What were the learning goals for this course?
- Critically analyze texts in a variety of genres: Analyze and interpret key ideas in various discursive genres (e.g. essays, news articles, speeches, documentaries, spoken word), with careful attention to the role of rhetorical conventions such as style, tropes, genre, audience and purpose.
- Use a variety of media to compose in multiple rhetorical situations: Apply rhetorical knowledge in your own composing using the means of persuasion appropriate for each rhetorical context (alphabetic text, still and moving images, and sound), including academic writing and composing for a broader, public audience using digital platforms.
- Identify and engage with credible sources and multiple perspectives in your writing: Identify sources of information and evidence credible to your audience; incorporate multiple perspectives in your writing by summarizing, interpreting, critiquing, and synthesizing the arguments of others; and avoid plagiarism by ethically acknowledging the work of others when used in your own writing, using a citation style appropriate to your audience and purpose.
- Compose as a process: Experience writing as a creative way of thinking and generating knowledge and as a process involving multiple drafts, review of your work by members of your discourse community (e.g. instructor and peers), revision, and editing, reinforced by reflecting on your writing process in metacognitive ways.
- Use conventions appropriate to audience, genre, and purpose: Adapt writing and composing conventions (including your style, content, organization, document design, word choice, syntax, citation style, sentence structure, and grammar) to your rhetorical context.
How did you translate this assignment from the face-to-face version into the hybrid version?
I structured this assignment using the process-writing techniques I was accustomed to from face to face courses, beginning with discussing professional and students models of the assignment, then brainstorming ideas, then drafting, asking students to submit drafts of their work for review by me and their peers, and submitting a reflection on their writing choices with their final draft. My course met face to face on Tuesdays and in hybrid form on Thursdays. Typically, Thursday “class” activities consisted of discussions board activities in which students looked at model texts, analyzing them by applying elements of the readings. I read through these responses and pulled out themes to begin face to face discussions on Tuesdays.
For this assignment, I used two platforms: Blackboard and Vocat. I used Blackboard for discussion board activities, communication with students, and keeping track of grades. On Vocat, students uploaded audio texts, including sample texts they selected and shared, a brief technology test, and initial and final drafts of their audio essays.
What were the most successful elements of this assignment? What challenges did you face?
I found that the most successful element of this assignment was a hybrid class task that asked students to conduct internet research on software and audio resources useful for completing an audio essay and then share their findings with their classmates. I provided a short list of websites to begin the search, but students had to play around on the websites, clicking through links and reading various articles, to find individual resources or tips to share. I then asked students in their topic proposals to read through their classmates’ posts and choose resources found by their classmates which they might use. Many of the students cited this activity as the most helpful when reflecting on the assignment, and I saw evidence of the resources in their drafts. I believe the task offered students a sense of independence, a way to rely on their existing skills in web research to teach themselves new skills (which in the long run is more important than mastering any one tech platform). I also think it built a sense of community in the class early on. Throughout the class, I was frankly impressed at how collaborative students were, and how much this collaboration took the pressure off of me to provide technological guidance (not my strong suit!). I hope to include more tasks of this kind for the other assignments.
I had a significant advantage in teaching this course for the first time in that a majority of the students had studied with me in the first semester writing class, and so had already built relationships with me and with each other. I am now teaching the course for the second time, and without those existing relationships, the face to face classes aren’t as productive – students are more hesitant to share opinions or ask questions. I’ve heard that in some hybrid class models, teachers are able to frontload the face to face classes at the beginning of the semester, with fewer at the end of the semester. I really believe that could be useful in building class community and reducing students’ confusion during the onboarding to new technology.
Brooke Schreiber is an Assistant Professor in the English Department of Baruch College, CUNY, where she teaches courses in writing and linguistics. Her research focuses on second language writing, pedagogy, and teacher training in ESL and EFL settings, as well as global Englishes and translingualism.