English CTW 2: Spring 2011
A&S 128, the journalism lab
In part 1 of this sequence we examined the possibilities of hypertext for academic writing, including research writing. We explored the tension between writing as argument and writing as participating in professional and academic conversation (knowledge production).
We created annotated bibliographies, reviews of scholarly literature, and academic projects that aimed 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 developed and presented all of this research-driven academic writing hypertextually, developing printable versions in the form of a traditional research essay. These printable versions were occasions for significant revision of the language of the hypertext: the linear and nonlinear writing typically contributed meaningfully to each other.
Part 2 looks beyond hypertext to explore the prospects of a wide variety of new media technologies for the digital composition of 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.
We're also going to try a unique peer-response and collaboration tool specifically designed for digital composition, Voicethread
ASSIGNMENTS. 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.
Remixes and Machinima. You'll use assisted-creativity technology to remix Little Brother in a variety of ways, including comics and cartoons, fan fiction, and a screenplay leading to producing a machinima (animated film) by using screen capture inside Second Life. and Informal Writing. Equiv. 10-15 pages.
Annotated Bibliography and Review of the Literature. This two-part assignment is still the most important thing you'll learn in this class: how to enter an academic conversation.
As before, your task is to summarize the observations and standpoints of scholars, leading to an area where a question has not been asked or where solutions are being hotly debated.
In this case, you'll be reviewing the literature on a question raised by Cory Doctorow's novel. You might approach this by way of themes raised by the book: the tension between our desires for liberty and security, the rights of young people, the uses or abuses of information technology, etc. You must use the library databases to review the literature in a particular discipline, such as political philosophy or sociology. You might choose to analyze the novel as a new media artifact and use the communications databases. Or you could look at it as a novel--say, as a young adult novel, or as a book that intentionally evokes Orwell's 1984--and use the MLA database, for instance. You must annotate and review at least ten sources, five of them from a scholarly database.
Your focus is on the ways that Doctorow's effort raises an unresolved or unexplored question to which it seems he hopes to make a unique contribution. (500-700 words each).
Analytical hypertext. This is an academic website comprised of at least 3000 words, spread out over at least sixteen web pages hyperlinked together. Two revisions, including a printable 8-10 page paper.
The goal of this hypertext is to analyze Cory Doctorow's Little Brother in the context of the scholarly literature you surveyed. In what ways does Doctorow provide an original contribution? Does the novel offer a unique analysis or solution to the problem you've discussed, or raise issues that others have neglected? How successful is the novel in those terms? Are there ways that your own experience, or the research that you did, either supports or raises questions about Doctorow's notions?
Remix hypertext, with reflection. This is a hypertext of at least 3000 words that remixes Little Brother in a significant, original way. It can incorporate, adapt, or extend any or all of your previous remixes, or none of them. It can embed the machinima that you worked on, or those of your classmates, or none at all. It should display thoughtful, critical understanding of the text and related issues. It should employ multiple voices and genres, and yet have a sense of coherence and feel well designed and usable. Most of all, it should be a lively, effective, original work. At least 1,000 words of the remix hypertext should consist of a learning essay that traverses both quarters of the class. You can do a remix that does not involve a lot of orginal writing, such as a song or music video. In that case the other two thousand words of your own writing could be an introduction and discussion of the creative process, etc. Two revisions, plus a reflective component (the learning essay).
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. See the playlist.
Remixing Little Brother, part 2. In this class, we'll build three major projects: an analytical hypertext, a remix hypertext, and a machinima-style animated film. While we'll be using some new programs, much of what we're doing will be familiar to you from the first term. I've built in lots of revision opportunities to help you create finished, highly presentable final efforts.
The films are a group project for which we've set aside three and a half weeks: you'll need to mark your calendars and be fully available to your groups, especially during the actual filming May 13-18. If for any reason you fail to fully participate, you will have to do a substantial independent project in order to complete the course requirements.
Things you'll need. You should purchase a flash 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 a paper copy of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.
People You Need to Know. This term we are working with the support of Gloria Hofer email@example.com , James Linehan firstname.lastname@example.org, and Michael Ballen email@example.com in Media Services. They will offer required out of class training sessions in screen capture, video production, and navigating Second Life. They'll be generously available during the period reserved for machinima production.
With respect to Dreamweaver and publishing issues you can continue to get help from Technology Training, which offers drop-in personal assistance at the library's Help Desk/Multimedia Lab every Sunday through Thursday evening from 7 to 10 pm, They are also available Tuesday afternoons from 145 to 330 in room 203. The assistants are specifically trained and prepared to support you in completing the web-publishing 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday. Discuss Little Brother chs 1-5. Homework: create a Bitstrips account and do a fan-fiction cartoon or graphic-novel interpretation of Little Brother. Embed a link to your work in the class blog with a 100-word discussion.
