This week we have our last two classes, so I’d like to review what’s due and show you how to submit your final FOW project. But first, I want to update you on my availability next week.
Tuesday, 5/1 — I’ll be in my office (Victoria 412) from 10-3. Make an appointment with me and I’ll be glad to help you!
Wednesday, 5/2 — Open lab hours in our classroom from 10:15-4:30. It is helpful to know if/when you are coming (I’ll most likely be hanging out in my office), so shoot me an email before coming by.
Thursday, 5/3 and Friday, 5/4 — I may be on campus, but I’ll definitely be available via Skype, Google Hangouts, or by phone almost any time during these two days. Shoot me an email and we can find a time to talk.
Monday, 5/7 — I’ll be in my office (Victoria 412) from 9:30-2:30. Make an appointment for last minute questions. Your project is due by the end of the day.
You’re turning in at least three accurately-marked items for me by the end of the day on May 7. All relevant documents should in saved in a subfolder of your WRT shared folder titled “Unit 3.”
your final plan
any process documents for your project — scripts, drafts, outlines, plans, raw files, etc.
a letter to future students
In addition, you will post a draft of your project on FOW. Here’s how.
Customize your profile on FOW
Go to futureofwriting.com and scroll to the bottom to “Meta.” Click “Log in.” Use your Rowan email address for your username and the password I give you in class.
Once you’re logged in, click “Profile” and update your information: your name details (pseudonyms or first names only are totally fine!), write a short bio, and use your wordpress.com Gravatar for your picture. This is important as it will add your bio to your posts (commonly known as a “Byline”).
Finally, since you all have the same p/w, generate a new one for yourself so your posts are secure. Write this down so you can log in to the site again.
Add New Posts to FOW
As an “Author” user in WordPress, you can write, upload photos to, edit, and publish your own posts; however, you cannot access other posts.
Add a post, just as you did in the first unit. Note that the featured image for your post will be placed prominently on your post, so choose it well.
Choose the most appropriate category and use multiple tags for your post. For example, if you interviewed someone on campus about their favorite apps, you might choose “interview” for your category but also tag it “interview,” “app,” “Rowan,” etc.
Choose “Save Draft” until you are ready to publish it to the site (see image).
On Monday we looked at the student-made site, The Future of Writing, and collected responses to that site on a Google Doc. For homework, I asked you to look at the site more closely and develop some ideas for a project. Today, then, your goal is to develop a plan for that project that will be submitted in less than 4 weeks. Let’s review the Plan section of the Unit 3 assignment.
Let’s hear about some of your project ideas and as we listen, let’s think about ways we can help these writers shape their ideas into a plan that has:
a list of tasks that will fit into a 3-week schedule
Once we discuss a few of these, I’d like you to flesh these out individually in your Google Doc (remember to open and save these in your WRT folder). Then, in the last 20 minutes, we will reconvene and share these ideas — adding comments as a class to a shared doc.
FOW brings together a few different ideas: it focuses on technology and digital culture but is targeted toward an audience of undergraduate students who have their own sets of norms, concerns, and expectations. At the time when my WRT students and I started it last fall, we could not find any digital culture sites directed toward college students; however, there were several excellent sites focused on college students and college life more generally, as well as many sites that focus on digital and techno-culture [see the “Examples of sites” link under Unit 3, above].
Our goal now is to (re)imagine the space of FOW — thanks to those previous students, we now have some ideas on how such a space might work. Last semester those writers looked at the example sites just noted and developed a list of ideas on this Google Document. Above all, they were looking for sustainable, reusable programming that would be exciting to compose and produce over and over. That’s where you come in.
Building out FOW
As you browse the contents of FOW, you’ll notice some patterns. Take some time to do this and answer some questions on this Google Doc. After a while, we’ll convene and talk about the project through this document.
As you consider ideas for your project, you’ll likely come up with one of the following options. Any of these, it’s worth noting, can be produced by multiple authors. If you are interested in working with a partner or in groups, however, I do expect your work to reflect that added labor.
