Welcome to Writing and Digital Media!

Welcome to ENGL 3844: Writing and Digital Media. This website will function as the online headquarters for our class this semester. Each week, I will post an update to the website with details about coming week, deadline reminders, links to helpful resources, etc… I will use Virginia Tech’s Scholar site to record your grades, but otherwise, everything related to this course will be posted here. You should bookmark this site on your laptop, your tablet, your phone, etc. — whatever you use to get online.

A bit about me: I’m starting my second year at Virginia Tech, and I love it here. My research focuses on how people use rhetoric in online environments, and all of the classes I teach have something to do with technology. I love experimenting with new digital tools, and it blows my mind to think about what we can do with technology that we couldn’t do 20 (or 10, or even 5) years ago. When I’m not staring at a computer screen, I love to cook, read, and spend time with my wife, a brilliant freelance writer, and our two daughters.

Each week (typically no later than Thursday evening), I will add a post to this website that explains what we will be doing in class the following week, and what you need to do to prepare for those class sessions. I’ll show you the Week 2 post next time we meet, but here are a few things you need to do to before class on Wednesday:

  • Create a Twitter account, if you don’t have one already. (We’ll talk about using Twitter in the coming weeks, but for now, you just need to create an account, add a photo, and customize your profile.)
  • Set up an account on the Blogs@VT website. We’ll discuss the blogging assignment in class on Wednesday.
  • Get familiar with your Google Drive account, which is connected to your vt.edu email address. (If you forgot your password for your VT Google Apps account, follow these instructions.)
  • Buy a copy of Toward a Composition Made Whole, by Jody Shipka. We will begin reading from this book next week, so you’ll want to get it ASAP.

Finally, a quick note about this website. Throughout the semester, we’ll be holding class discussions online. To help you get comfortable with that process, please add a comment to this post that introduces yourself, links to your Twitter profile, and answers the following questions: Approximately how much time do you spend online each week? What types of activities do you typically do when you’re online (email, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, etc.)? Are you happy with the way you spend your time online, or is there something you would like to change (quantity, quality) about your online activities?

Before you post, a couple of warnings: (1) Your classmates will see what you write, so don’t include anything intended just for me. (2) This website is public, so we will stick to using first names only. Also, please be sure to use your vt.edu email address every time you post to the class website. Once I “approve” your first comment on the site, you will be able to post comments for the rest of the semester without waiting for me to approve them.

22 thoughts on “Welcome to Writing and Digital Media!

  1. Good morning! I’m Jess, a senior communication student from Northern Virginia. I’ve left the link to my Twitter (@JessicaHGroves) in the website section above.

    I’m betting I spend up to 20 hours/week online. Checking social media doesn’t take up a big portion of that, though. I’m typically reading or writing when I’m online. I’ve actually been working on the way I spend my time online, so I feel like I’m a lot more productive and less wasteful than I was last year – especially when it comes to meeting deadlines or studying.

  2. I’m Haley, I am a senior majoring in Professional Writing, from Winchester. My Twitter name is @hechaddu14. I think I probably spend 15 or so hours on the internet each week, mostly on Facebook, or Netflix when I’m not in school, then I spend a lot of time on scholar and google docs and such. I think I would like to be more productive on the internet because it has become sort of automatic to just click to netflix and facebook which is not the best avenue for productivity.

  3. Hi, I’m Briana. My twitter account is @BriMarieeeeeee. When I am on my computer I’m usually using Adobe software for graphic design, so I am not always online. I would guess that I am online about 20 hours a week reading e-mail, using social media, listening to music, and doing research for my design assignments. I wish that I would spend less time online on social media websites, especially Facebook, so that I would be more efficient and productive with my time spent on the computer.

  4. Morning. I’m Amy, a junior Computer Science and Math Major. However, I’ve only taken one CS course so far, so I don’t recommend going to me for help if your computer crashes (:P). I did the same as Jess and my twitter account (@Amy_CPT_Nix) is the link attached to my name when this posts (since the website section doesn’t show up).

    I probably spend 40 hours or so on the internet each week, at least during the summer. Otherwise, I spend about 25 hours on the web. I’ll normally do Facebook and email, mostly just checking messages. Most of my time is spent either designing websites for my friends and club or reading manga (Japanese comics).

    I’ve got to admit, there are probably better ways for me to spend my time online, because while reading manga is enjoyable, I should probably be delving deeper into my planned major and career. As for getting a social life, yeah. I’m okay with having it online. (^.^)

  5. Hi, I’m Tim, and I’m a senior English major from West Deptford, NJ.

    I spend 15-20 hours a week online. Most of that time is dedicated to sports, such as checking box scores, watching live game streams, and reading various sports blogs. The rest of the time consists of downloading new music (legally, of course), checking the weather, and writing. I do not have a Facebook and I did not have a Twitter up until a few minutes ago, so I rarely spend time on social media. I am happy with how I spend my time online.

