Project Descriptions


Project 1: Blog

I have posted a detailed document outlining the project and general guidelines for professional blogging to Dropbox. I've divided you up into three groups. In the prompt for each week, I will identify which group will be posting and which group will be commenting that week. You will post and comment as individuals, but your group assignment will determine whether you are posting or commenting in any given week.

Audience and deliverables: Throughout the semester you will maintain individual commentary and reflections about the course readings, our in-class discussions, and your own research with our class as audience. In the weeks when you are in the posting group, you will create a post in response to the prompt for that week. In the weeks when you are in the commenting group, you will offer substantive comments to at least two of the posts created by your peers. This blog is for our class and interested readers; it is also available to the public.

Extra credit: The blog responses are the only way you can earn extra credit in this course. You can earn more credit by offering comments beyond the two that are required in those weeks when you're in the commenting group, or by commenting on your peers' posts--in addition to writing your own post--in those weeks when you are in the posting group.

Flexibility: Many, though not all, of the prompts ask you to create a post that directly relates to issues and best practices connected with the project on which you’re working. Some of your posts may be included in your portfolio as indicative of your thinking about course subject matter and your own composition processes.

12 post prompt categories and related reading: Each week, I will post the prompt to which you will be responding to our class blog. The prompt will include required and recommended reading to further your understanding of the prompt topic.

Unit 1: New Media Literacy

  • Post 1. Week 2 — Defining Literacy
  • Post 2. Week 3 — Using Social Media
  • Post 3. Week 4 — Being Online

Unit 2: New Media and Academic Writing

  • Post 4. Week 5 — Writing Descriptively
  • Post 5. Week 6 — Choosing a Genre and Designing Your Project
  • Post 6. Week 7 — Finding Your Voice and Knowing Your Audience

Unit 3: Intellectual Property and Ethics

  •  Post 7. Week 8 — Defining Plagiarism
  • Post 8. Week 11 — Writing Ethically
  • Post 9. Week 12 — Ethical Reuse and Remix

Unit 4: Technology, Identity, and Agency

  • Post 10. Week 13 — Understanding Who Owns Your Data
  • Post 11. Week 14 — Interacting With Technology
  • Post 12. Week 15 — Composing Digitally

Project 2: Proposal

Click here for the evaluation rubric.

Click here for an example of a student research proposal.

In this project, you will be proposing a research question to pursue in the multimedia annotated bibliography, the literature review, and the multimodal research essay. Your question should be related to the general themes of this course, and you will be looking at and comparing popular and academic discourse regarding your research topic. You have a great deal of flexibility to choose a research subject that interests you, however.

For example, you might propose to research how technology is shaping our collective social definition of celebrity. Or you might study the phenomenon of cyberstalking. You could consider how social media have influenced college sport fandom. You might also look at how technology has changed the nature of comic book collecting. These are just examples to illustrate the variety of topics available to you. Choose a subject about which you are already somewhat knowledgeable and about which you hope to learn more through your research in this course.

Your proposal will be a short (750-1000 words) essay in which you present your question, offer evidence that it is of interest to both a general and an academic audience, and outline a research plan that describes the sources you plan to consult and the methods and analytical framework you plan to apply.

Project 3: Multimedia Annotated Bibliography

Click here for the evaluation rubric.

Click here for helpful Storify primer.

In this project, you will be conducting research into the question you presented in your proposal and organizing the results of your research into a multimedia annotated bibliography, which you will create using Storify, a social media and web content curation tool. When complete, your multimedia annotated bibliography should contain annotations of 150-250 words each for at least 10 sources. At least 5 of your sources should be academic pieces by scholars reporting on their work relevant to your research question. At least 5 of your sources should be drawn from popular news journalism or other media coverage relevant to your research question. Finally, of your 10 sources, at least 3 of them must rely primarily on some form of visual, gestural, spatial, or aural content other than alphabetic text to convey meaning. So, for example, out of ten sources, if one is a video of a scholar giving a TED Talk, another is a public radio podcast, and another is an infographic conveying numerical data through images and graphics, then you have met the "multimedia" requirement for this project.

An annotated bibliography is a list of sources. It provides a citation to each source in MLA format, and then beneath each citation, gives a brief annotation (150-200 words) that evaluates the source and identifies why it is relevant to your project. As described on the University of Cornell Library website on “How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography,” “the purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited." In addition to MLA citations and annotations, your multimedia annotated bibliography will include links to your sources or to web references that identify where your sources can be located (e.g., in the library, on Amazon.com, on Netflix, etc.).

