This project is truly the motherlode of multimodal projects and is best implemented at the end of a semester. Throughout my class, students learn the discreet skills and genre conventions of many multimodal projects that prepare them to create content for multiple audiences, purposes, and contexts. This project asks students to return to those skills and genres and remix them into a single, interactive format that demonstrates this knowledge.
Project Overview Subject of Experience: The theoretical and content focus for this project involves the subject of experience in which students focus on the layers that define a sense of place. Each student chooses a place to explore and describes the richness of this particular place along with their perspectives. Students map the associational connections between things and explore the ways experience overlays landscape in a particular community or place.
Interactive Feature Format: For this final project students create an interactive document that demonstrates their skills as rhetoricians and content creators. The project is composed in the form of an interactive feature article that is written in a non-linear format and allows audiences to explore it on their own terms. The format consists of a series of mini-features that make up the whole and includes research, embedded links and original multimodal content variations. In order to complete the project, students collect research and images to create a database to remix into original digital and visual content. Steps of the Assignment
Part 1 - Research and Content Development
Content Collection and Curation: Encourage students to immerse themselves in a place that is accessible with enough possibilities for exploration and research – one that will reveal many layers of experience. They will likely have to visit it several times to triangulate their impressions. Have them write up these observations and their impressions as an early draft of the project. They will remix and repurpose this database of content for the sub-projects.
Primary and Secondary Research: Students research their place through primary sources (physical immersion and qualitative data) and secondary sources such as history, culture, context and related ideas and angles (that become embedded links in their document). I have them submit a list of annotated links that they will also incorporate later.
Images: Compose/take at least 50 digital images that reveal the place and include students’ perspectives and experiences (personal, communal, cultural). They will use these to learn more about their place and create a database of images from which to select and repurpose for future content pieces. Have them focus on both micro and macro impressions as they shift their lenses from the specific details to the larger landscape.
Part 2: Interactive Feature Article and Content Remix Variations – each of these variations employ different rhetorical situations.
Interactive Feature: Students compose a formatted digital feature article that includes original images and embedded research links. Rather than presenting as a linear document, students compose and crosslink in dedicated sections (mini-features and content variations) to enhance interactivity.
Image Gallery: A collection of composed images that reflect a visual sense of place (a static gallery or self-advancing, embedded photo montage).
Digital Story: Reflects a sense of place and tells the story of the place through the lens of students’ individual perspectives and relationship to the community (See Digital Storytelling post).
Immersive Experience: A review, interview or other live experience in which students engage specifically with something in the community.
An Infographic: A data visualization of students’ experiences – a visual mapping of the connections discovered through their place research.
Resources: A curated, annotated collection of embedded and resources, links.
Self-Selected Content: An additional content creation of students’ own choosing.
Reflections on the Activity Although this project has a lot of moving parts, it is a great way to get students to expand and demonstrate a range of multimodal composition skills. It teaches them rhetorical agility as they create a database of information and remix it for different audiences, contexts, and purposes.
The most difficult part of the assignment is getting students to understand interactivity the ways composing takes on new shapes in digital contexts. Media theorist Timothy Garrand offers a basic starting place for this conversation, “In short, interactive media is computer delivered media or modes of expression (text, graphics, video, etc.) that allows users to have some control over the manner and/or order of the media presentation” (2006). Students are so used to presenting material in linear formats and the assignment challenges them to compose through the lens of interactivity to create depth and audience participation in online settings. Interactive components can take the form of text, links, video, audio, images, animation, etc.
The form of the Interactive Feature Article is just one of many emerging genres for composers in digital spaces. You can find many sophisticated examples on the web that take on different shapes and approaches. I thank my colleague Jeff Greene and his student Jake Turner for sharing ideas and examples as I was building the assignment.
Student Examples of Interactive Feature Articles
As usual, my students took to the task. Check out a couple of these examples from the class:
Guest blogger Kim Haimes-Korn is a Professor in the English Department at Kennesaw State University. Kim’s teaching philosophy encourages dynamic learning, critical digital literacies and focuses on students’ powers to create their own knowledge through language and various “acts of composition.” She likes to have fun every day, return to nature when things get too crazy and think deeply about way too many things. She loves teaching. It has helped her understand the value of amazing relationships and boundless creativity. You can reach Kim at email@example.com or visit her website Acts of Composition.