It can also create some anxiety, because many of us are trained to believe that education is about taking great notes and being sure we have the "right" answer. Even our classrooms are designed to reinforce bad 19th-century ideas about teaching and learning.
But real researchers in universities and corporate labs, or professionals like physicians, lawyers, dancers, journalists and architects don't sit in rows and regurgitate information. Ditto for entrepreneurs, managers, and engineers.
For professionals in many fields, most days are filled with thinking and writing about problems to which there are no obvious right answers. Often the problems are just as difficult to define as the solutions.
Dealing with the unknown and the contested--with ambiguity and uncertainty--can lead to cognitive overload. Being a professional is a lot like being a writer or any other kind of artist--a lot of creative problem-solving is required. Sometimes it's easier just to follow directions!
The effectiveness of this kind of learning is strongly supported by decades of research, especially by comparison to traditional forms of classroom activity: how long did you remember the information you crammed for your last test? These are proven, especially effective ways of learning to write and think.
Another potentially good thing is that you will have a major role in choosing how to direct your time and energy in this class. The majority of students are quite proud of the work they do here.
There are drawbacks to this kind of learning. It is harder to coast. In project-based learning, completing an assignment poorly takes almost as much time as completing one successfully. For the same reason, it's harder to catch up if you fall behind. There's no way to last-minute cram for this class.
It can be either thrilling or disconcerting for so much of your work to be out in the open, under the scrutiny of other students and other professionals.
Finally: while the amount of work assigned in this class is really around average, it will feel like more if you don't have genuine enthusiasm for the topics and projects you choose. This will be especially the case in the second term.
If you have concerns at any time, be sure to ask in class or, if it's more comfortable for you, arrange to see me privately. I can help!
This course is a practicum, meaning that it emphasizes practicing or participating in the the object of study. In this case, what you'll practice is composing for digital publication to the world wide web. During the first term you'll write online in various media, and create three separate websites.
You'll revise each of your major efforts in response to feedback from me, from teaching assistants, technology trainers, other students and, possibly, from viewers of your projects online.
Personal hypertext. This can take pretty much any form you like. It should be spread out over at least 10 web pages, involve at least 1800 words of original writing, and involve some form of research or data gathering (broadly construed).
It can be creative writing, an autobiographical photo-essay or travelogue, a family genealogy project, or a tribute to a relative who has passed away. You might want to do a service project for an organization with which you're involved, or a fan site for an author, band, or sports team that you admire.
It can be an annotated edition of a favorite text, such as a poem, song lyric, or photograph. You will probably want to link this hypertext project to a personal home page, which you can use as a hub for your other projects for this class, pages for other interests, schoolwork, career needs (such as a resume, recommendations, or writing sample) etc.
Analytical hypertext: Civic Engagement and Writing from a Committed Standpoint.
This is an academic website comprised of at least 2000 words, spread out over at least twelve web pages hyperlinked together.
The goal of this hypertext is to discuss problems arising between persons in relationship to other persons, institutions, and values.
Like Barbara Ehrenreich, you'll write from a committed standpoint, involving a degree of participation in the situation you describe, while trying to tell the truth as other people see it, and propose solutions that you think persons in other standpoints might accept.
You'll find that because of the hypertext format, your essay can sustain very different points of view and still be enormously effective and have a high degree of wholeness and integrity.
Annotated Bibliography and Review of the Literature (500-700 words each). This two-part assignment is the most important thing you'll learn in this class: how to enter an academic conversation.
You'll learn to summarize the observations and standpoints of others while indicating areas of broad agreement as well as areas where questions have not been asked or where solutions are being hotly debated.
This will help you to describe the unresolved or unexplored question to which your project hopes to make a unique contribution. It is an essential preparation for the final project.
Research hypertext: Living the Low-Wage Life.
The core mission of this hypertext is to evoke the "lived experience" of a particular low-wage occupation, and explore how that experience helps to answer or raise questions in the academic conversation about low-wage employment.
Will include an original research contribution (such as an interview or survey), at least 1800 words of your original writing, and another 500 words that review the existing research literature on the question.
The text must be connected with internal links over at least fifteen distinct web pages. All topics require my advance approval.
Informal Writing. Includes in-class writing, peer response, brief response essays and other homework, as well as meaningful participation in online discussion forums.
In preparation for some of our class discussions of homework reading, you will be expected to participate in informal online writing about the reading, possibly using such diverse technologies as weblogs, wikis, social media, and synchronous small-group discussions in online environments such as Second Life.
In order to permit effective discussion, this will often mean that you are required to do the reading 2 or 3 days _before_ our class session.
Please note: this informal online writing and in-class discussion is extremely important.
Since there are no examinations in this class, this will in most cases represent your best chance to demonstrate comprehension of and engagement with your reading.
