WRT 302: Digital Writing: Syllabus
Fall 2006 | MW 12:45-2:05 | HBC213B
Description and Overview

Course Description
WRT 302 Advanced Writing Studio: Digital Writing (3 credits)
Practice in writing in digital environments. May include document and web design, multimedia, digital video, weblogs. Introduction to a range of issues, theories, and software applications relevant to such writing.

Course Overview
With the shift from the page to the screen, "writing" opens to expanded possibilities for mixing images, text, sound, animation and video, often in fragments. In WRT 302, we will assemble new media texts while engaging with these exciting options available at the nexus of composition, digital technologies, and social networks. Emphasizing techniques of collection, cut/paste, and visual arrangement, we will undertake a series of digital writing projects exploring specific web sites and software, not limited to weblogs, wikis, podcasts, iMovie, and social tagging systems such as Flickr, del.icio.us, and Facebook.   Opening lines of inquiry involve the following questions:  What is gained and lost in the transition from the page to the screen? What are the practices and techniques we might associate with digital writing? How do digital texts circulate? How are they read and by whom? How are acts of digital writing implicated with choices about navigation, links, and code? This course will also foreground matters of invention, design, usability and accessibility. 

Goals for WRT302
Students in WRT302 will
  • use new and emerging networked applications for research and writing;
  • explore, analyze and use Web 2.0 applications in the composition of digital texts;
  • explore and enact the logics of collection, layering, remix, juxtaposition, and annotation as they pertain to both ongoing and event-oriented new media projects;
  • understand the rhetorical dimensions involved in the production and circulation of digital texts consisting of words, sounds, images, and video, often in combination;
  • adopt the conceptual framework of network studies while interacting in a variety of digital environments and applications.
Texts and Materials

A course reader is available at The Copy Centers in Marshall Square Mall. The reader number is 1055; refer to this number when inquiring at the counter. Selections included come from Camera Lucida; Small Pieces, Loosely Joined; Writing New Media; Critical Mass; and Internet Invention.

Additional resources, PDF content and applications are available via del.icio.us.
Other online hubs for the course can be accessed at http://electracuse.com and http://wiki.electracuse.com.

You will be provided with an FTP username and password early in the semester.


Responses to Work
You will receive some form of response to all of your written work this semester. You will also have ample opportunities to confer with me about your projects as they develop, and I'll respond to drafts of your work as often as you like (I'll also collect drafts from everyone periodically, according to our course schedule). Responses are ordinarily meant to be generative, constructive and candid; if ever the notes or marks you find on a piece of writing seem to you to be anything less, we should meet to chat about it.

Feel free to visit any time during posted office hours. We'll meet for a formal conference early in the semester and, depending on the pace and flow of the course, we'll likely meet a second time during the last half of the semester. I generally prefer for you to set the agenda on such occasions, although I will also have questions for you, things to discuss, etc.

Meetings Outside of Class Time
When you are working on collaborative projects, it might be necessary to arrange meetings outside of class time. Meeting on your own time with group members involves flexibility and cooperation. You are welcome to involve me if at any time you find it impossible to meet with group members or if you feel like scheduling obstacles are interfering with your projects and coordination.

Email and AIM
We will also use Mymail for communicating outside class. While you may call and leave a phone message, it's best to use email or AIM to contact me about your coursework, to set up an appointment to meet with me outside class, or to ask a question. With rare exceptions, I will respond to all email inquiries within 48 hours.

Workload and Evaluations

The work involved with the course breaks down as follows:

Events - Standalone Projects (55%)

I. Web 2.0: App.atomies (15%)
A detailed analysis and critique of a Web 2.0 application with an explicit focus on its function as a site of digital writing activity.
Focal sites/apps: del.icio.us, Bloglines.com, Technorati, Cite-u-like, Flickr, Facebook.
Logics: Database, links, design, modularity.

II. Writing Digital Spaces: Image and Map (20%)
A visual rendering that applies mapping techniques to a text of the student's choosing or layers photographs and maps.
Focal sites/apps: CMap Tools, Wayfinding.com, Flickr, Rrove.
Logics: Visual/spatial arrangement, juxtaposition, geographies, mapping.

III. Viz/Vox Project (20%)
A collaborative documentary project involving a combination of video and audio authoring.
Focal sites/apps: iMovie, Odeo, Audacity, Garageband, Flash, YouTube.
Logics: Time, aurality, re/mix.

