Approaches to Multimodal Revision

Both with my own students and other instructors, and at our most recent CIC Workshop, I’ve had a lot of conversations about anxiety when approaching multimodal projects—specifically, anxiety over how to tackle revision. I’ve felt that anxiety myself; developing a philosophy on multimodal revision, a necessity within a portfolio-based writing program, can be tricky. What does substantive revision look like for a multimodal project? What do you emphasize as the end-goal of multimodal revision? And what do you do with multimodal assignments that are difficult to revise within the course’s timeframe?

While everyone’s approach varies with context (and often even by assignment!), here are a few tips for facilitating and framing multimodal revision:

Scaffolding the Revision Process

Assignment sequences that allow you to pace out feedback and the timeline for revision can make the whole process much less daunting, both for you and your students. To scaffold the revision process into your course design, you might…

  1. Consider dividing projects into preliminary draftsPreliminary drafts are often easier for students to revise; they’re much more malleable, and students are often more receptive to feedback during the drafting stage. This also helps focus your feedback, which can be geared toward students actualizing their project. You might have shorter assignments that ask students to first create scripts, storyboards, mock-ups, “minimum viable product” drafts, or pitches, depending on the nature of their multimodal project.
  2. Create opportunities for peer review during the drafting process

    Similarly, incorporating peer review into the earlier stages of drafting provides students with concrete insight into how their project is working and where they could make adjustments. These early interventions create a more collaborative class environment and make it easier to resist the urge to backload revision at the end of the course.
  3. Set clear expectations for revision and articulate them before feedbackPotentially as early as in your syllabus, in your first few class sessions, or within the assignment prompt itself, you might find it helpful to clearly state what goals and expectations the class will have with revision. What does substantial multimodal revision look like for your course? For an assignment? If this is a question that you want your class to negotiate from project to project, what general, core expectations might you let these individual negotiations stem from?
  4. Consider crowd-sourcing assessment criteria with your classNot only does this create space for students to more actively and equitably engage with their own assessment, but establishing a communal vocabulary for assessment can make understanding and incorporating feedback easier for students. It can also make peer review more effective, as well. You might begin with the course outcomes and ask students to brainstorm what these outcomes would look like specifically for the assignment, or you might have students assess a past sample together.

Process Over Product

In framing revision, it can be helpful to emphasize gaining and understanding new skills over producing perfect final products—this allows students to experiment with genres they may not feel like they have mastery over and places the focus on growth, student choice, and active use of course outcomes.

  1. Use reflection prompts or revision plans.These encourage students to demonstrate knowledge of course outcomes and concepts, as well as to explain their rhetorical choices as composers. Revision plans create space for students to explain what they would revise if they had time or were asked to do so; revision plans keep the focus on the process of learning multimodal composition and negotiating feedback with questions of rhetorical effectiveness, while acknowledging the time constraints of the course (“If I had more time to work with this project, I would…”). Additionally, these types of assignments tie in well with the goals of the final portfolio and incorporating metacognition.
  2. Provide multiple opportunities for students to reflect at different stages of the composing processReflecting across a project’s composition helps students break down the creative process and see how feedback, revision, and trial and error shaped their work. Ask students to focus on the effects of their compositional choices and incorporate evidence from their compositions.

Giving Feedback to Multimodal Assignments

Sometimes, anxieties about facilitating multimodal revision are tied to broader anxieties about giving feedback on multimodal projects. In addition to emphasizing process over product, here are a few things that might demystify the feedback process:

  1. Be aware of time managementMultimodal pieces often take more time to grade, but it’s important to experience the piece in full—the pace at which the audience engages with the material is a rhetorical aspect of the text. You might try to develop systems for responding quickly and effectively to multimodal texts, like taking screenshots or marking areas to return to after your first viewing.
  2. Consider Higher Order Concerns for multimodal feedbackWith multimodal projects, keeping tabs on how much revision you’re guiding students toward can make your feedback more straightforward and their revision process less overwhelming. Like in any other composition classes, use rhetorical principles to guide your comments. With HOC in mind, you might focus feedback on:
    • The composition’s effectiveness in addressing the rhetorical situation
    • Where the composition could better meet the requirements of the assignment or tie to the course’s overall goals and conversations
    • How effectively the composition uses multiple modes symbiotically, rather than considering the modes separately in your feedback. Does the composition combine appropriate modalities effectively to communicate the piece’s purpose? Or do the multiple modes overlap in ineffective, redundant ways or seem extraneous?

