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Week 15 and Finals Week: Wrapping Up the Online Advocacy Project

I know it will break your hearts to read these words, but here goes: this is the final website update for the semester. Congratulations — you’re almost done with Writing and Digital Media! I have been so impressed with your flexibility, your willingness to experiment with new tools, and your collegiality with one another this semester. Our small class has allowed us take different approaches to some of our assignments, and I think the results have been excellent. I’m especially excited to see how our Online Advocacy Project takes off.

Between now and May 13 (the date of our final), all of your attention for this class should be directed toward our “Be VT” project. Your homework is to do something (anything!) related to our collaborative project every day for the next 11 days. Document and share your efforts on multiple social media platforms, convince friends and roommates to get involved, generate new memes, and monitor all of our online venues to see what’s getting noticed:

You’ll notice that some of our social media accounts need to be updated with pictures, bios, and content, so please don’t wait for someone else to take charge. (The usernames and passwords for all of these accounts can be found in our class’s shared Google Drive folder.)

Here’s how we’ll spend our last few days of class:

  • On Monday, we will catch up on the readings we didn’t have time to discuss yesterday. You’ve already read these articles on “virality,” but please review them before you come to class: “What Makes Something Go Viral?“, by Andrew Phelps, and “How to Improve Your Chances of Going Viral.” After our discussion, we will check in on our collaborative project to see what’s working, what isn’t, and what we want to change during the final week of class. Please be ready to report on what you’ve done to help the “Be VT” cause so far.
  • On Wednesday, we will spend class “doing random acts” for the Be VT project. You can work alone or with a partner, but you should have a specific plan of action for doing something to advance our cause during class. (We’ll prepare for this a bit on Monday, but start thinking about it now.)
  • On Monday, May 13, we will meet during our final exam (2:05–4:05 p.m.) to hear brief, informal presentations about your individual contributions to the Online Advocacy Project. Before you come to the final, pelase submit your individual memo to me, following the guidelines in the assignment description. You are also welcome to bring some snacks or treats to share with everyone. (I’ll bring a few things, too.)

And that’s all there is! It’s been a great semester, and I feel lucky to have taught such an outstanding group of students. If there’s anything I can do to help you finish this semester on a high note, please let me know. Otherwise, go forth and change the world with your final project!

Week 14: Internet Memes, Going Viral, and Launching Our Collaborative Project

Our class discussions this week led us in a different direction than we originally planned for our online advocacy project, but I get the sense that everyone is more excited about our revised focus. At this point, each of you should be working with a few of your classmates to make progress on a specific aspect of this project. Please use our shared class folder in Google Drive to store all materials related to this project, and be sure to use clear and obvious file-naming conventions to label anything you add to the folder.

Right now, our biggest priority is finalizing a logo for use on our various social media accounts and developing our “calling cards” in InDesign. If you’re working on these tasks, please be ready to share drafts of your work with the whole class on Monday. By the time we leave class on Wednesday, we should be ready to officially “launch” our project.

Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class and what you need to do to prepare:

I’m looking forward to another great week of lively discussions, and I can’t wait to see how our online advocacy project evolves!

Week 13: Full Steam Ahead on the Online Advocacy Project

I hope Wednesday’s peer review session helped you identify elements in your multimodal rhetorical analysis that need to be revised and refined before submitting your finished essay. I have two pieces of advice as you put the finishing touches on this project:

  1. Carefully review the assignment description, especially the evaluation criteria, which I will use to grade your project.
  2. Remember that “analysis” is in the title of this assignment for a reason; the biggest mistake you can make on this project is to describe or summarize your chosen project but fail to analyze it. If you’re struggling with this, I suggest reviewing the readings on rhetorical analysis from Week 11.

If you need additional last-minute help, I am willing to meet with you on Monday morning from 9–12. Please let me know if you would like to meet.

Starting on Monday, we will be focused squarely on our online advocacy project, which will keep us busy until the end of the semester. Here’s how we’ll use our time in class:

  • On Monday, you should submit your multimodal rhetorical analysis before you come to class. During class, be prepared to describe one successful strategy used by the organization you studied for your Unit #3 project and explain how we might apply that strategy to our collaborative work on Unit #4. (This is not a formal, graded presentation, but you should know what you’re going to say before you get to class. You should speak for 2–3 minutes, and you can use the projector to show us examples from your project.) Afterwards, we will resume our planning session for the online advocacy project, so please review the photos from our last discussion, located in our class’s shared Google Drive folder.
  • On Wednesday, we will finalize our plans for the online advocacy project and make assignments for each person in class. Please come to class ready to describe the specific contributions you intend to make to our project between now and the end of the semester.

