Tips and Best Practices for DigitalWAC

  • Digital writing assignments should be incorporated into your course with a clear purpose and intent. Digital assignments should not be included in your course merely because it is trendy.
  • A digital writing assignment should grow directly from the course’s learning objectives. As you consider the assignment design and the digital platforms you might use, constantly refer back to your learning objectives. What do you want your students to ultimately take away from the assignment? For each digital platform you consider, ask yourself whether the platform enhances the learning objective.
  • Start small. Don’t feel like you must digitize your entire course in one semester. Choose one assignment, perhaps a low-stakes writing assignment, that you think might work well as a digital assignment. Think about how the assignment can adapt to become a digital writing assignment and what the transition from a traditional assignment to a digital writing assignment adds to the student’s experience of the assignment and the course.
  • As you design digital writing assignments, bear in mind that City Tech students come from varied backgrounds. Some will be technologically adept while others may have difficulty using technology and require extra assistance. Keep both types of students in mind as you plan your assignment.
  • Something WILL go wrong. Don’t be afraid of failure. Trust that even if the assignment doesn’t go as planned, you and your students will learn from the experience. Take the time to reflect on the assignment to evaluate what worked and what can be revised to improve the assignment in the future.
  • When you give your students the requirements for the assignment, it is also helpful to provide them with descriptions and instructions on how to use the digital platform. You may also want to provide them with a brief description of how the assignment relates to the learning objectives and why you chose to use this platform. This transparency about your aims and methods models a critical awareness about digital technology for your students, strengthening their digital literacy skills.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS for Digital Learning:

PRIVACY: Different digital platforms will provide different levels of privacy. Take some time to think through how public or private you want to make your assignment. If your aim is to link your students into larger conversations in your field or the world, you will want more public visibility. For other assignments, you may want to limit the visibility of the work to members of the course.

F.E.R.P.A.: As you begin developing your digital writing assignment, you will want to review the principles of student privacy laid out in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

STUDENT ACCESS: It is important to bear in mind that students at CUNY may have limited access to the internet off campus, or may access the internet through mobile devices that have data caps. City Tech librarian Maura Smale and Mariana Regalado of Brooklyn College studied students’ use of technology across CUNY schools. Their published findings are available here.