Week 2 Monday. Discuss Little Brother chs 6-10. Homework: Download the Comic Life demo or a free version and create a different interpretation of Little Brother. Embed a link to your work in the class blog with a 100-word discussion. If you like, borrow and transform some of your classmates' ideas, linking back to their work in your discussion. Discuss in class: Harry Potter Loves Draco Malfoy and Nippon Fanifesto.
Wednesday. Discuss Little Brother chs 11-15. Homework: create any kind of remix of Little Brother you like: write a piece of fan fiction, a poem or song, a long cartoon, and publish it to your SCU ftp account. You can develop one of your earlier cartoons if you like. Embed a link to your work in the class blog with a 100-word discussion. If you like, borrow and transform some of your classmates' ideas, linking back to their work in your discussion.
Week 3 Monday. Discuss Little Brother chs 16-21. Homework: brainstorm topic ideas for your research hypertext and publish a 100-word topic proposal to the class blog.
Wednesday. Topics workshop. Why writing a literature review is crucial; discussion of Rebecca Moore Howard's research, Skimming The Surface: Study of First Year Students' Research Papers Finds Little Evidence They Understand Sources.
Week 4 Monday. Annotated bibliography and review of literature due. Publish both to your ftp site and then create a SUBSTANTIAL and THOUGHTFUL visual representation of the lit review using Glogster, a posterizing program.
Do the poster of the lit review AFTER the linear revision, but feel free to revise the linear revision after completing the poster. The lit review is 500-700 words. The poster can use some of the same words and fewer of them. The purpose of the poster is to check on the success of your lit review--it should be easy to visually represent a good lit review--and to help you get started on the visual strategies for your site. During class: peer response, feedback, refresher on composing for hypertext.
Wednesday. Splash page and three linked pages due. Presentations, peer response, feedback.
Homework: follow links on the machinima resources page to view 10-12 machinima and take a look at the screenplays featured in the WGA's 101 Greatest Screenplays and David Lemon's Seven Scripts You Gotta Read. Write a 500-word discussion of what inspired you in these films and screenplays, plus an idea or two for your own Little-Brother inspired machinima; publish your discussion to the class blog.
Homework: complete your screenplay, output it as a pdf file, publish it to your website, and embed a link to your work in the class blog with a 100-word discussion.
Required during week 6: Gloria Hofer and James Linehan will conduct 3-hour out of class introductions to software (screen capture, editing) and navigating Second Life (focussing on location scouting, acquisition of props and scripts for animating avatars.) MARK YOUR CALENDARS: you must attend one of these sessions:
Thursday April 28th from 4-7 PM, Harrington Multimedia Lab
Wednesday May 4th from 10 AM to 1 PM, Harrington Multimedia Lab
Thursday May 5th from 4:00-7 PM, Harrington Multimedia Lab
Week 7 Monday. Complete screenplay due (8-10 pages). In class: my feedback and peer response using voicethread. American Film Institute on editing part one, part two and part three. Discussion of shot angles and shot planning. Introduction to the Xtranormal text-to-video animator. Use Xtranormal to test and revise your screenplay. Homework: revised screenplays due by Tuesday midnight, absolutely no exceptions.
Wednesday. Meets in Harrington Multimedia Lab. Production groups form and primary responsibilities assigned (shooting script, location scout, voice casting director, animation codes, props, director, editor, sound fx & music producer, etc. Discussion of shooting script, wardrobe, animation needs, budgeting, etc. (The person responsible for each shooting script will block out the film using Xtranormal that night.) Film production begins the next day, Friday, May 13 with group viewing of Xtranormal sketch, followed by development of a shot plan detailing needs for props, animation code, locations, etc. From the shot plan, groups will generate lists of individual responsibility for pre-production during the weekend before principal photography. Actual filming will normally begin no later than Monday May 16 and wrap by the morning of May 18.
Week 8 Production week. Meet in Harrington Multimedia Lab. I'll observe work in progress during class hours and give feedback. You will need to plan additional hours. All footage MUST be completely shot before class on Wednesday, May 18 to allow time for editing, sound, etc. Be sure to SAVE copies of your captured footage on an external hard drive in case you need to additional editing. Publish completed films to Youtube by Sunday, May 22 at midnight. (Again, no exceptions, so mark your calendars.)
Week 9 Monday. Screen completed films, class machinima awards. Approval of remix hypertext proposals.
Wednesday. Splash page, three linked pages due for your remix hypertext. Workshop.
Wednesday. First 2000 words of remix hypertext due, presentations, peer response, feedback.
The completed project is due by 10pm Thursday June 10, when residence halls close for the summer. Includes revised text of remix hypertext, possibly multimedia and reflective component (1000-word learning essay).
In this case, what you'll "practice" is composing for digital publication and civic engagement. You'll explore how digital literacy is re-shaping the relationship of academics, professionals, and activists to the public sphere.
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 ourclassrooms 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, journalistsand 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!
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