Assessing Multimedia Rhetoric

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Ball, Cheryl E. “Assessing Scholarly Multimedia: A Rhetorical Studies Approach.” Technical Communication Quarterly 21 (2012): 61-77.

“[F]orm and content are inseparable in authors’ scholarly multimedia” (Ball 61).

“Based on my editorial experience with Kairos, I teach students at Illinois State University to read, analyze, and assess authors’ schol- arly multimedia projects as well as to propose, compose, revise, and peer review their own webtexts, which they can submit to peer-reviewed venues such as Kairos, C&C Online, X=Changes, and The JUMP (Journal for Undergraduate Multimedia Projects)” (Ball 61).

Ball says that even though she coined the term “new media scholarship” (61), she is using “scholarly multimedia” to refer to multimodal scholarly presentations (62).

What is scholarly multimedia?

Scholarly multimedia are article- or book-length, digital pieces of scholarship designed using multimodal elements to enact authors’ arguments. They incorporate interactivity, digital media, and different argumentation strategies, such as visual juxtaposition and associational logic (see Purdy & Walker, in press), and are typically published in online, peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Kairos, C&C Online, Vectors) and presses (e.g., Computers and Composition Digital Press). Scholarly multimedia cannot be printed and still retain the author’s argument because such texts are composed of Web pages with links, animations, images, audio, video, scripting languages, databases, and other multimedia and interactive elements, including but not limited to written text. (Ball 62)

“As Kress (2010) has said, ‘Design is the servant of rhetoric—or, to put it differently: the political and social interests of the rhetor are the generative origin and shaping influence for the semiotic arrangements of the designer’ (p. 50)” (qtd in Ball 63).

Reading assignment:

This particular set of criteria has proven invaluable to my students, who have taken it up with unabashed enthusiasm after reading Kuhn’s (2008) webtext, which is one of the first webtexts that I usually ask students to analyze using the four parameters embedded within it. Students used these parameters to analyze existing, successful (already published) webtexts from the venues they are interested in submitting to, as well as non-peer-reviewed venues that publish digital media texts they liked, such as music videos on YouTube. (Ball 66)

Main assignment = webtext aimed at an academic audience, as if they would be submitting to journals such as Kairos (63)

In Ball’s class they discuss “the rhetorical, technological, ideological, institutional, professional, social, and other issues that arise” (64) when composing such a text.

“all developmental writers in the sense that they are not yet confident or do not yet have expert technological, multimodal, or rhetorical abilities” (Ball 64).

The cumulative assignments for the webtext project can include the following:
reading responses to published webtexts?
values-based analysis of digital media texts and webtexts?
audience and venue analyses?
genre analyses of webtexts?
review presentations of technologies available for composing webtexts
project pitches?
proposals to flesh out the project idea?
storyboards and scripts?
workable or rough drafts?
peer review of classmates’ rough drafts?
annotated versions of peer-review letters?
completed webtexts (Ball 64)

“the values-based analysis guides most of the assessment practices” (Ball 64)

“strike a balance between convention and innovation, even as the line between image and text, between orality and literacy, between art and critique and, indeed, between scholarship and pedagogy” (Kuhn, qtd in Ball 65)

Ball gives her students three different heuristics. Then she asked students to choose. They basically took Kuhn’s four and added two, so they called it Kuhn+2 (68).

Storyboard by Kelly Lawless, WC CC3
Storyboard by Kelly Lawless, WC CC3

Ball says that whatever medium students to begin to compose with will be the main medium, so they should not be using MSWord (72).
Perhaps mindmapping? It is still words, but more visual.
Instead of a script, she requires a storyboard (Ball 73).

Ball discusses a student’s work that was published in TechnoCulture: An Online Journal of Technology in Society (72-74).

Ball gives only one grade (participation) based on whether or not all the work was done on time and excellently (74).

Ball made “revise and resubmit” the standard for work within the classroom (75), a particularly apt plan for rhetoric and composition coursework.

Related Readings:
Susan Delagrange. Wunderkammer, Cornell, and the Visual Canon of Arrangement. Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy 13.2 (2009).
Bob Broad. What We Really Value: Beyond Rubrics in Teaching and Assessing Writing. Logan, UT: Utah State U, 2003.


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