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Beginnings: discussion of literature and explanation of piece 2009

Posted by jasondr in Background Info.
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*Discussion of Literature*

In her 2007 article, “Inventing Myself in Multimodality: Encouraging Senior Faculty to use Digital Media,” Debra Journet encourages those who teach composition to consider incorporating multimodal projects into their courses or else risk being left behind: “Literacy is changing, and it is up to us whether we want to be a part of those changes or to stand aside and watch them happening” (119). I don’t want to be left behind; I don’t want to become irrelevant. Instead, I want to be just the opposite: cutting edge, perhaps controversial, in what I projects I ask my students to complete. I want to go multimodal, and I plan to take my students with me.
Incorporating multimodal composition projects into my FYC class is something I’d like to do in the near future. But before I feel comfortable assigning students to work on projects like these, it’s important that I do so myself — first. Debra Journet (2007), Bob Whipple, Jr. (2009), and Amy C. Kimme Hea and Melinda Turnley (2009) have each explained the process of developing their own multimodal pieces, and how creating their own works has added to their increased knowledge of how these types of projects differ from developing written texts.  As I read and learned more about multimodal composition and digital media, it became clear to me that I needed to create my own multimodal piece to better understand what I would be asking my students to do, but also to better understand the connection between writing and creating multimodal pieces.
But it became even clearer why it was important for me to do this when I read Jennifer Edbauer Rice’s, “Rhetoric’s Mechanics: Retooling the Equipment of Writing Production.” Edbauer Rice explains how understanding various technologies and software programs increases the choices that the composer has when determining how best to get hir’s message across. Digital rhetoricians “ are faced with a vast range of choices about how to edit, what music to add, how to create a rhythm and mood for a piece, and many other decisions. We might recognize these choices as typical rhetorical strategies for reaching one’s audience … yet the deployment of the rhetorical ‘text’ depends upon knowing and practicing that mechanical work” (375). I learned, early on, that my process for developing a multimodal piece was far more complex than developing a written text, for I am damaged goods — I almost exclusively compose written texts, so my natural inclination is to follow the linear nature of a written text.
Just as Edbauer Rice, Whipple, and Hea and Turnly have documented, the process is complex, and the choices are endless. But working to understand the process of creating multimodal texts offers the composer a solid foundation to build upon. After creating my own multimodal piece, and documenting its creation, I feel much more convinced that my students can do similar projects, and I understand what is realistic in terms of how much or little to assign, and I feel confident that incorporating multimodal projects into my writing classes will help my students become better writers/communicators who are more aware of the many choices that exist to aid them in their future communication endeavors.

*What is this, and why is it here?*

This piece was created by me, Jason Dockter, in order to better understand how multimodal composition impacts the writing process. I created this blog to document my own composing process as I worked through the development of my own multimodal composition. I created that multimodal piece, found elsewhere on this blog, as an example of what multimodal composition might look like. My aim is to incorporate multimodality into my first-year composition course at Lincoln Land Community College. But to do that in the future, it is necessary to provide an example for my students. But even before that, it is important for me to understand the complexity involved in multimodal composing, and the relationship of it to writing. This documentary blog attempts to make that connection and display the process behind the piece. Through the course of this piece, you’ll see the various choices that I made and hear me discuss these choices. Ultimately, I provide the example piece that I intend to share with my students.

Text of Video:

“Welcome to my documentary blog. I created this blog in an attempt to show you the process that I went through creating multimodal composition similar to what I might ask students in my first-year composition course to create in a future semester. The projects that I ask my students to create are centered on ethnographic research on a subculture, a group of people, of their own choosing. Each writing that the students then create is focused on a specific ideas that they then work to prove about that subculture based upon their observations, studies, and conversations with members of that subculture. I’d like to create a multimodal aspect to these projects and ask students to turn their research into a multimodal or digital piece. Since I teach solely online, I won’t be able to help students in the hand’s on way that I typically would, with the technology, if I was in a face-to-face classroom. So I need to show them an example of what they could do. And I think one of the easiest ways to go might be to create a brief video piece that utilizes images and videos that they, just as I did, might collect and work with to create their own composition. This example is a short multimodal composition that I created on my own to show my FYC, COM 111, students what multimodal composition can look like. This is certainly not the only way to go, but it is the way that I chose to go, and there are a lot of elements of composition, or writing, at play here. I plan to one day ask my students to create similar projects. What you’re viewing here is actually the creation of, and a documentary of the process, that I underwent in creating a piece of multimodal composition. And, again, that piece, which will be shown at the end of this blog is created to serve as an example of what I will one day ask my students to create. Enjoy.”