing the source text, although you can quote from or reference your source as necessary; rather, it should re-present or remix the content in a way that both makes something new out of the source material and is suited to audiovisual media.

This project will require a number of steps: First you will need to understand and successfully summarize the main themes of the reading that you choose. You will then need to create a script for the project, planning out the ways in which you will incorporate the features of the medium to present these themes to best effect. You will turn that script into a storyboard that will serve as a visual roadmap for your project. You will need to research the resources you will include—audio and video clips, still images—and plan how you will record your new material—both shooting video and recording audio. Finally, you will need to record and then edit your video into a rough cut, then integrate feedback on that rough cut into the final video.

Video remix requirements

There are many different forms your project could take. You could use the documentary form to present the ideas of the author(s), illustrating their purpose with news clips and other media. You could create a narrative around the reading, using fictional characters or settings to illustrate information in the book. You could animate the source material, or otherwise illustrate its contents.

I am open to any of these options or others you can think of; the only firm requirement is that your project should take advantage of the resources of video—editing and the grammar of video, the use of still images and video clips, narration, and sound effects—to engage the argument of the source media. To this end, pick a reading that is interesting or challenging to members of the group; the more interested and engaged the group is by the reading, the better your final product will be.

The video should have a descriptive title (not acceptable: “ENGL 303 Video Remix”; better: “Accessibility”; best: “Why Accessibility Is Important for Multimedia Texts”), both in the body of the video and on any streaming service where it is hosted, and identify you by name as its author. It should be 5–7 minutes long. It should clearly indicate that it is a remix of the original text, naming the text and the original author(s) in the title or introduction as well as in the credits sequence. It must contain a credit sequence that clearly identifies the contributions of the author and provides sufficient information for viewers to identify and locate all outside sources. That is, in addition to citing sources in the credits, you must include citations in the body of the video to indicate when you are citing materials that were not created by you.

Video remix grading

You will submit the video in stages. The storyboard will be worth 5% of the total project grade. The rough cut will be worth 20% of the total project grade, and the second cut will be worth the remaining 75%. Both cuts of the video should be uploaded to a video sharing site (such as YouTube or Vimeo) and then an embedded version of the video, with a title and description, will be added to the on the portfolio section of your personal website.

As with your other projects, the purpose of these multiple submissions is to give you practice in revision and responding to feedback. Consequently, you should not think of these submissions as a series of drafts leading to a complete video, but rather a complete project that you will subsequently have the opportunity to revise and resubmit for a potentially higher grade. For example, an incomplete storyboard or rough cut will be graded using the same standards as the second cut.

I will evaluate your rough cut and final videos using the following categories:

  • Quality: The video makes effective use of the affordances of video, including the use of visuals, audio elements, and text—both on screen and in narration—to present its argument in a way that would not be possible in another medium.
  • Accessibility and requirements: The video includes accessibility features appropriate to audiovisual material and meets all of the requirements laid out in the assignment description.
  • Readability and effectiveness: The script and other elements of the video are free of major and minor errors in structure and syntax and display the quality of writing and presentation appropriate for a professional publication.
  • Remix: The video does not simply summarize or narrate the source material, but in its content and style effectively remixes its themes, arguments, etc. into something new.
  • Citation and research: All media and outside sources used in the video that are not the sole creation of the author are fully cited using standards appropriate to the medium (see W/D ch. 4).

Issue/cause website (20 points)

Issue/cause website assignment description

For this project, you will work in groups of 3–4. Groups will pick an issue or cause that is important to them or their community (clean water initiatives in West Virginia; safety on college campuses) and identify a particular audience that is likely uniformed about that issue or cause. You will then research, design, and build a multipage, multimodal website that informs your audience about your chosen topic. You will create the site separately from your own or any of the group members’ personal websites. You are free to design your own site in HTML/CSS or to host the site on WordPress.com or any other webhosting platform. If you choose a platform besides WordPress, I may not be able to troubleshoot problems you may encounter (see the list of services for which I will provide tech support here).

Issue/cause website requirements

The website should consist of at least four separate pages or sections, including

  1. a static home page that introduces the site and its cause;
  2. an about page that describes the purpose of the site and gives a short introduction to the site’s author(s);
  3. two additional pages or sections, such as: a description of the history of the issue or cause, a video introducing the topic, controversies surrounding the issue or cause, a series of blog posts surrounding the topic, or any other pertinent information related to the topic and purpose of the site or its audience; and
  4. works cited page that contains full citations in the APA format for all sources referenced on the site.

Groups are free to use a range of multimodal elements and creative organizational structures for this site. One of the dimensions by which the site will be evaluated will be its use of effective, web-aware organization.

