tfw fall 2012 module project

Assignment Overview

Writing is changing. We know that. We see it everyday from the hyper-abbreviated linguistics of text messaging to the new grammars of hashtags in tweets. Things have come a long way since the composition of The Flood Tablet, relating part of the Epic of Gilgamesh from Nineveh, northern Iraq, 7th century BC:

Or even the printing of the first printed book, The Gutenberg Bible, in 1454 or 1455:

Yet, has writing changed all that much, really? It is also seeming to stay the same in some places; books, for example, whether digital or print, still have letters which are made into words words which are put into sentences which are put into paragraphs which are put onto pages. Perhaps what is changing so much is the spaces of writing—the places where writing can occur—and what those spaces afford. In “We are the Web,” Keven Kelly writes that “hyperlinks are creating a new type of thinking—part human and part machine—found nowhere else on the planet or in history. . . . Linking unleashes involvement and interactivity at levels once thought unfashionable or impossible. It transforms reading into navigating and enlarges small actions into powerful forces.”

The big questions, then, are: What happens to writing when it is placed in a digital environment? In a hyperlinked environment? In a social environment? That is what you will consider in this assignment.

The goals of this assignment, then, are:

  • for students to consider the relationship between the materiality of a writing space and the kind of writing that happens in that space
  • learn about various electronic writing spaces other than what has become the default, Microsoft Word
  • consider how the move to digital and online writing has (if it has) transformed what writing is today
  • employ ideas and theories discussed in the readings and videos watched during this module
  • speculate as to what writing and writing spaces will look like in the future

Assignment Specifics

This assignment asks you to think about, reflect on and write about the technologies and tools we employ when writing. We are used to composing in spaces like Microsoft Word, which comes with a host of affordances, many of which we have discussed in class. In this assignment, you will consider what is afforded by writing in other spaces, how those spaces impact the resulting text, what happens to the text after composing in those spaces, and then speculate as to where writing will be going in the future. The first part of the assignment, the reflections, will be completed using Pen.io or, if you’d like, GoogleDocs (now a part of Google Drive). The final project will be completed in another writing space, Prezi. Both will be submitted via your blog.

Those spaces to be analyzed are:

  • Paper
  • Microsoft Word
  • 1 downloadable “distraction-free” writing program; select from
  • 1 browser-based “distraction-free” writing program
    • Writer (internet browser-based)
  • GoogleDocs
  • WordPress Add New Post screen
  • Twitter
  • Facebook Status Update
  • a cellphone, smartphone, or tablet writing space (can be one of the above)

Completing the First Part Assignment: Reflections

To complete the assignment, you will need to follow the below steps quite closely. It is going to require a bit of reflection and for you to think in-depth about what is happening in each of the spaces of writing. For each space listed above, consider at least the following questions:

  • What kind(s) of writing or writer(s) does this writing space invite and/or discourage?
  • What is it like to write via this writing space? Is it familiar? Is it foreign? Nostalgic? Romantic?
  • What is afforded by writing in this space and how does it differ from other spaces?
  • What are the constraints of the space and how do they affect what you write?
  • How does the composing environment itself impact the resulting text?
  • What happens to the text after composing in the space and how does understanding that affect your writing and/or approach to writing?
  • What else is important to know or think about?

These reflections are to be completed at the time of or just after you have composed in that space. By doing the reflection in a timely manner you will have your thoughts fresh. I’d like you to keep a record of your reflections using Pen.io, a simple online composing space that allows embedding of images, or GoogleDocs GoogleDrive (see the red text below for why you might use GoogleDrive instead). To complete your reflections:

  1. Go to Pen.io. (Note: Pen.io has been experiencing some down times lately. If it is down when you go there, add your reflections to a GoogleDocs GoogleDrive document. You might want to create one there, as well, just in case Pen.io goes down when you really need the work.)
  2. Create a page called: yourlastname-tfwf2012-reflections
  3. Click create page
  4. You will be brought to a page where you can edit the title and the text; add a meaningful title (I will be collecting this)
  5. For each writing space, add your reflection, which should be around 500-750 words long. The reflection can be a narrative or it can go through the questions 1 by 1. It’s up to you. The goal is to think critically and expansively about the space. Include a screen shot of the space with your writing in it (for paper, take a photo). I recommend using Jing for screen shots. Be sure to save your screen shots for use in the final project.
  6. To return to your reflections, go to yourlastname-tfwf2012-reflections.pen.io/edit and you should be able edit.

How to Get Started (Updated 9/29/12 9:30pm)

Two students have tweeted questions about how to get started with the assignment, so I’ve added this updated section. Here is the process to follow:

  1. Each week you have 2 blog posts due. Instead of composing all of those posts wherever you tend to compose them first, I’d like you to compose 4 of them in the following spaces:
    • Paper
    • Microsoft Word
    • the 2 distraction free writing environments
  2. After composing the posts in those spaces:
    • take at least 1 screen shot (or in the case of Paper, a photo) the space with your written text in it using Jing;
    • then, copy and paste the post into the WordPress Add Post screen, add your Categories and Tags, and then Publish the post (for Paper, you’ll have to get creative);
    • then, compose your Reflection in Pen.io based on the above questions.
  3. Reflect on your use of the WordPress Add Post screen after composing a post directly in that space (and not copying and pasting from somewhere else). Remember to take at least 1 screen shot.
  4. We will be using GoogleDocs GoogleDrive in class at the start of week 3, so you can reflect on that experience after class. You’ll be reminded to take at least 1 screen shot.
  5. Reflect on your Twitter and Facebook use as you are using those spaces. Remember to take at least 1 screen shot.

