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Dr. Courtney Rivard

English 149: Creating Digital Stories that Matter

Spring 2019


Fake news, clickbaiting, memes, bots, twitter, snapchat…these are just some of the new terms created in the past few years to describe today’s digital communication. This course is concerned with analyzing how we communicate effectively in this fast-paced digital world. We will study how images, sounds, videos, and texts work together to create meaning and persuade audience.

In our study of digital communication and composition, students will work on a semester long research project dedicated to investigating one significant local social issue facing our community.  The research will culminate in the creation of a digital story using Adobe Rush (an easier form of Premiere Pro) that describes the local social issue, its causes, and possible ways to address the issue.

In this project, we will partner with East Durham Children’s Initiative to create digital stories dedicated to one social issue that organization addresses in its mission. As a class, we will serve as consultants providing the organization with a finished video project at the end of the semester. We will work with EDCI staff throughout the semester and present our videos during the final exam session.

You will research the work that this organization does together with scholarly research on the topic. Your digital story will be aimed at helping this organization more effectively communicate the significance of the social issue they address. In crafting this digital story, you will use rhetorical strategies to persuade your audience of the significance of this social issues, why they should care about and take action to address it.


Course Goals:

  • Understand the strategies and complexities of digital communication for non-profits
  • Understand writing as a process through which you engage and interact, including why genre, audience, and rhetorical situation are integral to writing;
  • Strategically gather and evaluate multiple kinds of evidence;
  • Use digital and print archives to generate persuasive, academic arguments;
  • Provide and respond to peer feedback for the purposes of revision;
  • Explore a variety of media – from popular culture to theory, fiction to film, social spaces to everyday objects, blogs to music – through exciting, diverse, and creative ways;
  • And, perhaps most importantly, understand how you can transfer the writing skills and habits you learn in English 149 to the major that you ultimately choose or have already chosen.


Learning Outcomes:

  • By the end of the quarter, you should be able to:
    • Produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic and popular contexts.
    • Read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.
    • Demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.
    • Develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.
    • Use Adobe Rush to compose videos
    • Create a digital video story that utilizes the principles of multimodal rhetoric to make a compelling argument


Course Design

The course will be organized around the following principles:

Workshop format: Classes will be taught using a workshop approach that emphasizes the role of writing in learning and promotes interactive, experiential learning (as opposed to a presentational lecture format). My instruction will emphasize process: how to read, write, analyze, interpret, understand, and create oral, written or multimedia texts. Your voices and texts will be central to this class through large and small group discussion, oral presentations, class leadership, and project demonstrations.

Social networks: Each of you will become a member of a small working group.  These groups will serve as writing groups, discussion groups, as smaller cohorts in the larger community.  Your groups will function inside and outside the course.

Open-Source sharing: We will be centering technology in our learning process.  To that end, we will post all our assignments, homework, and other contributions on our class’s Sakai site or website, making them viewable to everyone in the class.  This open-source sharing fosters collaborative learning as your peers can learn from what you posted.  Because we will be relying on our Sakai site and website both in and outside of the classroom, it is imperative that you bring your laptop or tablet to every class.

Required Texts:

We will be reading a number of articles which I will post on our website under the readings tab.

Graduate Research Consultant:

In this research-exposure course, you will be working with a Graduate Research Consultant, Grant Glass, who will assist you in the research project. The GRC Program is sponsored by the Office for Undergraduate Research (, and you may be able to use this research-exposure course to meet a requirement of the Carolina Research Scholars Program ( students/students_crsp.html). I encourage you to visit the OUR website to learn about how you might engage in research, scholarship and creative performance while you are at Carolina.

Contact info for Grant Glass:



Reading Homework Trello posts  10%

Social Media Posts #UNCENG149 10%

Research and Recommendation Report    20%

Story Board    10%

Presentation to EDCI     5%

Final Digital Project (Group) 20%

Final Reflection Report  10%

Participation –In class work/MOU work/Group Work   10%

Attendance    5%


A = 100-93       B = 86-83         C = 76-73         D = 66-60

A- = 92-90        B- = 82-80        C- = 72-70        F = 59-below

B+ = 89-87       C+ = 79-77       D + = 69-67


Reading Homework Trello posts


For each reading homework, you will be required to write a blog style response on trello to the reading. In this response, your focus should be on directly analyzing the reading. Such analysis should include: (1) at least one direct quote of no more than one sentence, (2) your analysis about the significance of this quote and its relationship to the author’s overall claim, and (3) a discussion question that you think will provoke discussion among the class. In writing these blog responses, feel free to borrow the rhetorical style of the blog, but make sure to be respectful to your peers and the material discussed.

Social Media Posts

Throughout the semester you will be required to create FIVE social media post templates. In these posts, you must use the genre conventions of the social media platform you indicate to tell your “followers” what you have learned in ENG 149 during the week. This can be based on the readings, in class conversations, your research, or work on your video project. Just as with the homework blogs, be respectful to peers and the material. You can use the model of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You will NOT actually post these on social media, but instead post the draft on trello by stating the platform, and giving the text, image, video you think makes the most persuasive argument. You can NOT create more than 1 post per week, so make sure to plan accordingly throughout the semester. I recommend that you use adobe sparks to create these posts. We will experiment with this platform in class.

Late work:

Each writing assignment will involve research, drafting, and revision. Because writing is a recursive, unpredictable, and multi-step process, careful advance planning is essential to avoid falling behind. Late work—whether it is homework, a draft for a workshop day, or a project—will be penalized.  Your participation grade will include being prepared with all materials and homework completed for each class, as well as actively engaging with your working group and in whole- class activities.


Attendance Policy:


The unique workshop format of English 149 necessitates constant attendance and participation.  If you miss a class, your absence will have a detrimental effect on the ability of your group to function.  Therefore, attendance is mandatory.  You are allowed FOUR absences without it negatively affecting your grade.  After 4 absences, your attendance grade is lowered by 15% for each class missed.  According to UNC’s Writing Program policy, you may receive an F in this course if you miss more than seven (5) class sessions. I make no distinction between excused and unexcused absences, barring emergencies. 

If you miss a class, you must email me beforehand to let me know of your absence.  In this email, you must inform me which of your groupmates will serve as your note taker (of course you must also get their permission to do so).  Additionally, you will be responsible for all missed work. In this email, please do not ask me if we “missed anything important” while you were absent – I believe that each class is important.

The Honor Code:

The honor code applies to everything that you—and I—do at this university, including our use of outside sources in our research and writing. Our work in this class will conform to the principles and procedures defined in the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance (  The research that we do this semester, whether primary or secondary, print or online, formal or informal, will require careful documentation on your part. We will review citation guidelines early and often throughout the semester.  The need to cite your sources applies to all your work, including drafts as well as final versions of your feeders and projects.  When in doubt: CITE.

If I suspect you of plagiarizing all or part of a paper, even unintentionally, I am required to report the offense to the Honor Court. If you think you are running into trouble with a paper, PLEASE come and speak with me. It is much, much better to take a late penalty on an assignment than to risk Honor Court proceedings.

Students with Disabilities

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ensures that no qualified person shall by reason of a disability be denied access to, participation in, or the benefits of, any program or activity operated by the University.  In compliance with UNC policy and federal law, qualified students with disabilities are eligible to receive “reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access to education opportunities, programs, and activities” ( If you anticipate such accommodations, please notify me as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Additionally, you may seek out student support services at the Department of Disability Services (DDS) ( and through the Learning Center (

Non-Discrimination Policy:

This classroom should be a safe space.  This university does not discriminate against its students or employees based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. In this class we will strive to maintain an open atmosphere with shared respect for all differences.

Writing Center:

The UNC Writing Center, located in SASB North and in Greenlaw Hall #221, offers free tutoring services for students. You may visit the Writing Center to ask for help with a specific paper, whether you are concerned with developing ideas and content, organizing your assignment, or working on style issues. To make an appointment, browse the Writing Center’s online resources, or send a draft online, please go to (  To make best use of your time there, please bring a copy of your assignment sheet and your draft with you. The Writing Center will not proofread papers or talk with you about grades.

Course Policies:

Please remember that the syllabus functions as a contract between instructor and students. We will go over these policies during the first few days of class, but you are responsible for knowing and abiding by these policies.

You should come to class having prepared the assigned reading, writing, or other homework, and you should be ready to engage with your classmates and the text(s) at hand.


All of your papers (drafts and final copies) must adhere to appropriate style and format guidelines for the genre and discipline you are writing. We will discuss these guidelines and examine models in class. Additionally, when saving documents (when you first ‘save as’ on your computer) for homework and papers make sure to title it Last Name – Assignment – draft #.


At a minimum, you must check your email and our class sakai and trello sites daily for messages and updates. Bring your laptop or table to every class. Please make sure that your laptop is working properly, with the battery charged, before coming to class. Make good choices about appropriate laptop use during class.  If I see you working on work from another class or visiting sites not relevant to class, you will lose participation points.