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English 3844 provides both a theoretical and a practical introduction to writing with and for digital media, including content management systems and social media platforms.


By the end of the semester, you should be able to:

  1. write with, and for, digital media, working both independently and in teams.
  2. conceive of, produce, and use digital images, video, and audio.
  3. identify, analyze, and respond to the theoretical assumptions underpinning the development and use of digital media.
  4. navigate, set up, and optimize social media sites for developing and distributing digital content.
  5. recognize and use basic HTML and CSS syntax.
  6. understand the organization and distribution of information by search engines.

Required Resources

  1. Course website:
  2. Kristin L. Arola, Cheryl E. Ball, & Jennifer Sheppard. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014.
  3. Additional required and recommended readings and resources will be available on the course sites.
  4. A blog (or a self-hosted blog or a Blogs@VT site) for your course Web Portal.
  5. Dependable computer and Internet access. All work is submitted online for this course. Earbuds or headphones can be useful in class.
  6. Access to general software for text and image editing. Depending upon your choices, you may also need access to video and/or audio editing software, cameras, and audio recorders. Most of what you need is available in InnovationSpace.


Communication Guidelines: Email is the best way to contact me. You can email me at I do not respond to students at any other address. I try to answer student email within 24 hours on weekdays and within 48 hours on weekends and holidays.

Absences: Class attendance and participation are important to doing well in this course. I take roll at the beginning of each session. If you are late for class, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have not been marked absent. If you miss a deadline because of an illness, death in the family, or family emergency, see the Student Advocacy page from the Dean of Students Office for details on how to document the situation.

If you have an issue that affects your ability to complete the course, you may qualify for Academic Relief. For personal medical issues, contact the Schiffert Health Center, and for psychiatric or psychological issues, contact the Cook Counseling Center.

Work Guidelines: All work and participation in this course is governed by the Undergraduate Honor System and the Virginia Tech Principles of Community. All work submitted for this course must be your own; the work of others must be cited in your project documentation.

Equal Access and Opportunity: If you need special accommodations in this course, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) in 310 Lavery Hall (above the Turner Place Dining Center) as soon as possible to ensure that you have the resources you need to participate in the class. I am happy to work with the SSD staff to make sure that you have the support you need.

Late Policy:
In-class work: Every week, you will complete writing activities that you will submit online. This work is due during your class period. If you cannot complete the work in class, you have until 5 PM the next day to submit it; however, you may lose the benefit of getting feedback from your peers.

Projects: You will compose four projects, which you will submit online. Each major project will have a due date, a grace period, and a deadline:

  1. The due date is the day that your major project is due. Every student has a one-week grace period after the due date during which the project can still be submitted.
  2. The grace period occurs between the due date and the deadline. Work submitted during the grace period will be marked as late in Scholar; however, there is no grade penalty for work submitted during the grace period.  You do not need to ask in advance or explain why your work is late. Note that  we will not work on the projects in class after the due date nor will I be available to provide feedback on your work in progress or final submission after the due date. 
  3. The deadline comes one week after the due date and is the final day that a project will be accepted.There are no extensions on deadlines. You must submit your work by the deadline to receive credit for your project.

Project Presentations and Final Exam: There are no extensions or make-ups on these activities. You must submit your final exam by the end of the scheduled exam period to receive credit for your work.

Religious Holidays: Please take advantage of the grace period explained in the Late Policy section above if the due date for any work in this class coincides with a religious holiday that you celebrate. Please let me know before the event if  the grace period will not be adequate.

Backups: Save backups of all your work for this class and maintain backups in multiple places (your laptop, a flash drive, Google Docs, etc.). Printed backups can also be useful. Do not discard any files, notes, or other work until the term is over and you have received your final grade. If you need assistance with your computer, check with InnovationSpace or Customer Support Center (4Help).

Class Logistics: Please hold your questions until I have the computer logged in and set up for the session. I begin each class sessions with the roll. Once everyone is accounted for, I go over any announcements and the plans for the day. I can answer any general questions during this time as well. I try to talk for less than 15 minutes (I hate lectures). After talking about the day’s plan, I will ask you to work in class, either in groups, in pairs, or independently. Be prepared to work every class session by having your files and relevant resources with you or available online. Starting in February, I will remind you to write your daily blog post  at the end of most sessions.

