Writing Across Technology (WAT) undergirds First-Year Writing courses and is designed to teach rhetorical composition practices with a diverse range of technologies and communicative modes. Multimodal composition engages more than one of the “five modes through which meaning is made: linguistic, aural, visual, gestural, and spatial” (Ball & Charlton, 2015, p. 42). We live in a world where it is increasingly common to encounter and produce writing that is multimodal and mediated by diverse technologies. It is important for teachers of writing to help students strategize and think critically about the synergy that is created when they compose through multiple modes as well as the technologies they use to compose.
Technology need not mean digital necessarily. All writing, even alphabetic writing with a pencil and paper, is still a technology, one that has diverse applications and relies on multiple modes. Writing Across Technology invites students and instructors to consider the rhetorical implications of composing with a variety of other technologies as well: video, audio recording, photographs, body language, captioning, hypertext, interactive interfaces, graphics, etc. Multimodal composition technologies have always affected the ways we write, the way we read, and the way we access texts. It is important for students to become aware of these changes through the practice of composing.
Changes in the First-Year Writing Course
The curriculum redesign is under pilot from spring 2019 through spring 2020, and it is being researched in a study coordinated with UConn's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). What is currently a 4-credit first-year writing course with 24 students enrolled in each section will become a 3-credit course with a 1-credit studio lab. The full change in the course will begin in fall 2020.
This means that graduate students will go from teaching two 4-credit courses with 24 students per year to three 3-credit courses with 16 students, plus 3 studio labs per year. The graphic below illustrates this shift: