Welcome to Advanced Composition!
This class is designed as a multiplayer game space. You are the players. I am the game master. Every player will create an avatarthat will represent them in the game. I will serve as your guide, mentor, and ally. Your objective is to complete as many quests(assignments) as you can to acquire enough experience points (XP) to hit the level (grade) you deserve and desire. On your journey you will also navigate random encounters (impromptu presentations), PVP and PVE challenges (debates, critiques, and presentations), update your journey log (weekly blog), builds (2D and 3D compositions), and engage in four raids (projects) alone, as well as with guilds (groups).
With the class being designed as a game space, you—as the player—have agency to forge your own path to success. Quests, builds, journey logs, and raids will all have variations based on what specialization you choose during character development. The specializations are as follows: Warrior, Mage, Bard, Builder, and Ranger.
What Should I Expect from This Course?
Composing in Digital Environments is a course that will redefine how we view composition by learning about, analyzing, and producing digital compositions. Digital environments are more than black words typed on a white “page” and require a more complex rhetorical understanding to be composed effectively. It is important to understand the human role in the production, dissemination, and consumption of these texts, but also our digital identity in relation to them. We will analyze and discuss the way digital texts communicate messages to audiences using different modalities such as alphabetic text, image, and sound. As a class, we will approach situations and solve problems in and understand how to interpret, plan, compose, revise, and circulate new media texts in a more efficient manner. ENGL 3120 will focus on building digital literacy and creativity while using the professional software Clemson University supplies its students—the Adobe Creative Cloud, Camtasia, and others—in addition to other popular and niche software that employ skills in coding, spatial reasoning, digital creativity, and design aesthetics. By learning about rhetoric, we will become more effective writers paying special attention to persona, audience, medium, genre, design, and persuasive appeals. We will learn about and engage in visual, written, oral/sonic, and digital rhetorics by using, analyzing, and producing images, video, audio, and web texts. Our projects and assignments will build on this knowledge, providing us with the scaffolding and tools needed to engage in digital creativity and literacy.
This course is designed with the following objectives in mind:
- Knowledge: You will gain an in-depth understanding of professional and open-source composition tools, digital genre conventions, and learn how to navigate digital environments effectively.
- Comprehension: You will leave the class with a comprehension of the critical and rhetorical elements that facilitate the move from literacy to digital creativity and electracy and the composition process of digital texts.
- Application: Upon completion of the course, you will have a digital portfolio reflecting a rhetorical understanding of the processes of composing across multiple digital environments with multiple tools to prepare you for work in the current digital environment.
- Analysis: You will be able to critically analyze a tool, medium, and genre and be able to articulate the affordances and limitations of each, incorporating research and rhetorical consideration of audience and discourse expectations.
- Evaluation: By the end of the course you will be able to articulate your role or position within a digital ecology as a consumer, scholar, and producer.
Habits of Mind
To meet these outcomes, we—both students and instructor—will learn, enact, and invest in the eight habits of mind as outlined in the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing:
- Curiosity – the desire to know more about the world.
- Openness – the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world.
- Engagement – a sense of investment and involvement in learning.
- Creativity – the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas.
- Persistence – the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects.
- Responsibility – the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others.
- Flexibility – the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands.
- Metacognition – the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge.
What Materials are Required for this Course?
- The Digital Writer, Sean Morey. Fountainhead Press (2017) [ISBN: 978-1-68036-354-8]
- Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects (Second Edition), Cheryl E. Ball, Jennifer Sheppard, and Kristin L. Arola. Bedford/St. Martin’s (2018) [ISBN: 978-1-31905-856-2]
- The New Media Writer, Sean Morey. Fountainhead Press (2014) [ISBN: 978-1-59871-780-8] Recommended, but not required
- Minecraft: Education Edition ($5)
- Adobe Creative Cloud (Provided)
- Adobe Spark (Free)
- Google Drive (Provided)
- Camtasia (Provided)
- Twine (Free) or Unity (Free) Wordpress, Adobe Portfolio, and/or Weebly (All Free)
- Inter/Vention: Free Play in the Age of Electracy, Jan Rune Holmevik. MIT Press (2012) [ISBN: 978-0262017053]
- Introduction to Game Analysis, Clara Fernandez-Vara. Routledge (2015) [ISBN: 978-0415703277]
- Habits of the Creative Mind. Richard E. Miller and Ann Jurecic. Bedford/St. Martin’s (2015) [ISBN: 978-1457681813]
- Computer Games and Technical Communication. Jennifer deWinter and Ryan Moeller. Routledge (2014) [ISBN: 978-1472426406]
- Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice. Douglas Eyman. University of Michigan Press (2015) [ISBN: 978-0-472-05268-4] (Free Online)
How are Players Assessed?
All players will begin on the first day of class at Level One with zero experience points (XP). Level Twenty is the highest level that can be achieved. XP can be earned by completing quests, attendance, raids, random encounters, and other objectives. The class letter grade will be based on your final level, as well as classroom etiquette, participation, and initiative. You must be at least Level Fourteen to pass this course. In order to pass, you must create an avatar, raids, and attend most sessions to achieve at least Level Fourteen. Since each raid builds on the next, the player will not be allowed to progress further without completing all associated raids.
