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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. Kristin L. Arola, Cheryl E. Ball, and Jennifer Sheppard. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014.
  2. Additional required and recommended readings and resources will be available on the course sites.
  3. A blog (or a self-hosted blog or a Blogs@VT site) for your course Web Portal.
  4. Dependable computer and Internet access. All work is submitted online for this course.
  5. 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.

Tentative Course Requirements

You must complete all major assignments and requirements in order to pass this course. Your final grade is calculated on this distribution:

75% Three major projects, along with related drafts and other artifacts. You will work on three 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: Build a Web Portal for the Course  (HTML/CSS). Worth 15%.
  2. Project 2: Interrogate an Interface (Web Essay with Presentation.  Worth 20%.
  3. Project 3: Remix a Story (Digital Narrative with Presentation).  Worth 40%.
15% Participation, 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.
10% Take-Home Final Exam. You will write a revision plan for one of the projects you have completed. Due by 3:05 PM on Friday, December 12.


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. I’ll reply to messages sent during Thanksgiving Break on November 30.

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.

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 and counts as part of your participation grade. This work is relevant to the activities that will take place in the class session. If you cannot complete the work in class, you have until 5 PM the next day to submit it; however you will lose the benefit of getting feedback from your peers in most cases.

Projects: You will compose three 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. You will receive a zero for any work that is not submitted by the deadline. There are no extensions on deadlines.

Project Presentations and Final Exam: There are no extensions or make-ups on these activities. You will receive a zero if you miss your presentations as well as if you fail to submit your final exam by the end of the scheduled exam period.

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, your Va Tech Drop Box). 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. Be sure that you maintain backups so that you can continue your work when you encounter computer problems. If you need assistance with your computer, check with InnovationSpace or Customer Support Center (4Help).

Grading: I use the default grade scale in  the Scholar gradebook. The gradebook manages all the mathematics. I do not round grades. Specific grading guidelines will be provided for each assignment. 

Grade Scale Description
Excellent, outstanding work that

  1. exceeds requirements for the assignment.
  2. demonstrates originality and mastery of the objectives or material.
  3. addresses audience, purpose, and voice with expertise through the savvy use of rhetorical strategies.
  4. contains no errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.

Good to very good work that

  1. meets all requirements for the assignment.
  2. demonstrates above-average insight and a thorough understanding of the objectives or material.
  3. addresses audience, purpose, and voice well with the appropriate use of specific rhetorical strategies.
  4. contains only minor errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.

Satisfactory or fair work that

  1. meets most of the requirements for the assignment.
  2. demonstrates a basic understanding of the objectives or material, but relies on generic or predictable techniques.
  3. addresses most aspects of audience, purpose, and voice with rhetorically-appropriate strategies.
  4. contains several minor errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.
Fair to poor work that

  1. meets some, but not all, of the requirements for the assignment.
  2. demonstrates a partial understanding of the objectives or material.
  3. addresses some aspects of audience, purpose, and voice, and/or inconsistently uses rhetorical strategies.
  4. contains one or two major errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.
F Unacceptable work that is flawed by one or moreof the following characteristics:

  1. does not meet the requirements of the assignment.
  2. demonstrates little understanding of the objectives or material.
  3. fails to address audience, purpose, and/or voice and/or uses rhetorical strategies incompletely or incorrectly.
  4. contains several major errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.


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