An effective, consistent feedback system and scaffolding revision into your course are just a few of the larger approaches that you can take to make multimodal revision a little less intimidating in the composition classroom. Let us know in the comments if you’ve got any tried and true approaches to framing multimodal revision to add to this conversation!

For further reading, check out these sources that helped inform this post:

–A. Gilbert

5.21 Teacher Talk Review (for those who might have missed it):

Strategies for Reading and Engaging Across Modes

CIC workshop

Following the discussion of our previous teacher talk (please see below), we thought about how we can implement some of those creative practices into our actual teaching. In this workshop, we talked strategies!

We started with a strategy on how to teach visual analyses. We looked at the Queen of Wands tarot card and broke our engagement down into steps. First, we picked the card apart by naming all of what we see. We took our time describing what we saw or sensed in the card. Secondly, we read the artist’s intention with the piece by looking up their description within the tarot book (that comes with the card). Third, we listened to what others are saying about the piece, or how other tarot readers or tarot enthusiasts describe and give meaning to the card. Then the grand finale: Taking all of this into consideration, we discussed our own analyses. We took turns offering what we thought the card meant to us. We found that these steps can be applied to engagements in many genres. These steps aren’t necessary the writing about the art object, but rather note-taking to help in the writing process.

We also had some discussion about how to engage with poetry. Poetry allows us to open up to our sensations that we experience while reading the poem. We have to pay keen attention to the rhythm, the line breaks, tone, and structure of the empty spaces. And mostly, we have to ask ourselves, how do we feel with the poem. What bodily sensations does it invoke? This is powerful because poetry, and this strategy to reading poetry, teaches us how to make sense of feelings and sensations as viable, critical, necessary reading and engagement practices.

The conversation was dynamic and invigorating. Both strategies complement each other. Both allow students to bring in their own interpretation of art and poetry while also critically engaging in a community to help foster understanding.



Comics in the Classroom: Teaching Students to Read and Produce Graphic Novels

Assortment of graphic novels

This blog post offers materials and approaches for teaching comics from English 182 instructor Sumayyah Daud and English 131 instructor and graphic novel author Dorian Alexander’s recent workshop on using graphic novels in the writing classroom.

Why teach with comics? This isn’t an art class!

Graphic novels are an accessible medium that help connect students to material in less dense ways. Even if students don’t illustrate their comics, they can write scripts, which are used in the graphic novel world to convey multimodal design information to the artist (here’s a script example you can use in your class). In addition to or instead of creating comics, students can also read and analyze the multiple modes through which these texts convey meaning.

Okay, you’ve convinced me. How do I choose a text and develop assignments?

  • Browse Comixology, an online comics library.
  • Search for texts related to your course content and theme.
  • Consider cost: is the text going to be financially prohibitive for your students?
  • Look for representation. The world of commercial comics is largely white, straight, and male, but there are great independent texts that represent a broader array of characters.
    • Dorian recommends the upcoming queer comics anthology Be Gay, Do Comics by The Nib. I just backed it on Kickstarter, and you can too.
  • If you are asking students to write comics, consider the types of narratives you want students to produce and how you can model those narratives through the texts they read.
  • Adapt the sample prompts and use the texts suggested below.

 How Sumayyah Teaches with Comics

Sumayyah Daud, comics workshop facilitator



My first and second sequences lead up to students producing a comic. The first sequence ends with a fully-developed pitch, and the second sequence ends with a script. 

Sumayyah’s Teaching Resources:

  • Visual analysis PowerPoint (Warning: includes spoilers for Monstress)
  • Assignment sequences 1&2
    • Note from Sumayyah: This was my first time teaching 182. When I teach it again, I think I am going to move MP1 and structure my sequence as SA1, SA3, SA2, SA4, MP1, MP2. The second MP has space for shorter assignments built in (the outline and peer review), and this arrangement makes more sense in terms of skill scaffolding. I felt there was a lot of yoyo-ing this quarter in part because I was trying to find my feet in a new reading curriculum, and I think this arrangement would rectify that. This arrangement would also allow me to organically scaffold critical considerations of their work, instead of going back and forth between the creative aspect and the critical aspect.

How Dorian Teaches with Comics

Dorian Alexander, comics workshop facilitator

I’ve taught with comics in all my English and History courses. I find that comics are becoming a global touchstone of sorts and are therefore excellent aids in diverse classrooms. My current pedagogical favorites include Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele and Nat Turner by Kyle Baker.

Join us for upcoming CIC workshops, “Teaching with Video Games,” facilitated by Sophia Chen on Friday, November 22nd from 11:30-12:30 in MGH 082 and “Teaching Critical Technologies” facilitated by Caitlin Postal on Thursday, December 5th from 3:30 to 4:30 in MGH 082.


Thank you to the workshop participants and facilitators, Sumayyah Daud, Dorian Alexander, Sara Lovett, Jake Huebsch, Dino Kladouris, and Rachel Dusin for collaboratively generating the ideas presented in this blog post.

Teaching with Board Games: Playtesting the Curriculum

Written by Sara Lovett

On May 3, the board game pedagogy group met to “playtest” two prompts for analyzing and remixing board games. We used the social deduction game The Resistance (available at the library) to demo the curriculum. Below, I have included the revised prompts along with notes on our discoveries. Please feel free to adapt these prompts for use in your own classroom.

Game board and pieces for the game The Resistance

Prompt 1: Rhetorical analysis of a game

Teacher Notes

  • We found it useful to do a visual analysis activity before playing the game or even learning the rules. In our analysis, we noticed the the game is inaccessible to players with significant visual impairments since gameplay relies on images and text but offers no alternative. This realization led me to discover the website Meeple Like Us, which takes a human-centered design approach to board games, reviewing, critiquing, and offering solutions to accessibility barriers in board games. In case you’re interested, here is their review of The Resistance.
  • Depending on the length of the game, it could be played over two 50-minute class sessions, one 2-hour session, or as homework. If the game is assigned as homework (students could play it with classmates or friends), it may be beneficial to use class time to demonstrate gameplay with a fishbowl-style exercise so all students can either play or watch the game one time in class.
  • We suggest that students can focus on a different element of the game during each playthrough, but students could also each analyze a different element (e.g., interactive, rules, narrative, tactile, visual) across the three playthroughs and then compare notes.
  • Alternate assignment: students can create a disruptive “Let’s Play”/”Tabletop”/”Geek & Sundry”-style video in which they critique the game as they explain how to play it. This assignment would teach analysis, critique, and genre awareness.


Before this assignment, students should learn about complex claims and stakes. It would be helpful to include a lesson on visual analysis too.


Before you play, analyze the visual and tactile design elements of the game. What claims do the game pieces (cards, boards, tokens, dice, etc.) make? Play the game at least three times. Discuss your observations with the other players at the end of each playthrough and/or while you are playing.

  1. The first time you play, observe the rules, game pieces, and story. Make sure you understand the game, the claims, messages, and stories that the game communicates  and how the rules and pieces help facilitate communication.
  2. During your second play-through, pay attention to the overall narratives of the game. What claims does the game make through the rules and the story? What are the stakes of listening to or believing those narratives outside of the game?
  3. During your third play-through, return to your analysis of the game pieces. How do they serve as evidence to support or contradict the game’s claims? Or, do these elements make their own sub-claims?
  4. Write a rhetorical analysis (2-3 pages) of this game’s claim and how effective it is or is not. Use specific examples.

Students will be able to…

  • Identify claims and evidence in a multimodal text.
  • Rhetorically analyze a multimodal text.
  • Explain the stakes of a claim and how it could have an impact beyond the text itself.
  • Critique narratives, claims, and ideologies that underlie texts.

Prompt 2: Disruptive Remix of a Game

Teacher notes:

  • We got caught up on the concept of “disruptive” remixes. We had lots of ideas for remixing the game, but many of them did not critique the game. This is something to be aware of if you’re using this assignment: students might not be clear on what qualifies as disruptive, which is where examples may be useful.
  • Here are some disruptive remixes we thought of in various stages of development:
    • Because we identified visual accessibility limitations with the game in our analysis, we wanted to remix the game so it could be played by sighted and non-sighted people. Some ideas we had were adding tactile markers to the cards to differentiate them and creating a digital version of the game that uses text rather than images so it would be compatible with screen readers. We did not have time to build out a full prototype, but we discussed that we would need to do a lot of research and, ideally, playtest the game with non-sighted people to know whether our remix was effective. Limitations involving audience, resources, and time should be accounted for when students are prototyping their projects.
    • Instead of using guns as an image in The Resistance, we pondered how we could use memes to represent the spread of ideologies online.
    • Using the game Pandemic, we wanted to remix the game to reflect actual responses to real-world epidemics. For example, we could research an epidemic and revise the game’s mechanics to imitate real-world responses to make a claim about uneven resource allocation between the global North and South in medicine.


Before this assignment, students should learn about remix, critique, design strategies, and group work strategies.

Return to the stakes you wrote about in the previous assignment. What negative or positive consequences might result from the claims that this game makes? In this assignment, you will revise the game’s elements (story, rules, and/or design) to make a new claim.


  • Option A: Identify a problematic claim that the game makes and remix the game to make a more productive/ethical/equitable claim.
  • Option B:Identify a claim that this game makes that does not reflect real-world conditions. Remix this game to make a claim about the way the world is. Your claim should use the game to critique those real-world conditions.
  • Option C: Identify an accessibility limitation in this game and remix the game to address that issue. To identify solutions, you will need to do research, and you may benefit from recruiting playtesters from outside of our class.

Students will be able to…

  • Make, critique, identify, and respond to claims.
  • Remix multimodal texts.
  • Apply basic design principles.
  • Work productively in groups.

What’s next for the teaching with board games group?

Some of our ideas include full, fleshed out sequences for teaching with board games including more prompts and lesson plans; a workshop series in the fall on teaching with other types of games such as video games, tabletop roleplaying games, or live-action roleplaying games; and a gaming pedagogy workshop in the fall geared specifically toward new instructors. 

Links to check out the games in the library are below:

Teaching with Board Games

By Sara Lovett

Four graduate students set up for the board game workshop.

On April 5, the UW Libraries and CIC co-sponsored an event on teaching with board games. The libraries have six board games (Risk, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Dominion, and The Resistance) available for check-out as part of a pilot program. At our event, participants rotated through stations and each learned about three of the six games and brainstormed how they might use these games as part of their teaching. In this post, I will recap overall takeaways and present specific ideas related to three of the six games.


  • Games are ideologically-rich, and they are an excellent site for critical analysis. Dominion and Settlers of Catan, for example, replicate a settler-colonialism narrative whereas Pandemic offers up a narrative of consent and transnational, interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • One attendee, Dorian, drew upon scholarship from comic studies to point out that games are easier to analyze than books or movies because of distance from the material.
  • Though it is not usually possible for all students to play a game at the same time, we came up with several solutions: 1) students can check out and play the game as homework, a task that would also orient them to the library’s space reservation and course reserves systems, 2) instructors can use a “fishbowl” structure, in which students alternate between playing the game and analyzing play while observing their peers, writing reflections and engaging in discussions on both experiences 3) students can use free online clients such as Dominion Online ( to play some games, and 4) for some of the games, instructors can request additional copies via interlibrary loan.
  • Games offer a site for students to engage with multiple modes (e.g. tactile, visual, spatial) and reflect on the literacy skills they used to learn and play the game.

Betrayal at the House on the Hill and Genre

Betrayal at the House on the Hill board game tiles and character pawns

Betrayal at the House on the Hill (click the link for a playthrough video from Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop series) is a narrative game in which players explore a house. Players explore a house by flipping over tiles and moving figures representing their characters from room to room. Characters’ traits change through items and rooms they encounter (e.g., a book might cause your character to gain knowledge). Though players begin on the same team, the “haunt” occurs partway through the game, and one or more players may turn traitor. The traitor(s) and the heroes (the remaining players) each read a separate set of new rules and story elements that affect the rest of gameplay. The game contains 50 haunts, so the gameplay experience varies with each new playthrough.

