Managing Attention in the Classroom with Distraction

Jake Cowan

Devices, Tools

Two of the more ubiquitous problems instructors face today are, on the one hand, the pervasive distraction of smartphones, and on the other hand, the inability to gauge a student’s comprehension of classroom material in the moment. Although the latter issue long precedes the emergence of the former, these are not unrelated difficulties. Both are questions of attention, whether won through a students’ interest in and engagement with a classroom discussion, or lost to a quickly silenced ring interrupting conversations and fingers

Lesson Plan: Using Siri to Teach the Ethics of Digital Labor


Devices, Lesson Plans

The rapid rate by which technology replaces and outdates itself has been measured since 1965 by Moore’s Law, which dictates that the amount of transistors within a integrated circut (microchip) doubles approximately every two years. Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, has predicted that the viability of his projection will cease in 2025, and since 2012, there has been a consistent slowing down between circuit transistor “doublings”. However, according to research on the physical limits of computation, a predictive model based

Lesson Plan: Visualizing Sound by Captioning Nonspeech Sounds

Matt Breece

Data Visualisation Week, Lesson Plans, Multimodal Writing, Pedagogy

Although closed-captioning is usually thought of in terms of accessibility, it also highlights the larger rhetorical significance of sound—a significance which is most notably taken up in sound studies. The convergence of rhetoric with sound studies has become increasingly salient to rhetorical theory as noted in the review essay “Auscultating Again: Rhetoric and Sound Studies” from RSQ. Sound in the multimodal classroom has likewise become a relevant site for rhetorical instruction, invention, and exploration. Scholars like Cynthia Selfe, Erin Anderson,

Lesson Plan: Teaching Research with Sam Barlow’s Her Story


Lesson Plans, Pedagogy

Usually when video games appear in the college classroom, they are objects of analysis. We critique them as if they were a book or a movie. But, in teaching their content, we rob them of their pedagogic potency. Games facilitate play, and by offering teachers new and unfamiliar decision spaces, games can be used to support and expand how we teach writing and research. This lesson uses Sam Barlow‘s 2015 game, Her Story, to help students master the core skills

Machine as Organism: Technology, Biology, and Collective


Data, Devices, History

      The constant increases in technological capacity, prevalence of automation and machine assistance, and the advancement of bio-tech, artificial intelligence, and medical technologies, expedite the tendency to view the issue of human subjectivity through a dichotomy of man/machine. This framing pre-inscribes a frictional relationship between man and machine, as if machines desire to, and are succeeding in closing the ontological gap between human beings and machines and/or artificial intelligences. The paradoxical novelty that wearable technology presents us (both

Lesson Plan: viewing>writing>listening Pedagogical Versions of Access

Sierra Mendez

Accessibility, Data Visualisation Week, Lesson Plans

Existentially, this lesson plan is about challenging student conceptions of information dissemination and questioning notions of universality embedded in web narratives of access. We like to think of the internet as a democratic space of unlimited maneuverability. But for many users, it is not. Here, we want students to consider the overwhelming prominence of visual, picture-based knowledge and ask who is excluded? Who cannot move freely in this space? Who is not granted access? Effectively, this assignment asks students to

Lesson Plan: Fake News

Marnie Ritchie

Lesson Plans, Multimodal Writing, Pedagogy

Weekly World News covers featuring a bat child and Hillary Clinton with an alien baby

Friedrich Nietzsche famously wrote in On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense that truth is “a movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding.” He likens truths to coins that have lost their embellishment. Given the complicated, contemporary industry of “fake news” (defined as news media with misleading,

Tinkering With Pedagogy: Experimenting With Technology at the DWRL


Accessibility, Devices, Games

At the start of last academic year, the Digital Writing and Research Lab assigned two research imperatives: data visualization and wearable technology. While data visualization is ubiquitous in most forms of media, and serves an already established and crucial role in empirical research and its dissemination, the affective affordances of wearable technology are emergent, and the cultural narratives that surround this category of technology is contingent upon the continuous emergence and advancement of new devices. Recently, the DWRL has obtained

Lesson Plan: The Ethics of Virtual Reality


Lesson Plans

In this lesson plan, students consider the ethical questions surrounding violence in virtual reality. By reading about the 1990s debate regarding the power of video games to produce violence in the real world, they discover that these are old questions that take on new urgency in the age of virtual reality. Students engage with an intellectual debate that played out in popular discourse. They articulate an opinion based on the information. By experiencing virtual reality (VR), students discern the difference