As always, if you have any questions about these plans, please let me know.

Week 12: Using the Internet for Good, Collaborative Planning, and Peer Critique

I hope Wednesday’s in-class exercise helped you develop some strategies for analyzing your assigned organization for Unit #3, and I hope you’ve been observing your organization and collecting plenty of artifacts to use in your analysis. At this point, you should be organizing your artifacts and selecting a few specific features to discuss in your paper. Between now and Monday, you should begin drafting your analysis (don’t forget to include screenshots to illustrate your arguments!), and by next Wednesday, you should have a complete draft. If you have questions about your work on Unit #3 or need help refining your ideas, please come see me during my office hours next week (T 1–4; W 9-12).

Here’s how we’ll spend our time next week:

  • On Monday, we will extend our discussion about using the internet to change the world, then we will hold a collaborative planning session for our Online Advocacy Project. Before you come to class, please read “How to Stop the Bullies,” by Emily Bazelon, and “All You Need Is (Facebook) Love: ‘Compliments’ Accounts Go Viral at Colleges and Universities,” by Olivia B. Waxman. Before you go to bed on Sunday night, please add a comment to this post that highlights and analyzes a selection from one of these two articles. After our discussion, we will begin making specific plans and assignments for our Unit #4 project, so be ready to discuss potential titles, software programs, publicity strategies, and key stakeholders.
  • On Wednesday, we will conduct a peer critique session for Unit #3. Please come to class with a complete draft of your multimodal rhetorical analysis in Google Docs format. If time permits, we will return to our Unit #4 project.

If you have any questions about these plans, just let me know. Otherwise, I’ll look forward to a lively discussion in class on Monday!

Week 11: Digital Citizenship and Analyzing Websites

After reviewing your preferences for the Multimodal Rhetorical Analysis assignment and the Online Advocacy Project, two things became clear: First, everyone wants to work together as one big group for our Online Advocacy Project, so I’m willing to give that a shot. Second, many of you wanted to study the same projects for the Multimodal Rhetorical Analysis assignment, so very few of you got your “first choice.” However, I was able to arrange things so everyone got one of their top-four choices, so please check your assignment and begin “following” your organization using as many different channels as possible.

Next week, we will get back on track with the reading assignments I postponed during Week 10, then we will spend a day honing our rhetorical analysis skills. Here’s a quick description of our plans for each day:

  • Before you come to class on Monday, please read two short essays by Ethan Zuckerman: “Understanding Digital Civics” and “What Ancient Greek Rhetoric Might Teach Us About New Civics.” After you’ve completed the readings, leave a comment on this post pointing to a specific passage or idea you’d like to discuss in class. (Post these by Sunday night, please!) After our reading discussion, we will select a project that the entire class can work on for Unit #4, so please come to class with at least one new idea that you’re excited about. Given that 11 people will be contributing to this project, try to think of problems/issues/causes that could benefit from a big group effort.
  • On Wednesday, we will spend the entire class period learning how to apply techniques of rhetorical analysis to multimodal artifacts. Before you come to class, please read “Understanding Misunderstandings: How to Do a Rhetorical Analysis,” by Trish Roberts-Miller (if the background color on that site makes it hard to read the article, try “printing” it as a PDF file), “Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Three Ways to Persuade,” by John R. Edlund, and “Basic Questions for Rhetorical Analysis,” by Gideon Burton.

If you would like to talk about ideas for Unit #3 or #4, please let me know — I’d be happy to meet with you during office hours (T 1-4; W 9-12). Otherwise, I’ll see you in class!

Week 10: Online Advocacy, a Guest Lecture, and Planning the Rest of Our Semester

I hope Wednesday’s peer critique exercise helped you identify a few places in your tap essays that could benefit from revision. Between now and next Monday, when this project is due, I hope you will share your essays will a select group of friends and classmates who are willing to give you additional feedback to help you fine-tune your essays. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a writing format where little details matter as much as they do in Tapestry, so even after you’ve finalized your text and your images, keep working on the small, subtle aspects of your essays. I know that attention to detail will pay off when you release your essays into the wild next week.

