Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Digital Composition

The aim of this week’s classes was to get my students prepared for their first digital media compositions of the semester (beyond the course blog, which they post to on a weekly basis). For this assignment, students are required to live tweet two hours of television, and then they have to put together a digital composition in Storify that combines their tweets, the tweets of others, other media, and written text into an argument about the relationship between live tweeting and contemporary television. I got my inspiration for this assignment from a variety of resources (seriously, just Google “live tweeting assignment” or “storify assignment”), but most specifically from Suzanne Scott.

So in preparation for this project, which is due in a few weeks, we spent the majority of class on Wednesday live tweeting the first episode of Friday Night Lights. Even though the majority of the students reported that they’d never live tweeted previously, they took to it rather quickly. It seemed clear to me that they understood the ideal functions of live tweeting, and by and large, their tweets were varying degrees of hilarious and insightful. Interestingly though, when we discussed the experience, many students reported that they found live tweeting to be too distracting, which I think is interesting because one of the most dominant contemporary narratives about “youths” is that we/they aren’t interested in or capable of focusing on one thing at a time.

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Much like Oprah here, I have questions about the truth.

At any rate, in today’s class, after a crash course in how to compose in Storify, students spent the bulk of class time on taking those tweets from Wednesday and developing their own Storify compositions with them. Unlike their actual project in which they have to make a specific argument, I left this assignment open-ended so that they could play around and develop their creative interests. After working for a while, they had to publish their compositions to our class discussion board so that we could all look at the many different approaches that were taken. The results were as varied as I expected. Some used outside media and some didn’t. Some took on more journalistic styles while others focused on humor. When they looked at the class’ tweets collectively, many were able to pick out key themes and used them to build their compositions. And it seemed to me that they all had a good grasp on how Storify works in the end.

In summary, I’m excited about seeing their final compositions in a few weeks 😀

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