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Pre-Conference Workshops

Pre-Conference Workshops ~ Thursday, May 19, 2011 

Full-Day Workshop 

Graduate Research Network (Free; 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., with a break for lunch)

The GRN consists of roundtable discussions, grouping those with similar interests with discussion leaders who facilitate conversations and offer suggestions for developing your projects and determining suitable venues for publication. We welcome those pursuing work at any stage, from those just beginning to consider ideas to those whose projects are ready to pursue publication.

Please register with Janice Walker (GRN Coordinator) for the Graduate Research Network at

Half-Day Workshops

Morning Workshops

HDW-1: Creating a CMS that Works: Online Classes with WordPress and other Web Technologies ($50; 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.) 

Coordinators: Phill Alexander (Michigan State University), Julie Platt (Michigan State University)

In this workshop, we will provide the still live (and just finished) courses that the two of us taught in the fall and the spring utilizing WordPress as a base CMS with a number of web based applications providing additional functionality. As graduate students with extensive online and hybrid (half online/half-face-to-face) teaching experience, the two presenters have grown tired of the many failings of the ANGEL CMS (and Blackboard before it). These content management solutions represent an attempt to circumvent systems like ANGEL without falling into the sometimes daunting trap of going full-on “open source” with something like Drupal or Joomla which, while better than most CMSs, still provides numerous problems, particularly for instructors who are network and generally computer proficient but are not “code experts” by any means. 

Participants in this workshop will leave with the knowledge and resources to create a highly functional, relatively low maintenance online course environment utilizing just a small amount of personal web space. These environments are both user and instructor friendly, can be personalized to allow for instructor personalities and preferences, and embrace technology sites that students love and use frequently (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Digg) as well as resources that students might not already know but can surely thrive by utilizing (Google Calendar, Tungle, various online blogging suites, Flickr). The beauty of the model is the move to eschew the idea of “all in one” solutions and to instead embrace the fact that varied resources pulled together under a single umbrella can provide for the best possible instructional space. 

 One of the major keys to these hybrid teaching environments is to capitalize on the power of the social web as well as the productivity of various pieces of online software built to do specific tasks. The intermixing creates a dynamic, engaging environment that allows for student comfort but limits the frustrations that all-in-one solutions often incite when attempting more advanced goals like full-class chat or functional real-time Wiki collaboration. Participants will actually start producing a functional site as part of the workshop (participants will be strongly encouraged to have either university or their own web hosting available for FTP access during the workshop session). All the resources explained and provided are free of charge for both students and instructors.

HDW-2: Composing Digital Scholarship: A Workshop for Authors ($50; 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.)

Coordinators: Cheryl Ball (Illinois State University), Douglas Eyman (George Mason University), Casey Boyle (University of South Carolina), Jim Brown (University of South Carolina), Moe Folk (Kutztown University), Christine Tulley (Findlay University), Andrea Davis (Washington State University–Tri-Cities), Kathie Gossett (Old Dominion University)

This half-day workshop will guide and encourage authors interested in composing digital scholarship for online journals. Editors will discuss authoring processes from the beginning of research projects to the publication stage, including designing your webtext to add value to your research project, storyboarding/prototyping, creating sustainable and accessible designs, querying editors, finding local resources, submitting webtexts, and revising in-progress work. Authors interested in starting (or finishing) any kind of digital scholarly project will benefit from this workshop. The editors in attendance can also speak to individual authors’ needs regarding the teaching and evaluating of digital scholarship. 

This workshop has two parts: 

  1. Overview/presentation (with intermittent Q&A) by representative journal editors of editorial processes and conceptual procedures/tools for composing, submitting, and revising digital scholarship, followed by
  2. Break-Out Sessions, where participants can get localized feedback from editors/discussion leaders (in small groups or one-on-one) on any stage of their projects. 

HDW-3: Learning, Teaching, and Using Flash for Composition and Collaboration ($50; 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.)

Coordinator: Eric Rabkin, University of Michigan

In 1923, no one remarked that the film of The Hunchback of Notre Dame didn’t use color. In 1983, everyone remarked about that in Zelig. Rhetorical choices depend on our available resources and the effects of those choices depend in large part on what our audience believes are our available resources. While most instructors and students can process words and include images and live links in those documents, today’s communication environment offers so much more. With Flash, absolutely all the resources of the web are available: text, graphic, animation, video, sound, hyperlinking, interactivity, user customization, and so on. The two-edged fact about Flash is that it is hard to learn. The advantage of that fact is that in learning to use Flash to compose and collaborate in building documents, the strangeness of the communication technology itself produces both a visceral and an intellectual engagement with compositional choice, an experience that fosters improved communication practice with all technologies. The disadvantage is the difficulty of that learning. However, I have developed teaching and learning methods and a set of online materials that make it possible to take typical humanities students to the point where they consistently produce impressive Flash documents that satisfy them and train them as impressive communicators. This workshop will begin with a conversation about the learning effects of estrangement and then proceed to explore and use the available Flash materials, everyone producing new Flash work as time permits. 