Ideally each annotation should briefly and concisely answer the following four questions about each source:

  1. What is this source about? When summarizing, keep in mind for whom the source was intended and why this source is relevant to your project.
  2. What information or evidence have you drawn from this source that you intend to incorporate into your final multimodal research essay?
  3. Why did you choose this source? Your reasons might include one or more of the following: It is more comprehensive or detailed than other available sources. It is more recent, so that it takes a number of other potential sources into account. It is the only available source on the particular topic for which you are using it. The author seems to have views sympathetic to your own, or he/she offers an alternative viewpoint that you must take into account or refute.
  4. Does this source have any flaws or weaknesses that you have had to take into consideration while using it? When answering this question, you should consider when this source was published in relation to your other sources, and whether it shows the influence of bias or outdated/disfavored ideas, political views, research methods, etc.
  5. What is the relationship between this source and your other sources? For example, does it offer an alternative viewpoint? Is the author in conversation with or does he/she draw upon the work of another author relevant to your project?

Project 4: Literature Review Essay

Click here for the evaluation rubric.

Sample Literature Review 1 (literature begins on p. 3, ends at the top of p. 12)

Sample Literature Review 2 (literature begins on p. 3, ends on p. 10)

For this project, you will be writing an essay (1300-1500 words) that describes the conversation surrounding the topic discussed in your proposal and annotated bibliography. The Purdue Online Writing Lab provides the following guidance about the purpose and form of literature reviews:

The literature review, whether embedded in an introduction or standing as an independent section, is often one of the most difficult sections to compose in academic writing. A literature review requires the writer to perform extensive research on published work in one’s field in order to explain how one’s own work fits into the larger conversation regarding a particular topic. This task requires the writer to spend time reading, managing, and conveying information; the complexity of literature reviews can make this section one of the most challenging parts of writing about one’s research.

Because literature reviews convey so much information in a condensed space, it is crucial to organize your review in a way that helps readers make sense of the studies you are reporting on. Two common approaches to literature reviews are chronological—ordering studies from oldest to most recent—and topical—grouping studies by subject or theme. Along with deliberately choosing an overarching structure that fits the writer’s topic, the writer should assist readers by using headings, incorporating brief summaries throughout the review, and using language that explicitly names the scope of particular studies within the field of inquiry, the studies under review, and the domain of the writer’s own research.

The primary purpose of the literature review is to demonstrate why the author’s study is necessary. Depending on the writer’s field, it may or may not be clear that research on a particular topic is necessary for advancing knowledge. As the writer composes the literature review, he or she must construct an argument of sorts to establish the necessity of his or her research. Therefore, one of the key tasks for writers is to establish where gaps in current research lie. The writer must show what has been overlooked, understudied, or misjudged by previous studies in order to create space for the new research within an area of academic or scientific inquiry.

Like the proposal, your literature review will be organized around a central thesis. That thesis will be the claim you are making about the conversation surrounding the research topic you wrote about for the proposal and researched and discussed for the annotated bibliography. Your thesis will be grounded in summary and analysis of the research you've done. For example, if you have been researching the privacy concerns posed by expanding use of social media, your thesis might be something like this: "Although many experts agree users have some right to privacy in the information they share via social networks like Facebook and Google+, their opinions differ regarding who has the responsibility for protecting that right, and no one has really answered the question of what sort of legal reform might be necessary in the future to ensure users' privacy." Your literature review will describe the research you've done. It will describe the points on which your sources agree (e.g., "users have some right to privacy"), and it will describe the questions or debates on which your sources express a difference of opinion (e.g., "opinions differ on who has the responsibility for protecting that right"). It will also describe in detail the positions your sources have taken in those debates or with regard to those questions.

Like the proposal, the literature review will have a beginning, middle, and end--or an introduction, argument/analysis, and conclusion--and it will be organized into sections and paragraphs according to a logical organizational plan. For example, after providing an overview of the social context and your thesis in the introduction, you might organize the argument/analysis into three sections: main points of agreement, main points of disagreement, and open questions. Then within each section, you would organize the discussion into paragraphs. So, for example, within the section dealing with main points of agreement, each paragraph could discuss a different point on which most experts working in the field agree.

Also like the proposal, the literature review essay will be relatively formal in tone. You can use first person, but the focus of the discussion should be on your research and what you've learned about what others think, rather than on your own thoughts or experience. You will have the opportunity to turn once again to your own thoughts and views on your chosen topic in the final multimodal research essay, once you have a better understanding of how your ideas fit into the broader conversation. Your literature review essay should provide specific evidence drawn from your research in  support of all of the claims you make about the conversation surrounding your research topic.  In order to be effective, your essay must demonstrate your awareness and understanding of multiple perspectives and points of view regarding the subject of your research. You must also demonstrate your awareness and understanding of the general audience you are addressing, that is me and your peers.

