A nuanced approach to the multimodal transformation project in composition.
The "Tanked Presentation" is inspired by the ABC network's show "Shark Tank." This project requires a team of students to work together on a core idea that is broken up into three parts (product, marketing materials, and presentation) which culminates in a presentation to four "Sharks" (outside representatives) in competition with the rest of their peers. The presentation model is typically broken into three parts:
~2 minute uninterrupted pitch,
~1 minute of distribution of materials, and
~8 minutes of Q&A with the Sharks.
The product (in my composition classes) has typically been a game created in Twine, Unity, or a modded Minecraft: Education Edition experience, but any number of completed projects can be used to fit the purpose of the course.
Scaffolding the Project: Giving Students the Tools to Compose
Since the the Tanked Presentation is a culminating project--often called the multimodal transformation project in composition classes--it is important to make sure it doesn't feel thrown in at the end. Now, I am extremely fortunate in the fact that Clemson University provides the entire Adobe cloud to its students, staff, and faculty and we have full technical support on campus. However, you do not need to have Adobe products to do this. I have provided some links at the bottom of this page that might be useful when making media for this presentation through free and open-source technologies.
Throughout my semester (about once every two-three weeks) I do a demo in the classroom for a new technology that we will use throughout the semester. I typically start with Adobe Spark (Page, Video, and Post), GoogleDrive, and Adobe Behance to make sure all students are confident in their ability to post their work and create simple presentations and process logs. Within the first five weeks, they are introduced to video editing software--Spark Video, Adobe Rush, and/or Adobe Premiere--and we work on cutting together assets in the class with minor transitions, discussion of editing to sound, and also speeding up/slowing down the asset (Link to Video). This gives them the skills to make their own videos each week and allows them to explore the capabilities of the program. Depending on the parameters of the class and the confidence level of the instructor, this could be scaffolded with Spark Video to Rush to Premiere or just working with Premiere. Remember, IT and the library services typically have someone that can help with using technology.
The project can be scaffolded in a number of ways. In First-Year Composition, I had students work on a sustained research topic all semester which became the grounds for the tanked presentation. In other classes, students agree upon a topic and work on it just for the tanked presentation. To scaffold, I have my students in FYC start with an exploratory assignment to find a topic, then the proposal, annotated bibliography, and the research guided essay. Once completed, they elect projects in class to work on in groups, divide themselves out based on interest and skills, and then create project teams around one of (typically) five projects. They start with the transmediation by creating graphic assets that represent the ideas in the project. I have done this in Minecraft: Education Edition, Adobe Illustrator, and have even done a makerspace workshop. This jumpstart transmediation is to get the students working and thinking together as an affinity group. Finally, the students start to create the game to address their pressing issue and the marketing and presenting materials that will be used in the Tanked Presentation.
(Hint: If you are going to use Twine or ask for NPC and roleplaying elements in Minecraft, I highly recommend having students complete lessons in HTML or Java to learn basic coding syntax and grammar to better prepare them for their project. Oftentimes there is a student that already knows these basics and will do it for the team.)
Presentation Genre Analysis: Academic vs. Authentic Presentations
My first two semesters had a final project that was boring and uninspired. Nobody wanted to do these. I was lucky enough to be at Eastern Michigan University which had the Celebration of Student Writing (found HERE) which gave students an authentic audience to present to, but it still felt artificial. Students would write a script or just read the first two paragraphs of a project with minimal eye contact and would often shake all the way through because they were not confident in their work. They often expressed that they felt isolated and that all eyes were on them. They did not look forward to the presentation, and neither did I.
The Tanked Presentation integrates a project team-based presentation that can be found in many workplaces and some upper-level classes in STEM fields. Students work to their strengths and do not have to utter a word the day of the presentation if they supported their team's work before presentation day. Everyone has a role: project leader, the charismatic presenter, the coder, and the media specialist (more on this below). They felt that they were contributing and became more invested in the group work. The project doesn't allow for one person to get stuck with it all because they sign a "project contract" where each member signs on for one or more responsibilities which are evenly distributed. The accountability and support from peers makes it feel authentic.
Their audience is still their peers, but with an added competition to earn accolades from outside representatives: the "sharks." They aren't alone because they are standing at the front of the room with several others. Their scripted speaking role is only for two-minutes, so the entire focus isn't on the speaker. The eight-minute Q&A is more like a conversation which pushes the students on their knowledge of their own project. The investment is incredible. Most actually look forward to the presentation and are proud of their game and accomplishments.