Tentative Course Requirements and Grading

You must complete all assignments and requirements in order to pass this course. Your final grade includes the following requirements:

Four projects, along with related drafts and other artifacts. You will work on four projects (listed below) that focus on different modes of expression and go beyond words on a page (or screen) to include audio, video, and images.  There are no rewrites or revisions after work is graded.

  1. Project 1: Create a Statement of Your Online Identity (Digital Image). Due January 30.
  2. Project 2: Build a Web Portal for the Course  (HTML/CSS). Due February 20.
  3. Project 3: Interrogate an Interface (Web Essay with Presentation). Presentations March 23 to 27; Due March 30.
  4. Project 4: Remix a Story (Digital Narrative with Presentation). Presentations April 29 to May 6; Due May 6.

Participation, quizzes, forum posts, and blog posts. You will write and create smaller projects each week. These weekly activities include reading responses, text analysis, and reflections, as well as working on your major assignments and exploring digital composing tools. You will also read and provide thoughtful, substantive feedback on your peers’ work.

Take-Home Final Exam. You will write a course completion report (essentially a performance review).

  1. CRN #13324 (10:10 MWF course): Due by 3:05 PM on Friday, May 8.
  2. CRN #20269 (11:15 MWF course): Due by 9:45 AM on Friday, May 8.

Course Expectations

In the workplace, you are either assessed as unsatisfactory, satisfactory, or exemplary, based on your performance. I will grade your work according to a similar, performance-based grading system. Just as happens in the workplace, you will be asked to complete certain tasks. The amount of effort that you put into accomplishing those tasks will determine the grade you receive at the end of the term.

In this system, there are only three grades assigned for projects and other work in this course:

Unsatisfactory This work is incomplete, has errors, was submitted after the deadline, or was not submitted at all. It may have significant errors in content, design, style, and/or organization. It shows that the writer didn’t put in much effort and wasn’t doing her best work.
Satisfactory This work is complete and generally error free. It meets the requirement of the assignment fully, and it shows strong effort on the writer’s part.
Exemplary This work meets and goes beyond the requirements of satisfactory work. It is strong, amazing work that dazzles.

Course attendance and participation are also graded on this three-part scale. Here’s an example for attendance:

Unsatisfactory You miss several class sessions and rarely provide any documentation. You may also be late or unprepared. It appears as if this course is not a priority for you.
Satisfactory You attend nearly every class session. You have documented explanations for your absences from health services or the dean’s office. You are always on time and ready to work.
Exemplary You have perfect attendance. You are always on time and ready to work.

Everyone begins this course with a B (above-average) grade, or an 85 in the Scholar gradebook. To maintain a B or higher, you must attend class, work while you are in the classroom,  turn in all four projects, pass the majority of the quizzes, and complete the forum and blog posts. As long as everything you do is satisfactory, you will earn a B for the course. If a significant portion of your work is Exemplary, you can earn an A for the course. The grade you earn is up to the you and the amount of effort you put into the course.

No one, in my experience, aims for a C, D, or F; so I have not included any explanation for how to complete average or below-average work. If you really want a lower grade, just do super sloppy work, miss classes, forget to turn in your work, or generally fail to meet the requirements of the course. If you fail to meet the requirements for a B by the end of the term, I will use my evaluation notes to determine whether you have earned a C, D, or F for your final grade.

I will provide notes on your work in the ungraded Ongoing Participation Details assignment in Scholar. If you haven’t heard anything, you are on target for at least satisfactory performance.  If you are not on target for at least a B grade, I will post details on your work with suggestions on what you need to do to improve your work in the Ongoing Participation Details assignment.

In the case that numerical calculations are necessary, I use the default grade scale in  Scholar, and the Scholar  gradebook manages all the mathematics. I do not round grades. I do not provide rewrites or extra credit for people who have not met satisfactory performance goals.