English 3844 provides both a theoretical and a practical introduction to writing with and for digital media, including content management systems and social media platforms.


By the end of the semester, you should be able to:

  1. write with, and for, digital media, working both independently and in teams.
  2. conceive of, produce, and use digital images, video, and audio.
  3. identify, analyze, and respond to the theoretical assumptions underpinning the development and use of digital media.
  4. navigate, set up, and optimize social media sites for developing and distributing digital content.
  5. recognize and use basic HTML and CSS syntax.
  6. understand the organization and distribution of information by search engines.

Required Resources

  1. Kristin L. Arola, Cheryl E. Ball, and Jennifer Sheppard. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014.
  2. Additional required and recommended readings and resources will be posted or linked from the course sites.
  3. A VT Google Apps account, for collaborating with classmates, submitting assignments, and backing up your work.
  4. A Twitter account, connected to an email address you check regularly.
  5. A Blogs@VT site (or a self-hosted blog) for your course Web Portal..
  6. Dependable computer and Internet access. All work must be submitted online for this course.

Course Requirements

You must complete all major assignments and requirements in order to pass this course. Your final grade is calculated on this distribution:

80% Four major projects, along with related drafts and other artifacts. These projects (listed below) will focus on different modes of expression and go beyond words on a page (or screen) to include audio, video, and images.  There are no rewrites or revisions after work is graded.

  1. Project 1: Build a Web Portal for the Course  (HTML/CSS, Words on Screen, Images). Due Feb 3.
  2. Project 2: Interrogate an Interface (Essay with Images, Video) with Presentation).  Due Feb 24.
  3. Project 3: Remix a Story (Many options). Due Mar 31.
  4. Project 4: Literacy Narrative (Video, with Audio, Images, Words on Screen). Due Apr 28.

Participation, attendance, homework, and in-class composing. You will write during each class. These daily writing activities include reading responses, text analysis, and reflections, as well as working on your major assignments and exploring digital composing tools. You will also read and provide thoughtful, substantive feedback on your peers’ work.
Extra Credit Optional, Take-Home Final Exam. You can sketch out a revision plan for one of the major projects you have completed for extra credit points that will add into the 80% Project Grade for the course. Due by 9:45 AM on Sat, May 10.


Communication Guidelines: Email is the best way to contact me. You can email me at I do not respond to students at any other address. I try to answer student email within 24 hours on weekdays and within 48 hours on weekends and holidays. I’ll reply to messages sent during Spring Break on March 16.

Absences: Class attendance and participation are required. You may miss two classes (for any reason) without penalty. Each additional absence (for any reason) will lower your course grade by 5%, and six or more absences may result in a failing grade for the course. Because our time in class is limited, promptness is important. Each tardy (arriving more than 5 minutes late) and each instance of leaving early will count as 1/2 of an absence. If you are late for class, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have not been marked absent. If you miss a class because of an illness, death in the family, or family emergency, see the Absence Verification FAQs from the Dean of Students Office for details on how to have your absence excused.
If you have an issue that affects your ability to complete the course, you may qualify for Academic Relief. For personal medical issues, contact the Schiffert Health Center, and for psychiatric or psychological issues, contact the Cook Counseling Center.

Work Guidelines: All work and participation in this course is governed by the Undergraduate Honor System and the Virginia Tech Principles of Community.

Late Policy:
In-class work: Every class period, you will complete writing activities that you will submit online. This work is due during your class period and counts as part of your participation grade. This work is relevant to the activities that will take place in the class session. If you cannot complete the work in class, you have until 5 PM the next day to submit it.
Projects: You will compose four projects, which you will submit online. Each major assignment will have a due date, a grace period, and a deadline:

  1. The due date is the day that your major assignment is due. Every student has a one-week grace period after the due date during which the assignment unit can still be submitted.
  2. The grace period occurs between the due date and the deadline. Work submitted during the grace period will be marked as late in Scholar; however, there is no grade penalty for work submitted during the grace period. Note that  we will not work on the assignments in class after the due date nor will I be available to provide feedback on your work in progress or final submission after the due date. 
  3. The deadline comes one week after the due date and is the final day that an assignment will be accepted. You will receive a zero for any work that is not submitted by the deadline. There are no extensions on deadlines.

Project Presentations and Final Exam: There are no extensions or make-ups on these activities.

Backups: Save backups of all your work for this class and maintain backups in multiple places (your laptop, a flash drive, Google Docs, your Va Tech Drop Box). Printed backups can also be useful. Do not discard any files, notes, or other work until the term is over and you have received your final grade. Be sure that you maintain backups so that you can continue your work when you encounter computer problems. If you need assistance with your computer, check with InnovationSpace or Customer Support Center (4Help).

Equal Access and Opportunity: If you need special accommodations in this course, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) in 310 Lavery Hall (above the Turner Place Dining Center) as soon as possible to ensure that you have the resources you need to participate in the class. I am happy to work with the SSD staff to make sure that you have the support you need.

Grading: I use a 4-grade scale (no rounding). Specific grading guidelines will be provided for each assignment.

Grade Scale


A  4.0
A- 3.7
Excellent, outstanding work that

  1. exceeds requirements for the assignment.
  2. demonstrates originality and mastery of the objectives or material.
  3. addresses audience, purpose, and voice with expertise through the savvy use of rhetorical strategies.
  4. contains no errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.
B+ 3.3
B   3.0
B-  2.7
Good to very good work that

  1. meets all requirements for the assignment.
  2. demonstrates above-average insight and a thorough understanding of the objectives or material.
  3. addresses audience, purpose, and voice well with the appropriate use of specific rhetorical strategies.
  4. contains only minor errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.
C+ 2.3
C   2.0
C-  1.7
Satisfactory or fair work that

  1. meets most of the requirements for the assignment.
  2. demonstrates a basic understanding of the objectives or material, but relies on generic or predictable techniques.
  3. addresses most aspects of audience, purpose, and voice with rhetorically-appropriate strategies.
  4. contains several minor errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.
D+  1.3
D    1.0
D-   0.7
Fair to poor work that

  1. meets some, but not all, of the requirements for the assignment.
  2. demonstrates a partial understanding of the objectives or material.
  3. addresses some aspects of audience, purpose, and voice, and/or inconsistently uses rhetorical strategies.
  4. contains one or two major errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.
F  0.699 & below Unacceptable work that is flawed by one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. does not meet the requirements of the assignment.
  2. demonstrates little understanding of the objectives or material.
  3. fails to address audience, purpose, and/or voice and/or uses rhetorical strategies incompletely or incorrectly.
  4. contains several major errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.