Assignments

This page will host assignment descriptions and expectations for both major projects and weekly assignments; you should check it often.

Weekly Assignments

 Final Portfolio/Online Presence

During the first half of the semester, we focused on individual platforms and media, and asked you to do some initial research into the field you’d eventually like to join. The final portion of this course will ask you to put it all together, to craft (and/or polish) your own online presence.

Many of you will have already begun this process, setting up accounts with various services. But this project asks you to think in a less piecemeal fashion about this process for the final. What elements belong in your online presence? What can you do not only to make yourself findable but appealing to potential employers?

What this looks like will vary from person to person, and will depend partly on what you’ve found in your field research. At the very least, though, your online presence should include:

  • a relatively permanent gateway that links to your different accounts (about.me, e.g.)
  • a portfolio for your own work, such as a WordPress or Tumblr site/blog (we will talk about a few different possible options for this)
  • some means of tracking the issues/events/ideas in your field, and/or curating the things you find online (RSS reader, Twitter, et al.)
  • accounts with the “major” social media sites (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn) that represent an ongoing building of your brand
  • a couple of niche social media accounts (e.g., Pinterest, Goodreads, etc.), relevant to your interests, that represent an ongoing building of your brand

Needless to say, these should all be interlinked and overlapped when possible. I will also ask you to provide me with a short essay that explains and justifies your choices that will be due at the end of the semester, along with the link to your gateway page. Milestone assignments and deadlines for this are forthcoming, but the entire project itself will be due by the end of the week following our final class meeting.

We will talk in class about the criteria that I will be using to evaluate your portfolios, but you should expect them to include issues like appropriateness, consistent activity, ethos, design, audience awareness, and the like.

Revision/Development Justifications
Over the final weeks of the semester will construct four (4) brief statements in which you explain and justify your revision/development of elements of your digital identity (online presence + electronic portfolio = digital identity).
Select 4 from the following list
  • Facebook: Go back to week 9’s assignment for you to do a deep review of your Facebook presence. In what ways have you revised (or are you planning to revise) your Facebook presence as part of your overall digital identity.
  • Portfolio Platform: Justify your portfolio platform choices. What functions and features does it offer that you are looking for. Also include decisions you’ve made about hosting, domain name, etc.
  • Design: What design choices (graphics, color, fonts) have you made, and how do they reflect the image of yourself that you are projecting?
  • Style/Tone: Look closely at those places where you are addressing potential readers. Think about the terms that you’re using, and the tone or style of your prose. How have you revised your language with your chosen field in mind?
  • LinkedIn: In what ways have you refined/developed your LinkedIn presence as you prepare for the job/internship market. In what ways do you anticipate that continuing and changing.
  • Twitter: How have you positioned yourself in your future/desired field using Twitter? What do you still need to do to fully engage in that field.
  • Other media: what other “niche” social platforms are you choosing to make part of your digital presence and how do you plan to integrate them?
Note: You should also feel free to justify the exclusion of a platform (Facebook, for instance) as opposed to its inclusion. Your goal is to make smart choices, and sometimes that means focusing on one platform instead of another, so it’s okay to make a case for not using something, based on field research, personal preference, etc.
Post these to your individual blog within the course site, clearing indicating that they are “justifications”; all four should be posted by the last day of class.

Field Research

Due: Thursday, March 6th (before Spring Break)

In addition to preparing your own materials over the course of the semester, one of the most important things you can do is to become familiar with the field or profession that you wish to join, and that is the primary goal of this assignment. Over the next several weeks, I would like you to compose a report that explores and examines how professionals in your field are composing themselves online. The report itself should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500-2000 words (or 5-7 pages worth of prose), but you may also want to include illustrations, screen captures, etc.

There is no single way to frame your report—it will depend greatly on the field you are looking at. You may want to focus on a specific person, company, or product, for example, or you may find yourself looking more closely at a particular platform (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) You may choose to contrast two or more examples of social media usage, or focus on a single model. There are a number of ways to approach this assignment, but your goal should be to become familiar with how people or organizations in the field you aspire to are establishing their online presence(s), and where your own efforts might fit with theirs, ultimately.

Here are some of the questions you should consider—bear in mind that your report does not need to address each of them explicitly:

  • What platforms are most frequently used, and for what purposes are they used? Is there a range of acceptable uses? Are some people or organizations better at it than others, and if so, how and why?
  • How stable or mature is the field’s use of social media? That is, is it dominated by a handful of voices, or is it more open than that? How “professional” are the sites and resources you find?
  • What are the main sites, resources, people, or ideas in your field?
  • How would you characterize the use of social media in your field?

These are potentially very broad questions, so I leave it to your judgment to focus your inquiry as necessary. Something like “the entertainment industry,” for example, is probably too broad for you to complete this assignment, so you might focus on a particular network, production company, or even a couple of television shows or movies. Be flexible about the scope of your inquiry, and don’t hesitate to focus it if you need to (or to expand your focus).

A final note: this isn’t the kind of assignment that you can easily complete at the last minute. It’s hard to gauge someone’s Twitter activity, for instance, by just reading a bunch of tweets in a single sitting. Spread your research time out a little, so that you can spend time “in the field.”

Please let me know if you have questions along the way.

 

Platform Presentations

Each of you will select a social media platform on which to present. The Platform Presentation is a 5-10 minute informative talk that you will deliver at the beginning of class on your assigned day. You should provide:

  • a brief background of the platform or app you’re discussing
    • who makes it?
    • when was it launched?
    • what populations use it?
  • what it has to do with rhetorically building personal brands
    • is it for everybody?
    • is it good for very specific things, or does it have broad uses?
    • what sort of ethos does it connote?
  • A basic introduction to using it that is driven by audience analysis*
    • what do people need to know to get up and running or to do a bit of advanced work?
    • are there mobile or desktop apps that are useful for updating/management?

You should be prepared to demo the platform and plan on using presentation software and/or handouts as appropriate. These materials will become part of the course resources.

Presentation Schedule

*This means that you should assess the needs of the class and do your best to instruct at the median level. For example, it’s likely that none of us need to be told how to update our status in Facebook. We might benefit from knowing what apps are useful to integrate or how to control the privacy settings in a fine-grained manner.