Project 5: Multimodal Research Essay

Click here for the evaluation rubric.

For this project, you will be writing a research essay (1500-1750 words) that offers a research-based argument about a debatable issue related to the topic you explored in the proposal essay, annotated bibliography, and literature review essay. For the research essay, you will choose one of the open questions, or points of popular or expert disagreement you identified through your research and writing on the literature review essay. So, for example, if you addressed how different social media services (e.g., Facebook, Tumblr, Google, etc.) protect or perhaps fail to protect users' right to privacy in the information they share in the expository essay, for the research essay you might take a stand on which service's approach offers the best balance of privacy and corporate interests. Or you might argue that none of the approaches really adequately recognizes users' right to privacy in their personal information. In either case, your argument will include a discussion of why one particular service's approach to information sharing is better than the others, or why you think social media services don't go far enough to protect user privacy.

Like the proposal and literature review essays, your research essay will be organized around a central thesis. That thesis will be the central claim for which you are advocating. So, extending the example from above, your thesis might be something like this: "Although Facebook and Google+ offer very similar services, helping users to build social networks through sharing status updates, photographs, news items of interest, and other relevant personal information online, these two companies take very different approaches to protecting users' privacy. A review of the terms of service for both social networks, and consideration of some of the most important privacy concerns raised by these kinds of services in general supports a conclusion that Facebook's terms of service give users more power to control how their personal information is shared with and used by others."

Like the literature review essay, your research essay will describe the research you've done. Your research essay will include a "literature review" section that describes the points on which most experts in the field agree (e.g., "users have some right to privacy"), and it will describe the questions or debates on which experts express a difference of opinion (e.g., "opinions differ on who has the responsibility for protecting that right"). It will also describe in detail the positions experts have taken in those debates or with regard to those questions. What your research essay will add is a discussion of factual or contextual evidence relevant to your argument (e.g., a summary of the important parts of the terms of service for both Google+ and Facebook), a discussion of which expert opinions offer the best answers or clearest guidance and why (e.g., some experts fail to take into account studies that show changing attitudes to the significance of privacy as a social value, so the opinions of those experts are less useful than the opinions of experts who do take into account changing attitudes toward privacy), and your own conclusions regarding the open question or point of disagreement you've chosen to address (e.g., which service offers the best approach to protecting users' privacy, based on all of the available evidence and your own personal knowledge of the subject).

Like the two previous essays, the research essay will have a beginning, middle, and end--or an introduction, argument/analysis, and conclusion--and it will be organized into sections and paragraphs according to a logical organizational plan. For example, after providing an overview of the topic, the open question or point of disagreement you are addressing, and your thesis in the introduction, you might organize the argument/analysis into three sections: discussion of what your research shows are some of the main issues to consider when evaluating whether a social networking service provides adequate protection for user privacy (literature review), comparison and contrast of the main sections of the terms of service for Facebook and Google+, and evaluation of the two services in light of the criteria established through your research and outlined in the first section of the argument/analysis. Then within each section, you would organize the discussion into paragraphs. So, for example, within the first section dealing with criteria for evaluating how well a particular social network protects user privacy, you might have three or four paragraphs, each of which discusses a different criterion and its relative importance. You will end the essay with a conclusion that does more than simply restate the thesis. For example, in the Facebook/Google+ essay, your conclusion might offer a few final thoughts on why, even though Facebook may do a better job than Google+, it still has room for improvement in a few key areas.

The research essay, like the literature review essay, will be relatively formal in tone. You can use first person, but the discussion should be balanced between summarizing, analyzing, and evaluating the research you've done, and using that research to support your own thoughts and arguments about your topic. The essay should be more than a summary of your own ideas about the open question or point of disagreement you're addressing. It should clearly demonstrate how your ideas and views are supported by and fit into the broader conversation described in your literature review essay. Your research essay should provide specific evidence drawn from your research in support of each of the claims you make in support of your argument and about each of the claims you make about the state of the conversation surrounding the topic you're addressing. In order to be effective, your essay must offer a persuasive argument, grounded in research and logically presented. It must also demonstrate your awareness and understanding of multiple perspectives and points of view regarding your issue, even though you may also be answering the question of which of those perspectives and points of view are most useful, or right, and which are less useful, or wrong. You must also demonstrate your awareness and understanding of the general audience you are addressing, that is me and your peers.

