About #506iv

Writing & the Web

This is The Interactive Voice, my course blog for ICM 506, Writing for Interactive Media, part of the core curriculum in Quinnipiac University’s graduate Interactive Media program, where students attain an MS in Communications.

ICM 506 exists entirely on the Web to teach better writing skills and better online communication, media-production, and project-planning skills through online writing and language exercises. Students explore “interactive communication” with pseudonymous Web identities free from their bylines.

Students and I engage in online conversations and critique through written blog posts, comments, tweets, and other social media posts bearing the hashtag #506iv. A convincing and engaging virtual classroom prepares students to communicate well in all virtual arenas.

This is a basic skill for the 21st century. I believe in the online classroom.

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The Online Course

Desktop Publishing & Author Focus

Early in the course history, a student posted her pitch assignment in the form of a letter to a well-known individual she admired in Silicon Valley. The individual responded with interest, both exciting and terrifying the student. In their instant exchange, one sees the potential of the course.

This is like no previous writing classroom in history. Today’s students publish immediately and globally and little has prepared them for that opportunity and responsibility. Students need a writing course that reminds them of the significance and supremacy of language and thought.

The Interactive Voice encourages students to research, develop, and implement their own ideas. Through personal interests and viewpoints, the course reboots their curiosity and gives them a solid foundation for the vigorous semesters ahead and volatile chaos online.

It asks for words with focus, so students ask, “Why am I in a graduate program? What do I hope to begin?”

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The Interactive Course

Diverse Audiences & Growing Conversation

Initially, The Interactive Voice’s design answered the broad experience in the QU Communications School. Young students fresh from undergraduate programs and veteran communicators and journalists struggling in the new media landscape both benefitted from a written reevaluation of their goals and abilities.

Then students from Quinnipiac’s new medical school took the course. I also ran versions of The Interactive Voice outside Quinnipiac—for undergraduate freshmen at a community college, lawyers and artists in workshops, and professionals of all types in a continuing education setting.

The course became an interactive voice itself, generating ebooks and a growing number of accounts on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This allows me to experiment with Web identity and presence right alongside the students.

Exploring the variety of communicating audiences with greater interactivity enriches the course experience.

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The Meta Course

Self-Aware Teaching & a Working Algorithm

The Interactive Voice is writing about writing, a Web presence about Web presences, a conversation about conversing. It is a self-aware lesson plan. The course’s provocative voice encourages students to become more conscious of their own avatars, voices, and places in the interactive debate.

My course thesis is: words are the cornerstone of all forms of thought and communication, whether articles, screenplays, algorithms, wireframes, proposals, personas, or tweets. If you can’t define your goals or ideas in words, you don’t understand them yet.

I developed the full course algorithm over a seven-year period. It consists of two (2) carefully arranged sets of seven (7) lectures and assignments. The first half of the semester builds and tests a rough sketch of each student’s voice and the second half tests ways to make those voices interactive.

The Interactive Voice teaches by example. Despite its growing presence, this is just a beta version.

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Sign Up, Submit, & Connect

The Interactive Voice seeks students who participate, learn, and share over those that boast, preach, or snark. You can see inventive and remarkable examples of student participation in the course here.

Beside my lectures and assignments, blog posts will eventually include articles by course alumni and Interactive Media professionals. Either is welcome to submit writing.

The course blog is mostly password protected for participating students. I  also blog about the course on my public personal blog, Bumpspark.

If you are interested in running a #506iv workshop or course at your organization, sign up for the Interactive Voices newsletter or contact me @prof_kalm.

To learn more about the ICM program, visit QU Online.

Students with questions about the course should use the hashtag. Tweet #506iv

  – Bob