1. Build from a previous writer’s research/writing subject. This would entail picking up where a project left off, such as Julie’s feature story, “Defining Analog.” As Julie notes in her letter, if you wanted to extend her project exploring digital and analog tech, you might “address the bias in current culture that states one is better over the other. Talk about the subject in way that brings the divide together. ” In other words, you might use Julie’s idea and her research to make this piece stronger and more developed.
2. Contribute a new post to a project that was pitched for repeated or serialized content. Taylor’s piece, “The life lessons I learned from a cheap old Kodak film camera” reflects on her relationship with an older film camera: the Kodak STAR 35. You might similarly reflect on a technology that you grew up with, or feel nostalgic for now that it’s gone. As Taylor writes in her letter, authors interested in this idea might reflect upon certain memories associated with the object, research the object, be critical of it, and/or ask questions of it. She also lists several links of articles that are written similarly. Feeling nostalgic lately for that old Tamagotchi? Now is your chance to emote.
3. Work on the space itself through site design, social media presence, etc. FOW offers an opportunity to take your current WordPress skills to the next level. You can help the site by finding better themes, plug-ins, or widgets that make the space more functional and attractive. And like most digital publications, FOW also needs people to develop or manage additional spaces like Twitter and Instagram and design other elements for those sites. Consider what Amanda did last semester, for example. She learned how to use Photoshop to create several possible banners and logos for FOW. In her letter, she says that she wished she ran the banner ideas with the classes before settling on one. Students who work on this might help see which banners the class likes and tweak from there.
4. Come up with a new idea. If nothing seems really attractive to you or (better yet) you have an idea you want to work on, pitch it. I may know of an existing piece you should check out, or might help you find ways to think about how to write it beyond simply using alphabetic text. For example, Kim and Gia created a podcast about the new dorms for their project.
Homework for Wednesday, 4/11
Finish your reflection on Unit 2 and think about what you want to do for FOW by reading the site.
Today is our final planning day for panels. I will walk you through a way to post your plan to our course site, the Google Forms our class will use to evaluate each other, and lead you through a model discussion on the sharing economy.
Posting your plan
At least 2 days before (preferably more), you’ll post your readings and Twitter questions to twitter using the course hashtag (#WRTs18) and the hashtags for your phenomenon (i.e. #catphishing). However, it is also useful for us if you post your entire plan to our course site. This post will include your panel members, hashtags, twitter questions, readings, and counter-technologies. You can save the in-class discussion questions as a surprise. Whenever possible, link to the content you are referring to (i.e. readings, hashtags, etc.).
→ For top-secret directions on how to post to the course site, including the username and password you’ll be using, look at this Google Doc here. ←
As you might recall, 20% of your grade in this unit is based on your Twitter participation, but the other 80% is assessed, at least in part, by your peers. Here’s how. Both forms can be found in the Unit 2 menu, above. ↑
50% panel performance. This grade is determined via ratings from the Panel Evaluation Form. I use the average overall score from the class to determine this grade.
30% individual contributions. This grade is determined, in part, by an internal evaluation form, that you and your groupmates will complete after your discussion. You also have a chance to elaborate on your experience in your final individual reflection.
Sample discussion: the sharing economy
Section 4 // 11:00 a.m. // #sharingeconomy
Panel members: Jason, Annamai, Jonny, Christian
Q1: Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB, are the most common examples of companies in the #sharingeconomy. What are some others, whether you’ve used them or not? #WRTfs18
Q2: Have you used a service offered in the #sharingeconomy? What has been your experience with them as a consumer? #WRTs18
Q3: Drivers, hosts, babysitters, helpers, shoppers — these are the jobs workers do in the #sharingeconomy. Have any of you worked these jobs (or know people who do)? #WRTs18
Today we are reviewing your meeting notes, providing feedback on your progress so far, then pushing to organize your discussion online and in class.
