Two courses in digital writing, Fall 2020

For the first time EVER, the English Department will be offering two courses in digital writing in a single semester.

If you’re looking for a course that emphasizes professional practice, check out “Writing for the Web.”

If you’re looking for a course that is more about digital culture, check out “Rhetoric in a Digital Age.”

Full descriptions are below! 

For some more as to how either of these courses might fit into your academic/professional development, check out this recently-published blog post.

Rhetoric in a Digital Age | Fall 2020

“Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” —Aristotle, Rhetoric, ~350 B.C.E.

Rhetoric has a long, enduring legacy. With each new social, cultural, and technological revolution, people have turned to the study of rhetoric to: 1. understand how the stakes and processes of persuasion have changed and 2. identify how to effectively persuade others to action.

In this class, we will be studying rhetoric, paying special attention to the interfaces and templates of the social and commercial web. We will specifically be looking at how interfaces and templates persuade people to act in particular ways: especially in the digital spaces where people shop, communicate, date, and die.

After tracing the effects of these spaces on our daily acts of persuasion, students will plan, pitch, and market a redesigned online space where people might find new ways to act and live online.

Unlike “Writing for the Web” which is much more keyed to the practice of professional writing online, this course resembles a more traditional humanities course. About 2/3 of the course will involve reading, discussion, and analysis supported by a couple of short-form projects. And the final 1/3 will focus on the production of a final, digital project: a digital wireframe/mock-design of a newly designed social space; and a webpage where you will publish and present your wireframe.

Students are not required to have a large digital skillset to succeed in the course. But some experience with webpage development (WordPress) and document design (Canva) will be helpful.

“Writing for the Web” | Fall 2020

This course is a digital, professional writing course focused on providing students experience in content-work: a new writing profession focused on producing, managing, designing, and editing messages that circulate across platforms and media.

These content-worker jobs go by many titles; some are: content analyst; content designer; content editor; content specialist; content writer; professional writer; social media coordinator; social media specialist; social media writer; web content analyst; web content editor; web content strategist—and whatever newly-minted title in the next 10 minutes. These jobs are appearing across domains—non-profit, government, higher-ed, private industry—and across industries: tech, medicine, sales, real estate, PR/marketing.

This course will come in three parts: each designed to help students develop knowledge and practice in content-work.

  • In the first part of the course, students will learn about and practice social media marketing in Mimic Social: a piece of simulation software ($60). At the end of this unit, students will be familiar with how to run effective paid ads, contract influencers, and adapt messages for distribution across the major social media platforms. Students will also be certified in Mimic Social, an increasingly standard resume-credential for content-workers.
  • In the second part of the course, students will gain experience with multimedia production. Students will draw on the reading and practice developed in the first part of the course to produce a short podcast about a social-media-related issue.
  • In the third part of the course, students will make a two-page, search engine optimized (SEO) website to bolster your credibility as a podcast-maker and the findability of your podcast episode in Google Search.

Students are not required to have a large digital skillset to succeed in the course. But some experience with webpage development (WordPress) and sound editing (GarageBand) will be helpful.

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  1. Pingback: What’s Unique About This Course? | "Intro to Academic Writing"

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