CTAL First Friday Roundtable and Other UD Events

On top of the in-services we hold in the Composition Program and the lectures, workshops, and events of the English Department, there are several other opportunities across campus to talk and learn about teaching and scholarship.

One example is this week’s First Friday Roundtable held by CTAL, where participants will discuss Teaching and Learning grants. A few Composition graduate students already plan to attend and we encourage further participation.  CTAL, along with other UD centers such as the Center for the Study of Diversity, Academic Technology Services, and more, continually create opportunities for great discussion.

While the individual centers post these events on their respective pages, generally the Comp Program also adds them to our calendar. Email Christine Cucciarre to gain access to the calendar.


Contacting Book Reps

We’ve added a page to the website with updated contact information for publisher representatives. You can find it here (or, in the resources for teachers menu).

If you’re interested in adding a book to your course, switching your text, or exploring new options, you can contact the representatives below with questions, desk copies, or recommendations. Speaking with our book reps is the fastest way to access different texts, and also offers the opportunity to learn more about what’s available to you and your students.

W.W. Norton
Courtney Brandt,
Oxford University Press
Jeff Yerger

Jackson Tucker


Jill Fox

Thinking about Copyright and Creative Commons

In the faculty retreat we will discuss academic honesty and ethical source use. Often, we think about this primarily in regard to written work. With digital texts, and within more “traditional” texts, students also frequently use a range of media: images, audio, video, etc. It’s important that students have an understanding of how to ethically incorporate these materials as well – where attribution frequently differs and even the vocabulary is different. We talk copyright violations as opposed to plagiarism.

A note about copyright, one Hannah Lee was always sure to bring our attention to in the Student Multimedia and Design Center: copyright is intended “to promote creativity, innovation, and the spread of knowledge” (Article 1 Section 8, US Constitution). It should balance the rights of owners with users. This has changed over the last several decades, with copyright lasting longer and longer and failing to adapt and transform in the wake of new forms of knowledge and knowledge production. Still, it’s useful to think about the goals of licensing work when thinking about how writers might use it.

Below are resources that can serve as references or discussion points on intellectual property and copyright, particularly online. General resources are those I think are especially useful for both faculty and students (provide overviews, key terminology, useful breakdowns). Faculty-specific resources get more in-depth with the intricacies of these conversations; I have provided links to direct, primary resources as well as secondary scholarship. Student-specific resources talk more about writing and citation practices. 

I’d particularly recommend taking a look at Creative Commons – students can license their own work through CC as well as search for open access and CC-licensed resources through Creative Commons’ databases and google.

General Resources:

  • Creative Commons: Alternative copyright system. Includes a range of licensing options for protecting, monetizing, sharing, and deriving from CC-licensed works.
  • Multimedia Literacy Guide: This section of UD’s Student Multimedia and Design Center’s research guide offers not only resources on producing multimodal work, but handouts and suggested readings on copyright and fair use.
  • Eric Faden, “A Fair(y) Use Tale”: Video source explaining fair use using clips from various Disney films. Video is licensed under Creative Commons. You can also reference the transcript.

Faculty Resources:

 Student Resources:

Multimedia Creative Commons-Licensed Sources:

  • CC-Search: Broad search feature to find resources under different CC licenses.
  • Creative Commons Music Communities – Links to several hosting pages to find CC-licensed music to use potentially in your work.
  • Free Stock Images: Viralsweep.com has assembled a list of twenty websites that offer wide usage on images. Note that the author points out to do your own research to ensure the license still allows for the use you have in mind.

Looking for more?

Teaching Copyright has an extensive list of further resources, including books, articles, organizations, podcasts, videos, FAQs, quizzes, worksheets, and more.