This course is designed to help you be mindful of good learning habits, but also to promote success in academia, your careers, and life more broadly. Following the habits of mind will greatly increase the chance of success in this class, but, more importantly, in all situations that require learning and thinking. For this course specifically, in order to succeed, students must take the initiative to challenge themselves, take risks, and reflect on failures. You will be taken out of your comfort zone and be presented with challenges that will require creative solutions which can result in failure, but that is okay; Failure is part of the learning process.
I want to promote a culture of experimentation and play that does not punish risks, but rewards effort. There is the common adage in composition: process over product. With this in mind, if you feel the desire to revise or modify your work, come talk to me. If you have an idea for a new project, course policy, or approach to a project, share your ideas. As I am demonstrating with the pedagogy of this course, I encourage you to lead with your interests and passions. We will be using a lot of technology this semester, but it isn’t the mastery of the software that is important, it is your ability to think through creative solutions to problems in multiple modes. Remember, I am your ally; I want you to come out of this class with the grade you want, pride in completed projects, and the skills you need to continue writing and researching at the academic and professional level.
What are the Expectations for an “A” in this Course?
ENGL 3120: Composing in Digital Environments will be a demanding course that requires you to be attentive, invested in your learning, and solve problems creatively based on the rhetorical situation surrounding your tasks. If you don’t miss more than two sessions, turn in all your work meeting minimum requirements, and work well with your fellow classmates, you will earn a “B” in the course. To earn an “A,” you must show initiative, command of the habits of mind, and take risks that go above and beyond what is asked of you for assignments. Being creative means to take risks and to try something new. If you make an effort in this course, you will do well.
Overview of Major Assignments
Over the course of the semester, we will engage with two frameworks: Aristotle’s knowing, doing, and making; as well as Kafai and Burke's connected learning. Both of these frameworks are built on the understanding of a knowledge process that moves from a theoretical understanding to a praxis based in production and dissemination of knowledge. These raids are designed to work through these frameworks:
Raid One – Emergent Technology Survey
You will do a survey of an emergent technology/program (podcast, software, game, etc.) and learn about its uses, functions, production history, affordances and limitations. A complete media product profile will be generated using text, images, audio, and video to create an infographic and accompanying webpage. This raid should be at least 1000 words with multiple referenced sites, videos, and technical documents.
Potential Programs Used: GoogleDocs, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Spark, Wordpress, Weebly, Infogram, and/or Canva.
~10% of Final Grade
Raid Two – Emergent Technology Review
You will choose a piece of software or game to conduct a detailed review while engaging with discourse communities, argument strategies, and exigency for a journal or site that accepts reviews. You will work in pairs to analyze the software and co-write the review based on the guidelines of the place of publication or the general guidelines outlined in class. The project should be at least 1250 words.
Potential Programs Used: GoogleDocs, Adobe Premiere Rush, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Audition, and Adobe InDesign
~15% of Final Grade
Raid Three - Lessons for Learning
You will create a tutorial and informational guide for a game or production software in a multimodal composition. First, you will choose the software you want to make a tutorial for. Second, you will rationalize the audience, purpose, and medium for the tutorial. Finally, a multimodal tutorial will be composed and a reflection of the process will be written. The reflection must be at least 500 words and the tutorial should be at least 20 minutes of video. This tutorial must be of professional quality and will be assessed on its purpose, choice of medium, and technical execution.
Potential Programs Used: GoogleDocs, Adobe Premiere Rush, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Audition, Adobe InDesign, Adobe After Effects, Camtasia, and Wordpress
~20% of Final Grade
Raid Four - Multimodal Production Presentation
In guilds, players will work together to create a coded game in Minecraft: Education Edition. The group will decide on the overall theme, audience, and purpose the game serves by researching market share, exigency, and procedural rhetorics. The research and creation of the game will demonstrate collaborative digital writing, spatial reasoning, and, once completed, marketing and presentation materials--posters, box art, promotional videos, business cards, sales sheets, website, etc.-- will be composed to “sell” their game. The game will then be presented in a “Shark Tank” style presentation to compete with other students in the class.
Potential Programs Used: GoogleDocs, Behance, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Audition, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Wordpress, Minecraft: Education Edition, and others.
~30% of Final Grade
Players will address the course outcomes and how they mapped onto their projects and course readings. They will also critically reflect on what digital composition, creativity, and electracy is and how it relates to their majors and digital identities.
~5% of Final Grade
Journey Logs (weekly blog posts)
These weekly logs will be used as process logs and production logs where students will reflect on their use of technology and knowledge gained.
Potential Programs Used: GoogleDocs, Adobe, Premiere, Rush, Adobe Premiere, and Adobe Spark
~10% of Final Grade
Quests can be weekly assignments or smaller activities that help you learn about the technology and raids later in the semester. The smaller variety will be called side quests and the larger ones will be noted as quests.
~10% of Final Grade
Turning in Adventures, Quests, and Raids...
