Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Walk B4 Run

I largely agree with the consensus. While I can see the benefits and creative joys of expanding the composition experience for freshmen students presented in this article, I think it is too much too soon. While reading, I did, however, find myself thinking in several places that some of the broader multimodal strategies could be incorporated quite successfully.
            In 2010 I was part of a fellowship program that took 20 Native American researchers, with specific historical or cultural projects in mind, for the purpose of each creating a short documentary. The two year process started with workshops on archival research, followed by learning how to use film editing software. With less than 6 months to go before the projects were to be shown in front of the national sponsors, the coordinators were in a panic. This was a pilot project of theirs that was to be the flagship for many more and involved some important federal programs with deep pockets and the films being submitted so far were crap.
            The problem: there was very little attention being paid to script-writing and research organization. The project fellows had almost universally found photos, maps and documents then tried to build a script based on them. It should have worked the other way around, script first, images later, with multiple revisions in-between. Once we figured this out and started helping each other through scrapping and restarting the whole process with a written framework it all came together and we all lived happily ever after.
            So, all this to say, while multimodal is fun and perhaps more engaging, there is a foundational necessity to acquiring good writing skills and a logical structure.
            A secondary, but equally important component of RHET 105 is facilitating the adjustment to a more self-reliant environment. Despite repeated discussions that this is “not your high school English class,” I still have a few students frustrated with not having a detailed point-by-point prescription for an “A.”
But I will keep this article handy when designing next sememster's plan and will most-likely incorporate some of the proposed assignments, or at least their conceptional possibilities.

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