An Email I Just Wrote

One of you emailed me recently, asking what I was looking for in the blog post due tomorrow and how long it should be. This was my reply:

I’m actually hoping to be surprised. I have a couple of ideas about why I assigned both of these readings for the same day, but I bet there are a lot more connections between the two than I have thought of. So your task is to look for any and all connections you can find. Many of the connections won’t be very obvious, because the chapters really are about very different things on the surface. But why do you think I assigned them on the same day? Can an idea from one be applied to another?

In terms of length, there’s no minimum requirement. I find that when I give a word-count limit, most students write just to that point and stop, even if they were in the middle of saying something interesting! But it’s true that writing more is a strong sign that you’re taking the assignment seriously and found some really cool connections to talk about. So write as much as you can, and stop when you run out of things to say. (But sometimes, I think when you run out of things to say, you probably have a couple more things lingering that just haven’t found their way out yet. If it were me, I would write a draft and then come back later to add more, just in case more good ideas come out in meantime.)

Feel free to be informal in these reading response posts. I’m much more interested in hearing your ideas than anything else. So it’s okay to go off on tangents, and to not use formal organization, and to say whatever you’re thinking. Of course, don’t use grammar so bad that I can’t understand you–but I’m not grading down for things like commas, either. This isn’t like a rhetorical analysis assignment. Also, if I mentioned something specific in response to your first post, be sure to address that this time!

I hope that helps?



Prep for Understanding Gee, and DISTRACTION

This post is a short-and-simple preview of the reading for Wednesday and a brief discussion-starter about our experiment with being distracted in class today.

Reading for Wednesday

Even though we didn’t talk about it in class, you (hopefully) have seen that I’ve asked you to read Shirky chapter 3 and a pdf from a writer named James Paul Gee for Wednesday. Your blog post assignment asks you to write about the connection you see between the two chapters. Feel free to be informal in this post, letting your ideas take you wherever they go, but please also demonstrate that you’ve put some effort into it. Write a lot, so we’ll have lots to talk about in class–but don’t worry about making it formal or beautifully proofread. (I’ll give everyone a grade for these posts, but I’ll only respond to a few each week.)

Gee is an interesting dude. One of his passions is reforming education so that it will be more like a videogame, full of meaningful tasks that make sense in the context of a community. Listen to him at 5:51 in this video where he tells the story of one of his earliest mistakes when playing videogames: his assumption that you should read the manual first:

His discussion of videogames will help us in two big ways:

  1. He’ll add to our conversation about communicating in different modalities, since videogames are inherently multimodal.
  2. He’ll give us a lot of helpful terminology about communities and audiences–which are clearly crucial parts of any rhetorical communication.

Distractions in Class

Thanks for being so excellently distracted today during our Twitter/Tweetdeck experiment. Clearly, we need to debrief it a bit, but I was intrigued by the tweets I saw later. Many of you pointed out that it was too much:

Of course, I stacked the deck: I asked you to be distracted on the day that we learned some new terms (modality and medium) and played with new technologies. Maybe distractions are better on days that are likely to be boring?

For me, the lingering question is still the one I started out with: when does live tweeting work? In what situations (if any) can it be helpful/useful/important for the event?

Sometimes you’ll hear the word backchannel used to describe this sort of thing. So I’m essentially wondering, “Do we even need a backchannel?” (Hint: I think we do. But it’s up to us all to figure out when and where.)