Multimodal Blog Essay

The Assignment

Write and revise a 1200-1500 word essay in which you make an argument about a topic related to our theme of “Data, Information, and Culture.” Your essay must feature polished writing, but it also must include at least 2 multimodal elements that are integral to, not incidental to, the argument.

As part of the production of this assignment, you are also responsible for providing clear written feedback to two of your classmates.

Topic

You should develop your own topic for the presentation related to the course theme of data, information, and culture. Your topic should be focused, clear, and appropriate to the scope of a 1200-1500 word essay. As you develop your topic, think both about what interests you generally, how those interests relate to our course theme, and about how multimodal elements will contribute to your presentation of the argument.

The more focused your topic is, the better. Your argument must be different from the one you make in your pecha-kucha, but you may draw on some of the same research/resources. If your two topics draw from the same realm of ideas—say, “Music and Big Data,” or “Data and Automobile Production”—make sure the specific focus of the two assignments has a clearly distinguishable spin.

Technology

You’ll present your essay on the WordPress blog, and you’ll be responsible for determining how to integrate, embed, and present the multimodal elements. Though the final presentation will be on the blog, you should keep track of drafts using Microsoft Word or a text-editing tool. The drafts will come in handy for your final portfolio.

Audience

The primary audience for your essays will be your classmates and your instructor. On the web, you may have a wider audience. For the most part, your audience will be familiar with basic ideas about data, information, and culture, but you will need to familiarize them with background information on your specific topic.

Planning

This assignment emphasizes a process of writing and revision. After you receive feedback on drafts from classmates, you will have an opportunity to revise. You will have another optional opportunity to revise for a new grade that replaces 2/3 of the original grade after you receive feedback from me. Take advantage of the revision processes—given the amount of time you have to polish the essay, expectations will be high.

Some key dates:

  • 10/6: Work on/select topic in class
  • 10/24: Email drafts to 2 peers and instructor by 11:59 p.m.
  • 10/29: Write feedback to peers (cc instructor) by 11:59 p.m.
  • 11/3: Post essays to blog by 11:59 p.m.
  • 11/17: Feedback from instructor will be returned by 11:59 p.m.
  • 11/26: Optional revisions due by 11:59 p.m.

Citation/Sources

In addition to linking to any web sources, you should cite all of your sources in MLA style.

Abstract

After you’ve written your essay, you will write a 100-word capsule summary of it. That capsule summary will be labeled “ABSTRACT” and posted at the beginning of your post. A “read more…” link will reveal the rest of the essay. Following this convention will help practice your skills at summary, and it will also make the blog easier to read.

Reflection

If you choose to use your multimodal essay as one of the artifacts in your final portfolio, you should plan to write a short reflection on your drafting and revision processes.

Submission

You’ll turn this assignment in by:

  • Posting the essay to the blog, including your abstract;
  • Copying the instructor on correspondence related to peer feedback;
  • Revising the original post, if you choose to optionally revise it, and emailing the instructor to let him know you have done so.

Grading

The multimodal blog essay assignment is worth 15% of your final grade. You must complete all parts of the assignment, including the peer review process, for full credit. Grading will emphasize the polish and persuasiveness of your writing as well as the extent to which multimodal elements are used effectively in the midst of the essay. Optional revisions will receive a new grade that replace 2/3 of the original grade.

15 thoughts on “Multimodal Blog Essay”

  1. What are your thoughts on using first person in the essay? Some of the blog posts we have read as a class would occasionally address the audience as “we” or “us,” and I was curious if we are allowed to do that here.

    1. The supposedly hard-and-fast rules some of us learned in high school prohibiting first-person pronouns (including me—see! there I just used it!) don’t really apply in the real world. All kinds of important, successful, excellent professional writers use “I” all the time. That said, a sentence that uses “I” can sometimes work better without it—some writers adopt “I believe” or “I will argue” as a tic in their arguments in ways that undercut what they’re actually trying to say. For example, “I believe that Google products victimize and exploit the public” might well sound punchier as “Google products victimize and exploit the public.” So don’t be afraid to use “I” where it really works, but don’t assume you need it when you don’t. “We” and “us” have some other risks—are you imposing an opinion on your reader that she might not share, for example? If I say, “We all know that Google is mostly a negative force in the world,” for example, I immediately alienate those who don’t believe so and undercut my own argument by alienating many of my readers. “We” and “us” aren’t forbidden in professional writing, either—but it’s important to manage carefully who you mean by “we” and “us.”

  2. What do you mean by multimodal elements? Like when you say 2 multimodal elements, does that mean like include 2 pictures?

    1. By “multimodal element,” I mean some piece of evidence or object of analysis included in the essay that goes beyond the “W” in “WOVEN.” This can be images, sounds, videos, or some other multimedia element. The key here is that these elements aren’t just used as illustrations or as decorations–they should help the essay do something it couldn’t do with writing alone. To answer your direct question: 2 images is one example of 2 multimodal elements.

  3. MLA style demands parenthetical citations. We went over the basics in class, and you can consult WOVENText for more details.

      1. That’s if you’ve found the image somewhere else–if it’s of your own creation, just make sure it’s clear that you yourself are the source.

  4. This essay blog is really nice. It separates some categories like the assignment, topic. technology, Audience etc. All categories have details information. I am waiting for your next important post.

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