Description and Requirements

Course information

Course number: ENGL 303 7D1
Course name: Multimedia Writing
Term and year: Spring 2015
CRN: 16628
Instructor: John Jones, Assistant Professor
Email: john dot jones at-sign mail dot wvu dot edu
Twitter: johnmjones
Google Plus: John Jones
Office: 231 Colson Hall
In-person office hours: Mondays 2-3:30p
Online office hours: Mondays 2-3:30p, Tuesdays 10-11:30a via Google Hangouts

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, using that media to understand the effects of the ongoing transition from print to screen on writing practices. They will not only learn how to compose screen texts in multiple media, they will also interrogate our society’s transition from people of the book to people of the screen.

As with Kelly, students may discover that this transition has not been an easy one. While this will be a writing course, not a technology course—students of all levels of technological expertise are encouraged to enroll—in this course students will be expected to use a number of different technologies as they learn how to write for different media. Students should be open to learning new technologies and plan to spend a generous portion of their time in the course experimenting with and eventually mastering the technological tools necessary for multimedia writing.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have:

  • created and designed a personal website and issue-realted website using the Wordpress content management system (CMS);
  • produced a short video in which they synthesize and analyze a chapter from a course reading in a fashion that takes advantage of the conventions and expectations of visual media;
  • produced texts for their personal website, issue/cause website, and forum posts that display an awareness of the needs of a particular audience  and rhetorical situation;
  • understood and be able to relate the best practices for the fair use of media that is copyrighted, Creative Commons licensed, or in the public domain;
  • correctly applied the research and source citation methods appropriate for multiple media in their weekly discussions and major assignments.

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

Course texts can be obtained at the WVU bookstore or online using the ISBN numbers.

  • Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, & Harry Lewis. Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness after the Digital Explosion. Addison-Wesley, 2008. (Only purchase this book if you want to own a physical copy. It can be downloaded for free at the link above.)
  • Kristin L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, & Cheryl E. Ball. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4576-0045-6
  • George Plumley. WordPress 24-Hour Trainer. 2nd ed. Wiley, 2011. ISBN: 1118066901
  • Howard Rheingold. Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. MIT Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780262017459

Any additional course readings will be made available on the course schedule.

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. Because we are not using Ecampus in this course, I will directly support the required software for the course (that means, if you have a problem with any of this software, you should contact me and I will help you fix it).

  • WordPress
  • Google Drive
  • Google Hangouts
  • Imovie (Mac) and Windows Movie Maker (Windows)

If you choose to use software not on this list for a project (say, a different video editor) and run into problems, I will do my best to help you, but I cannot guarantee that I will be able to help you solve all problems.

Technical support for WVU systems such as MIX is provided by the IT Help Desk:

Phone 304-293-444