HDW-4: The Medium is the Limit: Making and Modding Games ($50; 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.)

Coordinators: Wendi Sierra (North Carolina State University), Shaun Martin (North Carolina State University)

With the rise of new media technologies and digital media tools in the realm of academic discourse, use of traditional media formats such as the academic essay may be inadequate or limiting in terms of allowing students and scholars to explore new issues of embodiment and materiality. While teachers and scholars might be eager to adopt alternative methods for composing, the learning curve for new media formats (such as hypertext, interactive games, websites) can be daunting, especially for those who lack prior experience in such mediums. Therefore, we propose conducting a workshop aimed at introducing beginners to the basics of these game creation and hopefully empowering beginners to create their own works. 

This workshop will introduce attendees to game modding for academic purposes. The advantages of gaming for learning have been discussed by a number of theorists in the field of composition and pedagogy, including Selfe and Hawisher, Gee, and Bogost. Currently, games are used primarily as texts for analysis in classrooms and scholarship. This workshop will offer attendees the possibility to go beyond playing a game, and move into creating games for persuasive purposes. The workshop will consist of three distinct sections. First, we will discuss the reasons academics might want to make a mod themselves, or have their students make a mod. This section will draw heavily on Ian Bogost's Persuasive Games and James Paul Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach Us.

After presenting compelling reasons for understanding games as rhetorical constructions, we will move into creation. This workshop will show participants a variety of options for game creation, which vary from simple point-and-click editors to complex coding processes. Our primary demonstration will consist of a quick explanation of the the basics of how to use the Source Development Engine, a freely available development kit made using the engine from the popular Half-Life 2 game. Finally, we will demo "Infinite Boundaries," a scholarly Half-Life 2 mod that questions utopian notions of freedom and technology.

HDW-5: Wiki-writing: Teaching with Wikipedia ($50; 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.)

Coordinators: Adrianne Wadewitz (Indiana University), Rod Dunican (Wikimedia Foundation Inc.)

In this half-day workshop, we would like to introduce participants to the variety of ways Wikipedia can be used in the classroom. Wikis of all sorts have become increasingly powerful tools to teach writing at the college level and we would like to help participants envisage a wide scope of writing assignments using Wikipedia—assignments that emphasize traditional writing and research skills across the disciplines as well as the importance of newer skills such as media and technological literacy. Among the topics we will cover are: writing for a global readership; collaborative writing; the assessment of sources; the ambiguity between fact-based and persuasive writing; authority and legitimacy in digital publishing; and the construction of knowledge. 

Hour One: Introduction to Wikipedia  

  • Introduction to Wikipedia (15 minutes) 
  • Introduction to Wikipedia’s quality control (15 minutes) 
  • Introduction to the Public Policy Initiative (15 minutes) – The Public Policy Initiative is a grant-funded program designed to improve a single area of content and is the first systematic investigation of how to teach with Wikipedia. Students and professors at Harvard, Syracuse, Indiana, Georgetown, George Mason, George Washington, Lehigh, and Berkeley participated in this experiment, which will hopefully be a model for other areas. 
  • Q&A (15 minutes) 

Hour Two: Teaching with Wikipedia 

  • Teaching with Wikipedia – Success stories (15 minutes)  
  • Teaching with Wikipedia – Common pitfalls (15 minutes)  
  • Teaching with Wikipedia – Guidelines for creating an assignment (15 minutes) 
  • 15-minute break 

Hour Three: Editing Wikipedia 

  • Creating a user account  
  • Navigating the site – beyond the encyclopedia and into the background and talk pages  
  • Introduction to editing with Wikipedia 
  • Finding useful information for your assignment and class 
  • Finding help for you and your students 

Afternoon Workshops

HDW-6: Technofeminist Pedagogies in Public and Private Spaces ($50; 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.)

Coordinators: Brittany Cottrill (Grand View University), Kristine Blair (Bowling Green State University), Emily Beard (Bowling Green State University), Christine Denecke (The University of Findlay), Erin Dietel-McLaughlin (University of Notre Dame), Christine Garbett (Bowling Green State University), Lee Nickoson (Bowling Green State University), Krista Petrosino (Bowling Green State University), Ruijie Zhao (Parkland College)

The goal of this half-day workshop is to revisit both feminist and technofeminist (Wajcman, 2004) theory and the complexity of digital pedagogy in a Web 2.0 era. This workshop extends conversations begun at our C&W 2010 half-day workshop, “Remixing Technofeminist Pedagogies,” providing both new and returning workshop participants alike alternative, theory-to-practice approaches to technofeminist pedagogies. While last year’s session focused on technofeminist pedagogies applied to specific tools, this session will engage a series of pedagogical topics as participants explore some of the tools and practices that may support an individual technofeminist teaching philosophy. Special emphasis will be placed on helping participants develop multimodal assignments, with attention to how approaching digital tools within feminist frameworks may help to level the playing field for our students within public and private spaces. 

Participants will gain a new theoretical and pedagogical understanding of technofeminist principles and be able to employ these principles to bridge public and private spaces, as well as academic and community spheres to foster productive learning and teaching. Additionally, participants will leave the workshop with a series of shared assignment/projects for use in both academic and community contexts. 

Workshop facilitators will foster break-out group discussions on topics such as collaboration, assessment, empowerment, and service/activism with a technofeminist focus. Large- and small-group discussions will foster a broader definition of technological literacy acquisition and application as a means to move beyond functional to critical and rhetorical literacies. 

Through mini-presentations, group work, and reporting, this interactive half-day workshop will address the following questions: 

  • What makes pedagogical practices both feminist and technofeminist? • How does technofeminist pedagogy encourage collaboration? 
  • What role does technofeminist pedagogy play in assessment?  
  • How can technofeminist pedagogy promote empowerment, service, and activism?  
  • What tools can foster collaboration, assessment, empowerment, and service/activism in the writing classroom?  
  • What role does public and private writing play in collaboration, assessment, empowerment, and service/activism?’  
  • What challenges are associated with technofeminist pedagogies? How do we address these challenges? 

HDW-7: Becoming More Datagogical: Developing Multimedia in an Online Course Catalog ($50; 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.) 

Coordinators: Jonathan Hunt (Stanford University), Galen Davis (Stanford University)

This half-day workshop offers hands-on experience in adding a valuable multimedia component to an online course catalog. The workshop involves three major components: 1) examination of a case study (a pilot program of instructor videos embedded in Stanford University’s online course catalog for the required curriculum in Writing and Rhetoric); 2) discussion of key issues, challenges, and controversies in producing multimedia-rich course catalogs; and 3) hands-on work in producing video (including pre-production, shooting, editing, adding “B-roll,” and posting to YouTube). 

In a four-month period in 2010, instructional staff in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) produced more than fifty short interview-based videos describing each of the Program’s course offerings. Although scholars and pundits alike have celebrated the new ease of producing multimedia and interactive texts, this project presented substantial logistical, technical, financial and even emotional obstacles, even as it offered clear benefits in accessibility, advising, and public image of the Program. Workshop participants will analyze this pilot project’s applicability in relation to their home institutions. 

Implementation of the PWR video project also exposed us to a series of intellectual challenges that we seek not to overcome, but rather to open into long-running conversations. Workshop participants will discuss and debate these challenges. For example, we had to consider textual ownership in a new way. The use of still images and video clips in the films, while protected by Fair Use, introduced us to new dilemmas about citation practices in professional work. Instructors depicted in the videos had highly variable authorship roles; students, staff, outside contractors, and the University itself all contributed authorship to the project. Additionally, the privacy and ownership concerns of these many “authors” dampened our drive to foster a “datagogy,” a richly interactive, peer-authored web community (Moxley 2008). 

All materials and equipment necessary for the workshop are provided, although participants are free to work with their own laptops, cameras, and editing software. 

The Stanford pilot project videos may be seen by following individual course links at

HDW-8: Teaching with iPads: Motivation, Inspiration, Alienation in the Appleverse ($50; 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.)

Coordinators: Dennis G. Jerz (Seton HIll University), Laura Patterson (Seton HIll University), Christine Cusick (Seton HIll University), Ed Higgins (Seton HIll University)

As faculty members at schools that chose to incorporate iPads into our culture even before the product was released, we are conscious of our participation in a watershed moment – for Apple, yes, but more important, for our understanding of the boundary between computer classroom and traditional classroom (because, by default, our mobile technology makes every classroom a computer classroom); and conscious of the resulting challenge to the hardware categories of social gadget (the handheld toy that most of us have seen, at some point, as distractions to student learning) and word processor (the writing tool that most of us have considered vital to our profession). While the story Apple tells about its products emphasizes power and instant gratification, as writing teachers we recognize the value of the counter-intuitive path, the non-obvious deliberation, the uncomfortable confrontation. 

