Beginning to Think About Fall 2008 Courses

It is just barely spring break here (well, break at least, if not spring) and I am already turning my attention somewhat to the fall. I have been asked to adapt two existing CMU courses into ones focusing on digital writing. Here is what I have come up with so far:

ENG 460 – Current Issues in English: 21st Century Literacies

The study of English continues to evolve in the twenty-first century, based on changes in information communication technologies and the underlying social relations that they allow. Students in this course will explore print, oral, visual, digital, and critical literacies such as blogging, social networking, web-based collaborative writing, and multimedia authoring in relation to their own inquiry projects.

For this course, the main goal seems to be that students create a final research project, a capstone to their English major. So, I hope to attract students who are moderately interested in technology so that we can hit the ground running. I imagine that this group would go through many of the same steps that I am going through with my ENG 315 students this spring (starting a blog, wiki, and social network) and that they would quickly organize themselves around affinity groups. I would take special care to teach them about tools that would be useful in researching (social bookmarking, Zotero, Google Notebook, Scribe Fire) and the topics would largely remain their own, although I am sure that they would be influenced somewhat by the readings and technologies.

I am not sure what to use as a reading collection for this course (or the one below, for that matter). Right now, I am leaning towards only using open access journals and other web resources. Somehow, I want to use the MacArthur series on digital learning, although that could come in to play more in the other course.

Also, the main goal for students is to develop a quality research project, and I would act as a coach for that project. Thus, I need to think about a book that talks about research, yet in a way that makes it engaging and interesting. Right now, I am leaning towards The Craft of Research, although I don’t know if that is too “grad studentish” and if their might be something better for advanced undergrads.

ENG 402 – Rhetoric and Argumentation: Digital Rhetoric

By examining the histories, communities, and designs of digital spaces, this course will relate the rhetorical tradition of argumentation to contemporary rhetorics enabled by information communication technologies. Students will develop multimodal arguments based on issues such as online identity, the digital divide, intellectual property rights, gaming, civic engagement, and online communities.

For this course, I am going to build off the work of my dissertation director and mentor, Danielle DeVoss. She has an outstanding course in Digital Rhetoric already designed, and I would like to follow her lead in terms of the general direction of the course and the overall outcomes. As I mentioned above, I feel strongly that as much of the course material as possible will be open access, so I want to use the MacArthur series as touchstone for the units in this course.

I am also thinking about doing a digital literacy autobiography in this course, utilizing digital storytelling as a means for accomplishing that goal. Bonnie Kaplan and I are already talking about that. Also, I think that it will be important for this class especially (and maybe the 460 group, too), to be thinking about design issues. I just got the third edition of Robin Williams’ Non-Designers Design Book (with color!), and I am leaning heavily towards having my students investing in that text for this course.

Clearly, I will have to do some additional thinking for both of these courses in the months to come. If you have ideas about how I can make these courses stronger, I would really appreciate hearing them.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

3 thoughts on “Beginning to Think About Fall 2008 Courses”

  1. Dear Sir or Madam,

    I’m writing to share our latest online tool, ZipRoad ( is One Economy Corporation’s innovative education tool that helps parents, students and caregivers find education-related resources in their communities.

    By simply entering one’s zip code, users are quickly on the path to finding information about schools, as well as quality and affordable after school tutoring, homework assistance, and other learning programs in their neighborhoods. Users are able to comment, rate, and review these services, thereby sharing their own experiences and expertise with the public. ZipRoad is available in English as well as Spanish, and caters to parents, caregivers, and students of all literacy levels.

    ZipRoad’s unique features make researching education programs easy, it features;
    • A searchable database of schools and after school, summer, tutoring, and college programs.
    • Resources which are submitted and updated by users.
    • The ability of users to rate, review, and comment on programs and services in their communities.
    • Personalized accounts that allow parents to create a list of programs of their interest

    Please take a look at this groundbreaking website, as it offers many helpful resources for its users. To help maximize exposure to the site, you could even provide a link to ZipRoad on your Digital Writing, Digital Teaching blog.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.


    Kyle Collins
    Web Content Intern
    One Economy Corporation, San Francisco, CA

  2. I wish I could take your course, Troy.
    The first one seems very insightful and I may use some of the ideas there for a course we are considering creating. I think the concept of a digital capstone project is an interesting one. I hope you blog and share your ongoing work.

  3. Thanks, Kevin!

    Perhaps if I can create it all in an open format, you could! I would appreciate your insights on all of these topics, as would my students.

    I will keep you updated, although I *just* found out that my schedule for the fall might change, so these two courses may be taken away due to some scheduling issues. Stay tuned…


Comments are closed.