Reading Across Platforms

Reading Across Platforms is an outline of an assignment sequence designed for students in courses that require multimodal writing and reading. Since rhetorical situation determines the skills required for effective reading and writing, I contend students need to be taught how to read across platforms. Thorough knowledge of platform features enables responsive reading/writing. Along with teaching tool features, the activity helps students reflect on the choices they make when reading and writing in different platforms. The activity is less interested in championing one tool over another (i.e. audio over database), as it in fitting students with a range of skills they can use to respond to the requirements of the rhetorical situations in which they find themselves.

The Weather on FaceBook

Draft of sustainable assignment for Piedmont Project

Outcome Goals:

Frame research questions and circumvent a digital data set

Develop best practices for comparative analysis of visual and verbal digital texts

Represent findings in multiple modes: argument driven analysis essay & visually as maps or infografics


Work as citizen scientists assess warming or environmental change and its effects over time via a social media database


The idea for the assignment grew out of a conversation I had with colleagues about decorum and social media, where I joked, “If I you can’t say something nice on Facebook, just post about the weather.” It made me wonder how many users did just that—talked about the weather (regardless of motivation). My Facebook feed this winter kept me apprised of the record snow fall in Boston; the relentless cold in MI; and the terrifying drought on the West Coast. That night I flipped through pics of my friends and family at ski resorts over the last 5 or so years, and given clear direction and outcome goals, I bet I could use that data effectively. I wonder if my students could, with clear perimeters that we all work to generate together, also cull together and represent similar findings. One of the toughest problems with climate shift, species depletion, pollution, etc. is representing the scale and rate of change. Effective data collection and representation requires a huge effort on the part of citizen scientists, which is why this project (might) work in a first year writing course that emphasizes the enduring importance of the amateur in American natural history/environmentalism.


This is all in the draft stage, so I’m really grateful for the opportunity to develop the project through Piedmont.


Looking forward to meeting you!





Example Annotations

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 Annotated Bibliography Perdue Owl

McKee, Heidi A. “Policy Matters Now and in the Future: Net Neutrality, Corporate Data Mining, and Government Surveillance.” Computers and Composition 28.4 (2011): 276-291.

McKee argues ensuring that all Internet communication moves at the same speed is vital, not only to the health of the Web, but also to digital composition. If large corporate entities can pay for faster transmission of content, then user generated content and small Web presence will diminish. She further argues that privacy laws are at best outdated and at worst geared toward protecting the rights of corporate structures over individual users. Since data collection can string together user activity across websites, privacy policies at specific sites may matter less than the larger aggregate of information about each user available to advertisers. Specific to the topic of password protection and “personally-identifying information,” McKee argues national policy shifts and can impede extensive corporate data tracking and warrantless government surveillance (282). In the face of what she sees as dwindling user and Internet freedom, McKee advocates instructors of digital composition make privacy issues part of course content through discussion of legal issues, privacy settings, Open Source Options, and interrogate rhetoric and assumptions about Internet privacy issues.

Reyman, Jessica. “User Data on the Social Web: Authorship, Agency, and Appropriation.” College English 75.5 (2013): 513-533.

Reyman argues users of social media need to remain mindful of the series of “trade-offs” in which they engage: users give up control of content in exchange for network connections that sites such as Twitter and Facebook provide (514). She explains that while most data mining is conducted with corporate interests in mind, some aggregation platforms provide useful services responsibly. For Reyman, “User data… is not merely a technology by-product to be bought and sold; rather, it forms a dynamic, discursive narrative about the paths we have taken as users, the technologies we have used, how we have composed in such spaces, and with whom we have participated” (516). Helping students reflect on user data as collaboratively produced “narrative paths” through networked connects will help ameliorate privacy concerns. Furthermore, certain open source agreements help make student publications available for to audiences who are then free to remix and revise those public domain texts, so long as the iterations remain publicly available.

Shannon, Laurie. “Eight Animals in Shakespeare; or Before the Human.” PMLA. 124.2 (2009): 472-479. 18 April 2012.

In her article Shannon compares the very few times Shakespeare uses the word ‘animal’ to the overwhelming instances of his use of specific names for animals or the word ‘best.’ Through her comparison Shannon argues that in the pre-Cartesian worldview, Great Chain of Being or God’s virtuosity in the Book of Nature, “there was no such thing as the animal” (474). Instead the human/animal binary was not essential in Early modern constructs, b/c all creatures possess a soul. This is not to suggest that the early modern world view did not place humans at the top of a hierarchy, instead, Shannon shows the scientific worldview that linked humans and animals to argue, “There are scales of being of course, but early modern humanity is relatively ecosystemic: it always has a animality (and divinity and plants and elements) in or with it” (477). Animated by the same soul and made-up of the same elemental materials, humans and animals in a text such as The Jew of Malta exist before the Enlightenment invoked “animal” to define man.  Shannon also suggests that we look to Shakespeare’s “zoography” for examples of ethical relationship between humans and animals.

Green Peace. Detox: How People Power is Cleaning Up Fashion. Online video clip. You Tube. You Tube. 24 October 2013. Web. 15 November 2013.

The authors of the video argue that the fashion industry produces glamour, profit, and environmental ruin. The greatest devastation caused by textile and garment factories around the globe is water pollution. Specifically, manufacturers dump waste from dyes and petrochemicals used to manufacture cloth into streams, rivers, and oceans. The waste contaminates waterways and contributes to the lack of clean drinking water around the globe. The video persuades audiences to only purchase clothing brands committed to reducing water pollution through a combination of data laden narration, scrolling images, scary music, and a problem/solution structure. For example, the first minute or so of the video is effective because the authors contrast clips of models in beautiful clothes and fancy urban department stores with images of toxic waste pouring into rivers and oceans. The authors reinforce the alarming images with statistics about China where a majority of textiles are produced: “320 million people have no access to clean drinking water; 40% of surface water is polluted; and 20% of urban drinking water is contaminated.” The video does not rely solely on scare tactics and exotic statistics to persuade audiences; instead, the authors devote the second half of the video to providing suggestions for problems they outline in the first half. To help clean-up water polluted by textile manufacture and stop more water from being polluted, Green peace and clothing brands/retailers such as H&M,Levi, and Zara have joined together as past of the “global Detox campaign.”  Those companies have taken steps to eliminate toxic chemicals and waste from their supply chains, and participants in “Detox” continue to demonstrate and protest to encourage more companies to follow suit and to direct consumers toward earth friendly brands. For my video on songbird devastation I will draw on the following techniques from this video: juxtaposition of imagery, problem solution structure, and awareness of audience.