Part One: Overview: iPads in the Writing Classroom (30m each) 

  • Exploring the Effect of the Handheld Computer on Instructional Spaces and Practices  
  • Technology and the Resistant Student  
  • The iPad as a Writing Group Vehicle & Creative Writing Platform: Is There an App for That!?  
  • The Stories of our Shared Space: Allowing Student Perspective to Guide our use of Technology in the Classroom 

Part Two: Best Practices Laboratory (60m) 

Students will permit themselves to be distracted by technology unless we ask them to use it meaningfully. A group brainstorming session will collect reflections, and explore opportunities and venues for expanding our collective insights.

HDW-9: Everybody has a Literacy Story: Literacy Narrative Collection, Digital Media, and the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives ($50; 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.)

Coordinators: Deborah Kuzawa (Ohio State University), Katherine DeLuca (Ohio State University)

Additional Facilitators: Melanie Yergeau, Krista Bryson, William Kurlinkus, Chase Bollig, Lauren Obermark, Jennifer Michaels, Erika Strandjord (Ohio State University)

Think of this workshop like a StoryCorps project focused on writing/composition - and you're the interviewer. The workshop will focus on the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN), collecting narratives digitally, and the possibilities for using literacy narratives and the DALN in writing classrooms. 

In this workshop, we will teach participants how to collect autobiographical literacy narratives in the field, using the Computers and Writing conference and the surrounding streets of Ann Arbor as collection sites. The workshop is designed for participants interested in doing field research using autobiographical literacy narratives and those interested in incorporating literacy narrative assignments into their classes. Participants will learn about digital audio and video recording equipment, including readily available web cams and smartphones; online editing; and pedagogical uses of literacy narratives and the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives. 

During the conference, participants will be given video cameras (Flips) and/or audio recorders (Edirols) and will act as roving interviewers—collecting short literacy narratives from willing conference participants and from volunteers on the streets of Ann Arbor using such questions as: 

  • Can you tell us a story about a composition/writing class that you took? A teacher you remember? One that you hated or loved or both?  
  • Can you tell us a story about piece of writing you did? One that you hated or loved or both? 
  • Can you tell us about when an experience with technology made you feel illiterate? 
  • Can you discuss how learning to use computers (or other technologies) changed the way you view literacy?

We will provide instruction about how to obtain informed consent, as well as forms that participants can later use in their classes. We will also provide instruction about uploading literacy narratives to the DALN. 

Participants will also receive ideas for assignments that use literacy narratives in their classes and for involving students in collecting, analyzing, and writing about literacy narratives.

HDW-10: Rethinking the Reader as a Collaborative, Evolving, Layered Online Text ($50; 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.)

Coordinators: Bill Wolff (Rowan University), James Schirmer (University of Michigan, Flint)

This workshop is for people who are interested in learning about and contributing to a new crowd-sourced online Web 2.0 Reader. Locating a reader in an online, open-access, user-controlled space provides exciting opportunities for both rethinking what a reader can be, the kinds of texts can be included, and how such texts can be presented and read. Building on the traditional readings that are offered in print-based readers, the Web 2.0 Reader provides for the inclusion of video, audio, still image, whole web sites, and interactive artwork as texts that can be read and critiqued. It also allows for easy updates and expansions as important texts emerge and builds into its framework a system of layered commentaries that both complement and transform the original text. 

Workshop participants will learn about the Web 2.0 Reader, the concept of layered commentary, and what makes both unique and distinct from more traditional print readers. Participants will also receive a crash-course in Omeka, an open source web publishing platform upon which the Reader is built, learning about its applications and functionality. Through the process of learning about and then contributing to the Reader, participants will be engaged in collaborative, online work that will benefit their teaching and scholarly pursuits as well as the field as a whole. They will also be encouraged to add to a list of potential texts to be included in the reader as they hear of texts discussed in conference panels and presentations.

The workshop will be split into three parts, with a debriefing and discovery-sharing wrap-up to conclude activities: 

  1. Introduction and Rationale: this portion of the workshop will introduce participants to the idea of an online, crowdsourced reader. Participants will also learn about layered commentary, its history and current incarnations as well as its relationship to the reader under development by the presenters. 
  2. Omeka Applications: this portion of the workshop will introduce participants to Omeka, an online curation site. To learn about its various applications, participants will split up in pairs, research a function, and then present their findings to the larger group. 
  3. Contributing to the Reader: participants will come away from this portion of the workshop having contributed to the Web 2.0 Reader itself. To do this, workshop leaders will lead a discussion of three potential articles for inclusion. Participants will then be split into breakout sessions where they will brainstorm an article’s applicability and then produce a layered commentary about the article for the reader. To conclude the workshop, participants will share the ideas brainstormed as well as the commentary they created.