Rhythms - Distributed/Ongoing Work (45%)

IV. Weblog and Related Web 2.0 Apps (20%)
An individual or group weblog consisting of regular entries throughout the semester. Entries will be referential; they will make gestures of attribution, that is, through hyperlinks, formal citation, and direct quotation. Runs for eleven weeks, from Monday, Sept. 11 through Sunday, Nov. 26.
Focal sites/apps: Blogger, Wordpress, Movable Type, Bloglines.com.
Logics: Aggregation, collection, layering, iteration and annotation.

V. Installments (15%)
A series of brief writing assignments responding to assigned readings and evaluating online applications and resources. Included here is a periodic contribution to the wiki for the course.
Focal sites/apps: Technorati, Google, PMWiki.
Logics: Digital ethos, network sense, collaboration, annotation.

VI. Presence, Involvement, Leadership (10%)
While attendance is a basic expectation in any course, presence, involvement, and leadership in WRT302 is an assessment of the role you take in class as an active, prepared, contributing member. This portion of course credit accounts for your activity and involvement as a peer, as a prepared and inquiring reader, and as one whose stance toward the work of the class reflects leadership and rigor.

On Handling Multiple Pieces of Work Simultaneously
One dimension of WRT302 is learning to handle multiple project at the same time; therefore, you will find that some of the projects overlap and the wiki and weblog projects are ongoing--distributed throughout the semester. This means that you will encounter at least a few organizational challenges. Early in the semester, we will talk about systems for optimizing the organization of a personal workload.

All graded work will be assigned a letter grade corresponding to a 4.0 scale.

    B+ 3.333 C+ 2.333        
A 4.0 B 3.0 C 2.0 D 1.0 F 0
A- 3.667 B- 2.667 C- 1.667        
Course Policies

Writing studios are courses in language learning, and language is learned in communities; therefore, it is essential that you attend class. Absences will affect your classmates' work as well as your own. Our syllabus is only a projection and may be subject to changes and revisions as it seems appropriate, necessary, or just interesting. That is another reason why your attendance is vital. As a general rule, you do not need to explain reasons for absence unless you anticipate an extended absence.

If you anticipate an absence, you are welcome to inform me in advance, but it is ultimately your responsibility to contact your peers and to visit the class schedule, check email, and visit Blackboard, to inform yourself about the work underway during the missed class session and subsequent sessions. Missing presentations and scheduled conferences will dramatically lower your grade.

The Rule of Ask Three
If you must miss a class, you are responsible for work assigned or missed, so it's a good idea early in the semester to get acquainted with three peers who will share notes or recaps of missed class sessions. Please realize, however, that class time cannot be reconstructed or made up, and that your performance, your work, and your final course grade will be affected by absences.

Special Needs and Situations
Students who need special consideration because of any sort of disability or situation should make an appointment to see me right away. You should also refer to the Office of Disability Services for additional information.

Use of Student Writing
It is understood that registration for and continued enrollment in this course constitutes permission by the student for the instructor to use any student work composed for the course.

The Writing Center
Nearly all writers benefit from interchanges and discussion; as noted above, all forms of thoughtful feedback inform your understanding of the ways written texts perform for various readers and, therefore, such feedback is valuable throughout the writing process. Consultants in the University's Writing Center are available to consult with you at any stage of the writing process. For more information about The Writing Center's hours of operation and instructions for scheduling an appointment, check out the Center's web site: http://wrt.syr.edu/wc/wcintro.html.

Computers, Multimedia and Technologies
Most of the work you do for this class will require the use of computers to design and compose documents, to save and backup your work, and to manage file locations and names in our server spaces. Additionally, we will be reading and engaging with sites and applications on the internet throughout the semester. If you have any concerns about the role of technologies in this course, you should arrange to meet with me within the first week of classes. While we will run through a few of the basic writing technologies in the early weeks of the course, I encourage you to raise questions when you have them.

Computer technology provides us with an impressive range of tools and applications for composing. Such technologies confront us with numerous choices as well as the potential for multimedia enhancements and greater compositional experimentation, neatness and efficiency. Nonetheless, the sage warnings about saving your work apply. When relying on computer technology, take appropriate steps to ensure that your work is backed up and plan extra time, as needed, for integrating multimedia features in your work.

Derek Mueller
Office: HBC 002
Fall '06 office hours: Mon., 11-Noon
Phone: (315) 443-1785
AIM: ewidem