Below is a brief version of an assignment I’ve used in WRTG 1150 and WRTG 2090. I have a long version somewhere, which I’ll post if/when I find it.
The article you write will feature a comparative analysis of three digital tools that are useful to college students, either for class work or for personal use (or for work or an internship, if applicable). The three tools should be of the same class, serving similar purposes. For example, you might compare three web sites that offer free online video editing of .mov files. You would not, by contrast, compare a video editing web site with an audio editing web site and a word processing web site.
Some possible topics include: tools for note taking, social bookmarking, video editing, audio editing, making slide presentations, word processing, making spreadsheets or graphs, mind mapping, creating animations, organizing research, formatting bibliographies, and so on. These might be free software programs you can download for Macs and/or Windows, free web-based programs, or parts of programs most college students already have (like Microsoft Office or Windows Movie Maker/iMovie).
The target audience for your comparative analysis article is the same as the audience for the Digital Students site in general: all college students who are interested in developing their digital literacy. But you may define a more narrow secondary audience, if applicable.
The purpose of your article is to offer readers the benefit of your careful evaluation and comparison of the three tools you choose, which will help them select the tool that is appropriate for their purposes. Your purpose is more than merely descriptive; you will analyze the features of each tool and then conclude by making a persuasive recommendation about which tool(s) your readers should consider using, depending on their goals.
The genre of this article is a classic comparison/contrast paper, but with the added element of being written on a wiki for a web audience. You will follow the conventions of college writing, but you will also adapt to the conventions of writing for a wiki.
In the Spring 2010 semester, my WRTG 1150 students wrote comparative analyses of tools that might be useful to college students as they work on assignments for their classes, whether papers, presentations, group projects, study guides, or anything along those lines. Below you’ll find links to their articles, whose titles are meant to respond to the question: “What do you want to be able to do?”
- Create a presentation without using PowerPoint
- Create word processing documents without using Word
- Create graphs and charts
- Take notes online and share them with groups
- Crop and edit photos
- Share images with individuals and groups
- Format bibliography entries
- Learn Spanish
- Map out projects using mind-mapping
- Share web links with individuals and groups
Students in my Fall 2010 section of WRTG 1150 followed the same assignment, but they posted their analyses on a wiki on my class web site. You can find links to their articles here: Comparative reviews of digital tools for college students.