In general, you cannot expect to do well in the class without doing well on these less formal assignments.
Outcomes, attendance, and disability accommodation. Together with various faculty and administrators, the university provost has prepared standardized learning outcomes and course descriptions for courses that fit into the core curriculum. I've provided those relevant to this class on a separate sheet. In general, these goals reflect national norms for classes of this kind, as summarized in the CWPA statement that you’ll find on the reverse side of the provost's guidelines.
My version of this class, as indicated by the description and title, emphasizes the opportunities represented by composing in electronic environments--a section added to national learning outcomes over a decade ago, and especially important to professionals and students in the Silicon Valley.
Because of the participatory and hands-on nature of the learning you'll do in this class, I suggest that you miss no more than 2 class meetings (ie, 10% of our term), and arrive late no more than twice.
Unexcused attendence problems beyond these guidelines will be reflected by a reduction in your final grade (usually 1/2 to 1 1/2 letter grades); attendance issues affecting 30% of scheduled classes (that's 6 sessions) will generally result in a failing grade.
If you feel the need to consult a handbook, there are numerous online resources available through any search engine.
If I raise usage issues with you, you may want to get to know your fellow undergraduates offering free tutoring at the campus writing center.
Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just by sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves. --Chickering and Gamson, "Active Learning"
Machinima (animated film) shot in Second Life, inspired by Cory Doctorow's novel Little Brother... a group project for spring term. This playlist is from the spring 2010 section.
Remixing Little Brother 1: Writing with New Media. The written world has been sweepingly transformed by electronic media, especially the world-wide web. New forms of writing and publishing (weblogs, text messaging, discussion lists, email, social media) have emerged in little more than a decade, and nonetheless are the major form of written activity for tens of millions of literate people. There are new forms of commercial, professional, and academic writing suitable for internet accessibility, from the irritating (pop-up or embedded advertising), the captivating (games and interactive simulations), to multi-media web journals and content-management architecture. Older forms of writing, such as poetry, diaries, personal letters, and genealogical records are all now available in new ways. In this class, we’ll explore some of the possibilities for academic writing that emerge from the near-universal electronic mediation of the writing process.
The first term explores the possibilities of hypertext for academic writing. It examines the tension between writing as argument and writing as participating in professional and academic conversation (knowledge production). We create annotated bibliographies, reviews of scholarly literature, and academic projects that aim to make a modest original contribution to the scholarly conversation, typically by providing original research, proposing a new solution, or creating a new communications tool. We develop and present all of this research-driven academic writing hypertextually, developing printable versions in the form of a traditional research essay. These printable versions are occasions for significant revision of the language of the hypertext: the linear and nonlinear writing typically contribute meaningfully to each other.
In the spring term we'll look beyond hypertext to explore the prospects of a wide variety of new media technologies for academic writing. We'll begin by remixing Cory Doctorow's novel Little Brother in machinima (animated film) shot in the Second Life virtual community.
We'll also make use of new media for assisted creativity, such as the Bitstrips comic builder, the Xtranormal text-to-video animator, the Glogster poster maker, and music creators like JamStudio.
Things you'll need. You should purchase a flash “thumb,” “stick,” or “keychain” drive to store your work in progress. You will be making frequent use of html editing software, principally Macromedia's Dreamweaver Studio 8, which is available for free use in several on-campus labs. Some of our reading will be available online. However, you should own copies of these four paperback books:
Tamara Draut, Strapped
Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed
Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation
David Shipler, The Working Poor
People You Need to Know. Technology Training offers drop-in personal assistance at the library's Help Desk/Multimedia Lab every Sunday through Wednesday evening from 7 to 10 pm, They are also available Monday afternoons from 145 to 330 in room 203. The assistants are specifically trained and prepared to support you in completing the assignments for this class.
The assistant may be working in the lab with someone else when you drop in. Just ask around the room until you find the persons on duty. If after making a reasonable effort to locate the attendant, you are unable to get assistance please email Teri Escobar-Ochoa, Technology Training Specialist at email@example.com.
What is the internet made of? Who “composes” the artifacts that are internet “places” and internet “culture”? How is the composition of internet culture different from the composition of television, radio, or mass-market book culture? Is “publishing” your music, poetry, memoirs, or political views on the internet different from other kinds of publicity? What do we mean by an internet “public”? In what ways do we people “read” or “view” internet culture differently from other forms of reading and viewing?
ACTIVITY: Sketch your “networked self”--the web of associations, interests, passions, and commitments through which you express your individuality, emphasizing the institutions, organizations, and groups that structure and support your beliefs, interests and values.
Homework: 1) buy course books and 2) print, read, and annotate two very short articles for Wednesday's discussion (URLs below).