Most work will be turned in electronically via GoogleDrive, but you should make sure to check the parameters of all quests (assignments) before turning them in. We will utilize different platforms (i.e. Minecraft: Education Edition, the Adobe Creative Cloud, and others), so it is important to submit your work in the appropriate way. All assigned work is due before the class session starts unless otherwise stated. A missed class or late attendance does not excuse the student from this rule.
Can I Turn Work in Late?
All work should be turned in on time before the start of the class session. If a quests or journey logs is submitted after the deadline, it will lose 10% of its points for each week it is late.
Raids, however, become tarnished if they are submitted late. Once the project is tarnished it is only worth ½ the allotted XP, and it will be assigned a zero within seven (7) days.
Deadlines for drafts and other aspects of raids will be dealt with in one of two ways: 1) If the game master requires a draft or a check-in from you and you do not have the required materials, the item will receive a zero for that portion of the raid; 2) If the missed deadline is in association with guild work, then the guild leader must be informed and an agreed upon assessment will be reached.
Attendance and Participation
This is a writing intensive course, so you are expected to sign in on time and be prepared to work. Players are allotted two health points which will account for missed sessions. After both health points are gone, the player automatically purchases a single health point for 50 experience points. As game master, I reserve the right to drop any players that exceed the two health points before the last “drop date.” I will also determine what to do in case of extended illness or personal crisis on a case-by-case basis. However, excessive absences are an adequate reason for being failed in this course, even if you submit all work on time.
If you attend a session late, up to 10 minutes past the starting time, you will be designated as late. Habitual lateness will be counted as a loss of a health point or missed session. Players that sign in 10 minutes after the start will lose a health point.
If you will be late or miss a session, it is you responsibility to contact the game master and guild leader (if applicable). If contact is not made, the player will be at a disadvantage and will not receive information about the session from the game master.
What if the Game Master is Late?
You are obligated to wait for the game master for up to ten minutes before you may leave without penalty. If I am holding you to a high standard, I should be held to that same standard. Always be sure to check your email for any communication from me.
What are the Guidelines for Class Participation and Conduct?
I ask all of you to be respectful. There will be times when players and guilds will be competing against one another, so trash talking in the spirit of the game is expected, but all players need to know the limits of their playful banter and when it becomes disrespectful. When you are with your guild, you will be expected to fully participate and work as a team. Each player will be evaluated by their guild mates based on active participation.
What if I Observe Religious Holidays?
I recognize your rights to observe religious holidays without penalty. You must provide advance notice to the game master in order to make up work, including examinations that they miss as a result of their absence from class due to observance of religious holidays.
Technology and Conduct Policies
You will be interacting with a variety of sites and programs during the semester. Please let me know if you need help using the Internet or any computer program. When using a computer, save work frequently, always make backup copies through a cloud service and/or using a thumb drive, and plan all raids with extra time allowed for unexpected technological difficulties. Most finished work will be uploaded digitally, but it is important to save drafts of ALL compositions.
The use of computers, tablets, and e-readers are strongly encouraged, and at times mandatory, in session. All in-session use of technology should be focused on the quest related activities, such as note-taking, research, and reading. As long as you are respectfully attentive when another player is speaking, in-session technology use will not be a problem. That said, use of a cellphones in-session are discouraged, unless they are being used for session related activities. All phones are to be set to silent (not vibrate). I reserve the right to ask any player to put away their electronic device if it appears to be distracting other players. Abuse of this policy will result in XP penalization.
A full list of technologies used in the classroom is on the course website (and indicated in the graphic above). You are required by the university to have an updated laptop that can run most of the programs required for this course. The more demanding programs can be used in the library and in the Adobe Studio. Forgetting your computer is as inexcusable as forgetting a writing utensil. Please make sure you always have a computer charger on you as well. Come to class prepared and ready to work
Communication with the Game Master and Players
Communication out of session with the game master or other players should be conducted in a professional and respectful manner through your Clemson Email. Make arrangements with other players to get contact information, especially with your guild. If you ever have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact one of your peers or your instructor. With rare exceptions, I will always respond to all email inquiries within 48 hours Monday – Friday.
Note: All emails should have a relevant subject line, respectful salutation, clear and concise body text, and signature. We will discuss email communication further this semester.
What is the Policy on Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty?
A simple definition of plagiarism—one that we will expand upon this semester—is when someone presents another person’s words, visuals, or ideas as his/her own. The instructor will deal with plagiarism on a case-by-case basis. The most serious offense within this category occurs when a student copies text from the Internet or from a collective file. This type of academic dishonesty is a serious offense that will result in a failing grade for the course as well as the filing of a formal report to the university.
See the Clemson site below for information about Academic Integrity and procedures regarding the violation of Clemson policies on scholastic dishonesty: http://www.clemson.edu/academics/academic-integrity/
A useful graphic we will be going over in class can be found here: "Did I Plagiarize?"
Also, this course will be conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and affirms people of all gender expressions and identities. Please address me as Chris and my gender pronouns are he/him/his. I was provided with a class roster with your name as it appears in the iRoar system. However, if you prefer to be called a different name than what is on the roster, please let me know. You may also share your gender pronouns.