Writing in Online Environments




Tying up loose ends

This is just a reminder that tomorrow’s final class session is required.

You have two things due:

  1. the long-form webtext published on your blog/website as a page or post.
  2. the designer’s statement for the long-form webtext.


Publishing your webtext project

If your project is something that is not time-sensitive, that is, something that will decrease significantly in reader interest after a few weeks, then publish it as a post. If it is something that you think will be of lasting interest to readers and that you want to be visible for the long-term on your site, then publish it as a page that will become part of your menu along with your about page and 4th page.

Regardless of how you publish your project, make sure to provide some written context for it (one- two short paragraphs should be enough). Do not just embed a video or post a link, etc. without explaining what the project is and why we should read, view, or listen to it.


The Designer’s Statement

The instructions for the Designer’s Statement are on the Long-Form Webtext project page, and I am also posting them here for quick access.

The Designer’s Statement is a 250-500 word, double-spaced document in which you explain and justify your webtext choices according to the criteria/guidelines in the following three bullet points.

  • The text must fulfill your statement of purpose (audience, purpose, and context) as defined in your design plan.
  • The modes and medium you chose for your text must meet the needs of your audience and purpose and must be appropriate for the message you are trying to communicate (part of the context). That is, if your project is to teach art appreciation to an audience unfamiliar with the works you will use as examples, a podcast is probably not the best medium because listeners won’t be able to see the artwork.
  • The final product must be the equivalent of 10 double-spaced pages of writing in depth and complexity. This can sometimes be difficult to gage if you are producing a podcast, video or other non-alphabetic text. For such texts you will need to write a script, and that script will give you a sense of how much “writing” you are using. You should also take into consideration the work that images, music, etc. are doing in your project. A video script of six pages plus the work the images do (and the work you did to produce those images) could be the equivalent of ten double-spaced pages of writing.

Plan for our last class sessions

Here is a reminder of our plan for the last four class sessions (including today).

  • This Friday and next Friday are required class sessions. If you are not present, I will count you absent and apply the standard attendance policy.
  • On the last day of class, we will begin with course evaluations. After that, you must check in with me to insure that I have your long-form project. After that, you are free to go if all your work  for this class is complete, but the whole 50 minutes is available if you need to complete your project. Plan on staying for a minimum of 30 minutes. As an extra incentive to come the last day of class, I will give everyone present ten bonus points. (This should help those of you stressing about missed research journal entries.)
  • Monday and Wednesday are optional work sessions. I will be in our classroom ready to assist with your projects if you need me. If no one shows up after the first ten minutes of class I reserve the right to go to my office to work, and you can find me there.
  • I will be finalizing grades throughout next week and will send out emails when new scores are available in the Writing Studio.

Long-form project peer review prep

Today’s agenda

  1. Get into our peer response groups. (See the Writing Studio for your group info)
  2. Make sure everyone has a way to share their project. Get your project online now. See the Sharing Video page for instructions on how to upload video to YouTube and Vimeo. Upload audio and print documents to your group folder in the Writing Studio. If you have a website or other link for viewing your project, paste it in a Word document and upload that to your group folder.
  3. Make sure your author sheet is in the appropriate group folder. (15 minutes for items 1-3)
  4. Chat with your group members about your author sheets and any other important information you want them to have about your project draft. Make sure everyone knows who is reviewing whose project. (20 minutes)
  5. I will review the response worksheet that you will fill out for homework as you review each project. (10 minutes)
  6. Make sure your Blog/Website Reflective Analysis is uploaded to the dropbox before leaving. (5 minutes)

PDFs, e-books, & websites

Today is the day for those of you who want to work in formats that privilege words over images or that balances images and other media with text.


The order of the day

  1. Tis Friday so, comment on a classmate’s blog (10 minutes)
  2. Check-in on Audacity downloads and audio homework (10 minutes)
  3. Review of the CRAP principles and using styles (20 minutes)
  4. I will review how to create a WordPress site that hides the blogging function for those of you who want to create a website for your final project (5 minutes)
  5. Review of due dates and other important items (5 minutes)


 CRAP and other design principles

Professional document design privileges clarity and organization. Playful designs that make the user think about why the document is designed the way it is and ask him or her to do interpretive work to figure out how to read the document is discouraged. This is an ideology based on industrial efficiency, one that artists and scholars often critique, but one that is still dominant because it allows for quick and easy consumption of information. We will follow this current graphic design standard in our work for this class and only deviate from it if there is a rhetorical reason to do so. For example, if you are designing the layout for a poem or the liner notes for a punk album, you might want your audience to think critically about the layout of information and choose an aesthetic that deliberately goes against efficiency and readability.

Generally, for our purposes Consistency and Simplicity are key:

  • As a general rule, use no more than two fonts (one for titles and headings and one for body text) and no more than three typefaces (e.g., normal, bold, italic) (repetition & contrast)
  • Create a standard page layout/design that you will use for the entire document that includes a consistent style for headers/footers, titles, headings, body text, bulleted/numbered lists (alignment), text boxes, links, spacing (proximity), etc.
  • Use the same navigation system (menu) for all pages of a website.
  • Avoid widow and orphan lines and make sure headings stay with the body text. (proximity)
  • Place images in the same way (repetition) and only change the placement if there is a rhetorical reason to do so.
  • Use page numbers on print documents!
  • Have a title page or home page

Examples with problems

  1. The PDF workbook I will display
  2. The City of Tallahassee website

English Internship Opportunity

Below is the advertisement for an English Department internship. You do not have to be an English major to apply. You will earn 2 internship credits and a small stipend, plus this kind of online writing work looks great on a resume. You need writing samples for your application and the blog you are keeping for our class would make for the perfect sample. Direct questions to Jill Salahub: jill.salahub@colostate.edu


English Department Communications Internship
Number of positions: 2
Internship term: Fall 2014 Semester, 15 weeks, August 25th – December 12th, 2014
Total credits: 2
Hours: 80 hours (40 per credit hour), approximately 5 per week
Stipend: $250.00
Application Deadline: Wednesday, May 7th by 5:00 p.m.

The English Department is looking for two engaged, self-motivated, responsible, creative, and enthusiastic CSU students, undergraduate or graduate, with good communication and writing skills to help tell the story of the English Department. The interns in this position will help facilitate communication and community with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the English Department.

Interns will spend most of their time researching, interviewing, attending events, writing, and developing content — both for print and online. A major responsibility of this internship will be creating content for the department’s blog, http://englishcsu.wordpress.com/. Interns will work directly with the English department’s Communications Coordinator to meet departmental communication needs and complete various content development projects as assigned, including but not limited to creating profiles of people (alumni, faculty & staff, students), programs and projects; conducting interviews; providing event coverage (which would include attendance and photos, along with other modes of recording where relevant); and reporting departmental news and upcoming events.

For these internship positions, some prior reporting or blogging experience and/or education is preferred, as well as an understanding of principles for writing for the web and strong communication skills, both in person and in text. We also prefer applicants who are familiar with the English Department, its programs, people, and events – and who are willing to learn more. Content will be developed in various modes, and therefore skill with technologies such as sound recording and photography, as well as image and sound editing experience is preferred. We are also looking for interns with good people skills, the ability to participate in effective verbal and written exchanges, understanding that as they attend events and conduct interviews and such, they are acting as a “goodwill ambassador” for the department.

Applicants should email or bring a cover letter, résumé, contact information for three references (phone and email), and three writing samples (plus multimedia samples, if applicable) by the application deadline to:

English Department
c/o Jill Salahub: Communications Coordinator
359 Eddy Hall
1773 Campus Delivery
Ft. Collins, CO 80523-1773

Audio Production

Plan for today’s class

  1. Comment on a classmate’s blog while I check to see that your video homework is complete. (15 minutes)
  2. Discussion of your videos (20 minutes)
  3. Learn the basics of Audacity and prepare for Wednesday’s in-class activity in which you create a short audio project using Audacity. (15 minutes)


Video homework check and class discussion

While you are commenting on a classmate’s blog, I will walk around and check that your video homework is complete. Please login to WeVideo or open your PowerPoint file or the video file you exported from PowerPoint and have it ready for me to view. I will ask you to scrub the timeline so I can get a quick preview of what you created.

Next I will ask for 2-3 volunteers to show their videos to the class on the big screen so we can discuss the video-making process. If you have a video from PowerPoint, you will need to copy it to a thumb drive or have it in the cloud in order to share with the class. I’d like to see some spectacular failures as well as successes because we can learn a lot from a project gone wrong, and the point of this homework was to learn about the video production process, not to create a masterpiece.


Using Audacity

Today I will walk you through the basic steps of using the sound editing program Audacity. On Wednesday you will use the following sound files as our starting point for making a one minute audio story—the content of the story is entirely up to you. On Wednesday you will download the sound files to the computer you are using. These are the sounds you will remix in Audacity to create a story. You can also visit the websites Freesound or ccMixter to get more audio clips if you like. Your task between now and Wednesday is to listen to the sound files, download more if you like and bring them to class, and script the story you want to tell. I will bring the audio recorders to class Wednesday for us to share. You can also use your phone or other recording device if you prefer. Please bring headphones if you have them!

Door slamming


wind and rain


whispering in Spanish

woman speaking in Dutch with answering machine beep

scary voice

children in a store


To learn how to use the program, you can watch the following  video or search for others on the web. I will walk you through the basics and answer any questions. On Wednesday I will help you create your audio stories and show you how to upload the file you create during class to the Writing Studio so that I can hear what you have created.

Audacity Tips
Remember that your final audio file needs to be in the correct file format: “.mp3″ or “.wav”. Mp3 is the best file format for most online spaces because it creates a smaller file that loads faster. So, export your file from Audacity as an Mp3 and check the file size. If you think it’s too large after exporting, go to the “preferences” section of Audacity, choose the “file formats” tab and lower the “bit rate” under “MP3 Export Setup.” Now, export again; the file should be smaller this time. Continue to lower the bit rate and export until the file is the appropriate size. Lowering the bit rate also lowers the quality of the audio file, so only lower it as much as necessary for the file to load in less than a minute on your website.

When working in Audacity, exporting as an Mp3 will not affect your original Audacity file. However, if you make a “quick mix” before exporting (this collapses all your separate audio tracks into one track) and save it, you are changing the Audacity file itself in a way that will make it really difficult to do further editing. The best thing to do when you are ready to export is to open your Audacity project, choose “save as” and save it under a new name. This way, if you accidentally alter the Audacity file in a way you don’t want to during the exporting process, you can go back to the original. When you begin work on your formal audio project it is good practice to start each work session by doing a “save as.” This way, if something goes wrong you won’t have to start over from scratch—at worst you will lose only a few hours of work.

Also remember that Audacity saves your project in two parts: a “.aup” file and a “data folder.” You need both of these files/folders in order to open and work with your Audacity project. So, if you are working at home and then bringing your project to class to continue working, make sure to bring both with you. The two files will look something like this:

screen shot showing Audacity files with folder and .aup file

Finally, Audacity often creates a backup file with the extension “.bak”.Never, never open this file or use it in any way. Doing so could corrupt your project files making them impossible to open!


Downloading Audacity

You can download the latest version of Audacity for your computer, but I recommend using one of the portable versions below unless you will always be working on your project from the same computer.

Portable Applications
If you want to get Audacity for portable use on your USB flash drive on a Windows machine, you can get the portable applications from the network drives in Eddy 300, 2, and 4, but it is an older version. Go to one of these rooms, click “My Computer” and then on the network drive, and then on the folder “Portable Apps.” Drag the Audacity folder to your disk or USB flash drive. You can then run the program from your disk or USB drive on any computer without needing to put the program on the computer itself.

For the latest versions of the Audacity portable app for Mac and Windows:

Audacity Portable for Mac

Audacity Portable for Windows

Video Production, part II

Here’s the plan for today, Friday, and part of Monday.

  1. Wednesday: Finish our timelines (10 minutes)

The following will be done Wednesday in the 1:00 section and Friday in the 2:00 section.

  1. I will demonstrate the basic features of WeVideo. (15 minutes)
  2. I will demonstrate the Flip Video cameras and record a few of you answering the following question: What do college students today need to learn about writing and multimodal communication to be successful in the workplace after graduation?  (10 minutes)
  3. Go to WeVideo and create an account and start a new project while I make the video available to everyone.(10 minutes)
  4. When the video is available, download the clips and import them to your WeVideo project. (15 minutes)
  5. Review relevant course readings, assignments, forum responses, etc. to gather more material, and make a 2-3 minute video on the question for homework. (1:00 section due Friday; 2:00 section due Monday)

The following will be done Wednesday in the 2:00 section and Friday in the 1:00 section.