  6. Hello! My name is Emily, and I am a Junior English Major (professional and creative writing focus).

    I spend entirely too much time online, to the expense of almost everything else I enjoy doing. It’s affected how much time I spend writing, reading, and interacting with people. This, I think, I would be okay with, if I was actually actively interacting on the social media sites I put time into (blogging and youtube, mostly), but, instead, I sort take a passive stance to the internet and it’s left me more prone to loneliness and boredom. If I could change one thing, I would either stop engaging with with internet so often, or take a more active role in the sites I invest time into.

  7. Hello!

    I’m Kristin, and I’m a senior Spanish/Communication student. Linked above is my personal twitter account, but I do have another I made for class purposes, but it currently lacks personality.

    As a college student at a very TECHnological school, I find myself online more often than not. I’ve spent many an hour staring at some screen, be it my laptop, phone, or this iPad now! I would be both highly interested and scared at the same time to calculate hours of my life spent on the web. I’ll admit that the amount I spend on social media would probably equate to a part-time job.

    This summer though, my family and I went on a two week road trip out west- and I went laptop free. Although I did still have my iPhone, I was not in a position to be wasting time online. This semi-hiatus from my computer was awesome. I’m not saying I’d go Thoreau like Prof. Warnick mentioned, but these brief lapses from constant technology would make me feel like I’m getting more out of my time.

    I’m very excited about this class and can’t wait to see what this semester has in store!

  8. Hello everyone! I’m Sarah, a Junior in Visual Communications and Design from Long Island, New York. My twitter is @sarahsunnn .

    Now that classes have begun again I probably spend about 15-20 hours a week online. I do have accounts for many social media sites but it really doesn’t take too much of my time up. I’d love to delete facebook but it has become a part of my work life, school life and internship life. I spend a lot of time researching for projects and any lengthy time I spend on the internet is usually to watch a tv show or catch up with a friend. I would like to spend a lot less time on the internet although, I think I’ve been getting better over time. I really need to hit the books more frequently for inspiration and research rather than going straight to google.

  9. Hi everyone! My name is Margaret and I’m a junior on the Professional Writing track. The link to my twitter (@margsmith8) is posted under the website section above as well.

    I spend a pretty good amount of time online. I’d say maybe 20+ hours/week. When I’m online, I’m usually checking my email, going on different social networking sites, and/or Skyping with family and friends. I wish I could be a little more productive online. I am easily distracted by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; but overall, I love that the internet keeps me updated at all times.

  10. Hi! If you read the name above this comment, you already know my name is Jenni (Twitter: @huhjenni). I am from Chesapeake, VA which is also known as the 757. My major is English in the branch of Professional Writing and I am currently a sophomore.

    I think on a ballpark, I spend about 22 hours a week online. Typically, I spend a big portion of my time online on school work or news articles. However, like any other student, I do spend some time on either Facebook or YouTube at leisure. During the school year, I am pretty content with the quality of the time spent online because big chunk of it is related to school (however, summer is another story).

  11. Hey, I’m Courtney. I’m a sophomore here majoring in Communication with a minor in Professional Writing. The url to my twitter profile is:


    I would guess I spend about 20 hours a week online. I mainly spend my time online reading the news, checking Facebook, listening to music, looking at memes, and researching random topics that come to my mind. I am generally happy with the way I use the internet, but I wouldn’t be opposed to a change that would increase my productivity.

  12. Hello! My name is Emily and I am a junior studying graphic design with a minor in industrial design. I was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But before you ask, no I was never a tarheel fan.

    I probably spend at least 50-60 hours on the internet a week. As a graphic design major, most of my work is done on the computer whether it be researching, or creating the projects themselves. And of course, if my computer is open, nine out of 10 times Facebook is too. It doesn’t help that I recently joined the bandwagon and got an iPhone. Facebook is the only social media site that I use consistently. Too many sites is too much for me to keep track of. For the most part I am happy with my internet usage but I am trying to use it more to keep myself current with the news and less for “stalking” those 1,698 of my closest friends.

  13. Hey everyone! My name is Allison and I’m a sophomore English major with a focus on professional writing from Northern Virginia. My Twitter is @AllisonBalik.

    I’d say I spend around 20-25 hours a week online during the school year. Most of my time is spent checking Twitter and browsing Reddit. Now that I’ve started school, I’ve spent most of my time online checking email and Scholar. Although I’m satisfied with how much time I spend online, I would like to be less reliant on my cellphone.

