assignments

  1. Employment Project (Resume & Cover Letter) – 10%
  2. Visual Design Project – 10%
  3. Social Media Project – 15%
  4. Affective Video Project – 10%
  5. Nonprofit/Small Business Media Action Writing – 15%
  6. Portfolio – 20%
  7. Visual Commonplace Book – 10%
  8. Participation – 10%

NOTE: small changes to particular aspects of each assignment are possible.  If there is a situation where an alternative plan is more appropriate for a certain student in a certain instance, accommodations should be discussed with the instructor.

1. Employment Project

The goal for the first project is to develop tactics for finding and securing employment.  You are to identify an actual job advertisement for a position, organization, or business in which you are interested.  Depending on your individual course of study, this might be altered to include internships, graduate school, or service opportunities.  Your focus will be on the kinds of documents used regularly to represent your academic and professional achievements to potential employers.  More specifically, you will develop a resume and a cover letter for the real job ad you identify.

In addition, you will explore the emerging possibilities that exist (or might not exist yet) for getting this kind of information across to folks who could potentially hire you.  I am open to other ideas, but at the very least you should remix either your resume or your cover letter to include significant visual elements.  Two examples include a graphic illustration of a CV and a video cover letter.

You are responsible for the following by 9.24:

  • Traditional Resume (one page)
  • Traditional Cover Letter (one page)
  • Non-Traditional/Multimodal Version
  • The original job ad (as a separate PDF file)

Turn in the job ad, traditional resume, and cover letter as printed hard copies (3 pages). Depending on the parameters of your multimodal version you might send an email with an invitation to a prezi, a link to youtube, or printed hard copy.  Think of the presentation of these materials as you would if you were actually applying for a job.  Be professional.

Evaluation:

You will be graded on the choices you make with regard to audience, style, grammar, and tone.  Clarity and cohesion are important factors along with overall effectiveness/persuasiveness.

2. Visual Design Project

As the follow-up to the Design Practica and the classical imitation exercise, this assignment requires the creation of an original poster to advertise an organization of your choice. Begin by identifying an organization (local, national, or international) or small business that you would like to support.  I am fine with imagining a future small business.  While it may be easier to relate to a large international organization, I hope you take some time to search out a local organization that may actually be able to use your design for discernible change in this community.  You will need to take some time with the staff of the organization to identify their needs and their target audience.  Important considerations include AUDIENCE, STYLE, and CONTENT. The design should be sized to print at 11×17. Please include the following language and design elements.

  • Name and contact information of the organization
  • One geometric design element (square, line, circle)
  • One representational design element (vector art, photo, drawing)
  • At least 2 colors

Evaluation:

You will submit the project materially and digitally. In addition, you will compose a brief memo (150-300 words) introducing your design and explaining some of the design choices you made.  This memo should be addressed to the contact person at the organization/business for whom you are designing the poster.

Your grade will depend upon the utilization of design features (composition, color, fonts, etc) toward the overall effectiveness of the poster.  Adherence to the project parameters listed above is very important as are common sense considerations like grammar and audience appropriateness.

Due 10.6

3. Social Media Project

This project is designed to provoke thinking and action in emerging social media and technologically driven situations in nonprofit/small business contexts.  After class reading and discussion about information reports, you will compose a detailed analysis and instruction guide for a specific social media entity.  This report, which should be directed at a real organization, should give audience appropriate descriptions of this entity, how it is currently being used and by whom, and what benefits it may offer to your chosen organization.  Clarity is very important in this project. The social media entity should not already be in use by your organization.  This report should be roughly 5-7 pages (double spaced) of text and should be supplemented where appropriate by visuals (screenshots, pictures, drawings).  Note: 2 pages of text and 4 pages of visuals will not suffice.

Topic suggestions:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
  • Yik Yak
  • Geocaching
  • Snapchat

Evaluation:

You will be graded on the choices you make with regard to audience, style, grammar, and tone.  Clarity and cohesion are important factors along with overall effectiveness/persuasiveness.

Due 10.27

4. Affective Video Project

This project involves the development of a short video that explains the specific function/purpose/product of a local nonprofit organization/small business.  Following a model most commonly associated with the Kickstarter introduction video, you will plan, shoot, and edit a short promotional video and then post it online.  An important goal of the assignment is to explore the emotion generating potential of audio/visual texts, so your video should use text sparingly.  The affective/emotional impact of visuals and audio (voice) should be your primary focus.  Remember to consider the current style of your chosen organization when making production decisions.

Videos should be NO MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES in length and should be posted online (on your class YouTube page) by 12pm on November 17th.

