Writing for Cyberspace   

Course Number and Section: ENG3080-03

Semester: Spring 2016

Course Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Friday 9:30AM-10:45AM

Course Meeting Location: CAS307

Instructor Name: Prof. Nikki Dreste

Office Location:  CAS 301 or CAS 314             

Office Hours:  By Appointment

Phone: [on your email copy!] (no calls before 7am or after 10pm, please)

Email/Google Hangouts (best way to contact):

Course Blog:


Course Twitter Hashtag: #eng30803

Course Description:  

This course explores emerging theories and practices for writing on the Internet and other new electronic media. We will study the effects of new media on the conceptualization of literacy, writing process, and products.  This course will survey how digital technologies are redefining what we mean by “writing.” You will read about the new genres and rhetorics associated with electronic (rather than print) environments, and you will compose your own digital texts.   

Through this course, we will explore how writing in digital space is connected to audience, purpose, etc. We will also: discuss current issues for writing online, discover how online writing can encourage passivity or mobilize action, practice micro-blogging, engage in writing for web content creation, and work on reflective writing. Since writing in cyberspace is highly visual and rhetorical at its core, we will also delve into a few basic design principles as related to course projects.

Prerequisite/Program:  ENG2020 (Writing) or permission of instructor.

Course Objectives:

As a core course of the English writing concentration major, ENG 3080 Writing for Cyberspace adheres to the Kean University English department mission through reinforcing 5 major student learning outcomes (SLOs) as stated in the English-Writing option assessment plan: &  

Students will learn to: use rhetoric, recursive processes to produce texts for multiple purposes and contexts in an online, digital format; understand dynamics within the sociocultural construction of online identities, ideologies, and language in digital space; and critically analyze online writing processes and products.  

During this course, students will:

  • Produce digital texts through a series of drafts that include exploratory writing or talk, as well as revisions that include addition, deletion, substitution and arrangement (SLO#1)
  • Identify central ideas/themes of digital texts through class discussion and writing (SLO#2)  
  • Utilize two or more methodologies from English Studies to develop original research or creative products (SLO#3)  
  • Demonstrate ability to give compelling oral presentations (SLO#4)  
  • Connect ideas from classroom assignments to contemporary issues in class discussions and presentations (SLO#5)


Course Methods:  

This course will meet twice-weekly in a computer lab, and include the following methods:

  • Intensive creative writing and reading practices
  • Class & online discussions
  • Collaborative class workshops
  • Collaborative projects
  • Analysis and development of interactive media
  • Lecture
  • Tutorials and practice of digital technologies

Please allow additional time outside of class to explore and practice the technologies required.  Acquiring mastery of any technology requires time to “swim around” and “play” with its affordances.

Required Materials:

  • Kean Email Address
  • Twitter Account (you may use your existing one, or create one specifically for this class)
  • Wix Website Account
  • WordPress Blog Account
  • USB Flash Drive and Kean Google Drive (to backup your work and share your work with me)

Necessary readings and other materials will be provided on the course blog, which you are REQUIRED to check regularly for updates and assignments (posted above in the contact information).

Optional Materials:

  • Your personal laptop/netbook (tablets and phones are not recommended for classwork)
  • A pair of headphones/earbuds

Major Projects:

There will be four major projects throughout the semester.  

  • The Blog
    • You will be expected to create and maintain a WordPress blog over the duration of the semester, to be updated at least once a week beginning January 25th and ending May 9th.  This blog can either be a reflective journal of class progress, or a blog with a theme/purpose that suits your personal or professional interests.  Use of Creative Commons/personally created images and links to outside material are required.  If you use material that is not your own, you must credit it.  You will also be expected to make at least one comment/Tweet about a classmate’s blog per week. Try to pick a different classmate every week.
    • Through your Twitter account, you will use #eng30803 to announce updates to your blog and projects, as well as participate in in-class activities and respond to readings. Feel free to also utilize the hashtag to share information or news that is class related. Because your blog will be public, be sure to only produce material that you are comfortable sharing, discussing, and receiving feedback on from your classmates, myself, and the Internet.  
  • The Multimodal Essay
    • You will be expected to create a digital research essay using Wix. This writing assignment will be on a topic of your choice and must adhere to the guidelines of the assignment sheet.
  • The Storyteller Group Project
    • You will be expected, as part of a group of peers, to collaborate and create a multimodal story of creative fiction/nonfiction/poetry using an approved website engine.  It must adhere to the guidelines of the assignment sheet.
  • The Reflection and Final Portfolio
    • You will be expected to create a final portfolio showcasing all of your work this semester, and reflect on your process in these pieces throughout the semester in a required essay.  It must adhere to the guidelines of the assignment sheet.


Grading, Point Distribution and Rubric:

You will be graded on your ability and willingness to:

  • exhibit mastery of genre/audience, focus, development, organization, grammar, and revision
  • approach the technologies and concepts we will be covering with an open mind
  • take the time to learn and use those technologies and concepts effectively
  • to draft, revise, revise again, revise some more, and produce final pieces through process
  • take creative risks and learn from mistakes as well as from successes
  • show up to class and deliver assignments on time
  • back up your work (which will help considerably in achieving the goal above)
  • collaborate and participate in class discussions and peer feedback


The point values of classwork and how they accumulate to affect your grade are as follows:

  • The Blog and Twitter Project (200 points)
  • The Multimodal Essay Project (200 points)
  • The Group Storyteller Project (200 points)
  • The Reflection and Final Portfolio (200 points)
  • Online and In-Class Participation (200 points) This includes:
    • Attendance and Punctuality
    • Completing readings/homework on time and coming prepared to discuss them
    • Engagement and participation in class/online and in group projects
    • Backing Up Your Work

Final Grade = Your Score/1000 points

930-1000 points    A 830-869 points    B 700-769 points     C
900-929 points      A- 800-829 points    B- 600-699 points     D
870-899 points      B+ 770-799 points    C+ 0-599 points         F


Class Policies                           

  • Attendance and Tardiness:  

Attendance will be taken by writing your signature into the class notebook when you enter class.  If your signature is not in the book by the end of class, you were absent.  DO NOT attempt to sign in for a classmate, absent or present.

