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Today’s guest blogger is Jeanne Law Bohannon (see end of post for bio).
This semester has presented numerous reflective opportunities for me, especially when thinking about re/mixing writing for multimodal assignments and applying multimodal composition as DIYs across genres and contexts. This week, I offer a re/mix of a multimodal, public writing assignment from my grammar course, where students re/constructed texts across genres and platforms, culminating in vlogs for public dissemination on YouTube.
YouTube was part of our daily lives in this class, from serving as digital teacher (Ian McCarthy on Social Media), to digital tipster (Bohannon’s Blogging Guidelines). As we watched to learn, students began to comment about adding their own voices to these video conversations about grammar(s) and creating content in digital spaces. So, we crowd-sourced an idea: student-produced vlog-casts.
This public text construction (or renovation, if you like) comes at the end of an upper-division writing course focusing on digital grammar, after students have drafted three other texts of varying formality, demonstrating their understanding of specific language conventions and associated usages in digital spaces. Throughout the course, students practice applying grammar and syntactic structures in unconventional ways across digital platforms in social and public media. YouTube is, of course, one of the most popular of these spaces.
My students and I run this writing assignment late in the semester, as a re/mix of a previous one. Prior to starting the process, the class reads, responds to, and discusses multimodalities of texts and content management across digital discourses. We read Multimodalities for Students and Popular Media Writing Tips. We also peer review each other’s original texts and offer ideas for relevant re/construction.
Students take any analytical study, essay, or other text and re/mix it based on vlogging guidelines to produce a multimodal, public vlog-cast.
Measurable Learning Objectives
- Apply multimodal composition strategies to video productions
- Create video blogs (vlogs) as rhetorical, content-delivery devices
- Synthesize meaning through critical production of digital texts on-screen
Please feel free to edit, revise, and use these documents for your class.
In Class and/or Out
During the semester, we watch YouTube instructional videos such as English Lesson with Adam and Grammar Girl podcasts. For this class, we collaboratively searched YouTube for videos that taught us brief histories of English, helped us figure out usage (courtesy of Grammar Girl), and advised us on how to write for popular media. Searching together as a group was a most rewarding experience; I highly recommend it!
After each viewing, we then analyze key rhetorical components through the Five Elements for Visual Analysis, noting what works and what doesn’t for different audiences and purposes. We provide feedback in both large and small groups to re/vise our writing for vlog-casting Guidelines.
We then produce our “Grammar Vlogs” using tools such as iMovie, QuickTime, PowerPoint, and PowToon. The average time spent is about four, one-hour class periods, with production happening outside of class.
Reflections on the Activity – Students
When my students reflected on this writing opportunity, here are the words they used to describe their learning experience:
I think this assignment would work well across topics and courses because it doesn’t teach content but rhetorical behaviors. It draws out rhetorical performances as well, which engenders creativity and scholarly research processes that are relevant throughout the Humanities. Instructors could re/mix their own topics and search for YouTube videos that are specific to their students’ interests and needs. I would love for folks outside of our field to try it, so please share this post with others; try the assignment and let me know what you think!
Jeanne Law Bohannon is an Assistant Professor of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Kennesaw State University. She believes in creating democratic learning spaces, where students become stakeholders in their own rhetorical growth though authentic engagement in class communities. Her research interests include evaluating digital literacies and critical engagement pedagogies; performing feminist rhetorical recoveries; and growing informed and empowered student scholars. Reach Jeanne at: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.rhetoricmatters.org.
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