Assignments

  1. Participation 10%
  2. Quizzes 10%
  3. Portfolio website: 15%
  4. Multimodal analysis: 15%
  5. Video remix: 25%
  6. Issue/cause website: 25%

Grading

I will use the following descriptors to guide my grading of your assignments. These descriptors will give you an indication of the the expectations that I bring to evaluating work in the course.

I will use +/- grades for assignments and for the final course grades. The +/- grades correspond to the numeric ranges below.

Grade descriptors

A (90–100): Excellent represents excellent participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with very high quality in all course work.
B (80–89): Above average represents above average participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with consistently high quality in course work.
C (70–79): Average represents good participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with generally good quality overall in course work.
D (60–69): Below average represents uneven participation in course activities; some gaps in assigned work completed, with inconsistent quality in course work.
F (59 and below): Inadequate represents minimal participation in course activities; serious gaps in assigned work completed, or very low quality in course work.

+/- grades

A+: 97 and above
A: 93-96
A-: 90-92
B+: 87-89
B: 83-86
B-: 80-82
C+: 77-79
C: 73-76
C-: 70-72
D+: 67-69
D: 63-66
D-: 60-62
F: 0-59

Participation (10%)

Description

This course is designed to be a participatory learning experience, combining discussions and in-class workshop activities. As such, it is important that you fully participate in all in-class activities, committing yourself to the learning community consisting of your classmates and myself.

What does class participation look like?

Participation can take different forms for different people. However, some participatory behaviors hold true for everyone.

First, you cannot participate if you do not attend class or if you regularly show up late or otherwise interfere with course activities. For these reasons, course attendance is a necessary prerequisite for participation. Conversely, attending class does not equal participation, for it is possible to be in every class meeting without engaging with or contributing to the learning that occurs in class.

Second, it will be impossible for you to participate in course learning if you come to class unprepared. You can prepare in the following ways:

  1. Before each class meeting you should complete all assigned readings and homework.
  2. You should bring all materials to each session, including course texts, additional readings, your notes, homework, assignment files and research sources, notes from previous meetings, and any other relevant materials.
  3. During class meetings you should participate in all activities by taking notes and actively engaging in course discussions and activities.
  4. During peer-review sessions, technology workshops, or proposal meetings you should actively engage with your classmates and myself and give your full attention to discussions, including taking notes (as appropriate).

All of these activities allow you to engage with and make the most of your learning experience in the course, and, consequently, improve the course experience for everyone.

Keep records of your participation

You will have multiple opportunities to earn participation credit. However, if it becomes necessary for you to demonstrate your participation in the course, it will be your responsibility to save relevant materials (such as your class notes or peer review evaluations) as evidence of this participation.

In general, if at the end of the semester you can demonstrate that you were able to substantially enhance or contribute to the course learning community and you fully participated in course activities, you will be able to earn full credit for participation. While preparation times may vary depending on our weekly schedule, you should generally plan to spend 6 hours a week—or, 2 hours for every hour of class time—working on course assignments and preparing for class meetings.

Quizzes (10%)

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 a quiz grade based on your participation in and/or completion of workshop activities.

Quizzes will typically be given at the beginning of class. If you are absent or if you are late and miss a quiz or proof-of-reading activity, your daily quiz grade will be zero. It is not practical for me to provide students with alternative quizzes for each class period. For this reason, missed quizzes cannot be made up.

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 this 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.

Portfolio website (15%)

Portfolio 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 it 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.

Portfolio website requirements

Your site should be legible, appropriate, and attractive in its use of color, typefaces, and images or other media. 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. 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.

Your site should contain the following:

  • 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, but 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.

Portfolio website grading

You will submit your portfolio site once. I will evaluate your portfolio website across the following five categories using the grade descriptors above:

  • 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 (15%)

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 (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 and their genre as well as the design choices made in the text. (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 focusing your attention on 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 the text should be posted on your portfolio website in a web-native format (i.e., a webpage or embedded audio or video file). Word documents or PDFs will not be accepted.

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 final submission should be a well-structured essay of 1,250–1,750 words for primarily textual projects or 4-6 minutes for audiovisual projects.

Instructions for posting your analysis to your portfolio page can be found here.

Multimodal analysis grading

This assignment will be submitted twice. The first submission will be worth 25% of the assignment grade will the second submission will be worth the remaining 75%. I will evaluate each submission across the following categories using the grade descriptors above:

  • Requirements: The analysis meets all of the requirements laid out in the 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 Writer/Designer ch. 4).

Video remix (25%)

Video remix description

For this assignment, you will work in groups of 3–4 persons to 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. I will work with groups to identify suitable topics and essays. For example, the group could choose a short piece on accessibility, and then create a video that remixes and illustrates this text.

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.

Your project should not take the form of group members simply reading or otherwise excerpting the source text, although you can quote from or reference your source as necessary; rather, you 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 the group members by name as the authors of the video. It should be 4–6 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 and credits. It must contain a credit sequence that credits the contributions of group members and all outside sources. In addition to citing these sources in the credits, must include citations in the body of the video to indicate when you are citing materials that were not created by members of the group.

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 final 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 each group member’s portfolio website.

I will evaluate your rough cut and final videos using the following five categories and the grade descriptors above:

  • 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 authors are fully cited using standards appropriate to the medium.

Except for extreme 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.

Issue/cause website (25%)

Issue/cause website assignment description

For this project, you may work individually or in groups of 3–4. Individuals and groups will pick an issue or cause that is important to your community (traffic problems in Morgantown; clean water initiatives in West Virginia) or demographic (rising costs of college tuition and student load debt; 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’ portfolio websites. You are free to design your own site in HTML or 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

Individuals and groups are free to use a range of multimodal elements and creative organizational structures for this site. However, the final 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), and
  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.

The site as a whole must contain a minimum of 1,750 words of text and ten images or pieces of audiovisual media (not including any images that are part of the site’s template). Apart from the template, all images and audiovisual material used on the site must be the original creations of the author(s) of the site. Any text or outside research contained or referenced on the site not that is created by the author(s) must be fully cited both in the text, to indicate when material is not your own, along with a complete citation in the APA format on a separate works cited page.

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

Issue/cause website grading

This project will be submitted twice. The first submission will be worth 25% of the total grade for the project and the second will be worth 75% of the total.

I will evaluate your issue/cause websites using the following five categories and the grade descriptors above:

  • Design: The site adheres to the best practices for Web and multimedia design.
  • 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.

For groups, I will collect peer evaluations from group members and use this feedback in calculating individual grades. 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.