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) Originally designed as a poster presentation for the Digital Pedagogy Poster session at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in March 2014, this webtext approximates the feel of that format in the design of this article by implementing the talking heads and other visual components.
Given the local epidemic spike in pedestrian injuries for Duval County, Florida, the designer resorted to a striking poster design that utilizes a high-contrast image of vertically oriented double yellow lines against black asphalt as a primary means of catching the viewer’s attention.
The repetition of the yellow in the slogan (“BE SEEN”) connects the text and imagery, and the use of turquoise, green, and red in the line “WEAR BRIGHT COLORS” reinforces the semantic message. Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press.
As Jeffrey Selingo (2015) argued, while student motivation in MOOCs varies tremendously (for professional credentialing, supplementing real-world class content, or as a test-run before entering college), “What seems mostly to drive students to take a MOOC (and finish it) is their interest in the subject matter” (ch. Letting them cater the assignments to their own interests, then, seemed like a no-brainer. As Tyler Branson (2015) discussed in his developing dissertation at Texas Christian University analyzing the discourse surrounding writing-focused MOOCs, conversation in the field reflects continued uncertainty about the possibilities for Rhetoric and Composition in these new digital spaces; a more concerted engagement with the public, he argued, is one way for the field to play a more engaged, deliberate role in MOOCs and related online educational experiences.
From our assignment design, with its focus on impactful social concerns, to the promotion and cultivation of spaces to discuss and share work as it evolved, we sought to address what Jeff Rice (2013) critiqued as a deficit of affect in more conventional MOOC structures consisting of static lectures, quizzes, and assignments. To that end, it’s largely by getting in there and mixing it up that we in the discipline come to understand how we can better participate, and even lead, in this emerging era of educational technologies. How writing goes public: Agitation, intervention, and disruption in public arguments about writing.
The multimodal fun didn’t stop with the submission of the assignments.
Even after PSAs were submitted and reviewed, some participants continued to engage in production of videos and graphics and shared their work with others in the course.
The further challenge for us as co-designers of a unit and assignment on the topic of visual rhetoric involved the mechanics of creating, submitting, reviewing, and revising multimodal projects within the technological and geographical constraints of the hosting program, Coursera, and the Internet. An instructional team from OSU implemented a Coursera-based writing MOOC called “Rhetorical Composing.” As the title suggests, this ten-week course focuses on rhetorical theory—concepts of audience, purpose, genre, and other contextual concerns—as the foundation for the curriculum.
In this Praxis Wiki article, we describe and reflect on our experience from inside our MOOC, Writing II: Rhetorical Composing. During the course, participants complete and discuss several writing and multimodal composing assignments utilizing various aspects of rhetorical theory, including a written literacy narrative, a follow-up comparative analysis combining several narratives, and a piece of public discourse that incorporates outside research.
We knew that the scale of the course and the varied demographics of our students were not compatible with traditional methods for teaching and learning writing. and having little implicit structure, allowing structure to emerge according to the needs of the users” (Wikipedia, 2015) (arguably the most expansive wiki on the planet)—we have focused here on the expectations that guided our initial assignment design; the exigencies that required significant adjustments; and the delightful surprises that confounded our assumptions about student engagement in an online self-assessment environment.
As a team, we sought to design a new experience that was interactive, engaging, collaborative, and conducive to learning. We hope this will be useful for scholars and teachers interested in teaching multimodal rhetorical argument online, either within or without the constraints of a MOOC.