  1. Follow along as I explain how to create a video using Powerpoint.
  2. On Monday in class we will practice using our video clips in Powerpoint and then move on to a discussion of audio.

Video Production, part I

Class Agenda

  • Comment on a classmate’s blog because we did not do so last Friday when we were presenting our Webtext project proposals. (10 minutes)
  • Finish workshopping any proposals not discussed last week (10 minutes)
  • Go over best practices for recording and working with audio and video including conducting interviews (10 minutes)
  • Draft a timeline for your final project.

Make a list of all the steps you think you will need to complete. Next to each step estimate how much time you will need for each. Finally, write down a date by which you will complete each step. Drafts are due Monday, April 28 and final projects are due Friday, May 9. Print out your timeline and submit it before leaving today. (20 minutes)

More Sound Matters

Class Agenda

  1. Grade updates and Attendance (5 minutes)
  2. Continuation of our discussion of sound on Tuesday. Please sit with your group from last class session. If you were absent Monday, simply follow along. We will complete our review of McKee’s article using the slideshow and videos we began looking at Monday, and then move on to use her sound categories to analyze other types of media.


Grades and Attendance

At the start of class you received a piece of paper with two numbers on it. The number to the left of your name is your “grade report code number.” Every Friday after class I will post the grade book in theClass Files section of the Writing Studio. Find your number in the first column of the spreadsheet to identify the row that contains your grades.

To the right of your name on the piece of paper you received today is the number of absences you have accumulated. Please make note of it and review the attendance policy, especially if you have more than three absences.


Investigating Heidi McKee’s sound categories

After analyzing McKee’s sound categories using familiar cinematic examples, let’s spend a few minutes with the less familiar new media examples she uses in the article.

vocal delivery (p. 339)

music (p. 343)

sound effects (p. 346)

silence (p. 348)


Radio Lab Homework

Let’s look at how sound constructs meaning in the Radio Lab episode Morality. I will play a clip from the “Chimp Rides and Trolly Cars” segment and make an argument that the heavy layering of voices and sound effects sets us up for the turning point in the argument. At the turning point, the heavy layering ceases and serves as a contrast (remember your CRAP principles!) to the use of silence and singular focus on vocal delivery.

Now let’s listen to the “Crime and Penitence” segment together, note all the categories of sound used and construct an explication that shows how those sound elements create meaning.

For homework, choose one of the following Radio Lab segments and analyze how sound works to construct the narrative and our reactions to that narrative:

Make sure to discuss all four of McKee’s categories—vocal delivery, music, special effects, and silence—and explain how the work to create CRAP (contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity). Post your analysis in the Writing Studio dropbox folder titled “sound analysis.” Your analysis should be 500-750 words (about 2-3 double-spaced pages) and is due by the start of class Monday, March 31.

Sound Matters

I hope you all had a fun and relaxing spring break. Today’s lack of sun makes the return to campus a bit more difficult, but I hope today’s lesson on Heidi McKee’s Sound Matters: Notes toward the analysis and design of sound in multimodal webtexts, will be entertaining as well as informative and make up for the dreary weather.

This most interesting lesson comes courtesy of James Roller, who will be leading our discussion in person during the 2:00 class session. Below is how I will structure Mr. Roller’s lesson at 1:00. He may organize things a bit differently at 2:00.

To start, we will get into four groups and each group will review the article to find the answers to two of the following questions (about 10 minutes). I will take questions five and six, as they are review of the Manovich’s principles, which we discussed earlier in the semester. As we review our answers to the questions, we will use the videos below to discuss each of McKee’s four elements of sound.

  1. From what approaches does McKee draw to discuss her four-part schema?
  2. What are the four parts to McKee’s schema?
  3. Why does Helen Van Dongen think it is impossible to talk about a movie’s soundtrack separately from its visual elements?
  4. What do Kress and Van Leeuwen mean when they argue for “an integrated semiosis?”
  5. In order, what are Lev Manovich’s five principles of new media?
  6. What is modularity?
  7. What does McKee assert we must consider when analyzing webtexts?
  8. What does McKee identify as the qualities of vocal delivery?
  9. What are Copeland’s three planes?
  10. What main purposes does McKee suggest sound effects serve?

Vocal Quality


Sound Effects


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.