You can source footage and music from archival sources or produce it yourself.  You have the choice of whether to include credits in your film.

Note: If the business/organization with which you are working is out of town, you may (sparingly) use some place-holder images.  This is with the understanding that you will continue to try and source media (perhaps over Thanksgiving) and will include the complete video as part of your portfolio at the end of the semester.

You should also compose a memo addressed to the organization explaining your production choices (music, pacing, edits, etc).  If you didn’t include credits in your film, you should include them as part of the memo.  The memo should be 1-2 pages in length, and you should take care to strictly follow a memo format.  The memo should be sent as an attachment to harmonb462(at)gmail.com along with the link to your video.  You might also embed the video and memo as a new blog entry.  (Be sure that the privacy settings in Youtube are set so that your video is public.  If for some reason you’d prefer to keep the privacy settings in place, see me for other possibilities.)

Evaluation:

You will be graded on the choices you make with regard to audience, style, grammar, and tone.  Clarity and cohesion are important factors along with overall effectiveness/persuasiveness, BUT as time and resources are limited, the aesthetic/technical polish of your video is less important.

5. Nonprofit/Small Business Media Action Writing

There are several options for the final assignment, and each is an opportunity for you to reach out to the community and put into practice a range of technical writing skills you have developed this semester.  You will choose an organization or small business and create a comprehensive package of communication across several mediums.  In order to give some structure to this effort, you will choose either Kickstarter (or a similar crowd-sourced fundraising platform) or Proving Ground as your focus.  Expand upon the media you created in the Visual Design Project, the Social Media Report, and the Affective Media Project to develop an entire Kickstarter campaign or Proving Ground application.  This includes all the writing and media associated with a typical campaign.  As in each project, take some time finding out specifics about the target audience for your organization and the fundraising/promotion practices already in place.  I encourage you to use media already created in previous projects as the starting point for this project.  This does not mean you can submit the SAME work unedited.  As there is limited time for peer review, I suggest re-reading Chapter 10 in TC and be extra careful with the revision/editing process.

For Kickstarter:

  • Project name
  • About
  • Risks/Problems
  • Reward Structure
  • Story (with at least 4 images and captions)
  • Video
  • All of the above presented as a finished Kickstarter preview
  • THERE IS NO NEED TO ACTUALLY HAVE AN ACCOUNT OR START THE PROJECT!
  • Include a memo to Owner/Director of the business/organization describing the project and the composition choices that you made. This is the opportunity to outline any ethical situations the project faces.
  • If you don’t set up an actual kickstarter project to which you can send a link, all of the above should be packaged neatly in a digital form (zip file, pages of a website, links to flickr, youtube, etc).

 

For Proving Ground:

  • A business name
  • A business description of 100 words or less
  • A business plan (document must be typed, double spaced, 12 point font, with 1 inch margins). The plan must contain an executive summary, no longer than two pages. This is very important, because the executive summary is evaluated in the first round of judging. The main body of the business plan can be no longer than 10 pages. The plan may contain no more than five pages of supplemental information, e.g., financial statements, instruction manuals. The plan should be in Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat (a pdf document).
  • Because there is a lack of available templates or examples for this competition (unless you actually sign up), I suggest following the basic outline of the kickstarter requirements.
  • A short video explaining the project.
  • A gallery of media (poster, still images with captions, logo design).
  • A memo to Owner/Director of the business/organization describing the project and the composition choices that you made. This is the opportunity to outline any ethical situations the project faces.
  • All of the above should be packaged neatly in a digital form (zip file, pages of a website, links to flickr, youtube, etc).
  • Free Times article with links to example projects

 

DUE: As part of (or alongside) your final portfolio.

Evaluation:

You will be graded on the choices you make with regard to audience, style, grammar, and tone.  Clarity and cohesion are important factors along with overall effectiveness/persuasiveness, BUT as time and resources are limited, the aesthetic/technical polish of your video is less important.

  • 5 points – Text and Visuals
  • 5 points – Video
  • 5 points – Presentation and Idea
6. Portfolio

Your portfolio should include the following:

  • Revised Resume (either the traditional or remix), Revised Poster (in digital form), and Revised Social Media Report.  Each of these revised projects should be accompanied by a brief reflection (1 page max) on your revisions for each project.  Why did you decide to make these changes? How do they affect the way an audience might engage this document?  Did you decide against changing something? Why? How does the revised document reflect a particular rhetorical approach to, or purpose for, the activity about which you’re writing? (15 points…5 for each revision)
  • Final Memo (5 points)
  • Link to (finished) Blog and Commonplace Book

This is your chance to revise your previous projects and present a coherent whole to your chosen organization.  By this point, you should have comments from the instructor, your peers, and your organization’s staff.  The presentation parameters are very wide for this final project.  Be thoughtful in the way that you present BOTH the original project and the revised version(s).  You might consider a website, a flash drive, or DVD to present the materials you compose.  Please consider the deadlines when deciding between a material and digital submission.

