This is the single course in the ICM program to focus on writing, from the basic mechanics of good communication to the latest memes and new media innovations.
The original interactive communication form is vital in the online environment. Words underpin every aspect of the Web, from search and navigation to links and code. Fundamental writing skills also develop critical thinking, establish credibility, and ground the individual’s voice and ideas in an increasingly fragmented landscape.
As institutions like the newspaper, television, and editor become more dynamic and the Internet places more responsibility on authors of all types, a solid grasp of the written word becomes more essential.
As a #506iv student, you will explore different mediums and forms from tweets and algorithms to wikis and scripts. Readings will expose you to different communication theories from Aristotle’s ancient ideas on rhetoric to Andrew Sullivan’s and Jaron Lanier’s latest critiques of the Web.
Of course, you will write. You will pick an area of interest and practice the different writing forms through your exploration of your subject matter. Your goal in this course is to conceive and execute a strong and unique interactive voice.
Every Tuesday night, you access an online learning module that includes readings, links, and assignments. Then we create a virtual online discussion using blog posts, comments, tweets under the hashtag #506iv, and other forms of social media, to explore each module further. I divide you into groups to critique one another’s work.
I split assignments into two parts:
- Deadline assignments include weekly longform blog posts, shortform microblog (Twitter) posts, and critiques you must complete by the following week.
- Voice assignments include additional blog and microblog posts that rewrite deadline assignments, create class discussion, and let you build your audience and develop your voice further.
You can find details on the grading of these two assignment types below.
The course is also split in half:
- The voice half concentrates on writing technique. You practice writing with a number of online forms, develop a unique Web presence or “online voice,” and work towards publishing a single online article at the midterm.
- The venture half concentrates on practical writing applications. You pitch and develop an idea through different written forms of proposal and presentation, make your voice more interactive with your audience, and work towards writing a single press release for a unique online campaign at the final.
I search your personal Web presences at the beginning of the semester, and your pseudonyms at the conclusion. By course end, you should demonstrate a consistent, easily-found presence and a greater understanding of writing and voice on the Web.
The course has become something of a startup. Instead of the business and economics of ideas, the modules discuss the language of developing and executing ideas online. I invite you to use the course to contemplate your final ICM capstones as potential startups.
Towards this end, the course blog has its own Web presence, complete with ebooks and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds that expand and evolve with class. You can find previous examples of students’ successful use of the course on the alumni page.
Deadline assignments are worth half (50%) of your grade for each module. I give the deadline assignments a collective points value and evaluate on three writing criteria: technique, creativity, and effort. Assignments posted Tuesday night are due by 11:59 p.m. the following Monday night. For every day your assignment is late, you will lose ten percent of your grade. Deadlines are important.
Voice assignments are worth the other half (50%) of your module grade. You will get another collective points grade based on your ability to write these assignments well and post them regularly. These assignments evaluate your initiative in producing material, interacting with the class and your audience, and building your voice.
For example, the deadline assignments for one week might include a longform essay posted to your blog, five possible headlines for that essay tweeted on Twitter, and two critiques of your assigned classmates assignments. You will accomplish these assignments first.
The voice assignments for the same week might include two additional blog posts, five more tweets, and a third critique. I may suggest one way to rewrite the previous module’s assignment, but you might ignore my exercise and instead write one post responding to a reading you liked that week and a second post that falls under your chosen subject matter for the semester. Your additional tweets might start a class conversation or build your followers.
Your final grade is based on the total points available from all the deadline and voice assignments. I will update grades regularly on Blackboard.
You cannot treat this course like an assignment checklist. You must participate regularly and improvise through your writing and voice. You are responsible for following and interacting with the hashtag #506iv on Twitter.
All assignments should seek the grade A standards of the following rubric:
On Critique & Plagiarism
Critiques are important. You should provide classmates with constructive criticism and suggestions. The more good feedback you give, the more you acquire, and the faster your work improves.
“I really liked your post” is not constructive criticism. “This was a great sentence because…” and “You lost me in the second paragraph when…” are specific constructive criticisms.
I don’t tolerate plagiarism. It is easy to identify in a class about writing on the Web. Assignments found to contain the work of others without citations will be assigned a grade of zero with no possibility of recovery. Multiple incidents will result in class expulsion and appearance before an academic board. Quinnipiac’s formal policy on academic integrity is available below.