Instructor Reflection – English is for Squares: Thomas Was Alone as a Classroom Text (5.2)

By Lance Cummings

March 11, 2014

Assignment/Project Reflection

Anne’s project, “English is for Squares: Thomas Was Alone as a Classroom Text,” is the final project of a second year course in Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Miami University of Ohio that was taught completely online in the summer, using mostly Google Apps (Google Docs, Google Slides, Google+, Google Hangouts, etc.). Previous to this project, Anne and her peers practiced using multimodality in smaller projects, while reflecting on how they used elements like design rhetorically. The intention was to increase student awareness of these available means of persuasion and prepare them for a major multimedia project that they would construct for a specific audience within a focal topic they researched all semester. For example, at the beginning of Anne’s project, she uses text, images, and animation to focus her audiences’ attention on the connections she makes in her script, as well as important statistics. This was informed by an earlier slidecast project. Also, the juxtaposition of video game play with literary texts was influenced by a remix project just before this final version.

What impresses me the most about Anne’s project is how she moves beyond each of these elements to create a more comprehensive project specifically addressed to her audience of teachers. Anne went beyond simply persuading teachers of the value of video games; she wanted “to build familiarity with video games through ethos, pathos, and logos,” as she mentions in her final reflection, showing an acute sense of audience. What attracts her to video games may not attract teachers, so she “attached pedagogical value to video games” through the “interplay between video game elements and multiple modes of text.” Her use of calming music and a professional voice-over amplifies this same effect. Through multiple modes, Anne transforms what would be an obscure, hard to understand game for most teachers into a fascinating game that can be read with a literary lens. Anne’s project does more than persuade; it changes how her audience sees text.