The final memo should act as a reflection on the class as a whole.  While there are many styles of reflection, some questions you might consider include relevancy, successes and failures of the assignments, future directions with different budgets of time and money, etc.  This is a chance to (politely) critique the class and the assignments.  Tell me what you liked and what you didn’t.  Be constructive.

Submission of materials:

Due to the nature of this assignment, I am happy to receive your revisions & reflections as separate files—as long as you submit a .zip archive in which all of the relevant materials are included.  This means that you’ll need to be clear on the file name for each document.  For optimal clarity, you’ll want a filename that reflects your identity and the nature of the document.  For example, any of the following are clear in their purpose & content:

1. Harmon_Social Media Report.docx

2. Harmon_Resume Reflection.docx

3. Harmon_Visual Design Revision.pdf

 

Evaluation:

You will be graded on the choices you make with regard to audience, style, grammar, and tone.  Clarity and cohesion are important factors along with overall effectiveness/persuasiveness.  For the portfolio, special attention will be paid to the relative changes that you make between drafts of each project.

DUE 12.5: Final Portfolio (material or digital ) *BONUS for early submission – 5 points*

DUE 12.7: Final Portfolio (material) * Must arrange to meet at office *

DUE 12.9: Final Portfolio (digital only)

7. Visual Commonplace Book

In short, a commonplace book is a place to collect ideas (yours and others’) that may come in handy in various projects.  This is a place for inspiration and surprise.  Learn to right click and ‘save as’.  Find a place to store these diverse ideas and bits of media in a place where I can see them.

Discussing the emerging genre of blogging in the 21st Century, Carolyn Miller and Dawn Shepherd include commonplace books as an important ancestor.  Describing its status in Renaissance pedagogy, they note “students were instructed to keep a notebook in which they could write down significant passages, epithets, phrases and aphorisms from their reading, organized into headings or places (loci).  They were a way of sifting and categorizing the matter of tests studied, and there were an informational retrieval system.  The point was not just to learn and remember this material but to have it available to assist the student’s own rhetorical invention, to make it, as Erasmus urged, ‘a magnificent and impressive thing, surging along like a golden river, with thoughts and words pouring out in rich abundance” (Miller and Shepherd 1464-1465).

David Bartholomae describes commonplace as “a culturally or institutionally authorized concept or statement that carries with it its own necessary elaboration” (Inventing 17).

Robert Conner discusses the concept of synthesis (in addition to topoi, progymnasmata and imitation) that gets brought from classical rhetoric to the Renaissance.  “Looking to the world, gathering what is good there, and using it according to a slowly developing wisdom” (Conner 299).  In this way of thinking, information ‘in the world’ is ripe for the taking…a common area “to which any hearer or reader had right and access” (299).  I wonder what the connection might be between the advent of the printing press and the decline of the commonplace book? Between notes and finished products (speeches or essays or films)?  How is my itunes collection a commonplace book?  Or evernote?  Or flickr?  Or this class blog?

Possible ideas for your commonplace book include a personal blog (distinct from your class blog), a large digital file in illustrator, a series of posters with media attached somehow, then scanned and arranged in a PDF, Pinterest, Tumblr, Stumble Upon, etc.  The sky is the limit, this is a new idea and I need some inspiration, so help me out!  Find a place and a method and inspire yourself.

Other Links:

Civil War Commonplaces

History of Commonplaces

Pinterest as Commonplace

Marginalia

Bill Gates’ Marginalia

More information can be found in the readings in the class Dropbox (under Readings – Commonplaces)

Note: As we discussed in class, if you are including commonplace entries with your class blog, the organization and tagging structure is very important.  You need to show that there is a significant portion of the blog that belongs to the commonplace assignment as distinct from the freewriting and homework blogs.  Use the final memo in your portfolio to explain the structure if necessary.

8. Participation

Participate (in class and with the short blog assignments) and get full credit.

While I wont quantify the blog requirements exactly, a safe number of blog entries (both freewritings and homework) is 30.  Of course, 20 well-written, expansive blog entries always trumps 40 crap, one-line throw-away entries.  If you are one who doesnt participate verbally in class very much (totally fine), you might want to make an extra effort with your blog.