ACTIVITY: In class: plan a website devoted to one aspect of your networked self. (This is your “personal hypertext project,” described above.) Begin by writing the splash page on a plain piece of paper, indicating any images you plan to add and underlining the places you think links are appropriate. If you don't have the links you need to move on, re-write. Then, on new pieces of paper, create the pages to which you projected links on the front page. Write the text and describe the images you imagine for these pages. Indicate further links—and create the next layer of pages, as before. Keep going until you have a paper model of a functioning website. Complete this project for homework, preparing at least ten pages in paper mock-up, complete with images and 1800 words of text. Bring the paper mockups plus ELECTRONIC versions of the images and text to Monday's class (on stick drives).
Monday. Introduction to Dreamweaver; Teri Escobar. Topics include navigation, typography, site organization, effective design.
1. Request web authoring account at http://webpages.scu.edu.
2. Begin publishing your personal website.
Dreamweaver introduction continued. Publish, discuss and revise your personal hypertexts. Brief discussion of intellectual property issues: a) creative commons, copyleft or other choices regarding your own work and b) the use of an image credit and link to the source page for borrowed noncopyrighted images on all of your pages using such material for educational and noncommercial purposes.
Tip: you will want to plan on publishing your planned changes in the library during the scheduled multimedia lab assistance hours. To get the most out of the assistants, you'll want to have already explored other sites, found new images, written revised text, and prepared a mockup before you ask for help. Bonus tip: use Jerz's unbeatable Newbie Web Author Checklist before you finish. Can't get enough web design tips? UC Boulder has a comprehensive list of sites offering help.
Monday. Discuss Ehrenreich pp 1-50. Homework: reading plus topic invention for analytical hypertext. Publish your "I resign" letter and the topic invention to the class blog.
Wednesday. Discuss Ehrenreich 51-121. Approve hypertext topics and i mockups of your analytical hypertext. Homework: read Schlosser chapter 3 ("Behind the Counter" and chapter 8 ("The Most Dangerous Job") (91-110, 169-192). What makes these accounts vivid and compelling? Search for vivid first-person accounts of the perspectives you are planning to discuss in your hypertext, and create a mockup of your hypertext, making use of the accounts you've gathered. The mockup should be cover at least six pages and use 1000 words.
Monday. Discussion of Schlosser and hypertexts in progress. Homework: revise and complete the analytical hypertext (12 pages, 2000 words).
Wednesday. Peer response. Discussion: responding to student writing using UW-Madison checklist, plus special considerations in hypertext: reading behavior (Liu and Nielsen) navigation (jerz again), and design: does my website suck?
You may want to revise your hypertexts based on my response and peer reaction. After revising the hypertext, create a printable or "flat" version of your website in the form of a traditional essay of 2000 words. You may incorporate as much of the text you wrote on individual web pages as you feel is helpful. HOWEVER: your goal is to make a traditional printable essay, and the writing has to be successful on those terms. Simply pasting chunks of the hypertext together will not be successful for most people. Make use of the feedback provided in today's class. Add this printable version to your
Monday. Workshop on second draft of hypertext and linear revision. My response, guided peer response.
Homework: Revise the hypertext and linear essay into final form fod our midterm conference. The linear essay will help you to improve thewriting of the hypertext. Also print, sign, and complete thegoals and review document. Your goals and reflection should be connected to the WPA Council outcomes statement.
Wednesday. Required midterm conferences, 12-8 pm.
Homework: Read Shipler's Introduction and Chapters 1-3. Prepare a 500-word essay, My Low-Wage Life, which will serve as a topic invention for your research hypertext, "Living the Low Wage Life," and publish it to the class weblog. You can write about your own experience working for low wages or your relationship to others working for low wages, but you must have a clear connection to the specific form of low-wage work you discuss.
Monday. Discuss Shipler and class essays. Discussion of annotated bibliographies and literature reviews. Homework: prepare a 300-word proposal for the research hypertext, Living the Low Wage Life, and publish it to the class weblog. Be sure to relate your proposal to specific major ideas and concepts drawn from the reading of Ehrenreich, Schlosser, and Shipler, citing page numbers.
Wednesday. More on annotated bibliographies and lit reviews, approval of topics.
Homework (due next Wednesday):1. Produce an annotated bibliography and then a review of the literature for your research hypertext.Employ 5-7 book chapters or scholarly articles from one of the library databases. You may include Shipler, Ehrenreich, and Schlosser, but you should have at least four other scholarly articles or book chapters. You must have printed copies or photocopies of every article/chapter in your bibliography.
2. Create a home page for your "low-wage" hypertext, and publish the project proposal, annotated bibliography and review of the literature to your website.
Monday. No class; research break.
