WRTG 3090 Open Topics in Writing: Advanced: Digital Literacies (2 credits)


Anne Heintzman
Email: anne.heintzman@colorado.edu


This course will require students to articulate and engage their discipline’s digital opportunities, develop competency in a selected digital tool or tools, and effectively occupy digital space (present digital texts) in publicly accessible formats.

Students will review current literature on digital literacies and discuss. Then, they will explore freely available tools for design and production of a specific project (such as WordPress for blogs, Prezi for slideshows, or Wix for websites) and assess existing samples. Students will brainstorm and propose a project and then work with both design principles and rhetorical effect to produce their project. Through peer-critique, assessment rubrics, and instructor guidance, students will refine both ideas and project. As the project comes together, students will write reflection papers on their experience. Students may create a variety of end products, including blogs, ezine articles, tutorials, mini-lessons, technology reviews and so forth. All must have an ethical message, be publicly published, contain no copyright violations, and be G-rated. End product possibilities are limited only by available time and technology.

This course was conceived and designed in response to the changed nature of writing now being indistinguishable from media. Literacy is now an old word that evokes the ability to read and write text in print; New Literacy is what scholars call reading and writing in digital formats.  However, the common phrasing now is Digital Literacy, Media Literacy or Digital Rhetoric. This course centers on the literacies required to engage effectively with the digital world and to be a digital citizen with a distinct ethical identity. Course objectives are developed from recent studies that identify the need for increased educational attention on the type of knowledge required to interact digitally. There are some concepts in the requirements that are rather new to some educators (though not to students), such as fun and play. Digital tools have developed so quickly because they are not only useful and effective, but are also great fun. We carry around our personal cell phones not solely because we simply must receive every call from every person, but also because we can access an ever increasing selection of games and social interactivity through those phones. A 2006 study suggests that play in a digital literacies sense is important because it encompasses the “capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving” (Jenkins, et al., p. 4). The course is designed to encourage creative experimentation through digital tools that results in effective content and communication for some larger positive and public purpose.


  1. Demonstrate familiarity with the terms and issues involved with Digital Literacy (readings/discussions/quizzes)
  2. Develop and demonstrate familiarity with a variety of digital tools (tool selection process)
  3. Evaluate content for design, effect and socially responsible intent (critique existing media messages; peer media messages)
  4. Develop content that is creative, socially responsible, and appropriate for purpose (project drafts focusing on text, image and design)
  5. Demonstrate digital competence (Publish rhetorically-effective digital project utilizing multiple digital tools and following design principles)


No purchased text is required


  • Intro Discussion 50
  • Reading Discussion 50
  • Ideas/Brainstorm 50
  • Sample Critiques 50
  • Digital Tools 50
  • Copyright Quiz 30
  • Creative Commons Quiz 20
  • Design Draft 200
  • Project Full Draft 100
  • Reflection Paper 100
  • Final Project 300

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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado