+ Tech Review

Purpose: This assignment serves to introduce the class to a range of technologies that you might consider using to build your argument for your group’s scholarly multimedia project. It also serves to build your individual learning-to-learn skills about a specific software program that will be assigned to you to become a mini-expert on for the class.


  • to get you working hands-on with one technology in some depth
  • to help you learn to learn tech (and troubleshooting) on your own
  • to create a class knowledge-base of multiple software programs
  • to help you choose what software you might use in your project
  • to practice your presentation skills before your big “project pitch”
  • to practice your rhetorical and genre analysis skills, as applied to specific technologies that might serve your final project
  • to implement accessible composition strategies
  • to learn how to share files using the “239 sandbox” on the student projects server

Due Date: Wednesday, October 6, by noon.

Format: 4-minute, in-class presentation


  1. In class, you will choose a piece of software (from a hat). All of these options are either available as free downloads or come pre-installed on a Mac or a PC. If you get a Mac-specific or PC-specific option, and don’t have that kind of machine, you can work in the lab over the weekend and during open hours, which are posted outside the door.
  2. You will have no more than 4 minutes to present your piece of software to the class next week. (I will gong you off if you go over your 4 minute limit.) Here are the questions you need to address:
  • What does your software do? What’s its purpose? (Is it an HTML editor? A sound editor? etc.)
  • Where did you get it from (if it’s available as a download)? What is the URL?
  • How does it work? This is not meant to be a huge tutorial. Point us in the right direction. (e.g., Is it platform-specific [Mac or PC or Linux]? What do you need to do before you can start designing in it (collecting assets elsewhere and importing them in, or do you “record” directly into it)?
  • What kinds of texts are usually made using this software?
  • What are the benefits of using this particular technology for a scholarly multimedia project? The drawbacks? (What does it do/not do that will affect how you compose a piece of scholarly multimedia?)
  • What are some of the learning-curve issues (e.g., problems or tricks to learning it) that you think are important for your classmates to know?
  • Do you need additional technologies to make this software function the way it’s supposed to?
  • Are there example texts (from the journals, or elsewhere) that you can point to as in/effective examples? (However, don’t make the whole presentation an analysis of the example, unless that analysis answers the questions you need to address that are listed here.)
  • What are some tutorial sites/videos that seem most effective for learning this software? (Provide URLs)

Other requirements:

  1. The presentations will all be made public to the class as well as, possibly, to the journal audiences, unless you specifically request otherwise. I will be audio-recording your presentations.
  2. In addition to the presentation, you need to create a short electronic hand-out (as a word-processing document) that lists the tutorial sites/videos. I will compile these for everyone.
  3. Your presentation should include any modes of communication or media (visuals, audio, written text, animation, screenshots, screencaptures, etc.) that will help you overview your software program for your classmates.
  4. Your slides should complement your aural presentation, not repeat it. If you read directly from your slides, you are not using the media and modes to their greatest potential. Plus, it’s boring and redundant. Slides *are* a multimodal text, so design your presentation according to what you’ve learned so far in class.
  5. Your presentation must be as accessible as possible to audience members with different abilities of vision and hearing. This means, for instance, that your voiced script needs to be made available as a hand-out or as an e-doc, and that all videos need to be captioned, or captions made available if captions aren’t possible in the program itself. You should upload these documents to the sandbox and/or hand them out in class. (I WILL need an electronic copy of any handouts.)
  6. You can — if it makes sense, rhetorically — present your software IN the software itself. But you do not have to. (e.g., make an instructional podcast in Audacity;  an informational video in MovieMaker, etc.)
  7. No matter what technology you use to present your findings, you need to learn how to “package” (using, e.g., Powerpoint’s terminology) your files so that when you upload your presentation to the sandbox, everything will work correctly on the instructor’s machine in STV 408. You will definitely want to test this BEFORE class time if you are unsure.
  8. Practice your presentation. At least three times. And time yourself.
  9. We will present according to the software groupings and order I announce in class on Sept. 29. Do not be late, etc.

Turn-in Instructions:

  1. Name your presentation package “softwarename-tech-review-LASTNAME”. If you have multiple files that need to go with your presentation package, zip/compress ALL of them into a single file that you name “softwarename-tech-review-LASTNAME”.
  2. Name your hand-out(s) according to the following filename schema: softwarename-tutorials-LASTNAME; softwarename-transcripts-LASTNAME; etc.
  3. upload your packaged presentation to the student projects server. Inside the 239 folder is a folder called /tech-review/. Place your packaged files in that folder.

Remember: All this is due (and should be tested) by noon Wednesday!

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