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Multimodal Mondays: Wrapping it Up – From Digital Badges to E-dentities

posted: 12.8.14 by Andrea Lunsford

Today’s guest blogger is Jeanne Law Bohannon.

 I began my posts for this semester’s blog with a piece about e-badges, and how students develop their e-dentities through the production of personal e-badges.  As my students and I wrap up our semester, we are thinking about what it means to create and nurture our e-dentities.  We have developed and grown our e-dentities for the past few months on public domains, through an initiative led by the University of Mary Washington, Emory University, and this semester, at my school, Southern Polytechnic State University.

Called Domain of One’s Own, this initiative gives students the opportunity to host their own web domains.  Professors across participating campuses have utilized the tools provided through Domain to enhance students’ ownership of personal web spaces in innovative and diverse ways.  For me, blogs are a key element for students to demonstrate agency in their own public, digital writing spaces.   My students have used their personal web spaces this semester to develop and interrogate their multiple e-dentities.

Student agency in practice is an inherently organic and self-directed rhetorical process. When successfully accomplished in a first-year writing class, however, a few guidelines can help students, who are digital natives but not necessarily digital rhetoricians, discern what they want to produce, guide them in the accompanying multimodal textual productions, and help them revise their rhetorics to best reflect overarching goals for e-dentity productions.  What I present here is a DIY assignment that encourages students to produce and think critically about their e-dentity acts of composition.

Assignment Goals

  • Produce a biographical blog post describing your e-dentity(ies)
  • Employ multimodalities as rhetorical delivery devices
  • Achieve meaning through critical production of digital texts on-screen

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 e-dentity explanations from fellow students: Jenkins on E-dentity; Mayfield on E-dentity; Finnigan on E-Dentity.

In Class and/or Out
After creating their badges (first part of the assignment), students Google themselves and write a brief, low-stakes analysis of what they find. Thinking then about personal, professional, and educational goals, students brainstorm their various e-dentities, or lack of them.  In groups and as a whole class, students discuss the invention of their desired e-dentities. Then, using the class-constructed Who I am Online guidelines sheet (feel free to make it your own), students begin the write-revise process with their blog posts that embody their e-dentities.

Students employ multimodalities in the forms of gifs, podcasts, visuals, Youtube videos, and word clouds in their blog posts to define and analyze their e-dentities. Instructors should Use an LMS or their own web spaces as community spaces for students to post links to their blogs.

Next Steps: Reflections on the Activity
At the next class meeting(s), students discuss and show their e-dentity blog posts then justify the rhetorical choices they made in their textual productions. They evaluate their invention, style, and the Elements of Multimodalities. The entire community provides feedback before, during, and after the presentations, engendering synthesis of the elements of rhetoric for everyone.  One key component of this assignment is its residence in the genre of public writing.  From brainstorming to production to re-production, students perform their compositions within their class community and also for a wider audience that exists outside of university walls.  In fact, many students receive blog comments from readers who come across the blogs through a Google or similar web search.

This assignment requires instructors to straddle a fine line between experimental learning and critical guidance towards digital rhetorical productions. In my experience I have found that authentic student engagement grows out of democratic writing and discussion opportunities.  Students are far more likely to engage in a composition course if they feel that they can exert their agency to affect writing and learning outcomes.  For us as instructors, our fundamental role is our ability to let go of our authority and break that substantive binary that separates teachers and students in learning spaces.  When we re-center ourselves around our class community we facilitate rhetorical growth for us and our students, helping them develop informed voices as they participate in multiple discourse communities.

Try this assignment and let me know what you think. Please view/use the project guidelines (edit as you need) and view student samples here: Student Blog Posts

Also, please leave me feedback at www.rhetoricmatters.org.

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: jbohanno@spsu.edu and www.rhetoricmatters.org

 

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

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Categories: Activity Idea, Andrea Lunsford, Guest Bloggers, Multimodal Mondays, Teaching with Technology
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