Wednesday. In-class working laboratory: what is an original research contribution? Discussion of ethics in collecting data from human subjects.
For homework: Prepare a complete draft of your hypertext, keeping in mind that the core mission of the project is to evoke the "lived experience" of a particular low-wage occupation. This draft should include original research, follow principles of good design from standard sources and sites you researched for inspiration, and include a total of at least 1800 words of your own analytical writing, as well as another 500-700 words that review the literature. The text must be connected with internal links over at least twelve distinct web pages at this stage.
Monday. Presentation of websites, peer response. Homework: revise your design and text based on feedback.
Wednesday. Discussion of revised websites, and the relationship between traditional research papers, critical thinking, and hypertext.
Homework (Thanksgiving break). Prepare a 6-7 page (minimum 2000 words) research paper on the the problem of low-wage work, featuring the particular low-wage occupation you've chosen. You should draw on the research you've done for the annotated bibliography and review of the literature, and you may incorporate as much of the text you wrote on individual web pages as you feel is helpful. Publish this printable version to your research hypertext.
Tip: remember that your goal is to make a traditional printable essay, and the writing has to be successful on those terms. Simply pasting chunks of the hypertext together will not be successful for most people.
Monday. Presentation of websites, individual responses, learning essay.
Homework: Read Draut 1-90. REVISE your learning essay and try to make connections between your own situation (as described by Draut) and the situation of the low-wage workers in your essay.
Wednesday. Congratulations! And a chance to reflect: we'll discuss what we find most successful about each other's websites, and ask individuals to discuss how they came to particularly successful decisions. Afterward, I'll save time for individual conferences.
You may revise your work as much as you like until Monday, December 14th, at 10pm. When you are finishsed, simply send me a link to the main page, which should clearly direct me to all of your coursework, including a detailed learning essay.
Regarding grading you have three basic choices:
a) You can let your learning essay speak for itself
b) You can give me a written proposal for your final grade based on the learning essay and your sense of how you fulfilled all of the requirements for the class provided in the syllabus.
c) You can confer with me during my last office hours of the term to talk about the final grade you're aiming for, based on your current performance in relation to course requirements and get my suggestions for further revisions, extra credit, etc.
To discuss a final grade, you MUST have completed &published a learning essay and all of the required elements of the website--including revised printable essay, annotated bib, literature review, revised individual web pages and revised design. (If you haven't completed these things, you can of course still meet with me.)
FEEDBACK AND GRADING. Because this is a practicum, you should expect to have direct, personal feedback from me in class meetings at least every other week. In addition, we will have at least two required conferences outside of class time and I am always available for help and additional feedback. Technology specialists have special lab hours designated for individual assistance with the technological aspects of your work.
At the end of the term, you’ll prepare a hypertext letter (a learning essay) linking to your web-published class work and discussing what you’ve learned If you like, you can also send me an email proposing a final grade, based on assessment criteria we’ll develop over the course of the term.
I'm always available to talk if you have questions about your grade and will always take time to help you figure out how to do as well as possible.
My approach to grading is holistic. In other words, I prefer to take all of the assignments together, including participation, and consider the context of your personal goals for the class, your growth as a writer and, especially, your self-assessment.
There are many good things about this approach: most people feel that it’s fair and they appreciate that it’s individualized, and they usually like that I take their opinions seriously.
Most people also feel that it helps to keep the focus on the writing process. On the negative side, we sometimes prefer what feels like the clarity, simplicity, and familiarity of a universal grading rubric that focuses on the results of your efforts: (“A C paper fulfills the assignment, but lacks sophistication,” etc).
My way of handling that is to ask you to develop a set of goals for yourself this quarter, and to describe the way those goals connect to the sort of grading possibilities you envision for yourself.
You’ll share those goals and ideas with others and with me, in writing and in conference, and those exchanges may motivate you to revise your goals.
Eventually that statement will be part of your portfolio: your concluding letter will reflect on the work you’ve done and on your goals.
While I retain full responsibility for assessing your final grade, I take your assessments and any proposals regarding your grade seriously.
In most cases where there appears the possibility of a substantially different assessment, or in cases where you feel that you haven’t been meeting your goals for a variety of reasons, you can request (or I may suggest) extra credit activities.
SCU maintains a detailed policy on academic integrity that applies to this course and which you may consult in the University Bulletin or on the Provost's web site.
Students who experience a circumstance or condition that may affect their ability to complete assignments or otherwise satisfy course criteria are encouraged to meet with me to identify, discuss, and document any feasible instructional modifications or accommodations.
You may contact the Disabilities Resource Center in 214 Benson (extension 4111, TTY ext 5445).
Any other issues? Please email or drop by the office to talk.
Some rights reserved. Contact pmbousquet (at) gmail with questions regarding intellectual commons