Multimodal Mondays: Video Game Vlogcasting

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This blog was originally posted on November 17th, 2014.

Guest blogger Jeanne Law Bohannon is an Assistant Professor in the Digital Writing and Media Arts (DWMA) Department at Southern Polytechnic State University. She believes in creating democratic learning spaces, where students become accountable for their own growth though authentic engagement in class communities. Her research interests include evaluating digital literacies, critical pedagogies, and New Media theory; performing feminist rhetorical recoveries; and growing student scholars. Reach Jeanne at:

Many of my students are gamers. They define themselves by the characters they embody in RPGs (role-playing games), by the interactions between characters who are also their peers, and by their own “mad” gaming skills. Accordingly, the amount of time they spend in digital gaming spaces outdistances the time they spend studying. Students often hyper-identify with these digital spaces, so I asked myself if I was missing an opportunity to reach out to them in their e-world and use their embodied identities as rhetorical learning tools in the p-world (physical world). In an effort to meet students where they reside, I developed a multimodal assignment that asks them to choose, play, and analyze their favorite game; record themselves doing so; upload their videos to YouTube; and present their findings to their course mates.

Assignment Goals:

  • Produce YouTube videos as multimodal arguments
  • Learn to effectively use video software as a meaning-making tool
  • Produce transcripts as texts that guide elements of essay writing
  • Learn to rhetorically analyze video game play as text
  • Achieve meaning through critical delivery of digital texts on-screen
  • Evaluate oneself and others for rhetorical delivery and invention

Background Reading for Students and Instructors:

Acts of reading and viewing visual texts on rhetorical elements are ongoing processes for attaining learning goals in democratic, digital writing assignments. Below, I have listed a few foundational texts. You will no doubt have your own to enrich this list.

Before Class: Student and Instructor Preparation

Prior to assigning this project, the class discusses multimodalities of texts that we produce across digital discourse communities. We read Bohannon’s Multimodalities for Students and watch examples of videos from YouTube (Idea Channel) and TEDTalks (John McWhorter on Texting). Then, using our Pod/Vlogcasting Guidelines, we analyze the rhetorical techniques used in the videos and evaluate them based on elements common in writing, such as introductions, arguments, evidence, and conclusions. After the group is comfortable with both terminology and product, we choose our individual games for analysis. Students may choose either digital or board games, with or without rating limits on their choices. The class chats about the methods for making and uploading videos to YouTube. We brainstorm possible video-makers and test them out in low-stakes collaborations.  Google offers a helpful file converter that also lists YouTube-compatible files: Is My Video YouTube Ready? A foundational component of this assignment is the community-building aspect. Although each student produces her/his own video, we all spend class time working out “technology issues.” Most of our digital natives are proficient in e-consumption; some are fluent in e-production. The mix of expertise levels makes this assignment different each time!

In Class and/or Out:

Students choose and work through how they will play their video game, in terms of the Guidelines and Aristotle’s Triad of Appeals. They develop an outline that begins with an introduction, flows into an argument with evidence, and ends in a YouTube conclusion. In vlogcasting, authors/hosts sign-on to establish their ethos, present their material, then sign-off. The outline will become a transcript that students write before they record their vlogcast.

Finally, after producing the morphemic texts, students record their videotexts and upload these as vlogcasts to YouTube. They may adjust privacy settings and send their vlogcasts to me via e-mail as well, and I can then upload the videos to my channel.

Next Steps: Reflections on the Activity:

At the next class meeting(s), students present their vlogcasts and justify the rhetorical choices they made in their analyses. They evaluate their delivery and the Elements of Multimodalities. The entire community provides feedback after the video presentations, engendering synthesis of the elements of rhetoric for everyone.

This assignment requires instructors to be a bit tech-savvy. You need to know what movie-making programs your students have access to (most likely Windows Movie Maker and iMovie). However, you don’t necessarily need to know how to use these programs. You can run this assignment using the Help Pages from various websites. You can also run parts of this assignment both in-class or out. Try it and let me know what you think. Please view/use the project guidelines (edit as you need) and view student samples here: Vlogcast Student Examples. Also, please leave me feedback on this page!

Want to collaborate with Andrea on a Multimodal Monday assignment? Send ideas to for possible inclusion in a future post.

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.