Teaching Tips for Multimodal Projects: by Jackie Blain

Most students love multimodal assignments. Most instructors freak out because they don’t feel like they “know enough tech” to teach them. Well, actually, if you know MS Word, you know enough tech. I’m attaching a Word brochure that an 1121 student did to help calm patients down who were scheduled for an MRI; her research had been on the psychology of health care during the pandemic. Jiang_MRI Brochure (1)

The thing is, the students often know a lot about the technology. So when I scaffold multimodal projects, I have them write a proposal and build into the proposal a requirement that: 1) every student ask for tech help if they need it and say what kind of tech, and: 2) every student look at all of the proposals.  If they have expertise with something (like video editing software), they let the student who needs help know. It’s a simple thing, but the first time I did it, I felt much more confident about turning students loose, and the students got very involved in each other’s projects in a very significant way. (I will say, however, that Canva.com is probably your best friend because it’s free and has copyright cleared images for posters, brochures, photo essays, infographics, you name it! I’m attaching another 1121 brochure a student did on financial literacy for kids that she did in Canva.) Martinez_financial brochure

I also have the students read Melanie Gagich’s piece in Writing Spaces, vol 3 “An Introduction to and Strategies for Multimodal Composing.(”https://writingspaces.org/sites/default/files/1gagich-introduction-strategies-multimodal-composing.pdf) It’s very student (and instructor) friendly – it not only talks about the modes, it also explains how to approach a project rhetorically. And since getting students to focus on specific audiences is often the hardest part of this assignment, it helps everybody to have something to refer to.  It is very important, though, that students understand the importance of audience in multimodal assignments– that they’re not just doing a random thing with a random technology– but that they are using a specific technology BECAUSE it will reach a particular audience for whom their topic is pertinent.  This article is useful for this!

Bottom line: these are often the best things students do all term because it’s the kind of writing that they do in the “real world.” So relax, hammer them on audience, and enjoy what they produce.

For more by Jackie, see her personal website at: adjunctwritingprof.com 

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