Review meeting notes
Go to this Google folder and comment on the meeting notes from other groups in our class. As you do, you might consider: ⇒ Pointing out moments that you would look forward to discussing or knowing more about. ⇒ Asking questions — for clarity/knowledge, but also for discussion later. ⇒ Suggesting a counter-technology, or liking one of the options listed
Once you’ve read and commented on others’ meeting notes, regroup to review the comments that other made on your meeting notes. Share any new ideas you gained that might be useful to your discussion.
Add a section at the end of your document called NEW IDEAS that lists them.
Planning for discussion
Once you start focusing on a specific phenomenon, it’s time to begin thinking about:
which readings you’re going to make us read and
how you’re going to get us to talk about them. As for the former, you should choose a reading or readings that help us understand the complexity, history, and newsworthiness of your phenomenon.
Aim to have us read 1-2 readings that total 2,500-3,500 words (not sure what the word count is? check out the Word Count Tool).
Once you have these set, you’ll want to develop a set of questions that will be asked initially over Twitter via online chats, but carry over into the classroom. In other words, while conversations will occur online before class, your group will have a chance to push on certain threads in class before unveiling your counter-technology. As such, we want to think about the kinds of questions that make group conversation meaningful. In your experience what makes a good discussion in the classroom and out?
This handout from a Canadian university walks us through some of this:
Once your group feels like it has a strong grasp on your phenomenon, you’ll need to align 4 things:
your reading(s), which should get at the complexity, history, and newsworthiness (or relevance) of your chosen phenomenon
your Twitter chat questions, which should be focused mostly on our experiences with, opinions about, or responses to the phenomenon
your in-class discussion questions, which will be about the phenomenon, but more importantly the reading. These will build from the Twitter chat the night before.
your counter-technology, which will go beyond common-sense approaches you’d see on your local evening news broadcast.
By “align” I mean that these four elements should work together and not feel like a potpourri of topics. If you are feeling that way, it means your phenomenon is too broad; try starting with the counter-technology and work backward.
As part of this project, you are going to lead part of this discussion online through Twitter and IRL. So what’s a Twitter chat? This recent blog post from Hootsuite defines it as
a public discussion on Twitter around a specific hashtag … led by a designated moderator—brand or individual—who ask questions and facilitate the discussion at a predetermined time
While we won’t be having these chats synchronously, each group will choose a hashtag as well as a set of questions with clear labels (i.e. Q1, Q2, Q3) and post them to Twitter with our class hashtag, #WRTs18. You’ll want to do this at least 2 days in advance. If you are scheduled to lead a discussion on a Monday, post them on Friday (at the latest). If you are scheduled to lead a discussion on a Wednesday, post them before class on Monday.
Before we meet in class, students will read your articles, find your group hashtags, and respond to your questions — and each other — using A1, A2, A3 so we can all keep track. Let try this with one of the above examples. Who would like to volunteer?
In the fall we tried this with a shared example (you can also look at old discussions via the Twitter hashtag last fall: #WRTf17), but let’s give you a few moments to come up with three questions for your own topic. You can add these to your original planning documents we reviewed at the start of class.
Activity: Choose a reading for your discussion and develop two sets of discussion questions: one set for Twitter and one set for in-class. Aim for 3-5 questions per set. Do this together in a Google Doc that you share with me.
You might want to review the document above on writing good questions and avoiding bad ones. You also might review the link I shared from Hootsuite on leading Tweet chats. One key suggestion is this one:
Most Twitter chats follow a Q&A format so you should also come up with five to 10 questions in advance, and try to predict answers so you have some responses prepared.
There should be a fair amount of flexibility for Twitter chats to develop on their own, but it doesn’t hurt to be as prepared as possible.
You can also create graphics or GIFs in advance to include in your chat posts, or even turn your questions into graphics to make them stand out in your followers’ feeds.
Homework for Wednesday, 3/7
Finish your discussion plans: finalize your chosen reading(s) and have drafts of both sets of questions. We’ll continue to review these in class and review the evaluation forms for your groups.