Grouping Up: Creating a Project Team
The project teams are pretty easy to set up. Students will nominate their own projects to be transmediated and we take a class period to vote on projects that the class wants to work on. Then, students market their skills on a spreadsheet that align with the requirements of the projects. Some students don't write anything and just say they are willing to help in any way they can, which doesn't make them as marketable, but there is still a spot for them at the end. I typically ask students to check off boxes that have the following: Coding Skill; Game Design Skill; Public Speaking; Project Management/Leadership; Document Design; Poster Design; Creative Writing. I have sometimes allowed students to pick their own groups, and other times have assigned them groups based on their interest in a project and what skills are needed. Both worked beautifully.
- Project Lead: Responsible for keeping the team on track and (typically) lead presenter.
- Game Specialist: This is typically the coder and game designer.
- Product Specialist: Responsible for the marketing materials and website.
- Lead Writer: The visionary that writes the narrative and establishes company ethos (varies based on game type).
Once they are together as a team, they explain visions for the project, their roles, and exchange contact information. From the first moment, you can see the fear, but also excitement for working on the project together. Most of them meet up daily (virtually or face-to-face) to discuss the game or marketing materials and projects rapidly form and change. One group, a year after their presentation, still talk and work on games together. The collegiality that is formed in about a month of work is amazing.
Below is an example (just one iteration) of the project and presentation using the Twine game designer (no expertise required). An upper level iteration that gives the students a lot more freedom can be found HERE under "Raid 5." The student created games and videos can be found HERE. If you would like any other resources, please let me know via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following must also accompany the text adventure:
Additional Marketing Materials:
Extra Credit Opportunities
The following must also accompany the text adventure:
Additional Marketing Materials:
Things to think about for the presentation:
- Overall goal/purpose of the game
- Target audience
- Team motivation for making game (exigence)
- Use Ethos, Pathos, and Logos to persuade
Day of Presentation
On the day of the presentation, teams will submit their "Project Contract," along with copies of the paper marketing materials to the Professor.
The presentation will be broken into THREE parts:
- You will have up to Two Minutes to pitch the game to the sharks.
- Presentation materials will then be given to the Sharks (about 60 seconds)
- Up to Eight Minutes of Q&A from Sharks
Each presentation will total 10 minutes. We will start promptly at the start of class, and we will quickly move into the first presentation. Each team is expected to be on time and ready to present once the team before them finishes.
Resources and Examples
Here are some technologies I have used for this project:
- Adobe After Effects (Video Effects)
- Adobe Audition (Audio recording/editing)
- Adobe Behance (Image/video Hosting and Portfolio) [free]
- Adobe InDesign (Document Design)
- Adobe Lightroom (Photo Manipulation)
- Adobe Photoshop (Photo Manipulation)
- Adobe Premier (Video Editing)
- Adobe Premiere Rush (Mobile Video Editing)
- Adobe Spark (images, posters, websites, or videos) [free]
- Canva (posters) [free]
- Infogram (infographics and web texts) [free or paid]
- MakeBeliefsComix (Make comic strips) [free]
- Minecraft: Education Edition (free trial/$5 a year)
- Plasq (make comics [free and pay models]
- Scratch (make simple games through programing) [free]
- Slack (team site) [free]
- Storyboarder (make storyboards) [free]
- Sway (Advanced presentations. Similar to Spark) [free]
- Teams (Microsoft teams software) [free]
- TimeLine (make timelines) [free]
- TinEye (reverse image search) [free]
- Trello (team site) [free]
- Twine (text-adventure software) [free]
Tanked Presentations is a large project which is why it is at the end of the semester. In my iterations, it is a culminating display of what the students have learned in technical skill, rhetorical understanding, and collaborative work. Since it is a composition class (as opposed to a game design class), the game (product) is worth 30% of the project, the marketing materials are 10%, and the presentation is 60%. The game and materials are also factored into the 60% in different ways.
The "product" is typically due a week before the presentation date to allow for the instructor and the sharks to review it. This is also a way to ensure that students are meeting deadlines.
The day of the presentation, the sharks evaluate the presentations on the following areas:
- Company Professionalism
- Organized and Prepared
- Persuasive Arguments
- Effective Use of Time
- Efficient Materials
- Question Responsiveness
- Purpose Articulated Well?
- Game Box Authenticity
- Good Use of Platform?
They are also given the opportunity to leave written feedback for the students.
Finally, after the class is done presenting, the sharks mark their assessment sheets and also indicate the accolades. In the most recent presentation, sharks marked the best presentation, game, company ethos, marketing materials, and overall campaign. These accolades are tied to extra credit to motivate students to focus on one or more areas.
An assessment sheet for the sharks can be found here: HERE