WRS 102 (Writing in the Disciplines) introduces students to the kinds of writing required of students across the university. Students write documents in their choice of disciplines and share their drafts in a gamified writing and editing online environment.
The rationale for seeking this blended learning award is to support the development of GWrit (The Game of Writing: a gamified online writing environment), specifically a version for a new, blended learning format of Writing Studies 102. Writing courses usually use class time for discussion and sharing of drafts. These activities were moved to the new online, gamified environment. Over 100 files (videos, texts, screencasts) were created to enable students to study on their own time and as they were drafting their assignments rather than force them to conform to the usual face-to-face timetable for learning.
The blended learning approach has been to divide the course into four modules, each one of three weeks. In the first week, students decided which of the three assignments in the module they were going to complete. In the second week, they wrote an in-class assignment in groups that built their skills for that module and assignment. In the third class of the module, they worked in groups to make final revisions to their assignments.
For each module there were online activities posted on a Google Site. An introductory video and screencasts based on slide presentations. As students began working on the assignment they chose, they then read the relevant chapters in the textbook—for example, on how to write a good observation. They then looked at the model paper in the textbook and the grading rubric on the Google site to build knowledge about the important features of writing an observation. After they posted a draft of their assignment, they read the drafts of other students on GWrit and posted comments to help those students improve. Because reading other drafts helped them learn about the kind of writing they are doing, the commenting process gave them ideas about how to improve their own draft. They then revised their work in preparation for handing it in at the end of the module.
In the second in-class assignment in the module on critical thinking and analysis, students were given a graphic produced by Career Services listing facts about recent University of Alberta graduates. They wrote a critical analysis of the graphic in groups. In this analysis, they posed questions about the statistics presented in the graphic, including information about how these statistics did not match up with national and international findings. At the end of the class, each group handed in their critical analysis. This functioned as a mini version of the main assignments.
Roles of the content development team (~30 hours)
- Create the materials, examples, and make the presentations.
- Outline content and initial storyboarding to develop scripts.
- Develop the script and record the audio.
- View video drafts and request edits.
Roles of the CTL production team (~45 hours)
- Support in creating storyboard and script.
- Edit, revise and approve the script and storyboard.
- Clean audio with Audacity.
- Create and annotate video using Camtasia Studio.
- Edit and upload video to Google Sites.
- “Feedback to Student Writing: Multimodal feedback in a blended academic writing course.” With Heather Graves, Dan Harvey, Shahin Moghaddasi Sarabi. Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing, Toronto, May 2017.