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#UniFreeClass: Introduction and Structure

For students in my hybrid ENGL 1102 courses and onlookers

Our class is about to begin publishing a collaborative web project investigating the question that Diane raised several weeks ago during our “big argument” free-for-all, while sharing a link to an article by Aaron Bady:


This post is a description of how we’ll be organizing the work of that publishing endeavor in a project called #UniFreeClass this semester.

We have 37 students across two sections of a hybrid class. We’ll use a structure that approximates what happens on a newspaper staff, with two MANAGING EDITORS, five PROJECT EDITORS, and pairs of WRITERS/DESIGNERS who, for the most part, will research and compose “articles” for project. These articles will correspond to the assignment categories at the bottom of the syllabus that comprise a student’s grade in the course.

The two managing editors will organize the workflow of stories composed by the project teams, make top-level design choices about the site, implement engagement strategies, edit and revise content, and blog about the evolution of the site.

The five project managers will organize three two-person teams, suggest article ideas in a weekly meeting format, guide the decisions of the group on what it should cover, serve as first reader on articles submitted to the project, and include their own design input on the website. Projects will be divided into the following topic categories: GEORGIA UNIVERSITIES, UNIFREE MODELS, CHALLENGES TO FREE HIGHER ED, STUDENT DEBT, and WILDCARD (where we’ll put stories that defy categorization).

The writers/designers on the project will, for the most part remain associated with one of the project managers and his/her topic. Writers/designers will participate in a weekly project meeting wherein they and their project editors will both contribute ideas. Pairs of writers/designers will  collaborate to complete an article every 7-10 days; assignments will originate in the weekly project (“beat” meetings).

The shifting role of the writer/designer is central to the success of this kind of project, so I’ll focus a bit more on each of those roles:

A writer on the project is also, simultaneously, a designer. She switches roles from week to week, serving in one role for one article and the other role for her next article. In her week as a writer, she researchers a particular idea, composes the text for a particular story in Phase One and Phase Two draft forms, revises and edits for ideas, organization, and conventions, and meets her team’s deadline.

A designer on the project is also, simultaneously, a writer. He switches roles from week to week, serving in one role for one article and the other for his next article. As a designer, he curates an initial collection of research for the writer, simultaneously participates at least once in the writer’s composition process, assists in revision and editing, selects an image(s) that abides by ethical use practices, titles and formats the article, and submits it to the project editor.

Managing editors, project editors, and writers/designers all have the responsibility to complete the major assignment categories for the class listed in the syllabus, so as you participate in weekly project meetings, suggest things and take on ideas that will allow you to a) contribute meaningfully to the project and b) satisfy grade requirements.

 

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