Betrayal lends itself to analyses of narrative construction and performance as well as genre analysis and production. As students play multiple Betrayal scenarios and/or peruse the game manual, they can take notes on the conventions of the genre of these scenarios. Then, individually or in groups, they can create their own scenario to be playtested by their peers. This activity can generate conversation on the topics of genre, uptake (i.e., do the rules in the scenario “work?” What kind of play is taken up by the playtesters?). Students could even create scenarios that teach particular course concepts (e.g., players need to construct a complex claim in order to successfully leave the house).

Pandemic and Remix

Pandemic board game board, cards, and character pawns

Pandemic is a cooperative game in which 1-4 players act as the world’s top public health specialists collaborating to stop four pandemics. We noticed as we were discussing this game that it facilitates narratives about cross-national collaboration–the players can travel easily between cities, and though there are four regions, there are no explicit borders between nations–and about consent: the dispatcher role card states that this player must gain “consent” before moving another player on the game map. This game offers opportunities for discourse analysis and remix. Specifically, we thought about how students might revise Pandemic to reflect real-world conditions such as unequal resources privileging the global North over the global South, international borders hindering collaboration, and separate research agendas and incentives for each player (think culture jamming for the classroom).

Dominion and Visual Analysis

Dominion board game cards

Dominion is a deck-builder (i.e., a game in which each player acquires, draws, and plays cards throughout the game). The rules of the game are simple: players play cards, take actions (denoted on individual cards), and buy cards.

We spent most of our time at this table discussing the theme, which is best summarized by the game’s creator, Donald X. Vaccarino:

You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner.

But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn’t be proud, but your grandparents, on your mother’s side, would be delighted (Dominion game manual).

There is much to analyze in the opening text alone, and the cards offer even more material to unpack. We noticed, for instance, that most of the cards are gendered and raced in ways that uphold stereotypes. We wondered how the game itself would change if the images on the cards were replaced and nothing else were changed. Students could undergo this project as part of a visual analysis or a word inquiry project, investigating the origins of words like “witch” and “bureaucrat” and interrogating the relationship between card names, images, and game mechanics.

Playtesting the Curriculum

Certainly, there are many more ways to use these games in the classroom. What are your ideas? Feel free to share in the comments or at our next event on May 3rd, which will build upon the first. Participants will “playtest” a curriculum that I am developing based on the insights from the first event. I hope to see you there!

Acknowledgements: Thank you to the attendees of this event for collectively generating knowledge. I am especially grateful to Elliott Stevens for his continued support in facilitating this partnership with the libraries and to Holly Shelton and Ahmed Al Awadhi for serving as roundtable leaders (as well as photographers and editors).

Digital Storytelling

group photo of workshop participants in front of a white board

Workshop participants from UW Libraries, EWP, IWP, and CIC.

CIC recently partnered with UW Libraries Research Commons to offer a workshop on digital storytelling for instructors to learn more about representing research in video form. The Research Commons typically offers a Digital Storytelling Fellowship (DSF) for ten graduate students on a quarterly basis, and many instructors in the English Department and beyond have expressed interest in these projects.  There are natural connections to public scholarship and the recently updated Expository Writing Program (EWP) course outcomes for 100-level composition courses that include a multimodal approach.  Some instructors who attended from the Interdisciplinary Writing Program (IWP) specifically wanted to make their research findings on disciplinary topics more accessible to communities they work with and research such as health topics in east Africa and fisheries.

Matt Howard, an EWP instructor who had previously participated in the more extended DSF, was originally interested in “platforms for conveying research in a fast, efficient, and memorable way” and feels that he gained “a good grasp on building narratives with imagery, sound, and purpose.”  He is now building a sizable portion of his own research upon technological composition practices, and he’d like the broader strokes of the project to be more publicly accessible.  He intends for his students to create their own digital storytelling projects this quarter.  For other instructors interested in digital storytelling, he advises thorough scaffolding and explaining the necessary elements of creating such a project.