  14. Yo. My name is Michael and I’m currently a senior English major in professional writing and pre-education. My Twitter page is @EmNol22

    I probably spend at least 25 hours a week online, mostly watching reviews of movies and games or browsing on TV Tropes (a site that will ruin your life). I think that I probably spend a bit too much time online, and I want to start using my internet time more productively by learning how to do useful things.

  15. Hi, my name is Michael and I am a senior Finance major from Northern Virginia. My Twitter is @mdon22.

    I probably spend around 10-15 hours a week online. I spend time on Facebook, reading the news, checking sports scores, playing fantasy sports, and doing work for classes. I rarely access social media from my computer, I almost always use my phone. I am very happy with the amount of time that I spend online. I never go online just to browse. I usually have a task to do or something that I want to look at and when I am finished with that I quit.

  16. Hi! My name is Heather Leath. I am a junior majoring in Communication, specifically Public Relations, with a minor in Professional Writing. Here is the link to my twitter profile: https://twitter.com/heatherleath

    I spend over 20 hours a week online. I usually use the Internet for homework during that time, and occasionally check Facebook. I spend a lot of time on Scholar, Gmail, and Pinterest. I am not really happy with how much time I spend on the computer, but I don’t think that I can change it since I need to go online to do my schoolwork. I would like to be more productive when I am online, but it is very easy to get distracted by all of the social media.

  17. Hello there! I’m Erika, a senior in Humanities, science, and Environment with a minor in Professional Writing. My Twitter is @ELontheroad, though I can’t say I’ve used it with any real frequency.

    I spend…er, far too much time online. Probably somewhere around 40 hours a week. Much of it is taken up by reading and research for fun, and another large part is actively interacting with folks on various sites and forums (I’m interested in science writing and am involved with a number of online communities concerned with it), and the rest is social media, art stuff, and just goofing around. Although I’ve pretty clearly got a bit of an addiction going, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m wasting time. Much of what I’m doing is either research or interacting with other people, so I do feel like it’s a fairly worthy use of my time.

  18. Hey everyone ! I’m Abbey and I’m a Junior studying English and Psychology. My Twitter is @AbbeyWilliamsVT and is linked in the website section.

    I’d say I spend an average amount of time online for a college student. Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube definitely take up a good portion of that time, but a few hours are spent doing academic and news-related research. I’m mostly happy with my online hours, but do feel I get distracted too easily.

  19. Hello! My name is Erin and I’m a senior studying visual communication design. My twitter, which is rarely used, can be seen at @elemenoerin.

    I spend just about my entire waking life on my computer, as I am a graphic designer. I would say that I spend about 10-15 of those hours actually online. The majority of those online hours are used for checking email rather than social media as I don’t have a Facebook and rarely use Twitter. I like to go through Instagram and The Vine before bed, and a small portion of my online hours is also used shopping online (oops).

    Luckily, since I spend so much time on my computer for productive reasons such as talking to clients for design, I prefer to do anything that doesn’t require using my computer. I can say that I’m honestly pretty content with the way that I spend my time online.

  20. Hey everybody, my name’s Daniel, and I’m a Visual Communication Design student originally from Leesburg, VA currently living in Viera, FL. My twitter for this class is @dkaganENG.

    I probably spend about 20-25 hours a week online, primarily on social media unfortunately, but also a lot researching things for projects. The majority of it is done on my iPhone, since it’s constantly accessible. I tend to just scroll while I’m bored on the bus, laying in bed before I fall asleep, etc. I do wish I spent less time on the internet and more time looking up from the screen, but it’s pretty hard to be off the computer as a graphic design major. Sometimes, usually during exam weeks, I’ll put a blocker on my internet browser that limits when I can use certain websites, but I tend to find a way around it.

  21. Hello!

    I’m Lindsay. I am a Communication major/Professional Writing minor and I’m also completing a Marketing cognate. Here is a link to my Twitter: http://twitter.com/lindsayvellines

    I probably spend around 20-25 hours a week online, maybe a little more during the school year. I have more than seven social media accounts, so I spend most of my time online on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Blogger. I also check my e-mail regularly and use the internet on my iPhone to answer any little questions I might have throughout the day. I’m not completely happy with the time I spend online. I would like to be more productive and take advantage of resources that will help me build skill sets (ex: learning on lynda.com). I would also like to dedicate time everyday to search the web for news relating to advertising and perhaps even create a blog that reviews the latest and greatest work in the field.

  22. Hey guys, my name is Matt Gilbert and I am a senior studying professional writing. My twitter is @Matt_Gilb.

    I probably spend a little too much online. I mostly look up new music and check Facebook every now and then. I also spend a good deal of my time on the internet looking at ESPN and other sports networks. I am pleased with my time online, although I should probably limit it.

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