On January 19th a crowd of instructors gathered for an informative workshop led by assistant professor Dr. Brooke Rollins and featuring presentations by Dr. Amardeep Singh and Dr. Nicole Batchelor. For those unable to attend the event, we here at Drown Unbound have got you covered. While the idea of teaching a multimodal assignment may have seemed daunting at first, a few tips from the workshop presenters put everyone at ease.
The easiest way to think about the multimodal assignment is through the remediation model which asks students to recast an argument from an academic paper into another medium that appeals to a broader audience. The process requires students consider ways of making a public turn.
The four basic types of multimodal projects are:
Still Images – poster, advertisement, infographic
Audio – podcasts
Visual – short film, public service announcement, montage, mash-up
Publishing – webpages, social media pages
The Library Technology Services (LTS) offices have created a helpful page of Resources, Best Practices, and Tutorials for Multimedia Production. Instructors don’t have to know how to use all of these resources themselves, there are LTS professionals who can help students. And remember, students will probably have a lot to teach you!
Both Dr. Singh and Dr. Batchelor, who participated in the new English 002 pilot program last year, shared helpful tips for avoiding pitfalls and ensuring success. One suggestion is to limit the number of multimodal options. While some professors have a basic guideline asking students to create some kind of visual argument, others choose to limit students to a single medium such as a blog or a podcast so they can offer more guidance in an individual area. Dr. Batchelor offers students 8 options and provides a detailed assignment sheet for each that identifies medium-specific requirements. She also provides essential questions to get students started and offers examples of multimodal composition throughout the semester. Dr. Singh discussed the possibility of having all his students create blogs, thus allowing him to focus his attention on teaching the elements of a successful blog.
Dr. Batchelor suggests using methods of formative assessment to grade students. Possible methods include studio review sessions, student progress journals, and teacher progress assessment journals. Paying attention to the process that students go through can be very useful. If students meet for a conference and are given feedback, make a note and look for the change in the finalized product. A summative evaluation rubric handed out with the assignment helps to standardize the grading process and ease the nerves of students. In addition instructors are encouraged to require a short reflection to be turned in with the final project so that students can make their rhetorical intentions clear.
For many of us the idea of assigning a multimodal composition is new and seems quite different from the traditional essay. But, it should be approached with excitement not fear. Look forward to the creative and interesting projects students will complete.