Studies in Writing & Rhetoric (Eng 6890)

This course, targeted at masters students in the Literature and Writing program, is a graduate-level special topics class.

Fall 2005 semester summary
I was asked to teach this online class—my first online teaching experience—so that distance students in the now-defunct online Literature & Writing program could finish their coursework. I focused on literary hypertext and aesthetic new media texts. Students read theory about and produced several genres of digital literary texts. The course was taught completely at a distance through Syllabase (USU’s own CMS), primarily using discussion forums.

Although it was a new prep in a new medium of delivery for me, overall I believe the course went well despite a rocky start regarding my trying to understand differing time management and assignment issues in an online learning space. The students enrolled in this class included those in the Literature and Writing, Online Technical Communication, American Studies, and Theory and Practice of Professional Communication graduate degrees. Each strand of our graduate program is represented because the class fulfills requirements in each while crossing interdisciplinary boundaries, depending on the topic. This class’s focus on literary hypertext and new media texts crosses academic boundaries, bringing together the tech comm and literature students, for instance, into some insightful discussions from different viewpoints.

  • sections taught in department this term: 1
  • number of students enrolled: 13

teaching innovations
This was the first online class I taught. It is also the first graduate class for which I have been the instructor of record, and it was a new prep for me. Although it got off to a rocky start because of my inexperience teaching solely online, it matured into a class and a medium I enjoy.

The main innovation I feel I have introduced to this special topics class is that of having students produce complicated new media texts at a distance. Learning to troubleshoot technological (as well as pedagogical) issues from a distance has helped me to rethink how I teach the same information in face-to-face classes like Professional Writing Technologies (3410) and to not take that knowledge for granted. Several final projects from this course have been featured in conference presentations and articles I have published.

narrative and numeric evaluations
Because Fall 2005 was the first semester that online evaluation forms were made available to distance students, only one student participated in filling a form out. Continuing Education, the department which oversees online course evaluations, mislabeled which class this evaluation was from (attaching it to an onsite, undergraduate course from the same semester). Thus, I do not have reliable evaluation data to show from this course.

accompanying materials

see also