Guest Contributor Jesse Erickson, “Mediations and Multi-Modalities of Digital Scholarship”

In the academic paradigms of twenty-first century scholarship, the notion that technology is here to support our research is often taken for granted. What is lost in the expectation that such technology exists expressly for our collective benefit is the reality that countless hours of labor—both intellectual and manual—are involved in the production of the very resources we increasingly rely upon to conduct digital scholarship. The fact remains that these digital resources do not emerge “out of thin air.” Accordingly, having some knowledge of what goes into producing the more commonly used digital resources can help us to better understand some of the difficulties inherent to the processes involved with their production. Here is a brief list of some examples of these resources, the labor involved with their production, and the challenges one can encounter when using them:

1. Digital surrogate – The digital surrogate, otherwise known as a digitized primary source document, is a high resolution image of an individual item or a research collection. These can be surrogates of photographs, drawings, prints, manuscripts, printed books, monographs, correspondence, or a range of other materials. The items have to be physically scanned or photographed by specialists in order to produce the surrogate. Researchers should recognize that, as surrogates, not every physical characteristic of the physical item can be captured in the digital image. Some research questions might necessitate an analysis of the original source.

2. Online Index/Bibliography – These resources help researchers to navigate through a large body of primary or secondary sources. They are intended to promote either discovery or the singling out of relevant materials for one’s subject of study. Production of these resources is time consuming, meticulous, and involves both subject-level expertise and a knowledge of metadata standards. Researchers should understand that the level of comprehensiveness and the range of metadata will vary widely across different platforms.

3. Online transcript – The online transcript is a readable reproduction of a handwritten, audio, or even a printed physical document. Since the information must be manually typed into a word processing program and then coded for online access, researchers should be aware that the end result can include errors, deviations, and omissions when compared with their source of origin.

4. Oral History – The oral history is a multifaceted online resource that can include surrogates, indexes, and transcripts in addition to audio/visual files and born digital information objects. Ordinarily, there are a number of legal and privacy issues involved with the production of these resources which can delay or even prevent their public release. When consulting these materials, a researcher should consider that these resources can take anywhere from several months to several years to produce. They should also expect to find a wide variety of informational granularity from one oral history to the next with some examples containing audio or video recordings, some with transcripts, some featuring indexes, and others having all of the above.

Thinking about Engaging Difference and the Multicultural Requirement

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On 9/29 the English department’s own Emily Davis presented on UD’s revised multicultural requirement to a crowd of about twenty instructors, administrators, and graduate and undergraduate students. The presentation was a part of the Center for the Study of Diversity’s Brown Bag series and brought our attention to the work students can do engaging difference in the classroom.

Emily’s talk focused on the history of the requirement’s revision (who was involved, how it moved through university committees, the faculty senate, etc., and the work remaining). She indicated the complexity of this development and the importance of faculty specialists’ involvement moving forward. At first glance, this might not seem relevant to the work of E110, given that the course does not fulfill the multicultural requirement (although, if you do teach another course that does, be sure to submit your course for re-evaluation by Dec. 1). I argue, however, that the general university movement toward active and purposeful engagement of diversity – seen in the revised requirement as well as the inclusion of diversity study in First-Year Experience, not to mention being a general part of UD’s mission – signals that this is important work.

The new criteria for the requirement is published on the Faculty Senate’s webpage. The descriptions of the larger categories of “Diversity Self-Awareness and Perspective Taking,” “Cultural Difference,” “Personal and Social Responsibility,” and “Understanding Global Systems” indicate the stakes of the work at hand. They also indicate the complexity. Engaging diversity in the classroom is work done purposefully and often with training and guidance. The Center for Teaching and the Assessment of Learning often holds brown bags and events on “handling hot topics” and the Center for the Study of Diversity has developed a diversity competency rubric and also holds several events. All of these events are on the Writing Program Calendar. If teachers are interested in bringing this work to the reading, writing, and critical thinking work of E110, there are multiple important resources on-campus as we consider how this might fit into students’ study and the university’s larger goals.

Invitations for Contributions

We’re really getting into the swing of the semester now, and I’d love to direct your attention back to the program website-something we talked about at the faculty retreat.

There have been some changes/deletions/additions to the page. Just about all the information is now updated and accurate to-date, there are student resources listed, and the professional development page now connects to several other programs on campus (Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning, Center for the Study of Diversity, and more).

I have also incorporated the program twitter, @UDwrites, into the page. If you’re on twitter, consider following it – small updates and reminders about calendar events as well as links to interesting work will happen there frequently. I’ll also post announcements there when new posts are added here.

The biggest change is en-route. While there are already posts about the retreat material on the website, there haven’t yet been new posts. That’s about to change. This week, there are three great presentations I think we’d all benefit from. David Kim and Jesse Erickson will be presenting at EFGF on Wednesday, 9/28 and Emily Davis at a Center for the Study of Diversity Brown Bag on Thursday, 9/29. David and Jesse will each write a post for the website talking about their work; Emily’s work will also be represented on the blog.

