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How to tutor rich media projects?

I’ve recently returned to the writing center after an extended absence during which I taught a lot of composition, literature, and worked as a staff member at Ohio State’s DMP. My experiences at the DMP as well as the on-going work there to push the boundaries of what it means to teach composition by introducing rich media projects has gotten me thinking. Specifically I’m wondering how do writing centers and tutors that have extensive experience with print texts cope with rich media texts. What happens if a student comes in with an audio or video project? Or a Macromedia Flash or even a web site-based project? Another thing to think about is the question of resources. That is, does the writing center have the technological resources to allow the tutor and client to even access the client’s text? While in the short term the instructors assigning these rich media composition projects might be the best resource for their students, we can’t presume that every student in every class will comfortable getting feedback and advice from their instructors. Or they may even want a second or third opinion. Writing centers and tutors would be well-advised to start thinking about how to approach rich media projects and work with instructors to develop a set of best-practices.

In some preliminary conversations I’ve had with folks here at Ohio State we’ve come to the very tentative conclusion that early intervention in rich media projects is essential. This is primarily because the technological learning curve is so steep and the investment in terms of time is so great that traditional revision practices are to some degree not possible. That being said, there is still a lot of work to be done in helping clients winnow down hours of audio records, interviews, or video footage into a compelling project. It is at this level that tutors can the most help.

Scott Banville

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