From the category archives:

Business/Tech Writing

Digital Presentations at 3 Universities

by Dr Davis on April 28, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Meeks, Melissa and Alex Ilyasova. “A Review of Digital Video Production in Post-Secondary English Classrooms at Three Universities.” Kairos 8.2 (2003). Web. 12 February 2014.

“digital video has the qualities we are looking for to engage students in combining design, production, and literac(ies) in the classroom”

Finally found an explanation of why video isn’t linear, even though we watch it linearly.
“non-linear video production in digital bytes allows for the deleting, adding, moving, and repeating of clips”

Iowa State U
Students are required to create a communication portfolio their sophomore year that includes written, oral, visual, and electronic communication.

Upper division course requires an interview and a presentation of the interview in three ways. These are as text, as an audio file, and as a video file, which combines both audio and visual elements.

Also requires a 2-minute video for a professional audience, describing an object.

Finally requires a “promotional commercial for a product, organization, or idea.” This might be an idea for business and professional writing class.

Graduate course there requires productions, to apply the theory to the application. Two assignments involve digital presentations.
1. Create video as a tutorial using screen captures. –tutorial for software
2. Digital presentation that focuses on exploring the uses of iMovie. Has groups create videos in two weeks on the history and use of buildings on campus. Video is two to three minutes.

Michigan Technological U
Describes the strong culture of support for technology application at the uni.

Introduces Cynthia Selfe and her foray into digital presentations. Says she has only been doing two years [now 13], but won’t teach again without multimodal assignments.

UG Adolescent Lit class
students will create enrichment assignments for ages 11-18, focus on engaging with books
1st show own, focus on sound
shows videos with and without sound
discuss how sound adds or subtracts from work

Then iMovie
students use 10-20 photos and a sound file
Goal is to choose photos that cluster around a theme or topic
royalty free source of photos: American Memories Collection
Has students save a song, too. Then create a video.
Says important to remember that things will go wrong

Erin Smith
Says students not engaged in traditional reading practices, but practiced in film and television.
She has the students write their own assessments, explaining why they made the choices they did.

Alison Crockett
Says digital presentation and a written essay share similar processes.

First, the concept or a thesis/main idea is created.
Then a treatment or brainstorming occurs – a more developed and detailed idea coming out of the concept.
Next, an extended treatment or an outline might follow.
Research or getting your elements – which might include interviews, film and video footage, music, stills, graphics, etc. – is next.
Then, depending on your elements, storyboarding or a more developed and complete outline follows.
The script or draft is developed around this time.
Finally, post-production or possibly a second/final draft occurs where you blend the elements together to tell your story.

UNC Chapel Hill
Daniel Anderson has been teaching video production for twenty years, beginning in 1994.
He “focuses on teaching students to think “in” non-alphabetic literacies, making use of rhetorical strategies in multimedia compositions.”
In his graduate classes students wrestle with and think about non-alphabetic composing.
His advice to those interested in using the technology in their classrooms is to “play with it” and “don’t over think it.”

Scott Halbritter
using video for the first time this fall in a remedial writing class
students produce a 5-minute video talking about honor, integrity, and ethics in the uni
Having remedial students creating digital presentations “infinitely complicates and enlarges the strategies they have learned to ignore when they sit down to compose text.”
Very important to find a “legitimate rhetorical goal” before assigning video production.

Heather Ross
uses a PSA group project, students are producing cultural artifacts
collaborative environment
five weeks
Student excitement comes from competitiveness and seeing the videos as creative acts.

Todd Taylor
students in his class must complete community service work
1. intro case study of documentaries
2. “The second move addresses the rhetorical and technical aspects of each of the following media individually: HTML, texts, photographs, and audio; this sequence culminates with a consideration of the rhetorical and technical aspects of video, which combines all of the previous media. This pairing of technical proficiency and rhetorical savvy prepares students for integrating media in sophisticated ways.”
3. establish audience: judges of contest, classmates, public at competition
4. turn class into workshop

Digital production challenges multiple literacies, encourages collaboration, shows composition as a process, and requires more than a single person.

Authors note that the relationship of digital presentations to academic discourse remains problematic, as essays are still important collegiate exercises.



