+ Tech Review

Purpose: This assignment introduces the class to a range of technologies that you might consider using to build your group’s webtext. (The groups will be chosen in 2-3 weeks.) The Tech Review will also build your individual learning-to-learn skills in that although you will become a mini-expert on one particular software, you will proceed to learn how to apply that gathering of information to other software programs later in the semester, as you work on your webtexts.


  • 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

Due Date: Wednesday, October 5, in class.

Format: 4-minute, in-class presentation


  1. Two weeks before the due date, I will assign you a piece of software (chosen from a hat). All choices 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 408 lab over the weekend and during open hours, which are posted outside the door. Because you are enrolled in this class, your Student ID should gain you access to the room if it happens to be locked. (Please check this in advance.)
  2. You will have no more than 4 minutes to present your piece of software to the class. (I will gong you 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)


  1. I will be recording your presentations. They will be made available to the class for later use and, potentially, to the journal audiences that you have been studying (we will discuss permissions before the presentations on the 5th; you cannot opt out — for classroom purposes — of the recording, but you can opt out of having your work made public. We will discuss all options in detail on the 5th.).
  2. 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. (e.g., If you have slides, they¬† 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.)
  3. You should consider — if it makes sense, rhetorically — presenting your software IN the software itself (e.g., make an instructional podcast in Audacity;¬† an informational video in MovieMaker, etc.). It may not make sense, so this option is a consideration, not a requirement.
  4. 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 Dropbox, everything will work correctly on the instructor’s machine in STV 408. You will definitely want to test this BEFORE class, if you are unsure. If I open your presentation on that Wednesday and it doesn’t work, you will not be able to present and your class participation will suffer.
  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 accessible documents with your Tech Review to the Dropbox, having labelled them appropriately.
  6. In addition to whatever form the presentation takes, you need to create a short electronic hand-out (as an editable word-processing document; no PDFs) that lists the tutorial sites, help videos, etc. These will become a resource for the class.
  7. Practice your presentation. At least three times. And time yourself.
  8. We will present according to the software groupings and order I announce in class on Sept. 21. While the presentations themselves should be presented according to the values of the disciplinary community, you do not need to dress formally, unless that is part of your argument for that software.

Turn-in Instructions:

  1. Zip/compress ALL required, publishable files into a single zip file that you name “softwarename-tech-review-LASTNAME”, where “softwarename” is replaced with the name of the software you are presenting on and “LASTNAME” is replaced with YOUR last name, written in all caps. (Name your hand-out(s) according to the following filename schema: softwarename-tutorials-LASTNAME; softwarename-transcripts-LASTNAME; etc.)
  2. Upload your zip file to the /tech-review/ folder inside the 239 DropBox (on dropbox.com)

Remember: All this is due (and should be tested prior to class) on Wednesday, October 5!

5 thoughts on “+ Tech Review

  1. Jenna Salak

    does anyone know if we need a work cited page for our power point/presentation? I know we have the handout with helpful sites…but what about bibliography?

  2. Cheryl

    If you need a biblio (stuff that you cite that isn’t also on the tutorials handout), then you should include one. Thanks for bringing up that issue. I’ll change the instructions for next time.

    1. Jenna Salak

      ok thanks–I have images mostly in my power point to help guide my presentation along/speaking points so other then that everything is on the handout…are we supposed to email you the handout so you can make copies for the class or do we do that ourselves?

      1. Cheryl

        Jenna, the instructions for what to do with the handout is included above under Turn-In Instructions. Zip everything into one folder and upload it to Dropbox.


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