Before you come to class on Monday, please email me the URL for your tap essay and upload all of your resources for this project to your shared Google Drive folder, as described on the assignment sheet. Once Unit #2 is behind us, I’ll introduce our two remaining projects (which are interconnected) and we’ll start making plans for those assignments. Here’s what you need to do to prepare for class:

  • On Monday, we will finish Net Smart, so please read pages 191–253 before you come to class. After we conclude our discussion, I will introduce Unit #3, the Multimodal Rhetorical Analysis, and Unit #4, the Online Advocacy Project.
  • On Wednesday, we will have a guest lecture from a visiting scholar, so please make sure you are on time, and please do whatever you can to make her feel welcome at Virginia Tech. I have pushed back our reading assignment until next Monday, so you only need to do two things before class: (1) Select four online advocacy projects that you are interested in analyzing for your Unit #3 project, and (2) decide whether you would prefer to complete Unit #4 in small groups or as an entire class. We will try to make a decision on this second point after the guest lecture.

I will be at a conference for the next few days, but I will try to check email at least once a day, so let me know if you need anything before Monday. Otherwise, good luck polishing your tap essays!

Week 9: Revising Tap Essays and a Peer Critique Workshop

As we discussed in class yesterday, our goals and expectations for the Tap Essay project just got upgraded a bit. I hope you’re excited about the potential of connecting with a much bigger audience than we originally anticipated, and I have confidence that all of you can produce first-rate tap essays that deserve to be seen by a lot of people. At the same time, I realize that the prospect of putting your work out there for the world to see can be intimidating, so I want to make sure that you have the necessary time to produce work that you’ll be proud to share. Hence, I have pushed back the due date for this project from March 27 to April 1, which will give you an extra day of class time to work through technical challenges and get feedback from other people in the class.

Here’s a quick overview of how we’ll spend our time next week and what you need to do to prepare for each class session:

  • On Monday, we will spend the entire class in workshop mode, and I will pair you up with another student so you can share the tricks you’ve learned for working in Tapestry. In addition, I will meet briefly with each of you to review your script and answer any questions you have about your project. Before you come to class, all of your text should be added to your Tapestry draft, and you should have collected all of the images you think you’ll need for your project. (Use the links on the Resources page to find appropriately licensed images.)
  • Our entire class session on Wednesday will be devoted to a peer critique workshop. You should come to class with a completely finished tap essay, not just a rough draft. In order for this critique session to work well, everyone needs to attend, and everyone needs to take it seriously. We will focus our attention on polishing your essays and fine-tuning the technical aspects of your work, but we won’t be able to do that unless your project is almost perfect.

If you have any questions about these plans, don’t hesitate to contact me. And if you would like additional help with your tap essay, please come see me during office hours (T 1–4, W 9–12).

Week 8: Crafting Arguments, Learning CSS, and Understanding Networks

All of you came to class last Wednesday with great ideas for your tap essays, and I can’t wait to see how your essays take shape over the next few weeks. Now that you have an approved topic for your essay, you should take what you learned using Tapestry to reformat someone else’s words and apply those lessons to your own tap essay. Tapestry may not be the best application for drafting your essay, but don’t forget about Tapestry’s affordances and constraints as you write. Remember: concision, pacing, and selective emphasis are incredibly important to the success of your project.

Your homework for spring break is to produce a first draft of the text for your tap essay and begin collecting images that you might use to enhance your essay. When we come back next week, we will pick up where we left off in Week 7. Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class:

  • On Monday, we’ll begin by looking at the tap essays of famous political speeches that you worked on before spring break. Don’t worry about polishing your essay, but come to class ready to show us at least a few screens that you created. Afterwards, we will conduct workshop to learn how to customize your tap essays using cascading style sheets (CSS). Please bring an electronic copy of the text you’ve drafted for your own tap essay.
  • On Wednesday, we will discuss the importance of networks in a digital society. Please be ready to discuss Net Smart, Chapter 5 (pp. 191–238), in class. No later than Tuesday night, leave a comment on this post containing a passage from the text you’d like to discuss in class, along with your analysis (or rebuttal) of that passage.

