new media teaching:

Sample of Student Work

To date, I’ve included new media assignments in composition classes (20833), literature classes (10113 and 30513), and creative writing classes (30353). For brevity’s sake, I’ll discuss the specific benefits of new media for two courses:

munsell_vid English 10113 (Introduction to Poetry): In the second half of the course, I have each student create short video interpretations of poems we’ve read in class. This “Pod Poem” assignment asks students to visualize and externalize their understanding of a poem’s imagery as a way of representing visually their understanding of the poem’s more abstract implications. One surprising benefit of this assignment has been that it excites the interest of a greater variety of students. Students doing average work before the midterm (during the more “traditional” part of the course) often demonstrate a new level of engagement through their Pod Poems. The project does require a fair bit of work, and there is a learning curve with the software (Photoshop and Movie Maker or iMovie), but the feedback over several semesters has been uniformly positive. Students frequently report back they have a new respect for the efficiency of written language now that they have been asked to illustrate visually a poem’s denotative and connotative levels. You can view Christie Munsell's Pod Poem for Lucille Clifton's "poem to my uterus" by clicking here.

20833_picEnglish 20833 (Sophomore Seminar): One project in this WCO course requires that students design and write the content, and then post online their own advocacy websites. Unlike a more traditional assignment that asks students to advocate for an under-recognized cause, this project becomes more than an exercise in advocacy in the sense that it can potentially reach a larger public audience (someone other than classmates and instructor, a stranger who may not initially care what the writer has to say). Audience should be a consideration for most writers, but with more traditional assignments, students have a hard time imagining anyone other than their teacher reading their papers. Because students know they’ll submit their advocacy arguments as live websites (literally available to anyone with internet access), their sense of audience in the composing process is much more real. You can view Wes Carmichael's site "The Path to Economic Liberty" by clicking here.

Overall, I am acutely aware of my need to prepare students for the rigors of academic writing. But my responsibility extends beyond that. For me to ask my students to engage my course content only through paper and ink is to ask them to use a technology they currently use less and less. I need them to think critically about how writing works once they leave school. I also need to give them opportunities to practice how some of the newer “stays against confusion” actually get composed.

Teaching Outside the Classroom

One of the additional benefits of working as a New Media Consultant has been the opportunity to work directly with faculty in a number of disciplines outside English (Religious Studies, Modern Foreign Languages, Environmental Studies, Business to name only a few). I’ve been able to refine what I do with new media in my classes by consulting with other faculty newer to new media. The Studio has a “Teach the Teacher” policy. Instead of simply providing support for students working on new media assignments for their instructors, we primarily provide a service and support for faculty who want to incorporate new media in their own courses. I’ve helped individual faculty revise older assignment prompts to incorporate new media; both through group workshops and individually. I’ve talked faculty through the benefits and limitations of using new media, and, in several cases, I’ve given one-on-one training with new media software (most commonly Movie Maker and Photoshop) so that the instructor can appreciate the strengths and the quirks of the software before asking her students to use it for a longer project. I’ve seen the same enthusiasm for new media in the faculty as I’ve seen in my students, and it’s gratifying to know that I’m directly helping so many of my colleagues rethink their teaching as well as, in several cases, the presentation of their research.

blurbs2My evolving new media expertise has also helped me in my role as Faculty Advisor for the Bryson Literary Society. This fall, the Literary Society will produce its 10th issue of eleven40seven, the undergraduate literary magazine. We’ve published the journal twice yearly since 2005 to showcase the poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art by TCU undergraduates in all majors. The first two issues (Spring and Fall 2005) were web-only. Since Spring 2006, the Literary Society has produced both a print issue as well as a web-companion every semester ( With each change in staff, I teach basic editorial principles (i.e. managing and distributing submissions to genre editors, determining editorial standards for selection, corresponding in a timely fashion with contributors, selection of the cover art) as well as basic principles of print layout and web design (which includes training in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver). The satisfaction I receive from this part of my job is considerable. Even English professors can forget that writing is a source of pleasure, especially when students are given the opportunity to come to it on their own terms.