Zhenzhen He-Weatherford, another EWP instructor, is attracted to digital storytelling because of her interest in multimodal composition, which she has taught at three different levels within the past year. She offers digital storytelling as one option for students and came for the workshop to better support her students in the future by designing her course to meet their needs as they negotiate the challenges and opportunities of working with technology. She is also personally committed to “destabilizing some privileged ways of composing texts, thinking, making meanings, and communicating meanings” and adds that “digital storytelling is a great way to communicate in nontraditional ways.”

The recent CIC workshop focused on how to use digital storytelling in a classroom.  As an initial activity before meeting, participants were asked to create a short introduction video and post it to a group chat.  For this particular workshop, the Research commons used WeVideo for editing and Slack for group chat.  The prompt itself was given as a video that used screencasting to show the basic editing functions of WeVideo.  It also asked participants to write a script to introduce three things into a short digital story: name, favorite food or hobby, and why they were excited about research.  They should include images that connected with the information in this introduction.  The finished videos were posted onto Slack so that the other workshop participants could view them and respond before meeting.

During the workshop, the librarians played several of the introductory videos as a way of prompting discussion about different editing tools and features participants had discovered and used in various ways (like subtitles or audio) as well as different rhetorical strategies and new kinds of meaning that came from combining words, images, and other resources.  Elliott Stevens and Perry Yee explained that there are several reasons for this activity.  First, participants who are intimidated by technology have time and space to learn how to navigate features of the video editing program.  Second, fostering community and communication around these video research projects is one of the biggest draws for most DSF participants.

Stevens and Yee typically use a process approach when introducing digital storytelling to students based on the work of Samantha Mora.

a cyclical graphic depicting stages of the digital storytelling process

A graphic with composition stages from Samantha Morra shared during the workshop.

Materials for further explaining elements of digital storytelling can be found on the UW Libraries in Tacoma website.  Instructors can use these topics and resources to develop activities and short assignment prompts that scaffold and build to a major digital storytelling assignment:

The section on “Getting Started” includes topics like conceptualizing your story; finding audio, video, and images for use; considering ethics and participation; and storyboarding and scripting your story.  There are also some example projects that can be used as models.

On the technological support side, UW Information Technology offers regularly scheduled workshops for students and instructors on the Seattle campus that cover how to use particular technology and software resources, especially audio and video editing programs and platforms. Instructors can gain familiarity with programs students may be using, and/or students can be asked to attend a session of their choice on a program that will help them complete their intended project.  The UW-IT calendar with upcoming events is available here:  They can also be contacted to request a classroom instruction session if there is a particular program all students will be using.

As an interface with other kinds of writing, the process approach to digital storytelling can be combined with more traditional written project proposals, submitting other formats of research that are then translated to a digital project (or vice versa), incorporating writers’ memos or reflection statements to identify rhetorical choices and intended effects.

For composition classes specifically, issues related to drafting and feedback are also important.  Some free program options for providing video feedback include Panopto and Screencast-o-matic for recording screen casts.  This would allow an instructor or fellow students to watch, pause, and respond to a video at specific points and provide audio commentary feedback on an individual basis.  As a web-based alternative through the University of Minnesota, VideoAnt provides a way of annotating a video with written comments connected to certain time points in a video.  It also makes collaborative feedback available since anyone with a link to the same video annotation project can add more written comments.

Workshop Participants in the CIC computer lab

Workshop participants converse about their introductory video projects and research.

Notifications for upcoming DSF workshops and registration can be found on the Research Commons Facebook page.  For further questions on more specific digital storytelling issues, the following librarians can be contacted:

  • Elliott Stevens, Research Commons Librarian
  • Perry Yee, Online Learning Support Manager


Gaming & Gamification in Composition

A few weeks ago, we had a CIC workshop on gaming & gamification in composition.  This post will be a summary, follow-up, expansion, and resource bank of some of the key take-aways for teachers and researchers interested in the potential for gaming and play in teaching composition.

Workshop Participants with Meeple Avatars

Workshop participants show off their meeples from one of the workshop activities.

First of all, here is an introduction to some shared vocabulary that informs our conversation (from Deterding et al & Envato):

  • Play: a free-form, expressive, improvisational recombination of behaviors & meanings
  • Game: playing structured by rules and competitive strife toward goals
  • Gamification: the use of game design elements in non-game contexts
  • Gamefulness: the experiential & behavioral quality of gaming
  • Game Design Elements: Challenge, Choice, Change, Chance

Example Gamification Books

We can think about gaming as literacy practices, which are tied to composition (see Kurt Squire & the New London Group in particular for connections with multimodality).  We should also recognize gaming practices to be embedded and emerging from within social and cultural practices, especially as they move into economic and educational systems and contexts.  As critical educators, we need to be careful of adopting “gamification” concepts wholesale.  Consider the source and purpose of tips and strategies you may find to “gamify your class.”  In the ethics of argumentation, we don’t want students to just “crush the competition!”

Multimodal & Gaming Literacy Excerpts

Multimodal resources excerpted include Writer/Designer by Kristen Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl Ball, “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies” from the New London Group, and “Video Game Literacy” by Kurt Squire.

Since many CIC instructors hold a variety of teaching philosophies and approaches to the level of technology integration in their classes, we also find it useful to identify ways that gaming and play can be used along an integration spectrum.  As a caveat, there are many additional ways that gaming can take place in classes, so this is not an exhaustive set of examples, but rather a starting point.

  • Minimum integration: Game as text used to analyze course theme(s); gamefulness in class activities (example prompt)
  • Medium integration: Game/game element as assignment or class activity in addition to game as text (example prompt)
  • Maximum integration: Game as text to investigate multimodal literacy practices and games as texts/integration points for related compositions in multiple genres (example prompt)

One example of a student-composed game for a multimodal composition class at UW that was later published is now publicly available via the following link (excluding accompanying reflection writing):

Scratch – STEM Curator: Women in STEM

In this game you will play as a museum intern tasked to design a museum to help girls stay interested in STEM, Science Technology Engineering and Math. The purpose of this project is to educate people that the discouragement women face when entering STEM fields is entirely cultural. We as …

This game was featured on Scratch and received positive reviews.  Reflection writing revealed the students’ composition process and intentions.

Students can also interact with and analyze games as texts.  In role-playing games, students can choose an avatar to play, which allows them choices for playing a character that seems closest to who they are in real life or to experiment with an identity at a greater distance.  Because of this, they have opportunities to conduct inquiry into issues of identity and representation without being obligated to reveal vulnerabilities in class.  They can draw on primary sources from their play experience and secondary sources like online forums to explore and research their position within the game world (as well as how this connects to real-world issues of identity and representation).  For example, imperialism, nativism, and racism all appear in the game Skyrim with different material impacts and choices for different characters’ play experiences.  The available (and customizable) races in Skyrim are included below:

Avatars for Exploring Identity Issues

Skyrim character images subject to creative commons license from Wikia.

In the following class activity, various students’ experiences and responses were used to refine the conception of inquiry in research.  Students responded to a set of questions using Survey Monkey, and the class moved from a basic binary question like, “Which side did you choose?” to identifying better non-binary questions and then moving to more nuanced research questions like, “To what extent are the Stormcloaks justified in the civil war?”  The choices players were given from the game designers on any issue in time remained open for investigation and connection to real-world issues.  Students also practiced framing evidence for their own purposes with the graphs produced from class responses.  These were also issues they were invested in through play experience, rather than an abstract research topic that they might not feel authorized to write about yet.

Survey Monkey Results for Class Inquiry

Graphs generated by student participants using Survey Monkey.

In the game Skyrim – like many others – players also choose to develop “skill tree” items as they level up depending on their play style.  For example, they may choose skills to develop related to a warrior (heavy armor, archery, smithing, etc.), mage (illusion, conjuration, destruction, etc.), or thief (light armor, lock-picking, sneak, etc.).  In order to start owning the language of the outcomes and create a revision plan during the portfolio sequence, students created analogies between the available Skyrim skill tree items and EWP course outcomes.  This also modeled the way students could enter the discourse communities of their majors beyond the game and the composition class.

For assessing assignments that deal with gaming and play, we need to consider the following elements:

What are we assessing?