Completing the Second Part of the Assignment: The Final Project Prezi

The final product will be multimodal, composed in Prezi for the visual component and Jing for the audio voice-over. The voice-over, which will be recorded with Jing over the Prezi as you move through it, will consist of reading aloud a written narrative that addresses the main questions for the module, as written in the course description:

  • What does it mean “to write” and to be “a writer” today?
  • How are those definitions evolving from what writing and being a writer was in the past?
  • What are the issues writers must now be aware of that they haven’t had to face in the past?
  • What skills do they need to have, if any, beyond knowing proper grammar and sentence structure?
  • How does the space where writing occurs impact the writing itself?
  • And what do you think writing will look like and where will it be completed in the future?

The narrative should be informed by:

  • the readings and videos we have watched in class
  • the experiences and reflections students have completed in Part 1 of the assignment

The Prezi should include screen shots and photos taken when completing the reflections, as well as screen shots of portions of videos that we have watched.

By the end of your discussion, you should come to a proposal or idea about what you think writing will look like, where it will occur, and how it will be processed in the future.

The Overall Production
The overall production should have the following characteristics:

  • 2 – 5 minutes long (that is, the narrative you write should last 2 – 5 minutes when read aloud)
  • the audio narrative should take the viewer through the Prezi so each stop illuminates and enhances when you are reading
  • if you want to add images that are not your own, you either need permission from the photographer or they need to hold a Creative Commons License
  • if you want music playing in the background as you read your narrative aloud, you either need permission from the musician or it needs to hold a Creative Commons license (see Jamendo for free, Creative Commons-licensed music)

Recording the Voice-over
To record your voice-over you will need a microphone. Most laptops now come with one standard and that one should work just fine. Follow these instructions to record the voice-over:

  1. Open your Prezi online.
  2. Open Jing.
  3. Hover over the Jing tool and select the Capture option (the one of the left).
  4. Move the cross-hairs to the top left of the area you want to record. Click and drag and a box will open over the area you want to record. Be sure that area is larger than the Prezi.
  5. Select the film strip icon in the lower left of the box. It will let you know if you have an active mic connected. It will count down from 3. After it reaches 1 begin reading your paper and moving through your Prezi. To see an example of this in action, see the above example.
  6. When you have finished, click the Stop icon (far left).
  7. You will have the option to watch it, which you should do so you know if you are happy with the product. If you are not happy, click cancel and start over.
  8. If you are happy, rename it to something meaningful and then click the Share Via Screencast icon (far left). If you do not have an account, it will ask you to create one. You may have to log in, as well.
  9. Your video will now be uploaded to Screencast. When complete, you will have an option to view it online. Do that.
  10. Copy the URL at the top of your page and use it when composing the required blogpost for your final draft.

Sample Projects
You can see two sample final projects by Jason and Christina. They approach the assignment in different ways, but are both successful at using the Prezi to help illuminate what is being read aloud. Note that other than when they are quoting from others they are not including the content of their transcript in the Prezi.

Due Dates

Module 2
11/8
: All reflections due by class-time; post a link to your Pen.io or GoogleDrive reflections on your group blog.
11/13: Final project rough draft due online (create a blog post on your group blog in which you provide a brief introduction and link to the Prezi) and electronic text copy of narrative due (bring electronic version with you to class)
11/24 11/26: Final Project due online and shared with BW by 11:00pm. To submit, complete these steps:

  1. Create a blog post on your group blog in which you provide a brief introduction (100 – 150 words) and link to your Reflections and the final screencast (the URL should look something like: http://screencast.com/t/G7VKjMfPik).
  2. In your portfolio, in the Intro to Writing Arts folder, upload a copy of the transcript for your final project and the log of blog posts and blog post comments. See portfolio assignment for file naming and sharing details.

Module 1
10/9
: All reflections due by class-time; post a link to your reflections on your group blog.
10/11: Final project rough draft due online (create a blog post on your group blog in which you provide a brief introduction and link to the Prezi) and electronic text copy of narrative due (bring electronic version with you to class)
10/22: Final Project due online and shared with BW by 11:00pm. To submit, complete these steps:

  1. Create a blog post on your group blog in which you provide a brief introduction (100 – 150 words) and link to your Reflections and the final screencast (the URL should look something like: http://screencast.com/t/G7VKjMfPik).
  2. In your portfolio, in the Intro to Writing Arts folder, upload a copy of the transcript for your final project and the log of blog posts and blog post comments. See portfolio assignment for file naming and sharing details.

Portions of this assignment are borrowed from one created by James Schirmer.

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