Project 2: Open Access Textbook

Due: Friday, October 21
Objectives: Collaborative Instruction & Composition
Grade: 20% of final

Your second formal assignment will require you to work as a class to write a Scalar textbook about social media. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Yik Yak, and Twitter command an impressive amount of energetic attention from young and old alike. Yet many such platforms actively seek the attention of young early adopters who spot trends.

As college students, you make prime targets for social networks hoping to make a splash and, as such, are in a unique position to share your understanding of this online phenomenon with the world. Your personal experiences will be invaluable for this project. You will also conduct research to enrich your knowledge of the subject. Despite a wealth of scholarly writing on social media, there are as yet no standard textbooks on the topic from a cultural studies perspective. Your textbook will be an Open Access pilot project that will, if taken seriously, influence others after you.

We will use the web-based writing platform Scalar to compose this textbook. You will work in groups, but everyone will need their own account to join the project. Sign up as soon as possible. It is an elegant tool but requires some practice to learn to use. Each group will be responsible for a single chapter, while at least one person will take on the task of general project manager.

The first step will be to organize groups and assign roles. Each of you will need to contribute to the written product, but you might decide to take lead on research or editing or design—each one a significant role. Your group will decide on its own how best to organize efforts and the workflow. Be aware that dividing tasks will mean that your workloads will be interdependent even as they have different timelines. It is crucial that you fulfill your agreed upon duties—do not leave your group high and dry.

The class will brainstorm chapter topics as a whole. However, it will be the responsibility of individual groups to develop those topics. Course readings will help with that task and should be integrated where possible. Each chapter should be 1,500 words (about six pages in Word) and should feature visual media. You will need to include citations for your research materials as well as an organized list of titles for further reading. See Wikipedia articles for a model. Finally, each person is responsible for submitting a cover letter that explains their chapter’s place in the project and their role in the group. You will receive individual grades based on the quality of the book chapter (writing, research, and design) as well as the cover letter.

Check out Scalar examples: one about Archives and the Media, one about Sailing the British Empire.