Open Learning Studio Proposal

English 2010: Intermediate Writing

OVERVIEW.  English 2010, Intermediate Writing, focuses on three related aspects of rhetoric and composition: writing with an awareness of public aims, including civic engagement; writing with sources; and multimedia/multimodal composition. The course presents students with opportunities to learn about many genres, common in both academic and public writing situations, and invites students to take up these genres with a deepening understanding of writing situations and the ways that their own writing can respond with knowledge and sensitivity to those situations. Students learn to

  • write in multiple genres,
  • revise (and/or translate/adapt) their work into new mediums,
  • develop and support arguments,
  • design documents appropriately for different writing situations,
  • read critically,
  • use and cite sources, and
  • use various strategies of collaboration.

Students in English 2010 revise selected pieces from their work during the semester. This work typically forms the basis of a final portfolio of their work, which is the signature assignment for the course.

Open Learning English 2010 will be structured around four modules.

  • Three modules focusing on three different genre pairs, each with a writing assignment in that genre.
  • A final module on collaborative revision and “translation” or adaptation, which results in the final signature assignment.

All the modules will engage students in learning about genre, modality, medium, the concept of a “fitting response” to a writing situation, and revision. Students will work at their own pace through these modules; the learning will be structured sequentially, both between the modules, and within them.

Each module will require a mix of readings, reading responses/informal discussions, viewing of screencasts, and informal writing in a notebook.

In the lab, students will meet with their instructors (and/or tutors/mentors) to discuss any of the above work, but will consult particularly on their major writing assignments in progress. They may also meet with their peers informally, either to peer review drafts face-to-face (at their option) or to work on collaborative projects.

This redesign will give special attention to developing an instructional team, consisting of two full-time faculty, at least one adjunct faculty member, peer tutors/mentors, and advisors. While the details of assembling the team will need to be worked out, the premise is that when faculty, full- and part-time, engage in the design process, instruction is more likely to be successful, since all involved will have both deeper understanding of the course, its outcomes, methods and modalities, and a greater investment in it, having participated in making it. The premise for involving peer tutors/mentors and advisors in the redesign is that deeper and broader support for student learning greatly enhances the likelihood that students will persist and be successful.

The redesign will also focus on the idea of adding value to the current online iterations of English 2010. We believe that we add value to online (and online plus) versions of the course not only by providing flexibility and access, but also by adding intellectual richness to the course by means of the online/internet environment. Composing within an online environment adds opportunities for students to read differently, write with more consequence, and actively engage in public/civic discourse; an online course can enhance these opportunities by foregrounding them. Adding the “plus” to the online model—the in-person, lab component of the course, as well as the instructional team approach—only amplifies these learning-focused values.

ONLINE DESIGN

Students will read and write online. They will interact with one another through informal discussions and reading responses, as well as required peer reviews.

This redesign will give special attention to good practices drawn from composition MOOCs, including better-designed peer review rubrics, and videos that are activity/response-oriented. Both full-time instructors taking part in the redesign are practiced at making short videos for online classes.

In the redesign, we plan to pay close attention to the sequencing of online activities, and add short comprehension/mastery checkpoints so that students can be alert to the desired outcomes of each activity, and can return to what they haven’t yet mastered, either in conception or in execution. The checkpoints will also suggest steps the student can take before proceeding.

We will build a rich, curated collection of readings, foregrounding genre, mode and medium, for our students’ use in developing their own writing in multiple genres, modes and mediums.

We plan to develop online student success strategies to improve self-assessment, persistence, and successful completion of the course, including an interactive self-assessment as to what makes for success in an online learning experience; regular progress reports; and targeted, “smart” use of the metrics already available in Canvas. Since students will have a great deal of flexibility in how they schedule their own work, we will also ask students to develop plans for their work; these plans can be revisited and revised in meetings with faculty, peer tutors/mentors, and/or advisors.

OPEN LEARNING LAB DESIGN

Students will visit the lab a minimum of ten times during the semester. Three of those meetings will be with the designated instructor to review one of the three major writing assignments in progress. For the remainder of the visits, students may opt to

  • Meet with a small group for purposes of peer review, discussion, or writing project development;
  • Meet with a peer tutor/mentor for writing advising;
  • Meet with an advisor to consider their next steps in their overall educational plans, and to review their own work plans for the course;
  • Meet for peer-to-peer assistance on multimedia projects; and
  • Meet with small groups in instructor-led critical reading sessions.

We believe that the expanded instructional team referenced above will be a great benefit to students, providing a richer set of resources and a stronger account (to the student) of where this course fits into his/her overall educational experience and plan.

Although students will have flexibility in setting their lab visits up, the course design will offer regular suggestions and encouragement for moments in the course when a lab visit is likely to prove beneficial, and suggestions for what type of lab visit might be most helpful to the student at a particular point in the course.

ADJUNCT SUPPORT

When the course redesign is completed , the online space will hold

  • well-developed assignment descriptions,
  • a curated (and updated/updatable) collection of readings in multiple genres, modalities, and mediums,
  • sequenced writing and reading activities,
  • screencasts on a variety of course-related (and ancillary) topics, and
  • supplemental materials, including links to theory/practice scholarship.

Adjunct instructors will find this wealth of instructional resources and conscious design to be a crucial support to their instruction.

What we think will be of great value in the redesign is that at least one adjunct instructor (we hope for two) will be involved in the redesign and in developing some of these materials as part of the instructional team. To build the team approach, we plan to meet at regular intervals during the semester to discuss the progress of the course, challenging pedagogical situations, and aspects of the course that may need to be amended or improved. Thus, adjunct instructors will help build the course, and will be a vital and active part of the ongoing assessment and improvement of the course.

Adjunct instructors will spend a high percentage of their instructional time working directly with students on their writing in the lab. Since we will be working with a studio model, adjuncts will have time, and be compensated, for their work, one-on-one or in small groups, with students working on their writing.

OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

We will continue the practice (in English 2010) of offering students the opportunity to encounter writing where it “lives:” we will curate a set of readings taken from online webspaces. This has the great advantage of allowing for a diversity of kinds of texts, ranging from more static writing which is indexed in repositories and databases, to writing that is updated and changed frequently; from texts that are mostly print-analogues to interactive texts; from texts that are primarily words to texts that include still and moving images.

We also believe that reading in online environments can provide an additional benefit: online environments are increasingly where texts live—online environments are the de facto “activity space” for many different kinds of writing. This allows students to see genre activity “live,” as it were, and not just reported in textbooks. We continue to see this—the chance for students to read texts in their natural environments—as one of the great opportunities of online writing instruction, one that we have not yet exhausted.

Additionally, we will produce instructional artifacts, including interactive videos, screencasts, and webpages, that will support instruction. Finally, we may make use of a concise edition of a current rhetoric/composition textbook

INTEGRATION OF THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF GOOD PRACTICE

Both the lab setting and the online space will be designed for maximum “touch”—that is, students will respond to one another, and instructors will be highly involved in responding to student work and in shaping the conversations that occur in both spaces.

Learning to write by its very nature is active, but we will consciously build activity into the curriculum by inviting wide-ranging invention work, multiple drafts, interactive peer reviews, and revision/adaptation projects. We will pay special attention to building interactivity into videos/screencasts and into rubrics for peer review.

Students will have lab sessions with their instructors in the process of writing their major assignments; this is one channel through which students will receive feedback. They’ll also have feedback from peers (through peer review) and from peer tutors/mentors. Instructors will engage with students in their informal discussions, as well.

Students’ work in English 2010 will be framed almost entirely toward generating, developing, refining, and revising their own work.

Because the redesign provides for both independent and socially-engaged work, and plans for multiple mediums and modes of communication; because students can learn visually, interactively, and by many forms of activity; because students have the opportunity and the invitation to frame their own writing projects, with feedback from instructors, mentors, and peers, this course respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

Finally the course redesign will communicate high standards. For instance, we will give emphasis to the eight “habits of mind” described in “Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing” (http://wpacouncil.org/framework), crafted by NCTE, CWPA, and NWP:

(1) Curiosity –the desire to know more about the world
(2) Openness –the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world
(3) Engagement –a sense of investment and involvement in learning
(4) Creativity –the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas
(5) Persistence –the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects
(6) Responsibility –the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others
(7) Flexibility –the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands
(8) Metacognition –the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge