Description and Requirements

Course information

Course number: ENGL 303
Course name: Multimedia Writing
Term and year: Fall 2016
CRN: 84024
Instructor: John Jones, Assistant Professor
Email: john dot jones at-sign mail dot wvu dot edu
Twitter: johnmjones
Office: 231 Colson Hall
Office hours: Tue. 12p–1p, Wed. 2p–3p, or by appointment

Course description

“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.

Course objectives

Students who earn a grade of C or higher in the course will meet average standards of quality when:

  • 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.

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.

Required texts

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 skip this text, Wordpress has extensive online documentation.

Any additional course readings will be provided by the professor.

Required digital resources

Additional recommendations

Technical support

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:

  • WordPress
  • 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.