I will be at a professional conference for the remainder of spring break, but you can reach me via email if you have any questions as you draft your tap essay. If you’d like to chat about your project next week, please come see me during my regular office hours (T 1–4, W 9–12).

Week 7: Collective Intelligence, Collaboration, and Thinking Multimodally

Now that you have submitted your video narratives, we can turn our attention to our next big project: the tap essay. If you haven’t downloaded Tapestry on your iPad or phone, you should do so ASAP, as we will be using the application in our classes next week. As we work on this project, you should bring your iPad (or another mobile device with Tapestry on it) to class each day unless I specify otherwise.

Here’s a quick overview of how we’ll get started on this new project next week:

  • On Monday, we will continue our discussion about collaboration and collective intelligence. Before you go to sleep on Sunday, please read Chapter 4 in Net Smart (pp. 147–89) and leave a comment on this post pointing to something from the chapter that you want to discuss in class. In addition, please read at least ten different tap essays within Tapestry and come to class on Monday with a long list of ideas for your tap essay (long = at least ten).
  • On Wednesday, we will begin working with the Tapestry application to explore the differences between traditional printed texts and multimodal texts. Before you come to class, please create a document in your Google Drive folder containing three possible topics for your tap essay. For each topic, write a paragraph or two that summarizes the argument you want to make and describes how you might do so using the tap essay format. I will review these ideas with each of you to help you finalize your topics for this project.

As always, if you have any questions, send me an email or stop by during my office hours.

Week 6: Wrapping Up the Video Narrative, Participatory Culture, and New Genres of Writing

I hope our peer critique exercise helped you with your video narratives. Even though I couldn’t hear the audio, I could tell that most of your videos are really starting to come together. Now that we’re in the home stretch for Unit #1, you should be completing the following tasks:

  • After making any necessary changes to your script, go to the InnovationSpace in 1140 Torgerson Hall to record the final version of your narration.
  • Adjust the timing and sequencing of your images and video clips based on the feedback you received from your classmates.
  • Add some type of title at the beginning of your video, and make sure you are citing your sources in a “Credits” section at the end.
  • When you are finished with your video, export it so it will play on any computer. Depending on the software you’re using, you should end up with a file that has one of these extensions: .mov, .mp4, .mpeg, .avi, or .wmv.
  • Place your video, your written script, and any other relevant materials into your shared Google Drive folder.

Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class:

  • On Monday, we will discuss participatory culture on the web. Please read Chapter 3 (pages 111–45) in Net Smart no later than Sunday night, then add a comment to this post with a specific passage you’d like to discuss in class. (Bonus points for interacting with your classmates in the comments section!)
  • On Wednesday, your video narratives are due before you arrive in class. To submit your project, please follow the instructions on the assignment sheet. In class, I will introduce our second major assignment, the Tap Essay, and we will begin exploring this new genre, so make sure you bring your iPads to class.

Finally, I will be shifting my office hours next week so you can meet with me before your video narratives are due. If you’d like some help with your project, please email me to set up an appointment, or just stop by my office (427 Shanks Hall) on Monday from 9–12 or Tuesday from 1–4.

Good luck putting the finishing touches on your videos — I can’t wait to watch them!

Week 5: Interrogating Twitter; Peer Critique Workshop

Now that everyone has gathered artifacts and selected a software program for the Video Narrative assignment, your videos should be looking like … well, videos, not just collections of pictures. As you assemble your video, remember the advice we heard from Ira Glass and be ruthless about revising and editing your work.

To help you focus on your videos, I have postponed our next reading assignment in Net Smart, and I have added some additional workshop time to our class sessions next week. Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class:

