English 808: Technology & Literacy – Technology Project Guidelines

Dr. Gian Pagnucci

Technology Project Guidelines

Each student will plan and develop an individual Technology Project for the semester. The goal of the Technology Project is to help students research and reflect upon a topic that is personally important to them. The Technology Project then asks students to use technology to find a way to share that interest with a public audience.

Technology Project Theme
You may select any focus you want for your Technology Project. Your project should deal with technology and/or literacy broadly defined. Most students chose a topic that relates in some way to the topic they are thinking about researching for their dissertation or masters thesis. Some students use this opportunity to research a technology with which they are not very familiar.

Example
Isabella is planning to do a dissertation that deals with using comic books to teach first year composition. This leads Isabella to choose to focus her Technology Project on the literacy of writing comic books. Her project will not directly deal with teaching, but her project will help her to learn information that relates to her planned dissertation topic.

Technology Project Digital Component
Your Technology Project will need to have a digital component. Most students chose to create a website for their Technology Project, though there are plenty of other options from which to choose. If you do decide to create a website, that website can be fully public access or limited access (as with D2L or Moodle online classroom sites).

Example
Isabella chooses to create a web site that focuses on the literacy of writing comic books. She decides the web site will have eleven sections:

  • An Overview Section–Isabella will include a section where she explains her intended audience for the web site (other scholars interested in comic book literacy) and the purpose of her web site
  • A Section on Famous Comic Book Writers--Isabella plans to write short biographies of 5 famous authors and include their pictures
  • A Section on Comic Book Studies that Focus on Composition–In this section, Isabella will include 10 short annotations of books she has read that deal with comic books and writing
  • A Section on Videos about Creating Comic Books–Isabella will write 3 short descriptions of videos she has found on the web about creating comic books and she will link to the videos
  • A Section on Comic Book Podcasts–Isabella will write 4 short descriptions of interesting comic book related podcasts she has found and will include links to these podcasts
  • A Section on Comic Book Conventions–Isabella has attended 3 comic book conventions where she has met professional comic book writers; she will write short descriptions of each comicon and include some pictures and links to the comicon web sites
  • A Section on Digital Comic Book Software–Isabella will describe the software ComicLife which she has tested as a possible writing tool for a composition class she plans to teach in the future; she will link to the ComicLife website
  • A Background Information Section–Isabella will include a longer section which she has written about why the study of comic book composing processes is important; this section is part of what will eventually become Chapter 1 of Isabella’s dissertation
  • A Website Creator Section–In this section Isabella will describe herself, her research interests and provide a link to her personal interest statement (below)
  • A Personal Interest Statement–Isabella will include a short narrative she has written about her own interest in comic books
  • A References List–Isabella will include a longer reference list of 25 references she has so far compiled on this topic; this reference list will be divided into 5 categories (comic book history; comics studies scholarship; multimodal composition; studies of comic books and writing; and visual literacy); the reference list will follow APA format and include links to some of the books on Amazon

Technology Project Background Information
Your project should include a section of background information. This section should be about 10 pages in length (double spaced) including references. While other parts of your Technology Project might also require you to do some writing, your Technology Project Background Information section is where the bulk of your writing will be done.

If you have done some writing about this topic for a previous course, then you should read new sources on the topic and add them to the previous material in order to expand on your previous work in a useful way. In this situation, some of the material could be recycled and some of it would be new.

If at all possible, you should incorporate this Technology Project Background Information section into the digital component of your project. Typically, students include a link on their web site where the background information can be accessed. Alternatively, you might divided the background information into several shorter sections that are all linked to your web site.

Example
Isabella writes about why the study of comic book composing processes is important. She discusses a CCCC article about comic books and 3 recent dissertations written about the nature of reading comic books. She uses this material to argue that the composing processes of students writing comic books should be studied. She links her proposed study idea to scholars who argue for teaching visual literacy and multimodal composing. This section is part of what will eventually become Chapter 1 of Isabella’s dissertation. This section runs 9 double spaced pages. Isabella’s 10th page is her references page. She includes 12 references for this section cited using correct APA format.

Good Technology Project Possibilities

Below is a link to past projects created by English 808 graduate students. These past projects should give you a good idea of the wide range of projects that students have developed for the course. Be ambitious and try something fun, interesting, and even a bit challenging!

Good Technology Project Possibilities

A few simple Technology Project ideas include:

  • Creating a Research Topic Web Site
    • This is the most common Technology Project
    • It’s a great way to establish yourself as a scholarly expert on a topic that interests you
    • Creating a website like this can add to your reputation as you conduct your dissertation research and begin publishing scholarship on your chosen area of study
    • For this web site, the background information would be related to the topic of the web site
    • The Comic Book Writing Project described above is a good example of a Research Topic Web Site
  • Creating a web site of teaching materials
    • For this site, the background information would be related to an aspect of the course topic, such as best practices for teaching peer response in a composition course
  • Creating a wiki project site
    • For this site, the background information would be on the topic of the wiki
  • Designing a teaching-focused FaceBook page
    • For this page, the background information would be related to an aspect of the course topic, such as best practices for teaching peer response in a composition course
  • Designing a course unit lesson plan
    • This unit plan could include readings, videos to watch, writing prompts, discussion prompts, a recorded lecture podcast, a unit assignment, sample student work, etc.
    • For this unit plan, the background information would relate to the chosen unit topic
  • Developing an online course site (using D2L, Moodle, or some other online Learning Management System
    • For this site, the background information would be related to an aspect of the course topic, such as best practices for teaching peer response in a composition course
  • Developing an organization web site
    • For this site, the background information would be about the topics the organization focuses on, such tutoring for a Writing Tutor Web Site
  • Developing an online teaching resource or archive
    • For this site, the background information would be about the pedagogical topic

Alternative Technology Projects

I’ve outlined the typical Technology Projects most students chose to try. But this is also your chance to try something different. If you want to try an alternative project, you are welcome to do so. Below are some interesting alternative projects you might consider:

  • Building teaching materials in Second Life
  • Creating a multimodal article, story, graphic novel, or poem series
  • Creating a WebQuest
  • Designing an ecommerce bookstore
  • Doing a small scale research study of an interesting technology and then creating a presentation to report your research findings
  • Keeping a semester long blog on a specific theme beyond the focus of the class research blogging
  • Writing a hypertextual story
  • Writing a report on learning to use a new technology

Because many of these projects require different kinds of writing, Dr. Pagnucci will help you decide what writing you should do to achieve the equivalent amount of writing that is required for the Technology Project Background Information section that most students write.

This list is only a starting point. If you have a great idea tnot on the above list, that’s fine too. Just make sure to clear your idea with Dr. Pagnucci before you get started. Dr. Pagnucci is always open to interesting ideas.

Technology Project Collaboration Option

Student who wish may also work in groups on the Technology Project. Students working on group Technology Projects will all receive the same grade for the Technology Project. Students working in groups will write one joint Technology Project Proposal and give one joint Technology Project Presentation, but each individual student will write an individual Technology Project Reflection.