Fall 2008 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Technology Syllabus

Fall 2008 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Technology Side Bar

Fall 2008 Syllabus

ENC 4931/6421

Professor: Dr. Trey Conner

office: 119A Davis, TR 12-1:30


IM handle: rhythmizomenoid

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Research Assistant: David Havasi

lab: 280 Davis

ENC 4931/6421 is an outcomes-based, writing-intensive multimedia composition course open to both undergraduates and graduate students, technology novices and experts, and and to all students who care about writing and open access to technological resources for creative practice. The course will be of special interest to teachers-in-training who expect to teach writing upon graduation and computer science majors who want hands-on experience. Students will research, write about, and directly investigate the effects of digital culture, emergent technologies, and open-source software in our school systems and in our communities. We will begin by testing and querying a premise: that surplus and salvaged desktop computers, when networked through a linux thin-client, can become community-forming technologies where citizens can share learning strategies, cultivate new skills, and expand on capacities of communicative performance in new media. We will explore the issues that converge on this premise, formulate research questions, user-test technologies, and produce final projects that tackles a specific problem and presents a feasible solution for the consideration of real stakeholders. In Piloting Pedagogies, we write, provide feedback on each others' writing and process, and reflect on these dynamics, and do this writing "solo" as well as together in groups. We will write for persuasion - we will analyze and define ideas, texts, and issues, share useful information and novel ideas with specific audiences, and attempt to move someone to do something, such as change their mind. And we will write for inquiry - by putting ideas into different contexts and forms, we will explore problems, evaluate their components, and find (sometimes unexpected!) solutions. Each student will conduct research in 3 phases:


1. Conduct library and field research on the politics, ethics, and practices of new media. Present a case study to your peers.

2. Design a proposal. Students will create a robust online persona who will narrate and reflect on the process. As part of this process, students will be required to beta-test software and services currently under consideration for wider deployment in the state educational system.

3. Class participants will then conduct the proposed experiment, and write up the results. This final project will be delivered in two formats. First, students will tune their projects to a specific audience, utilizing the media and rhetorical tools available and appropriate to their case. Then, students will "remix" their efforts into a different rhetorical situation: an electronic portfolio. In order to become acquainted with proprietary and open source creation tools, and evaluate the functionality of both software paradigms, students will produce at least two different portfolio versions.



Spotlight on Writing


6421 Nota Bene: Students enrolled in the graduate-level section will complete an additional assignment, and this assignment, which will be composed with FEAP outcomes in mind, and will require a 4 step process: a memo that proposes an assignment in FEAP terms, a draft, a peer-review session, a reflection on peer feedback, and a final draft.


When reading, planning, drafting, and revising, keep these WPA outcomes in mind (designated in bold are tags that you will apply to your best writing, so that you can easily assemble a portfolio of your best work)::


1. rhetorical knowledge RK

* purpose

* responding to the needs of different audiences

* kairos

* constraints (format, conventions, appropriateness/surprise value)

* tone

* genres


2. Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing CTRW


* writing for inquiry, learning, communicating, and commons-formating

* finding, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing appropriate primary and secondary sources

* mixing: integrate your ideas with those of others

* Understand the relationships among language, knowledge, and power


3. Process


* recursion and drafting

* flexible strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proof-reading

* remixing - writing is an open process, by which early writing and the writing of others can be reworked, revised

* the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes

* critique your own work and others' works

* multi-person composition: learn to balance the advantages of relying on others with the responsibility of playing your part

* multimedia composition: use a variety of technologies to address a range of audiences



4. Knowledge of Conventions KC


* awareness common formats for different kinds of texts

* genre conventions ranging from structure and paragraphing to tone and mechanics

* appropriate means of documenting your work

* surface features - syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.




*read, write and arrive to class prepared to present, respond to presentations, and discuss the projects as they emerge.


*For the duration of the course, you will perform at least four significant writing actions per week to this wiki, and link your writing to your "home" page, which you will link to your section's class roster page. This means you will need regular and reliable internet access. More than three unexcused absences will result in a failing grade.


*Collaborate openly and effectively with your peers towards a FinalProject. This will involve informal communications, blogging, and experimentation, as well as polished "formal" pieces tailored to a specific audience. Late work depreciates one full letter grade per day!


*Complete informal writing, formal assignments, a proposal and a semester project in a timely fashion. The audience for this final project is different than the readership you imagine for your portfolio.


*Assemble an electronic portfolio. Even though the final portfolio is not due until the end of the course, you need to work on this project throughout the whole semester. The project will include a cover letter in which you analyze what you have learned this semester as measured against the aforementioned course learning goals. Essentially, your assertion in the portfolio cover letter is this: “Here are the skills and knowledge that I have learned this semester, and here’s the evidence that I have acquired these skills and this knowledge.” Note that the evidence will be crucial, and you should draw on all sorts of sources to find that evidence—for instance, your journal/blog/wiki-presence, excerpts from formal/unit assignments, notes from peer-group discussions, internet chats with the collaborators in your group, and any other record of your effort. You will turn in a draft of your portfolio at mid-term with a mid-term reflection to make certain that you’re on track. Be sure to click on the following link, where you will find a Student Portfolio Permission Form, which you will sign and return to the professor the second week of class.


