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2010 Slatin Prize
Matt King received the 2010 Slatin Prize for Master of Electronic Media in Education for his use of Rhetorical Peaks in his Rhetoric 312: Writing in Digital Environments class. Below is a description of his project.
This semester, my 312 students are using Rhetorical Peaks and working through a series of related assignments (outlined below). Through RP, I confront students with what Ian Bogost calls “procedural rhetoric,” the way that processes, logics, and systems of rules constitute a form of persuasion and expression. For Bogost, videogames make claims about “processes, which ones we celebrate, which ones we ignore, which ones we want to question.” All game design and game play is thus inherently rhetorical; a game’s processes and rules embody modes of persuasion and expression, and we can read them as such.
By playing RP, students examine and enact a new rhetorical mode, but they also get to switch the emphasis, considering the extent to which rhetoric is procedural. Through the assignments surrounding RP, students engage a range of rhetoric’s procedures – processes specific to particular skills (summary, analysis, website design, video production) and particular technologies and digital environments (Second Life, Wordle, iShowU, iMovie). At the same time, RP gives students the opportunity to question how rhetoric works. Ultimately, we can only define rhetoric according to specific processes if we recognize that any such definition will be incomplete and will shift in different contexts. In this sense, more than mastery of a particular set of processes, rhetoric requires the ability to negotiate and shift between processes. Rhetoric’s “win state” is less a particular outcome than an attitude characterized by the understanding that responsible rhetoric demands an ability to recognize and accommodate a range of perspectives.
RP asks students to confront the multiple and open-ended nature of rhetoric’s procedures by balancing a range of roles and identities, acting simultaneously as game designers and players, and negotiating their own attitudes, values, and beliefs through characters not entirely themselves and through communities comprised not only of their classmates and their characters but also future players of the game.
Multimedia Identity Project: http://rhe312.pbworks.com/Multimedia-Identity-Project-Hub
This page contains links to the assignment overview, specific instructions for different phases of the assignment, and links to my students’ sites. I was particularly impressed with the following projects:
Video Project: http://rhe312.pbworks.com/Rhetorical-Peaks-Video-Project
This in-class activity will be open-ended, exploratory, and student-led. When students play RP in Second Life, they will simultaneously perform the characters they designed in their Multimedia Identity Projects and work toward establishing a sense of trust and community within Rhetorical Peaks.