Digital Writing

Four days until I have to turn in a course description for the WRT302 course
I’m teaching in the fall. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, keeping as much
as possible with the official
course description

WRT302: Advanced Writing Studio: Digital Writing
With the shift from writing the page to writing the screen we encounter both
expanded possibilities and new responsibilities for assembling images, text, audio and
video.  In WRT302, we will compose new media texts while engaging issues at
the crossroads of writing activity and specific digital technologies.  The
course will balance experimentation and application with conceptual
approaches; in addition to reading about and exploring online tools, students
will propose and develop a series of projects that extend from our
investigations of specific sites and applications, including simple web pages, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, video, and tag-based systems such as Flickr and  Opening lines of inquiry involve the following questions:  What
is gained and lost in the transition from the page to the screen? What are the
practices and techniques we might associate with digital writing? How do
digital texts circulate? How are they read and by whom? How are acts of
digital writing implicated with choices about navigation, links, and code?
This course will also foreground invention, design, usability and
accessibility.  All students are encouraged to enroll. No previous
experience with computers is required; however, some familiarity with basic
uses of technology will be helpful. Email dmueller -at- for more information.

I welcome all critique and insight. I’m hesitant to include the phrase "new
responsibilities" in the first sentence.  The final point about previous
experience is messy, too.  Is it common to be explicit about experience with
technologies going into a course like this one? I haven’t committed to any readings
yet, but I have a few highly-probables, and I’ve ordered a desk copy of

this techxbook
, fresh off the press.  The projects, too, will have to be only
provisionally defined/outlined because I won’t know the ease-with-tech felt by
the students until I meet them.


  1. hmm..what do you mean when you say new responsibilities? job responsibilities? text portabilities or usabilities? new constraints? It sounds like a fun course!

    I’ve just received a desk copy of the text you linked. I haven’t had time to look at it yet, but I thought it looked very interesting from the website.

    Just curious…where does 302 fall in the hierarchy of courses, if you have such at thing?

  2. Hey Marcia,

    With “new responsibilities,” I’m thinking of a number of problems related to ethos, self-identification, usability/accessibility, IP/sharing/authorship and the ratio of free play to intelligibility as a constraining force. One might argue that these responsibilities aren’t so new, really, and to that, I’d suggest that it’s worthwhile for emerging digital writers to understand these issues (perhaps differently than they understand them relative to the conventions of print).

    302 is an upper division course offered as part of SU’s writing minor. As I understand it, I can expect to have students enroll from our visual and performaing arts college (VPA), arts and sciences, and information and also from information science and technology (IST). It’s also a relatively new course; it was approved in 2004, and I think it’s been taught twice before in our program, which reminds me that I need to hit up the folks who taught it before for their syllabi–just to see what good stuff they had going on.

  3. Derek,

    You said “All students are encouraged to enroll. No previous experience with computers is required; however, some familiarity with basic uses of technology will be helpful.”
    I think it’s a good thing for a statement like this to be included. If it wasn’t there and I read the course description, I would be apprehensive about signing up, as I am not that computer literate. Like most, I know how to turn it on and access the things I need to access, but searching the Internet for things is a very daunting task. And don’t even get me started on HTML. Your statement will help those students like me that want to expand their knowedge of writing, to include web writing, but might not be as computer saavy as most.

  4. It’s anybody’s guess whether prospective students will be drawn in by the note at the end of the course description. I want it to come off as welcoming for students like you describe–those who want to practice digital writing while getting a handle on some of the sites/applications available. On the other hand, if the course seems too basic, advanced students might see it as less useful for them. I guess this is just to say that it should be a course for all, provided they regard digital writing as compelling.

  5. Thanks for mentioning that text, btw–I asked my Longman rep to send me a copy. You’ll have to tell us what you like about it.

  6. I’ll do that. I’m trying to get a range of options for the course right now. I like many things about _Internet Invention_, _Writing New Media_, and _Writing About Cool_, but I wanted to check out the one I linked to above before deciding whether I’ll go with an entire book or develop a reader from selected chapters (out of these or others).

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