Collin Gifford Brooke
T 5–6:20; sec. 001
Office: HBC 232
T 2-4 or by appointment
George Rhinehart
Th 5–6:20, sec. 002
Office: HBC 239E
M-Th by appointment

Overview and Objectives

WRT 426: Digital Identities is a hybrid course that meets in both a physical classroom (HBC 213A/HBC 227) and online. Together, we’ll consider practical and theoretical ways to address these central questions: In an age when social media pervades our lives and potential employers often google first, how can we manage our online presence? How can we display our skills to their best advantage? Using basic rhetorical principles, we’ll consider online activity as an integral part of our professional portfolios. We’ll develop branding and production plans, assess our existing digital profiles, and create/revise them on multiple platforms. Our work will be informed by readings on topics such as digital identity, online privacy, and short‐form style. When we finish up in April, you should have gained the following experience and skills:

You’ll understand how to compose your digital identity for multiple contexts and audiences. You’ll be able to conduct agile rhetorical analysis in order to determine what tone and content is best for the situation at hand while still remaining authentic.

You’ll learn to critically evaluate social media platforms. You’ll build on existing communication skills, and also understand how to assess privacy risks, optimize search factors, strategize linking, and more.

You will strengthen your online writing skills. Specifically, you will consider writing in short and ultra‐short genres, basic information architecture, and project planning principles.

You’ll develop market-ready materials for your job search and work to extend your professional networks. You’ll revise your resume and LinkedIn profile as well audit all of your social presences and create a digital portfolio that showcases your writing.

All of you should walk away from this course with a broad vocabulary and understanding of these ideas and with a sense of the way different modes of communication impact public perceptions of you and your work.

Texts and Materials

Readings will be provided via link, pdf, and library reserve.

Our primary online course site will be (shortcut: If you don’t already have them, you will also need to set up free accounts for a number of social media applications (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) as well as the portfolio application of your choice. We’ll talk more about this as we begin to use each one. Depending on your design choices for your portfolio, you may need to purchase server space, register a domain name, or purchase templates. Costs for these items vary widely.

Assignments and Grades:

You will graded on five major components over the course of the semester.

  1. Platform Presentation: 100 points
  2. Field Research: 200 points
  3. Revision/Development Justifications: 100 points (25 x 4)
  4. Short Weekly Assignments: 200 points
  5. Final Portfolio: 400 points

Total available points: 1000

Late work: Written assignments are due at the time specified for online submission. Late work will be penalized. All assignments must be completed in order to pass the course.

Getting Things Done

Attendance and Online Participation: You should be participating fully and consistently each week. Since this class relies so heavily on in‐class discussion and work, it is not possible for you to make up missed work or to work ahead.

Let me be very frank: If you are taking this class because a hybrid course seems like less work, you may want to reconsider now. Since much of the participation is written, you will likely do more writing than in many of your other classes. Because we only see each other once each week, you need to be consistently contributing online in order to make sure the rest of us know you’re there and pulling your weight.

Short Weekly Assignments: Because weekly online communication is so central to our work, it counts for substantial portion of your grade. These assignments will vary—reading responses, inventories, reports, responses to prompts, etc. Regardless of the assignment, the following guidelines apply, unless they are overridden by specific instructions:

  • It should be insightful, articulate, and on‐topic; it should also clearly demonstrate an understanding of the readings and/or work of the week.
  • It should substantiate assertions and contain citations as appropriate. Parenthetical citation is fine. Ex: (Brady, 2006, p. 2).
  • It should be at least 250 words long.

Regardless of the nature of any given week’s posts, you should plan on making thoughtful comments to at least two of your colleagues’ posts. “Thoughtful” means articulate and helpful; comments like “Absolutely!” and “Woo‐hoo!” do not count.

If your contributions meet these basic requirements, you’ll receive points as designated above. If you see something interesting and pertinent to the course in the news, on YouTube, or elsewhere, post a link and let us know about it!


Technology, the Internet, and Privacy: All course materials will be posted, linked, or pointed to our central course hub. All of our online discussions will take place there, and we’ll peer review some materials as well. As you know, all of the social media applications we will use are public. Never forget that anyone can read them. Additionally, because of the nature of this class, we will need to all friend/follow each other on various platforms. Please make allowances for this during the semester; during finals week, we will declare a no‐hard‐feelings unfriending period. If you have any concerns about the role of technology in this course, you should contact me within the first week of the semester. You should also plan to take advantage of email, chat, Twitter, and/or face‐to‐face appointments for questions that come up along the way.

Professionalism: It goes without saying that in the classroom, we should all adhere to basic standards of respect and professionalism. This extends to the work you do online.

The Writing Center: Experienced consultants at the Writing Center (101 HB Crouse Hall, on the Quad) are available to work one‐on‐one with you at any stage of your writing process and with any kind of writing you’re creating. Whether you need help understanding an assignment, brainstorming ideas, revising subsequent drafts, or developing editing strategies, face‐to‐face and online chat appointments are available for 25‐ or 50‐minute sessions throughout the semester. Appointments can be reserved up to six days in advance via their online scheduling program, WCOnline. In addition, drop‐in appointments are welcome Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and brief concerns, questions, or drafts (max of 5 pages) can be emailed to consultants via their eWC service. For more information on hours, location and services, please visit

Academic Dishonesty: If you have a question about documentation and/or plagiarism as you complete your work, just ask me. I’ll be more than happy to discuss it with you. That said, the SU Academic Integrity Policy holds students accountable for the integrity of the work they submit. Students should be familiar with the Policy and know that it is their responsibility to learn about instructor and general academic expectations with regard to proper citation of sources in written work. The policy also governs the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments as well as the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verifications of participation in class activities. Serious sanctions can result from academic dishonesty of any sort. For more information and the complete policy, see

Religious Observances: SU’s religious observances policy recognizes the diversity of faiths represented among the campus community and protects the rights of students, faculty, and staff to observe religious holy days according to their tradition. Under the policy, students are provided an opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirements that may be missed due to a religious observance provided they notify their instructors before the end of the second week of classes. For fall and spring semesters, an online notification process is available through MySlice/Student Services/Enrollment/My Religious Observances from the first day of class until the end of the second week of class.

Special Needs and Accommodations: Students who need special consideration because of any sort of documented disability should make an appointment to discuss it with me right away. The information you share with me will remain confidential. You should also contact the Office of Disability Service for information and/or assistance.