Monday, March 24, 2014

MARE: Multimodal Assignments, Responses, and Evaluations

Workshop Overview

google images from assigning multimodal composition search
Google image search for "assigning multimodal composition"

This will be a discussion where you'll discover, I wager, that you'll learn more from  colleagues than you will from me, but that's as it should be. Many of you are already  doing multimodal assignments -- digital assignments where students do more than compose in a word processor a document that could just as well have been composed on a typewriter. Some of you, no doubt, have students write in blog; others perhaps have assignments where students create videos that post to YouTube, or audio assignments that post to SoundCloud, or presentations in Prezi or Wix or Google Sites or Creativist or Medium or . . . well, you get the idea. So what we'll focus on in this discussion is each person imagining and beginning to plan for adding another layer to wherever they are, whatever they do, with a multimodal assignment to add either more multi or more modal to it.

Central Goal

To create a new, or amend an existing, multimodal assignment which does the following:

  • Enriches, if possible, the multimodal assignment. Enrichment may come from adding more multimodal elements (audio to something that only uses images, for example), the scope and purpose of the assignment in the course, or some other change that makes the assignment more central.
  • Draft the assignment to meet these three criteria:
    1. Makes clear to students how the assignment fits in with and meets course goals.
    2. Makes clear to students how the assignment is to be done -- its requirements, resources, procedures, and process.
    3. Makes clear to students, if you grade individual assignments, how the assignment will be graded. What criteria, rubric, premise for summative evaluation will be used. Or, if you contract grade or portfolio assess and do not grade individual assignments, makes clear to students how you and they will consider the assignment when coming to the final grade for the course.
Google image from search of "assigning multimodal writing"

Discussion Questions -- We'll Use the Blog Comments to Record Thoughts/Sketch Assignments

What's your next step? What will it take to layer in more to an assignment? How will your students respond to it, to each other in peer review? How will you respond to their work?  And a different question, how will you evaluate it -- both in the economy of the course grade and as an assignment that needs to fit into the ecology of the course goals and outcomes?

These are fun questions, open ended, and premised on the idea that what is doable is possible, given a first step and the joy of experimenting with teaching and learning. So, to circle back to the pun -- because we're in Louisville -- let's gather and ride the ideas for our MAREs.

Resources for Teaching Multimodal Writing

From Bedford/St. Martin's:

Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects by Kristin L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl E. Ball. (see citation below from authors in Hybrid Pedagogy for theoretical framework that informs this book.)

Integrating Multimodality into Your Teaching by Danielle Nicole DeVoss, Michigan State

Sample Chapter from Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Write by Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Zander Cannon. (Chapter 4: Argument, Beyond Pro and Con -- not about multimodal composition, but useful as a prelude to the video below, which explores how multimodal projects can radically alter the writing/creative process.)

The Making of Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing  by Bedford/St. Martin's

From Other Good Places:

TheJUMP: The Journal for Undergraduate Multimedia Projects, edited by Justin Hodgson

Kairos, A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, edited by Cheryl E. Ball

Arola, Kristin; Sheppard, Jennifer, & Ball, Cheryl E. (2014, Jan. 10). Multimodality as a frame for individual and institutional change. Hybrid Pedagogy. Retrieved from

A Pedagogy of Multi-Literacies: Concepts of Design, from The New London Group

Speaking with Students: Profiles in Digital Pedagogy interviews by Virginia Kuhn

Because Digital Writing Matters by Danielle Nicole DeVoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks

Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives -- OSU English and DMAC

Special Issue: Making the Implicit Explicit in Assessing Multimodal Composition, Technical Communication Quarterly, Volume 21, Issue 1, 2012, edited by Susan M. Katz and Lee Odell

Assessing Multimodal Compositions. Kent State Writing Program

McKee, Heidi A., and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss DeVoss, Eds. Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2013. Web.

Journet, Debra, Cheryl Ball, and Ryan Trauman, Eds. The New Work of Composing. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2012. Web.

Borton, Sonya C., Brian Huot. "Responding and Assessing." Multimodal Composition: Resources for Teachers. Ed. Cynthia L. Selfe. Cresskill: Hampton Press, Inc., 2007. 99-111. (Word Doc)

"Ideological Foundations of Formative and Summative Assessment Processes in English 303: Visual Rhetoric and Document Design," by Kristen Dayle Welch, Longwood University -- a well-done conference paper account of one teacher's assessment choices for multimodal assignments used in her course.

Liz Losh's YouTube Description of her Digital Rhetoric Course

Not multimodal specifically, but important:

Andrea Lunsford on the Myths of Digital Literacy:

Paul Krebs "Next Time, Fail Better."

"Start Where Your Students Are." and "Know Where Your Students are Going," chapters 1 and 2 from

Never Work Harder than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching by Robyn R. Jackson.

Peter Elbow. "Ranking, Evaluating, Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms of Judgment." College English 55.2 (1994): 187-206. Available at:  

Peg Syverson, "The Five (or Six) Dimensions of Learning," Learning Record Online at

Some Free Multimodal Composing Tools 

Wix  -- Easy to use site/service for creating visually rich Web sites.

Creativist  -- Multimedia projects for apps, ebooks, and the Web.

Jing  -- Easy to Use Screen Capture Software -- record up to five minutes of video by TechSmith

Audacity -- Sourceforge's fee recording and audio editing software