Counter-technologies for Digital Literacy

In this final unit we will inquire deeper into the forces affecting digital literacy, circling back to look again at the psychological, social, cultural, and economic trends in technology that have increasingly begged the kinds of savvy fact-checking strategies we learned about in Unit 2. In teams of four, you will identify and research these forces, select readings for the class, and lead us in a large-group discussion that spans our classroom and social media. Because some of these forces threaten the foundations of our democracy, our discussions risk becoming a bit depressing; as such, a significant and essential part of your time will also be spent teaching us about one effective counter-technology — a tool, practice, process, or resource that can help writers and researchers resist, expose, or otherwise mitigate these forces.

Your Tasks


Define your phenomenon. What is the issue, thing, force, etc. that has contributed somehow to this post-truth condition? How can it be both broadened and made more specific? (For example, web cookies are both a broad instance of digital surveillance, but could also be thought of more specifically depending on who’s doing the tracking.)

Research. Find texts that help you better understand this phenomenon both historically and currently. Start with Wikipedia and work your way to news and features, then perhaps to scholarship. As you collect readings, develop a bibliography using Zotero groups that you can share with us.

Pick 1-2 online readings for the class. Readings will total 2,500-3,500 words (not sure what the word count is? check out the Word Count Toolor the Word Counter Plus Chrome Extension) and get at the complexity, history, and newsworthiness of the phenomena.

Lead discussion: online

Post your lesson plan on WordPress. Once your group has organized your lesson, you’ll add a post this site that will have to be approved by me. The post will include your panel title, hashtags, questions, and links. Look here for an example.

Host an online chat via social media. We’ll decide as a class whether we want to use Facebook, Twitter, or Twitter chats, for example, are basically online discussions on certain topics led by moderators or hosts who are somewhat knowledgeable about them. For our purposes, you’ll post, 2-3 questions about your readings, which will begin to be tackled online.

Lead discussion: in class

Continue discussion in class. I’ll give your group a few minutes at the start of class to quickly review the conversation online but you’ll also come prepared with some questions. The discussion should be about 30-40 minutes long.

Present a counter-technology. You can do this any number of ways — through a step-by-step tutorial, a demo, or a workshop. It’s up to you. Ultimately, however, we should have a deliverable (handout, WordPress post, etc.) that we can take home after. Above all, be clear about how this technology helps us! Plan on 20-30 minutes.


After discussion, reflect on the entire process on a Google Doc that you’ll submit to your WRT folder. More on this in class.


Your final grade will be based on the following:

Posts on social media [20 points]
You are expected to comment at least 40 times from your account. This includes when you lead and when you respond. Each post is worth .5 points.

Panel discussion [50 points]
Your group will be evaluated by the class using a Google Form, which will assess the degree to which your panel was interesting, detailed, and organized and how valuable the class found your counter-technology.

Individual contribution [30 points]
You will be assessed by your collaborators through an Internal Assessment Form that will be based on how much you contributed to the group’s successes and failures. You will also be graded by me based on your final reflection.