*Open a tab for this wiki in your browser whenever you are online. Check the CourseCalendar, read your peers' wiki posts, and read ShareRiff's mind...in other words, keep "tuning up" regularly and you'll stay in tune with weekly assignment prompts.



Prosody Workshops, Peer-Review, and Response-able Participation


We will dedicate a large portion of each class meeting to reading our writing aloud, making presentations based on our readings, interviews/legwork/research, and workshopping our writing as it happens. Because our course is premised on the idea that ideas and revisions emerge by means of frequent and dynamic exchanges, students will be expected to visit our recent changes page and revise pages in common, daily. In-class participation will depend on staying in tune with our wiki's activity during the week, by reading and responding to each others' writing. Although daily blogs, responses to peer blogging, and early versions of working drafts need not be “polished,” our early-and-often uploads should address the prompts and issues of the week, as well as address and solicit feedback from your peers. Under no circumstances will I accept a “final” version of a major assignment, proposal, or final project unless I have seen a regular rhetorical process. Students show up to class on the day an important draft is due without having posted draft work by midnight the night class will forfeit all possible participation points for that week.



Attendance, Participation/Assignments, and Grades


Attendance in this course is required. While it is understood that emergencies / University-sanctioned activities may arise which result in your missing one or more classes, frequent absences will negatively affect your final grade. As a rule, one or two absences will have little impact on your final grade, assuming you participate enthusiastically when you are in class and realize you are responsible for all material covered during the missed class(es). In the event that your prepared attendance, or lack thereof, becomes a problem, I will ask you to meet with me to discuss our options. These options may include a failing grade or a lower grade than you might have earned had you attended classes regularly. In short: show up prepared to talk and write about the wiki's recent changes.




*weekly wiki'ing and in-class activity (all blogging, linking, tagging, planning, mapping, reflecting, feedbacking, and peer-grading, in-class and on the wiki), first 10 weeks: 100 points

*4 polished and formal compositions: 100 points (25 points each)

*final project: 100 points

*portfolio: 100 points

Total possible points: 400


Peer-calibrated grading

We will rigorously pursue an evaluation process known as peer-grading. Response-able and consistent interaction in wiki will help us create rubrics for each assignment, and each student will do an evaluation of each group assignment. We will be well-prepared for this response-ability, as we will frequently engage in small-group work in class so that everyone can benefit from multiple forms of feedback. In order to create and sustain a livable writing practice, writers need thoughtful feedback on their writing. This "swarm" approach will ensure a steady and ample rate of useful and ongoing feedback on our projects. The professor will, in turn, grade the evaluations, and pay special attention to the written rationales detailing and justifying each evaluation performed. Also, where necessary and at his discretion, the professor will override any "off-the-mark" peer-assigned grades.



These standards build on the WPA outcomes listed above and will help us produce accurate, consistent, and rhetorically-informed assessments of the 4 polished compositions and final projects.


Course Portfolios


The final course portfolios will be graded holistically by a team of writing instructors in a blind review. They will be scored on the following criteria: rhetorical knowledge, critical reading/writing/thinking skills, process, and knowledge of conventions. The outcomes will be rated on a 1-5 scale:


Beginning (1)

Developing (2)

Competent (3)

Mature (4)

Exemplary (5)


The score for the portfolio will count 25% of your final grade for the class.


Incomplete Grade Policy

An “I” grade indicates incomplete coursework and may be awarded to an undergraduate student only when a small portion of the student’s work is incomplete and only when the student is otherwise earning a passing grade.




Information Management


Please back up everything you write for this course. You should either write your wiki posts in a word processor and save before posting. Or, if you like the feel of writing directly in wiki, cut and paste your work to an open word processing window, saving a back-up version in this way as you proceed. Information technologies carry a trace of instability, so it is always good to have redundancy in your writing process: make copies and put them in different places!


Freedom of Speech and Cognitive Liberty


This is a rhetorical space, one where composers are response-able to each other: they think and write in response to each other, and not to a preconceived notion of each other. Assume the best in those you study with and be generous with your respect, and you will teach them to respond in kind.

As you will see and hear, classrooms and wikis are both spaces devoted to free inquiry



The First Amendment of The United States Constitution



Religious observance absence policy


Students who find a meeting time in conflict with a major religious observance must provide notice of the date(s) to the instructor, in writing, by the second class meeting.


Disability access policy


In my capacity as instructor, I will do everything I can to make fully available the educational resources we use and create in section 602 and section 799. Any student with a disability should be encouraged to meet with the professor privately during the first week of class to discuss accommodations. Each student must bring a current Memorandum of Accommodations from the Office of Student Disability.


Academic dishonesty policy


Fall 2008 Required Texts:


Banks, A. (2005). Race, Rhetoric, and Technology


Lessig, L. (2002). The future of ideas. New York: Vintage Books


Marshall McLuhan Understanding Media


Technicolor: Race, Technology and Everyday Life