Caitlin Larracey, 2015

I first encountered Concepts in 60 as a graduate student in Joe Harris’s Writing in a Digital Age seminar (an assignment adapted from Cynthia Selfe). As I did the assignment, brainstorming ideas, drafting up a storyboard and a script, checking out a camera and tripod from the Student Multimedia and Design Center, and filming, editing, and polishing, I became convinced that this would be interesting, challenging, and productive work for my students. Given that I was about to teach E110 themed around YouTube, the assignment felt like a perfect addition (with some tweaks) to end the course.

Over the four semesters I’ve taught the assignment, with the one hundred or so students I have worked with, I’ve found that though there’s no absence of nerves, there’s also no absence of excitement from students engaged in this work. The assignment has changed slightly each semester – allowing for more time, opening up options for the credits (links in the description, annotations), shifting the opening discussions of visual work and videomaking – the core of the assignment remains the same. Students tackle their research questions (or theirs and their group members’ questions) with a sense of play. They are willing to rethink, and rethink, and rethink their ideas when confronted with conflicting collaborative interests, limitations to their technical know-how, access to materials they’ve never had the chance to experiment with before (like a green screen…super cool!). And the whole time they’re working with another type of composition. They are asked to reflect on these differences, on what this project allowed them to do, or restricted them from doing. And, they are able to celebrate the work they accomplished at the end of the semester by viewing and discussing all the work they’ve done.

I think this assignment can work in a variety of E110s, at different times of the semester, with different overarching purposes (it need not be remediation). I’m very thankful that this work was selected for the award and I had the opportunity to share my students’ excellent work with you!

Caitlin Larracey