THATCamp Digital Writing 2014: Link Gallery

Definitely on the “loosely” defined MAKE category, but thought I’d share this anyway in case anyone missed it from an earlier tweet I sent out.

Throughout the day, I kept my eyes and ears open for interesting links and resources shared and thought it’d be a helpful thing to curate and exhibit them together:

Links Next Door (03/05/2014): THATCamp Digital Writing Edition
(Posted over at my site)


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Wikipedia editing assignment — inviting professional comments/edits

Our group developed a formal assignment that asks students to stake a claim to an underdeveloped page within Wikipedia that profiles a composition/rhetoric scholar whose work we have read, and then build up the content of that page based on their research. In addition to the Wikipedia community users who will land on the page and, perhaps, edit it (thus further increasing the currency of the topic), I will reach out to the community scholars who are under consideration, inviting them to view and leave comments in the Talk pages. Through the success or failure of specific elements of the page, students will learn the relative ethical values of these elements within the discourse communities of Wikipedia, of composition/rhetoric, and of our classroom, while also developing skills editing mediawiki documents and learning to critically read Wikipedia articles in general.

This assignment was developed using the Open Digital Pedagogy at Play game from City Tech Open Lab. Our cards were:

  1. General Education Student Learning Outcome: Use the arts, sciences, and humanities as a forum for the study of values, ethical principles, and the physical world
  2. Open Pedagogy Technique: Inviting industry professionals to comment on student work
  3. Game: Monopoly

Group members:
Benjamin Miller
Lindsey Freer
Jill Belli
Jody Rosen

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Teach: Wikis as Self-Archiving Course Site

I would be interested in joining a panel of workshop leaders in a hands-on foray into course site design. My own preferred platform is Wikidot, which allows easy revision tracking, custom menu building, file uploads, and a landing page with the full course schedule.

Participants would begin by sharing past sites, then use the remaining time to develop new sites for the summer or fall with each other on-hand as guides-on-the-side.

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Talk Session: Textual Annotation in CommentPress

This semester, I launched a pilot project in a writing-intensive literature course, Great Works of World Literature, required of all undergraduates at my school. We offer up to 75 sections of this class every semester and most of our students are not English majors. For the pilot, students across four sections of the course are reading three common texts and collaboratively annotating these texts in CommentPress. The instructors are discussing annotation practices and purposes in class, and asking students to work in groups to annotate the three common texts for specific purposes that are relevant for the classes. This proposed session will share the purposes that students and teachers identified for textual annotation; discuss the results of the annotation work students did in CommentPress; consider the challenges; and explore the potential of CommentPress for building an interactive archive of student reading and writing. Questions I’d like to consider include:

  • What are the limitations and potential in CommentPress for this kind of work?
  • How can we encourage more interactivity, creativity and conversation in the student annotations?
  • What other platforms might be effective for this kind of work?

I look forward to hearing from others who have done or are interested in doing similar projects, and brainstorming more ways to promote student writing and reading in digital platforms.

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Make: Code as Digital Writing in an Analog Environment

Reading through most of the proposals so far, I know there’s a lot of interest (which I share) in how the kinds of writing and composing we do can be reimagined or enhanced by the affordances of a digital space. I want to propose something a little different, and in some ways opposite.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately writing code in the R statistical environment, generating textual analyses of research writing in Composition/Rhetoric. Much of that time has been spent “alone,” solitarily composing and debugging or reading articles and manuals and help fora online. But Comp/Rhet research suggests that this kind of isolation isn’t ideal for most composers, at least those who are working to learn their craft.

In this session, I’d like to get a bunch of similarly minded humanist coders to work together in a shared physical space. Even if we’re working in different languages — R, Javascript, html, Python, what-have-you (even English)– I want to create a kind of writing lab in which the focus and energy of those surrounding us lends each participant additional motivation and support. And as questions of algorithm and procedure arise, we could pose them and thus learn new strategies both by instruction and also by contrast. (Though Joel Spolsky makes an interesting point about losing “flow” due to interruptions, he’s writing about expert coders in professional programming settings; I don’t think any of us at this conference are likely to be that, though I could be wrong.)

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Talk: Querying Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling is a complicated endeavor for the undergraduate student. Students find the craft of traditional writing assignments difficult enough—how can we as instructors expect students to achieve the same level of critical thinking through photography, video, or audio, given the technical skills unique to each medium?

This session assumes a WAC/WID context as the premise of its discussion. Together we will ask three questions based upon our own experience as educators: How does thinking in other media support our curricular goals? What kind of scaffolding is needed to support digital storytelling projects? How do we evaluate such thinking?