So what will make your essay multimodal? In your essay, in addition to citing your sources and including a works cited, you will include hyperlinks to web-based sources. You may also choose to include images, charts and graphs, or infographics in support or illustration of your argument. And of course, as we've learned, even a plain text essay is multimodal. You will choose a font, spacing, margins, and layout that matches the tone and audience for your essay

Project 6: Portfolio

Because this project is intended to help you either begin or polish a professional portfolio that can be used outside the context of this course, the portfolio you create will be a hybrid academic/professional portfolio that will accomplish the following goals:

  • Demonstrate through examples of multimodal exposition and written reflection a knowledge of relevant rhetorical terms and concepts and an ability to apply these terms and concepts in your own academic research and writing process;
  • Demonstrate individual intellectual growth, significant accomplishments, and important contributions in this course;
  • Demonstrate the technological competencies you have employed and developed over the course of the semester;
  • Offer a big-picture narrative of the course, its themes, its goals, and its final learning outcomes;
  • Offer a well-organized, well-designed, and engaging user experience

The audiences for the portfolio will simultaneously be me--as the evaluator of your progress and learning in the course this semester and of your revised artifacts, the intended audience(s) for the artifacts you are revising and including in the portfolio, and potential employers or other outside evaluators interested in learning about your qualifications and experience.

Your portfolio will be hosted on a WordPress site provided through sites.gsu.edu.

Required Deliverables: The portfolio should accomplish the pedagogical goal of engaging you in meta-cognitive reflection regarding your learning over the course of the semester. For that reason, you will select three project artifacts to reflect upon (you may include more than three, but you must have at least three). You must revise at least one of these artifacts, and the best portfolios often demonstrate substantial revision of all of the artifacts included. Each artifact selected for inclusion in the portfolio should be introduced by a short (150-250 words) process narrative that includes discussion of the following things:

  • the process for creating the original final draft,
  • what you learned through peer review, my evaluation, and class discussions, and
  • how you revised the artifact in response to feedback and using knowledge and skills gained over the course of the semester (for at least one, and possibly all three artifacts)

In your selection of artifacts for your portfolio, please follow these guidelines:

  • Each of the three artifacts must be from a different project. Thus, you cannot, for example, select two blog posts and another project artifact (multimodal annotated bibliography, literature review, or research essay) as your three portfolio artifacts.
  • For the artifact(s) you choose to revise, you should preserve your original final draft for reference and possibly even display in your portfolio, in order to demonstrate what changes you made during your revision process between the original final draft(s) and your revised portfolio version(s).

You may include more than three artifacts in your portfolio, but you must choose at least three to reflect upon. Similarly, you may revise more than one of your portfolio artifacts, but you must revise at least one. You draw material for your process narratives from the reflections that you've written for Projects 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Further, the goals outlined above include demonstrating your intellectual growth, significant accomplishments, and important contributions in this course. To that end, the portfolio must include a cover letter or introductory reflective essay (500-750 words) that describes what you have learned and how you have improved your academic research and writing processes and rhetorical knowledge over the course of the semester, using the three artifacts and your revision(s) as supporting evidence.

Optional Deliverables: In class, after going over the project goals and required deliverables, we generated a list of contents that would be useful to include in a portfolio along with the required elements. These include, but are not limited to, a personal biography, a digital version of your resume, a list of courses you've taken. If you have questions about what, in addition to the required portfolio elements, you would like to include on your portfolio site, I am happy to discuss them with you.

Project duration:

  • Semester-long project
  • Final Portfolios due Friday, May 1 at 9:00 am

Useful Resources:

  • "Creating a Successful Online Portfolio," Sean Hodge, Smashing Magazine, March 4, 2008: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/03/04/creating-a-successful-online-portfolio/
  • University of Washington Expository Writing Program ePortfolio example: "QLiu": https://sites.google.com/a/uw.edu/qliu-portfolio/ (note, while the organizational format and requirements for this portfolio are different from those in this course, the reflections, the student's descriptions of how each piece evolved through the process, the discussion of the student's own evolution as a writer over the course of the program, and the manner in which exhibits and reflections are linked into a seamless document provide useful examples of strategies that you may find helpful in putting together the portfolio for this course)
  • University of Miami, Ohio The Best of Portfolios 2012 and The Best of Portfolios 2013 (Here again, use these examples to get a better understanding of the portfolio and particularly the reflective essay as a composition genre, rather than as "go by" documents or forms that you are trying to replicate)
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