  • On Monday, we will begin by “interrogating” Twitter’s official interfaces and several third-party Twitter applications. Before you come to class, please read Daniel Jalkut’s “Elements of Twitter Style” and “How to Cultivate a Personal Learning Network: Tips from Howard Rheingold” by Chuck Frey. In addition, you should install one of Twitter’s official applications on your laptop, your iPad, or your phone, then install at least one third-party application on one of these devices. (There are lots of ways to find third-party applications. You can start with Wikipedia’s list, or you can search for “Best Twitter application for [insert your platform]” to find recommendations from other Twitter users.) This should probably go without saying, but just in case, you should come to class with whatever device (laptop, iPad, or phone) you used to install these Twitter applications. After we complete our Twitter exercise, we will spend the remainder of class in workshop mode, so be sure to have access to your video narrative files in class.
  • Wednesday’s entire class will be devoted to a peer critique workshop. In order to participate in this workshop, you must come to class with a finished, playable video containing your complete video narrative. If you arrive with a half-finished video file and a missing audio track, I will ask you to leave and mark you as absent for the day. I don’t enjoy being a stickler, but in order for this peer critique session to go well, everyone needs to be on equal footing. Showing up unprepared is disrespectful to your peers who have put in the work to finish their projects. If you need help with your video, you can come to my office hours on Tuesday afternoon (1–4) or Wednesday morning (9–noon), but postponing your work on this project until a few hours before class starts is a very risky strategy. (P.S. — Don’t forget to bring your headphones to class!)

If you have questions about these plans, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you in class on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Week 4: Crap Detection 101, Plus a Rough Draft Critique Session

We’re halfway through our Video Narrative unit, so your projects should be starting to take shape. I’ll be looking over the drafts you uploaded to Google Drive this weekend, so watch for an email from me containing some feedback on your script.

Next week, we will work on pulling together all of your various artifacts into a coherent narrative. Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class each day:

  • On Monday, we will discuss Howard Rheingold’s concept of “crap detection.” Before you come to class, please read Chapter 2 (pages 77–109) in Net Smart and explore the Hypothes.is website. (Be sure to watch the introductory video on the “What Is It?” page.) Sometime before Sunday night, leave a comment on this post about a specific passage from Net Smart that you want to discuss in class. (Even better: use your comment to extend or refute one of your classmate’s ideas.) In addition, please come to class with a “shopping list” for your video narrative that includes every image, video clip, audio clip, etc., that you think you need to complete your project. (Be as detailed as possible!) We will spend part of class helping you determine when you should create these items yourself and when you should rely on public domain or Creative Commons materials.
  • Wednesday’s entire class will be devoted to a peer critique workshop designed to help you finalize your script and begin arranging the various components within your video. Before you come to class, you need to (a) revise your original script and ensure that it falls within the 3–5 minute time limit, (b) create and/or gather all raw materials (video clips, audio clips, and still images) for your video, and (c) select which software program you will use to create the final version of your video. Depending on which software program you choose, you may need to bring your laptop to class on Wednesday.

As always, if you have any questions about our plans for next week, drop me a line via email or Twitter.

Week 3: Do I Have Your Attention?

Now that everyone has created a Twitter account, I’ve added you to a Twitter list for our class, so you can see (and hopefully follow) each other. A few of you have made your Twitter accounts private, but that will hinder your ability to participate in our class’s conversations on Twitter, so I would encourage you to make your tweets public. If you’re new to Twitter, here are a few articles that will help you get started:

We’ll check in on our Twitter adventures on Monday, so here’s a mini assignment to complete this weekend: follow at least five new people who regularly tweet on a particular topic. For instance, if you want to use Twitter to keep up with campus news and events, follow a few of the accounts on the university’s list. Or use a hashtag search to find out who is regularly tweeting about your favorite sport, television show, band, etc. And remember, when you tweet about something related to our class, be sure to use the class hashtag: #engl3844

Next week, our class discussions will focus on the digital literacy of “attention” and our workshop sessions will help you refine your video narratives. Here are a few more details for each day:

  • Before you come to class on Monday, please read Chapter 1 (pp. 35–75) in Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart. Following the pattern we established last week, leave a comment on this post that contains a passage from the chapter that you want to discuss in class, and tell us why you think this passage is important. (Leave your comment no later than Sunday night, and if it’s relevant, connect your comment to one of your classmate’s comments.) Finally, please spend some time this weekend working on your storyboards for your video narrative, then bring your completed storyboards (however rough they might be) to class on Monday. If you need a little more inspiration as you think about your video, I have compiled a list a sample video narratives on the Resources page.
  • On Wednesday, we will spend most of class in workshop mode, reviewing several different hardware and software tools that you can use to create your video narrative. In order for you to choose a specific tool (or set of tools) for your project, you’ll need to have a fairly solid idea about how you plan to tell your story, so your homework for Wednesday is to write a draft of your voiceover script and bring it to class. (If you’re worried about the length of your script, try timing yourself as you reading it out loud.)