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Make: Planning a semester of writing using a digital workflow

As academics, how might we reconceive the workflow of our own writing assignments within and across the disciplines, taking a cue from the best practices of digital journalism? In recent years, news organizations have redesigned their editorial workflow to adapt to the web. For example, whereas the Times once used a print-centric content management system from which stories were later converted for publication on the internet, now journalists at the Times use a web native platform, into which the metadata is entered, and then later converted for print ( WordPress has become the platform of choice for digital writing, used by 19 percent of websites (, including the Times. For this reason, WordPress has been adopted by educational institutions such as the Macaulay Honors College. A number of editorial management tools are available (, including specifically for WordPress, such as Edit Flow (

Thinking in terms of a digital workflow allows us to re-imagine the most common form of digital writing, the blog post, envisioning increased self-regulation through goal setting, and increased collaboration and group work. Using John Bean’s book Engaging Ideas, Second Edition as inspiration, we’ll work in groups to sequence a semester of digital writing within a WAC/WID context. We’ll take the principles of a digital workflow and adapt them to 100 and 200 level undergraduate courses within the humanities and sciences. Together, we’ll spend little time examining digital workflow itself —participants will be responsible for gaining a rudimentary understanding of its tools and principles beforehand. Instead, we’ll explore its possibilities and pitfalls together by experimenting with assignment sequencing through a rudimentary, mock syllabus. To facilitate the planning of your mock syllabus, each participant should come with three goals for their course. We’ll use these goals to reverse-plan our semester of writing using a digital workflow.

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Building a Digital Exhibition Writing Assignment

One of my teaching goals involves incorporating a digital exhibition writing assignment in my undergraduate art history courses. I envision this assignment as a form of collaborative writing. Students would work in small groups to divide the labor and delegate responsibilities for preparing the general exhibition narrative, various exhibit labels, and artist biographies. While these tasks are common of exhibition planning, I believe that the digital environment will present a different set of challenges and possibilities. The capacity for multimedia implementation would make the online exhibition space far more dynamic than the environment one normally encounters in actual art museum settings. The writers/designers would have to think in a very engaged and networked manner to realize the potential of the digital exhibition mode.

As I plan this assignment, I would like to learn more about other people’s experiences with digital exhibition writing in general and as a pedagogical activity.

  • What challenges related to this topic have you faced?
  • What strategies did you employ?

I have experience employing social media, WordPress blog, Twitter, and Pinterest, in the classroom. The takeaways I have from assigning student blogging and tweeting are particularly useful as I begin to develop ideas about this more advanced project. Additionally, I have participated in small to large collaborative digital writing groups. These activities entailed using a combination of Google Docs/Drive, MSWord with track changes, and email communications. We made those platforms work; however, they each presented frustrations and sometimes seemed awkward for group writing. So I also would like to discuss more interactive, yet free or low-cost, platforms for both student collaborative writing and digital exhibition writing.

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Talk Session: Handwriting – What we can we learn from it, and how can we use it in a digital age?

The distinction and dividing line between pre-history and history is the written word. Handwritten materials still exists from millennia ago, and these handwritten works give us great insight about nature, civilizations, commerce, literature, and personal communication, as well as information about the person who wrote it down.
-How and what can we learn from handwriting, one of the oldest and most important forms of communication?
-How has handwriting been preserved, saved, and lost over time? What can that teach us about our data?
-Should we try to preserve our remaining handwritten material?
-What efforts are underway to save handwritten material?
-What collections of handwritten material exist?
-Are collections of handwritten material public or private, and how are they shared?
-What efforts are there to transcribe handwritten material?
-Does the latest trend away from teaching the reading and writing of script endanger understanding of the last 500 years of material in English?
-Will only specialists and archivists be able to read handwriting in the future?
-Will computers and software alone be able to read and interpret handwriting?
-How can we create sets of data and linked data with existing handwritten work?
-Should we continue to create handwritten work?
-Should we try to create a personalized hard copy with digital enhancements so that the fuller meaning of our words, emotions, and character that exist in normal handwriting can be expressed digitally, preserved digitally, and archived digitally?
-What is lost if we only use computers, their fonts, and either hardcopy or a digital copy?
-How does the move away from handwriting affect all languages, cultures, and their futures?
-How will born-digital handwriting and writing transform our cultures, literature, and perceived identities?
-How is born-digital writing best preserved for future generations, and  how will it be perceived or understood in thousands of years?
-Will born-digital writing outlast and remain viable longer than works on paper or other materials?


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Maker Challenge

In addition to talking and playing and workshop-ing at THATCamp Digital Writing, everyone is encouraged to actually Make something. In this spirit, we are holding a Maker Challenge!

This competition follows in the spirit and form of the one at THATCamp CHNM last year. More details are available on the Challenge’s page, but it boils down to this:

If you have an idea of a project you’d like to prototype or brainstorm or hash out this weekend, bring it! If a project idea comes out of a workshop or session, go ahead and put something together to progress that idea. These proposals or prototypes can be submitted individually or in groups.

Submissions must be created at the THATCamp.

All submissions will be briefly presented during the last session on Saturday, so there will also be an opportunity for live feedback from the group.

Let this weekend inspire you to create a project or a tool or develop an idea. And you might just win a prize!

Again, for further details, see the Maker Challenge page, and if there are questions, please ask Kristen Mapes (kmapes[at]fordham[dot]edu).

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