Senior Year Writing (SYW) completing the cycle begun by FYW or starting something new?

A Writing Intensive Course That Is Useful For Graduating Seniors?

THE CHALLENGE: I have spent much of my career considering what skills we should teach in first-semester writing courses to help students navigate the literacy demands of academia. This semester I am considering this question from the other end: what skills should we teach students in a last-semester writing intensive course? How can I help them synthesize the skills they have learned over the last four years in order to navigate the world after college and make the best use of their Liberal Arts degrees?

COURSE DESCRIPTION 1:  This course will explore the relationship between audience, purpose and text in a cross section of electronic formats, including tweets, status updates, text messages, micro-blogs, blogs, and a range of social media sites. We will develop criteria for evaluating each form of writing, find examples, assess what makes them effective (including questions of ethics and responsibility), consider the decoding skills they demand from readers, and practice the form ourselves–with an emphasis on style, clarity, and coherence. Students in this course will learn how to create a website and blog and class writing will be in various formats including blogging and tweeting.

COURSE DESCRIPTION 2:  This course draws on theory, analysis, and practical application to explore the practical, ethical, social, educational, and civic roles of social media in the 21st Century from the perspective of students who have almost completed a college degree. How has social media changed the world we live in? What is genuinely new, creating new demands, desires, and possibilities, and what is just a new way of doing things we used to do some other way? How will social media enhance your future? How will it help you get a job or move ahead in your career? What does it mean to have an online identity in the 21st Century? Why is the term “branding” showing up everywhere you look? What is your brand?  Students in this course will explore the relationship between audience, purpose and text in a variety of electronic formats and so-called “new media,” develop criteria for evaluating each form of writing, find examples, assess what makes them effective (including questions of ethics and responsibility), consider the decoding skills they demand from readers, and practice the form themselves–with an emphasis on style, clarity, and coherence. Students in this course will learn how to create a website and blog, and class writing will be in various formats including blogging and tweeting.

Comment: Obviously the second course developed from the first, and it is the addition of the online identity/branding component that might make it appropriate for seniors. I am teaching a course that I advertised under the first description but that quickly evolved to the second. I’ll ruminate on the extent to which it succeeded at the end of the semester . . .

More to follow, and advice and other possibilities welcome . . .

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