If you have questions about these plans, or if you need help with your literacy narrative, please come see me during office hours (Tuesday 1–4 and Wednesday 9–12) or send me an email. (Big hint: it’s much less painful to have me look at your draft during office hours than to be surprised by my evaluation of your project after you turn it in.)

Week 2: Video Narratives and Storyboarding

Our first class session was a bit hectic, so I’m looking forward to next week, when we can slow down, get to know one another, and dive into our first readings and first assignment. If you haven’t done so already, please complete the following two tasks as soon as possible (don’t wait until Monday!):

  • Set up your Twitter account, if you don’t have one already. Choose a username you are willing to share publicly, upload a photo to your profile, and write a short bio for your account.
  • Leave a comment on the Week 1 post, introducing yourself to the class and answering the questions I posed in that post. When you add your comment, be sure to put the URL for your Twitter account in the “website” field.

Here’s a breakdown of how we’ll spend our time in class next week and what you need to do before we meet:

  • On Monday, we will begin discussing Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart, so please read pages 1–33 before you come to class. (If you’re reading the ebook version, it’s just the “Introduction.”) If you haven’t received your copy of Net Smart yet, you can download a PDF of the Introduction. When you have finished the reading assignment, add a comment to this post proposing a quote or argument from Rheingold’s introduction that you would like to discuss in class. (Please add your post no later than Sunday night so I can see them all before class.) In class, we will discuss the reading assignment, then I will introduce our first assignment, the Video Narrative.
  • On Wednesday, we will hold our first workshop session, which will be focused on developing storyboards for your video narratives. Please come to class with at least three different ideas for your video narrative, and be ready to share them with your classmates. (Trust me: this will make more sense after we discuss the assignment in class on Monday.) In addition, please read/watch these pieces on storyboarding:

If you have any questions about our plans for next week, please send me an email, or contact me on Twitter. Otherwise, I’ll see you in class on Monday!

Welcome to Writing and Digital Media!

Welcome to ENGL 3844: Writing and Digital Media. This website will function as the online headquarters for our class this semester. Each week, I will post an update to the website with details about coming week, deadline reminders, links to helpful resources, etc… I will use Virginia Tech’s Scholar site to record your grades, but otherwise, everything related to this course will be posted here. You should bookmark this site on your laptop, your tablet, your phone, etc. — whatever you use to get online.

A bit about me: This is my second semester at Virginia Tech, and I love it here. My research focuses on how people use rhetoric in online environments, and all of the classes I teach have something to do with technology. I love experimenting with new digital tools, and it blows my mind to think about what we can do with technology that we couldn’t do 20 (or 10, or even 5) years ago. When I’m not staring at a computer screen, I love to cook, read, and spend time with my wife, a brilliant freelance writer, and our two daughters.

Each week (typically no later than Thursday evening), I will add a post to this website that explains what we will be doing in class the following week, and what you need to do to prepare for those class sessions. You’ll see the Week 2 post tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are a few of things you need to do to get started in Writing and Digital Media:

  • Create a Twitter account, if you don’t have one already. (We’ll talk about using Twitter in the coming weeks, but for now, you just need to create an account, add a photo, and customize your profile.)
  • Get familiar with your Google Drive account, which is connected to your vt.edu email address. (If you forgot your password for your VT Google Apps account, follow these instructions.)
  • Buy a copy of Net Smart, by Howard Rheingold, in print or ebook format.

Finally, a quick note about this website. Throughout the semester, we’ll be holding class discussions on this website. To help you get comfortable with that process, please add a comment to this post that introduces yourself, links to your Twitter profile, and answers the following questions: Approximately how much time do you spend online each week? What types of activities do you typically do when you’re online (email, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, etc.)? Are you happy with the way you spend your time online, or is there something you would like to change (quantity, quality) about your online activities?

Before you post, a couple of warnings: (1) Your classmates will see what you write, so don’t include anything intended just for me. (2) This website is public, so we will stick to using first names only. Also, please be sure to use your vt.edu email address every time you post to the class website. Once I “approve” your first comment on the site, you will be able to post comments for the rest of the semester without waiting for me to approve them.