Rhetoric of Typography: Appropriateness

by Dr Davis on April 26, 2014

Brumberger, Eva. “The Rhetoric of Typography: The Awareness and Impact of Typeface Appropriateness.” Technical Communication 50.2 (May 2003): 224-31. Web. 1 February 2014.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0evidence for the notion that typeface personas have impact (224)
typeface suitability studied (224)
typefaces vary in appropriateness based on text (225), study done by Haskins
typeface appropriateness based on sharing features with text (225), study done by Walker, Smith, and Livingston

UG students in intro psych course
gender potentially important variable
ethnicity, first language, internet usage, age, major collected
36 participants (18 male, 18 female) (226)
students had very clear preferences for appropriateness of typeface (226)
none of the demographic information that was usable (large enough sample) made a difference (227)
EXCEPT gender (229)

For the professional text males preferred the friendly font (Bouhaus) while women preferred the elegant font (CounselorScript).

People had strong views of appropriateness of typeface to text (230).
Typeface persona did not need to correlate with text persona (230).


Cross-Cultural Use of Graphics: China v US

by Dr Davis on April 24, 2014

Qiuye, Wang. “A Cross-Cultural Comparison of the Use of Graphics in Scientific and Technical Communication.” Technical Communication 47.4 (November 2000): 553-60. Web. 12 February 2014.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Compares graphics’ usage in China (high-context culture) and US (low-context culture).

universality of graphics?

Maitra and Goswami (1995) looked at specifics in Japanese graphics

sources: “popular science magazines and instruction manuals for household products”
about Dolly (sheep cloning)

verbal-visual integration
information selected for graphics
techniques used to enhance usability

“American manuals have much better verbal-visual integration than the Chinese manuals.”

Visually heavier than words, pictures are usually used for emphasis. The graphics in the two sets of manual illustrations indicate a difference of emphasis, the American on task performance and the Chinese on product information.

“When presenting a new idea to general readers, the Chinese tend to provide more contextual information, while the Americans tend to be direct.”

Chinese culture = relational, holistic
American culture = problem-oriented, direct, explicit

in China, the norm to include technical information useful to repair person, but not owner/operator of equipment
So definitely keep the manuals if you are in China.

for Chinese audience, supply context and/or overview
for American audience, be focused

Quiye did not look at a lot of images, only eight total. However, they probably are fairly representative OR they fit the argument he/she wanted to make.


Web 2.0 Collaboration in Bus Comm

by Dr Davis on April 19, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Beuchler, Scott. “Using Web 2.0 to Collaborate.” Business Communication Today 73 (2010): 439-43. Web. 15 January 2014.

Beuchler added a blog to the final report project, which is a collaborative assignment. Group photos, the class naming the blog, required postings, and the information for those posts were part of the assignment. Teams of students related by industries they examined were required to create a video, which was also posted to the blog. After five companies made it to the finals, based on classroom voting and recommendations, students had to read posts on the five companies and add a comment arguing for the company they would choose to support. Beuchler found that the blog facilitated group decision making, allowed students to demonstrate their ability to use technology, and reinforced the responsibility of ideas.

typingThis is a fairly simple addition to the final report project, but apparently Beuchler had great success with it. Following the work of Cardon and Okoro, however, it indicates a use of technology not common in the business world. However, despite Cardon and Okoro’s arguments, learning an additional technology–even if it is not used in work–can be a positive benefit as students recognize their ability to learn and use technology and can claim facility with it as a skill on their résumé.

When I first read the summary, I thought the article would be a waste of time. However, I have been considering creating a blog (on my own website) that students would have access to and could add the information that they create for the freshmen. Then I could offer my own students (and others) the opportunity to peruse the website and use the information they find there. That is still a possibility for implementation in spring 2014 and is certainly doable by fall 2014.



YouTube and Comm Ethics

by Dr Davis on April 18, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Lehman, Carol M., Debbie D. DuFrene, and Mark W. Lehman. “YouTube Video Project: A ‘Cool’ Way to Learn Communication Ethics.” Business Communication Quarterly 73 (2010): 444-49.

The article begins with the statement that businesses expect their business students to have been instructed in ethics. It then discusses the issue with studying case studies (irrelevant and boring) and argues that role playing, through the creation of a video on the case study, engages critical thinking and contributes to student enjoyment–which might increase learning (445). The assignment is to create a video on the case study that is to be part of the class’ (company’s) formal training on ethics. As a beginning point, students should learn the four behavior possibilities (illegal and unethical; legal, yet unethical; illegal, yet ethical; legal and ethical). Students decide on a communication rule and create a two- to four-minute video giving a realistic roleplaying of breaking that rule. Five points about videos that students might not know should be explained. 1) Short and simple. 2) Avoid gimmicks and too much movement. 3) Have good audio. 4) Choose appropriate clothing, avoiding patterns and bright colors. 5) Edit the video to eliminate errors. Inviting judges to watch and score the videos is recommended (446). Also having a premier is recommended.

This article refers to YouTube as “cutting-edge social media” (444). I think this is a mistake, even for 2010, though it is certainly not true in 2014. In 2014 Instagram would be the cutting-edge social media. However, YouTube is a viable and–dare I say–revered channel for students. Certainly a premier gives the appearance of importance, which is why I have done this with my fyc classes. The points for teaching about videos are good–though most of my students don’t make those mistakes anyway.

I think that when I have a B&P Writing class that is larger instituting this might be a good idea. I dropped the ethics assignment because they have a course in ethics in their major (business related) and I couldn’t do anything substantially better or different. This, however, might qualify.



Teaching New Media Responsibly

by Dr Davis on April 12, 2014

Veltsos, Jennifer R. and Christophe Veltsos. “Teaching Responsibly with Technology-mediated Communication.” Business Communication Quarterly 73.4 (December 2010): 463-67.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Privacy rules require that students not be forced to disclose certain personal information. Some students are at risk if they are required to create a website, or whatever, so be prepared to allow the creation of a sock puppet (464).

Remind students of the permanence of the internet. Tweets are now archived with the Library of Congress (465).

Discuss the usability of online sources and how it can constitute plagiarism (465). –Educational use only is allowed, but if we post these anywhere else, then we are infringing on someone else’s copyright. This is important to note if they are planning to post a video to YouTube. … Discuss how audio and visuals can be found that are creative commons and/or public domain.

Performance feedback must be kept private (466). So don’t comment on the video or the blog post if it is in the general internet –or even if it is behind a school wall. Others within the school can still see it.

These are good points to remember.


Seeing Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on April 11, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Allen, Nancy. “Seeing Rhetoric.” Writing the Visual: A Practical Guide for Teachers of Composition and Communication. Ed. Carol David and Anne R. Richards. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2008. Print. 32-50.

“Visual rhetoric refers to the visual communication of features and the effects they have on readers/viewers” (Allen 33).

Allen uses specific examples to argue that visuals provide information, make rhetorical appeals, and add nuance.

“To use visual rhetoric effectively, then, we must be careful to consider each item’s appropriateness to our audiences and purpose” (Allen 38).

“A good source for finding examples of the appeal through ethos is personal websites” (Allen 39).

Quotes 2002 website credibility study from Stanford, saying 46% of participants rated credibility of a site based on visual aspects (Allen 39).

Allen suggests that students be required to design their own website, to practice developing ethos (39). She also says that visuals often present the emotional appeal. “[W]e are often swayed more by our passion or emotions (Corbett 34), and it is emotion that inspires us to take action (99)” (Allen 40).

Allen says that images are a good invention strategy. “When students in my classes are developing ideas, with the goal of preparing a recommendation report, I ask them to create visual representations of the problem as part of the development process” (41). She says she actually requires multiple visual representations, in order to facilitate movement beyond “linear matrices and flow charts to sketches and visuals based on freer types of associations” (41).

“[V]isuals translate relations over time into relations in space” which, she argues, helps them to be more easily understood (42). She notes that search engines have become forms of invention and that they have also become more visual.

She notes that “headings in the center are more important than those on the side, and items in a list are related” (44), which we know from stylistic guides but they are rhetorical strategies that can be used effectively. I think this is something that résumé conventions do not strictly follow (at least on center headings). It is, however, interesting to think about whether or not a name centered seems to have more importance than a name to the left side.

“When text becomes art” (46) I noted as a great tag line.

Is this a goal for digital presentations? Text becoming art?

She quotes Donald Norman’s discussion of usability design that visuals provide memory aids. This is the same thing that Jesse Schell argues in The Art of Game Design.