We’re moving into a schedule of at least one substantive blog post per week. I’d love to showcase more work here. There’s a huge range of possibilities for what shape that work might take: a short reflective post on a teaching experience, thoughts on a resource you use, a video describing how you connect your practices to your philosophy, an analysis of an important teaching/reading/writing resource. Far too many that I could list here but would be great to host. Please get in touch with me through email, larracey@udel.edu, or through the Comp program twitter, or in a comment on the blog with some thoughts you’d like to share.

Digital Writing Practices

The Course Goals and Practices of E110 tell us that students will compose print and digital texts:

The composition process is more than just putting words on the page or screen. In addition to writing print-based texts, you will also practice composing online, often making use of visual and audio forms.”

And this is exciting work! It represents an opportunity to thoughtfully and purposefully explore a range of textual production and consumption (and in between) with students. But, like all of our course goals and practices, it’s easier said than done.

I (Caitlin Larracey) spoke at the most recent faculty retreat to share tips, tricks, and frameworks behind digital writing. My slides are below.

There are a range of resources throughout the slides to direct your attention to scholarship about digital/multimodal writing, resources about assignments, and assistance with the technological side of it.

I wanted to add here though the insightful points added to our discussion by Alice Boone and David Kim. Alice talked about “playbor,” asking us to consider the platforms students use to write on in the classroom and the monetization of that work (that we often characterize as play). David noted that, though there may be “simple” or “easy” ways to consider digital writing in the classroom, it’s also important to have an understanding of the technologies that you are asking students to use – their interfaces and mechanisms, underlying assumptions and business models.

We welcome more discussion of digital writing in composition and hope these conversations can happen on the blog, in our classrooms, and at future professional development events.

Helping Students Engage with Complex Texts and Ideas

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Délice Williams led us in a wonderfully thought-provoking discussion about engaging with complexity in the classroom. Specifically, we considered how we (and how we might) help students to do this work with us. The full retreat notes – a list of texts and a list of practices – are below.

Teaching Complexity Retreat Notes

There were some patterns among the texts and practices, however, that might be useful to articulate as we work to build and revise our courses.

Patterns among texts:

  • Texts that engage identity, diversity, and difference (about race, gender, history, war, class, and intricate combinations)
  • Texts that discuss writing (about genre/mutt genre, digital writing, writing ability)
  • Texts that highlight students (about students, chosen by students, written by students)

Patterns among practices:

  • Articulating assumptions
  • Class debate and large-group discussion
  • Textual analysis (their own texts, peer texts, visually-based texts, verbal texts)
  • Writing (summarizing, responding, analyzing, reflecting)

The practices seem like those common and key to the classroom. These categories of texts (as well as those specific ones listed in the notes) may be useful launching points for engaging students in these practices.


Information Literacy and Threshold Concepts

Lauren Wallis, Meg Grotti, and Hannah Lee (superstars of the library) spoke with us during the fall 2016 faculty retreat about information literacy and threshold concepts, those “troublesome, transformative, irreversible, integrative, and bounded” ideas that signify long-term learning of integral ideas and practices in a particular field.

Lauren, Meg, and Hannah introduced us to information literacy’s current threshold concepts and asked us to consider how our goals in E110 aligned with these concepts. They also showed us how many of these concepts worked alongside the Writing Program Administrators’ framework. Below are the slides from their presentation and discussion.

This discussion also led to the introduction of the E110 fall 2016 library pilot project. The pilot

“aims to increase the impact of library instruction by introducing foundational skills and concepts prior to the class session, which can then be dedicated to hands-on learning related that helps students engage with your research assignment.”

The site also has a wealth of resources available to instructors (for students) in considering productive and purposeful information literacy. There’s also some sample lesson plans that consider how the concepts inform library instruction and research practices.

Lauren Wallis is the person to contact if you’re considering the pilot project or further support in information literacy; Hannah Lee can especially help you in your and your students’ multimodal and/or digital work at the Student Multimedia and Design Center.

Thanks to Meg, Hannah, and Lauren for sharing their expertise and advice with us at the retreat!