Courses I’d be into Teaching

Coding and Conventions for Online Writing (200-300 level)

The rise of new media has had profound effect on how and what we write – and professional writing is no exception. A successful digital writer does a lot more than cut and paste – they use uniquely digital resources to power up written language, creating texts that can speak directly to their online situations. This course will give you a strong set of digital composing strategies and teach you how to use them effectively with the ones already in your writing toolbox. You’ll research the history, conventions, and trends of online writing within a field or genre that interests you, and explore how individuals and organizations construct and distribute knowledge within electronic spaces. You’ll practice composing effective digital texts in a range of genres and styles, and complete a collaborative online project suitable for inclusion in a professional portfolio.

This course is designed around the belief that all digital code, including markup languages like HTML, is rhetorical – and therefore it is an essential part of effectively critiquing and composing digital texts. As such, you’ll practice the basics of composing with markup languages throughout the semester, and learn how to use these simple techniques to boost the rhetorical impact of your written language. It doesn’t take a computer science degree to write with code – just a grasp of the general principles and a willingness to seek out and experiment with more complex ones as the need arises.

 

Video Games and Learning (Subtitle: Everyone I Know Works in Digital Learning)

Video games are a powerful way to engage and inspire learning. They can also be a powerful medium for storytelling – one that many digital literacy scholars believe helps to drive that unique learning engagement. What does the power of video games to engage and instruct us mean for society? How might that power be used to transform learning both inside and beyond the classroom?

This course is designed to explore these questions the same way video games do themselves: through interdisciplinary, multimodal learning. We’ll read work from prominent games+learning scholars, and play a wide range of games – mostly independent or openware ones, but a few more prominent titles as well. Thanks to the magic of Skype, we’ll be able to talk directly to the designers for some of these games, as well as with other digital learning professionals – creating a unique chance for open dialogue between students, educators, and industry professionals. In addition to writing about the course’s ideas, you’ll also collaborate to produce games of your own using open-source platforms like Twine.

 

Opening the Archives: Digital and Cultural Logics

“The digital is the realm of the open. Anything that attempts to close this space should be recognized for what it is: the enemy.” – The Digital Humanities Manifesto (UCLA 2009)

This common view of information access as a moral imperative has led to some valuable and exciting digital knowledge projects – including Google itself. But this view can also blind us to the political and cultural implications of this openness. The information within those open-access bytes was created in a local context – one that isn’t necessarily compatible with the universal access missions that characterize digital curation today. How can we use digital technologies to unite people through information while also respecting their differences?

This class explores this question in both theory and practice. You’ll learn about theories of digital curation and information design. We’ll examine both the history and the results of the universal access movement, and consider what these digital advancements mean for the groups whose knowledge may eventually become part of these projects. Then, in the second half of the course, we’ll work with a pair of [University X] digital archivists to create a digital archive for a local community partner – one designed to respect their stories as well as preserve them. Partners for similar projects in the past have included community literacy programs, housing and farming cooperatives, and the Southern Wisconsin Hmong Organization. [inspiration shoutout: Kimberly Christen Withey and her amazing C&W keynote this summer]

Image Credit: Kentucky Route Zero, Cardboard Computer

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