Visuals evoke curiosity. People want to know the story behind images that catch their attention (48).

“Visual thinking during our writing process expands our reservoir of ideas” (Allen 48), which is why the digital presentation should come during or within the writing process, according to a CCTE presentation I attended several years ago.

male studying computerThis is harder to do than I expected, as it seems like students are working on disparate projects. However, I know that doing the digital project does enhance the writing project. Should I revise the 112 schedule to reflect that? Or is having them do two kinds of composing at the same time asking/requiring the students to work with mental overload?



Students and Assessment

by Dr Davis on April 10, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Crews, Tena B. and Kelly Wilkinson. “Students’ Perceived Preference for Visual and Auditory Assessment with E-Handwritten Feedback.” Business Communication Quarterly 73.4 (December 2010): 399-412.

The literature review says that writing skills have decreased, that a single course cannot remediate student writing skills, and that business communication is another course to emphasize writing. It charges that as submission modes change, so, too, should modes of assessment. It presents four goals: “(a) learners are actively involved and receive feedback; (b) learners become increasingly sophisticated learners and knowers; (c) professors coach and facilitate, intertwining teaching and assessing; and (d) learning is interpersonal, and all learners—students and professors—are respected and valued (Huba & Freed, 2000)” (401). Comments on papers are often ineffective [so why do we write them?] (402). They used a web-based questionnaire with assessment examples to gather data. Most students were seniors, traditional ages; a little more than half were male (405). Handwritten were ranked as the least helpful. Audio and visual with e-writing were ranked as most helpful. The participants also ranked benefits for each assessment type and answered which types were used by other professors.

This is an interesting quantitative study. It appears to have been carried out well. I am unsure that students saying they found something helpful means it is helpful, but it will more likely be perceived as helpful by the students… which would lead to better evaluations for the teacher, assuming the feedback given was decent/good.

I have sometimes written entire letters for feedback. I have even recorded responses. These take much more time than handwritten. I would want to know that a) they were being listened to and b) being used.



Wikis and Document Design

by Dr Davis on April 8, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Clark, Thomas and Jeffrey Stewart. “Using Document Design to Create and Maintain Wikis.” Business Communication Quarterly 73 (2010): 453-56.

Despite the argument put forth by Carmon and Okoro, Clark and Stewart say that wikis are becoming a necessary part of business writing. Something companies (and teachers) find valuable is that information on editing is available and previous iterations are maintained (453). Then the article gives ideas for creating wikis, including using similar templates and encouraging precision in titles (454). The article also describes the responsibility of the Wiki managing editor (which is a position students could campaign for). Wikis help business manage knowledge more effectively and could help students learn the principles for designing and editing effective wikis (456).

The article’s ideas are good, but for someone who has no idea about Wikis, there is insufficient detail to really begin to use them in the classroom.

Perhaps I should reconsider the idea of the website/blog posts and learn Wikis and see if those would work for my freshman newbie information site.

RrNm Ann Bib


Business Comm and New Media

by Dr Davis on April 7, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Cardon, Peter W. and Ephraim Okoro. “A Measured Approach to Adopting New Media in the Business Communication Classroom.” Business Communication Quarterly 73.4 (December 2010): 435-38.

The article states that instructors rush technological change in the classroom and gives three questions to ask before adopting new tech. “Does our emphasis on various communication technologies in theclassroom mirror the use of these technologies in the workplace?” (Cardon and Okoro 435). The most common technology used in the workplace is email, with as much as 15 hours/week being spent (435), then simple phone calls; other technology is significantly less common (436). “Do the technologies we adopt in the classroom mirror those best classified as business communication and help the field retain a unique identity?” (436). While social media is used in business, it is primarily in marketing, and blogs are primarily concentrated in leadership education (437). “Does the use of technology in the classroom complement and encourage rich, face-to-face communication?” (437) Technology should not, the article argues, replace f2f communication.

The first and third questions are good ones and though the article may not give strong arguments for them, there are strong arguments. The second question, however, is not even addressed in terms of unique field identity. The article would have been stronger without the second question, which brings in tangential rather than germane arguments.

The high use of email is a good point and one I had not thought of. I do use email a lot in my B&P Writing class and most of my students email their homework. They also usually email questions (rather than texting).