Re-designing English 350

One of my goals this summer is to redesign English 350 for fall 2013.  The course is Intermediate Expository Writing, subtitled Rhetorics of Place.  It’s taken mainly by junior and senior English majors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  I want to better incorporate multimedia and digital composing in the course projects and thus better help students write and publish for the 21st Century.

Right now, I’m playing around with ten tools that I might introduce in the course to help my students better invent, write, and circulate their ideas and experiences about place.

  1. blogs
  2. movies
  3. presentations
  4. images
  5. screen captures
  6. maps
  7. sound
  8. Google Docs
  9. drawings
  10. social media

The trick will be to learn the tools well enough that the students and I don’t get bogged down in technical problems; the other trick, of course, will be to keep the focus on writing and place rather than on technology.  For right now, I’m just trying to learn the tools myself and try them out in my own writing; I’m also searching far and wide for good examples of multimedia and online writing about place that could be used to model and inspire my students’ writing.

After that, I want to re-think the timeline and nature of the course projects, at least as I’m imagining them now:

  1. memoir
  2. map
  3. travelogue
  4. restoration
  5. design

As I write those down, I’m thinking all that may need to be changed.  I’m sure I’ll be blogging about this as the summer progresses . . .

For a link to my fall 2012 syllabus, click here.

(And thank you to everyone associated with the 2013 Summer Immersive Course on Multimedia Composing at the Plangere Culture Lab at Rutgers for their help with this project!)

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One thought on “Re-designing English 350

  1. I think that this is an ambitious, yet totally achievable set of goals. In terms of the feeling of needing to get the applications/programs down before you bring them out to students, I would agree that you want to be familiar, but I feel that the aim should be a “working knowledge” rather than an industry tested standard of program knowledge. One thing to keep in mind is that there are certain similarities between the programs (such as iMovie and Audacity, or certain portions of WordPress and Word/Pages) – which allows for a certain amount of creative play/freedom for you as an instructor and a creative thinker.

    Also, a key issue to keep in mind is the fact that certain programs change fairly regularly, and without notification. A perfect example of this would be Google Docs/Drive. Google’s company motto is “We’re always in beta,” suggesting that nothing is nailed down. At first this may be a bit frightening, but after a little time spent playing in the application and a couple of well calibrated searches on the web, it genuinely becomes liberating.

    Track your progress! I’m expecting to be able to read about how it is going, at least on a semi-regular basis over the course of the fall 2013 semester.

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