The site as a whole must contain a minimum of 2,000 words of text (or the equivalent) and ten images or other of audiovisual media. Apart from the site’s template, all images or audiovisual materials used on the site must be the original creations of the group. This media can take the form of photographs, illustrations, infographics, or audio or video files.

Any text or outside research contained or referenced on the site not that is created by the group members must be fully cited both when it is mentioned, to indicate when material is not your own, along with a complete citation in the APA format on a separate works cited page. As is standard with web-publication, in-text mentions of web-based sources should be links to those sources (in the APA citations all URLs to web sources should be functioning links as well).

The works cited page will not count as one of the four required sections of the site or  toward the required word count.

Issue/cause website grading

All groups will submit a formal proposal for the project along with a group contract that outlines group members’ responsibilities. The proposal/contract will be worth 5% of the total project grade. The project will then be submitted, in full, on two separate occasions. The first submission will be worth 20% of the total grade for the project and the second will be worth 75% of the total.

As with your other projects, the purpose of these multiple submissions is to give you practice in revision and responding to feedback. Consequently, groups should not think of these two submissions as a draft and a final project, but rather a complete project that group members will subsequently have the opportunity to revise and resubmit for a potentially higher grade.

I will evaluate your issue/cause websites using the following categories:

  • Design: The site adheres to the best practices for Web and multimedia design as discussed in the course texts, course meetings, and other required readings.
  • Accessibility and requirements: The site is logically ordered and structured and adheres to best practices for linking (using text links instead of plain URLs, linking to all online sources, placing links where they are needed) and image use (using descriptive alt tags). The site meets all of the requirements laid out in the assignment description above.
  • Readability and effectiveness: The text and other multimedia elements are free of major and minor errors in structure, syntax, or grammar and display the quality of writing appropriate to the topic and target audience.
  • Multimodality: Multimodal elements are effectively incorporated into the site to complement, comment on, and/or extend the written text.
  • Citation and research: All sources used on the site that are not the sole creation of the authors are fully cited using the APA citation format. In addition to the APA citations, the site should demonstrate best practices for linking to web-based sources.

Group members will have the opportunity to comment on their own and their fellow members’ contributions to the project at the time of each submission. In most cases, all group members will receive the same grade on this assignment. If a group wishes for me to make any additional considerations regarding grading, those considerations must be agreed upon by all members of the group and clearly spelled out in the group contract.

H01 students only

Reading forum posts (15 points)

Reading forum posts assignment description

For this assignment, you will read a combined five chapters from Digital Detroit and It’s Complicated and engage in a forum discussion of those readings with the instructor and your classmates. Students will take turns leading these online discussions.

Here is how it will work. For each week when you are the designated discussion leader, you will create a new forum on Ecampus starting the weekly discussion. This initial post should identify the key arguments and themes in the chapter, and then provide a prompt or series of prompts for the other participants to respond to. You may choose to address a series of questions about the text, or identify debateable or controversial claims made by the authors. As discussion leader, your goal is to identify those areas in the text that are beneficial for further thought or conversation, so the approach you choose should have this outcome as its goal.

Reading forum posts requirements

Discussion leaders: Discussion leaders will begin discussions by posting  a new thread to the forum. These initial posts by discussion leaders should be a minimum of 400 words and are due before 11:59 PM EST on Tuesdays of the week the reading is assigned. The discussion leader should then respond at least once to a post from each of other participants before 11:59 PM EST on Thursdays of the week the reading is assigned.

All other participants: Initial posts by all other participants should respond to the thread created by the discussion leader, be a minimum of 200 words, and are due before 11:59 PM EST on Wednesdays of the week the reading is assigned.

I expect that these conversations will be varied and complex. The requirements above are minimums designed to encourage engagement with each other and the material, but you may find that you frequently want to continue these discussions beyond these minimums.

I have one other expectation for this assignment that is related to the main sequence of course assignments—I would like for you to choose one of the assigned readings to serve as the basis for your video remix. We will discuss this additional requirement before we begin the unit on the video remix assignment.

Reading forum posts grading

Studnets will receive a weekly grade on their participation in the reading forum discussions. Students who meet all of the requirements above with average quality of posts will receive no less than a B for their posts. Students who meet the requirements above and exceed average quality for work at this level—for example, by writing particularly perceptive responses to the readings or their classmates’ posts, going beyond the minimum expectations for engagement, etc.—can receive a higher grade. Students who miss deadlines, fail to meet word count or other requirements, or do not show evidence of deeply engaging with the readings or their classmates will receive a lower grade. The final grade for the assignment will be the average of these weekly grades.

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