You are expected to attend every class as scheduled on time.  Because of the intensive workshop/discussion nature of this class, absence and tardiness will quickly put you behind schedule and behind the conversation.  Life happens, and I am sympathetic to the occasional lateness or absence.  However, regular/excessive absence will not only serve as a detriment to your grade and learning experience, but it presents an unprofessional manner unbefitting of a college-level student.  You cannot expect to pass a course you do not attend.

This class meets twice weekly–so six (6) absences, or three (3) weeks worth of class time will put you at risk for a failing grade.  You are solely responsible for finding out what you’ve missed by consulting your classmates and the course blog, which will be updated after each session.


  • Late Assignments:


It’s your responsibility to ensure that your assignments are turned in on time–when they are due and not after.  Even if you cannot attend class the day an assignment is due, you are not excused from turning it in.  Assignments turned in after the due date will only be accepted for half credit.  After two days, the assignment will not be accepted at all.  Extensions will be given only in serious circumstances (such as documented severe illness and emergency) and only to those who contact me before the assignment is due with these issues.  In the case of an approved extension, the same rules for a regular assignment apply–half credit after the due date, and no credit after two days. Important Note:  The half credit/2 day zero credit rule does not apply to final versions of major projects–because of the nature of their process, they will not be accepted late at all UNLESS an extension has been granted.  

  • Electronics:  

This class takes place in a computer lab in which, naturally, you will be provided access to a computer to do your work.  That said, I’m completely okay with you bringing your own laptop or netbook to class if you feel more comfortable working on your own device, and/or a pair of headphones or earbuds for use during workshop periods only (to listen to audio or watch video relevant to coursework).  Smartphones and tablets can also be useful as a resource to do quick research and backup files, though they are not well-equipped to do the primary task work required.

Respect, in every respect, is expected.  If you are registered for this course, you are assumed to be a responsible adult who can demonstrate accountability and restraint with your tech and everything else.  During lectures and in-class discussions, headphones should be completely removed from the body and put away, and smartphones not in use.  If I see that you are using your tech for non-class activities and it is disrupting your ability or the ability of others to be on task and present, I will ask you once to put the device away/close the app for the remainder of class time.  Refusal to do so/repeated issues may result in dismissal from class for the day and impact your grade negatively.  

I definitely understand that sometimes that important text from family/ride/doctor/Batman/whoever cannot wait, or you have to take that call–if so, reply quietly and quickly or step outside and take it, then come back to task.




Have you noticed how many times I say this in the syllabus? Whoever can call out the correct number of times on the first day will receive one full credit on any one missed assignment of their choice (major projects are not eligible).  

I’ve said it a lot because it is important.  We will be working with computers, and files of many kinds.  We will be working on website platforms at length.  All of our progress can easily disappear in a server or hard drive crash or a corrupted/lost flash drive, or simply because we did not hit ‘Save’ after six hours of work.  This is a harsh reality of digital writing, but it does not have to be your problem if you make it a priority to back up your work.   Be sure to save your progress often, and to always keep current backups of your work and files on your personal computer, USB drive, Kean Google Drive (provided to you free by the school through your email), Dropbox, OneDrive, wherever.  

IMPORTANT: Extensions will not be given due to technological mishaps. These mishaps should not be occurring as you will have backed up your workright?


  • Topics and Audiences


As this course has us writing intensively and often on the Internet, you should always assume that your writing is public and can be seen by anyone.  As a result, you should choose topics to write about which you would be comfortable discussing at length with other people, whether or not you know them in person. We will be discussing Internet privacy and online discourse at length in this class.

  • The Writing Center:

Located in the Center for Academic Success, the Writing Center is the primary on-campus source for free academic support in the area of written communication.  Students, faculty and staff can work one-on-one with a trained writing coach to receive objective, constructive feedback on their writing projects at any stage of development.   This applies to any class you may be taking, including ours.  I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you visit the Center for feedback on your assignments.  I cannot stress this enough.  

For more information, visit them online at

  • Plagiarism

Assuming another person’s hard work as your own without giving due credit is plagiarism. It is rude, lazy, and also illegal academic practice.  If you are found to be plagiarizing, I will ask you once to revise your work (which I will refuse to grade as is).  If you are caught plagiarizing again, you will fail the course.  There are no exceptions.

Important University Policies and Information

Students are responsible for reviewing and understanding the University Academic Integrity Policy (available at the Center for Academic Success or at

Students should review the Student Code of Conduct, as it discusses expectations of appropriate conduct in the classroom:

The Students Rights and Responsibilities handbook is available at:

Students are strongly encouraged to register for the University’s emergency notification system ( in order to be informed of campus emergencies, weather notices, and other announcements.

All students must have a valid Kean email account.  For those who do not already have one, forms are available on-line at; click on E-mail Account Request Form. 

Americans with Disabilities Statement & Non-Discrimination Statement:

Kean University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution.  Students with documented disabilities who may need special instructional accommodations or who may need special arrangements in the event of an evacuation should notify the instructor as soon as possible, no later than the second week of the term.  Students may contact Kean Disability Office in Downs Hall Rm 127 to discuss special needs, 737-4910.

KU Non-Discrimination Policy:

Kean University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution.