Traveling Through Digital Spaces: Digital Rhetoric

by | Posted March 10th, 2014

DR123WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric is a course offered to students in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC) department, which allows students to dip into different styles of digital spaces. This course is designed to help students gain knowledge that is essential to the study and practice of digital rhetoric. I had the opportunity to take Digital Rhetoric with Professor Liza Potts in Fall 2013. In the four months I was in this class I learned how to use three new Adobe programs, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and InDesign. I also had the opportunity to experience online programs, such as Camtasia, Joomag, and

I wasn’t the only one who got the opportunity to improve my digital skills. This course allowed my peers and I to explore different spaces on the Internet and analyze how individuals communicate and build audience through these spaces. In analyzing these spaces, we were able to create projects and present them in different ways, with the common goal of delivering our findings through the digital world.

Liza encouraged us to step outside the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, and to choose from other delivery options that best fit our projects. She wants her students to “explore different tools and different delivery modes. These projects are their opportunity to learn new tools, practice skills, and explore issues of audience and persuasion.”

WRA 415 Student Projects?

Carly Mangus, a senior in Professional Writing with an emphasis in editing and publishing, used Weebly to delivered her final reflection paper, which was “Defining Digital Rhetoric”. Weebly is a web-building tool designed to offer step-by-step web development instruction to help anyone establish a website. Carly chose to deliver her project in the form of a website because she felt that it made the most sense, if she is discussing digital rhetoric it makes complete sense to apply the concept of digital rhetoric visually.

Maude Campbell, a senior in professional writing with an emphasis in editing and publishing, presented her knowledge-sharing project in the form of a Google Presentation (Docs): “Kickstarter: Knowledge Sharing Presentation. Google Presentation is a collection of office tools offered by Google to create projects and presentations online.

Laura Van Ett, a senior in Professional Writing took a different approach, and presented her knowledge-sharing project in the form of a Prezi. Prezi is a cloud-based presentation tool that reinvents, and brings creativity to the art of presentations. Prezi allows its users to create a mind map on a concept and connect different ideas, similar to drawing a brainstorming map.

Laura Gonzales, a PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing, partnered with Laura Van Ett and turned their final project into an article for Sweetland: Digital Rhetoric Collaborative. Their project was an interactive site where visitors could leave comments or communicate through Twitter. With their deliverable they were able to establish audiences from all over.

These projects have helped WRAC students develop a host of skills through examining how audience, purpose, form, and content work in digital spaces. This course helps students enter the professional world by helping to create and maintain social identities. With Liza Potts’ curriculum, we had a hands on experience in digital spaces.

Liza emphasized, “We can only learn so much by reading about how others communicate in digital spaces. Applying what we read by becoming active participants in these spaces – as researchers and as writers – is imperative for experiential learning.”

We were able to uncover more about ourselves, such as identifying strengths and weakness in our presentation and professional skills. In Laura Van Ett’s words, “WRA 415 helped me to think about the ways rhetoric is used through various technologies and across digital spaces by examining aspects of design, user experience, and community online. It helped me to understand digital writing as a conversation between writer, readers, and culture at large. It also helped me to think through issues of data, ethics, and privacy.” Don’t be hesitant to jump off that diving board and into diverse genres of digital spaces, and deliver projects like the students of WRA 415.