Writing in Online Environments


Course Description

Like other 300 level composition courses, CO302 emphasizes writing processes with specific attention to revising and editing, and critical reading processes with attention to reading from a writer’s point of view.  CO302 focuses specifically on the analysis and production of texts in electronic formats. The goal is to prepare you to write as a member of a society in which increasing amounts of public and social discourse takes place online. In this course, you will explore the rhetorical and cultural contexts in which electronic texts occur, and practice strategies for interpreting and producing these texts.

The purpose of this course is not to produce expert web designers or computer coders; these are professions in their own right, and one class could never provide all the knowledge and practice necessary. The goal for this course is to learn how to approach online communication rhetorically:

  • What are the affordances of various online spaces over non-digital print forms of publication?
  • How does one determine one’s audience when an online text can potentially be accessed by people around the globe?
  • How, as consumers of online texts, do we determine the reliability of what we read, see, and hear online?
  • As producers of online texts, what do we need to know technically and consider rhetorically to effectively communicate?
  • How do the enhanced multimodal components of online communication alter the rhetorical situation for readers and writers?

In order to compose online, we will learn the basics of the technologies that allow us to create web pages, blogs, and the digital audio, video, and still images that often make up parts of websites. The technological emphasis will be on learning and using the WordPress blogging software and understanding (but not necessarily using) the various technologies available for producing multimodal content (audio, video, and image production) and built from the ground up websites (XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, Flash, HTML5, etc.). Your success in the class does not depend upon your ability to become a computer geek in 16 weeks; it depends upon your efforts to analyze your rhetorical situation and learn the technologies necessary for you to effectively produce online texts that meet the needs of that rhetorical situation.

Finally, while ample resources will be provided, many of the online texts we study will be supplied by you—as will much of the design of the texts you produce. In other words, your interests and questions about writing online will remain the center of this course.


Course Philosophy

Central questions of the course
What do you really want to get out of life?
What can you offer the world that no one else can?

 In the most general of terms, this semester in CO302 we will collectively endeavor to discover (with research, reading, practice, and presence), connect (by engagement, active learning, pattern recognition, peer-review, and critical thinking), and share (through creation, communication, and service) something that matters, something that will contribute to making our lives better.  Individually, through a sustained process of presence and practice, you will discover and connect with something you feel strongly about, then share that passion with a specific audience, (in this case, our presentation mode will be the web)—a process which manifests possibility.

“In a world whirling so fast and so knotted together as it is, traditional approaches to text net us little in the way of understanding what it means to be human today.” ~Dene Grigar

Confidence is the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.” ~Susan Piver

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~Howard Thurman

Course Information

CO302, Writing In Online Environments
spring 2014

when and where
M/W/F @ 1:00-1:50 or 2:00-2:50 pm
Eddy 4

Dr. Carrie A. Lamanna
Eddy 330

office hours
Fridays 3:00-5:00 pm
by appointment

Most English Department faculty no longer have office phones. This means that the only way to reach me outside of class is to physically come to office hours or to email. During the work week I check email several times a day between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Under normal circumstances I respond to email within 24 hours. If you email after 5:00 pm on a Friday (i.e., on the weekend) you might not receive a reply until Monday morning.