  • Game design
  • Statement of purpose, reflection
  • Achievement of statement goals
  • Fulfillment of assignment goals

Who is involved in developing assessment criteria and how are students internalizing criteria?

  • Creating or co-creating criteria
  • Practicing assessment
  • Revising criteria

Here are some resources available on and beyond campus to explore how you might implement some of these ideas or some of your own.

For Accessing/Analyzing Games:

For Designing Games:

CIC Sample Prompts and Activities:

While many of these examples and resources tend to follow digital medium games, it is important to note that the same play and gaming principles can be available through table top gaming as well.  The UW library system is currently acquiring table top gaming resources that should be available for the 2017-2018 academic year.  Please check with the UW English Studies Librarian Faye Christenberry for questions or updates.

Teaching the Technology of the ePortfolio

A couple of weeks ago, we held a workshop for all teachers in the English Department, focusing on how to teach the ePortfolio technology to students. Because faculty found it so helpful, we wanted to follow up with a blog post overviewing how to introduce the technology to students, particularly to provide resources for how to teach the technology for EWP ePortfolios.

Before you explain the technology, we recommend that you spend a class period (at least 50 minutes) to introduce the concept of the ePortfolio to your students and detail the assignment requirements. Here is a sample powerpoint, prompt and checklist for EWP students.

To introduce the technology of the ePortfolio, you can follow this sample lesson plan. I have also created a screencast of how I explain the technology to EWP students, which you can watch to prepare for your own explanation or share with students. This would be particularly helpful to share with any absent students.

Some general tips for introducing the technology:

  1. Budget at least 50 minutes.
  2. Be sure to have a projector available so you can model the technology as you set up.
  3. Ask your students to bring laptops or tablets to class. Phones are not the best for this kind of work. For those that need access to a laptop, refer them to rental availability through the UW-IT Classroom Technology’s Student Technology Loan Program.
  4. Before the introduction to the technology, be sure to set up the portfolio assignment, publish it, make it available for students to submit, and select URL submission only.
  5. Share these links with your students (via a Canvas announcement to ensure easy access during the workshop):

We hope this information helps! Please let us know if you have any questions, or contact one of the EWP Assistant Directors.

Canvas Workshop

As you turn your thoughts to spring 2016, please join us for a workshop on using Canvas as a teaching tool on Friday, March 4, at 10:30 a.m. in MGH 082. Whether you’ve never used Canvas before or are looking to take your Canvas use to the next level, you’ll get answers and help from two experienced Canvas users, Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges and Ann Shivers-McNair. To accommodate a range of experience and comfort levels, we’ve organized the workshop in two parts. You’re welcome to attend either or both parts.

10:30 – 11:30  Introduction to Canvas Basics

If you’re new to Canvas and considering using it for the first time, this is for you! We’ll be covering the following essentials:

  • Navigating the Canvas interface
  • Editing your syllabus and syllabus description
  • Uploading and managing files
  • Creating assignments

11:30 – 12:20  Small group and one-on-one consultations

If you have a specific question about or a feature you want to learn on Canvas, this is for you! Ann and Kimberlee will be available to work with you one-on-one or in small groups (if a few people have the same question). Also, if you joined us for the first hour, you can stick around to find out more about other commonly used features on Canvas, like pages, discussions, groups, and other settings options.

Let us know if you have any questions, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Workshop: Canvas Peer Review

peer review workshop

Join us for a hands-on workshop on using Canvas to facilitate electronic peer review! We’ll meet in MGH 082 from 10-11:30 a.m., and all are welcome. We’ll discuss approaches to peer review and options in the Canvas interface, and there will be plenty of time for practicing–both from an instructor’s perspective (setting up and viewing assignments) and students’ perspective (completing the electronic peer review).

Here is the agenda:


10:00 – 10:15 a.m. – Welcome and introductions

10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Discussion of Peer Review Pedagogy, Questions and Concerns

11:00 – 11:05 p.m. – The CIC Faculty Guide:

11:05 – 11:25 p.m. – Canvas Peer Review as Instructor and Student

11:25 – 11:30 p.m. – Wrap-up

If you have any questions, let Ann or Kimberlee know. We look forward to seeing you there!