Experimenting with Scalar

For this year’s Computers & Writing conference, held on the lovely little campus of the University of Findlay, I decided to kill a couple of birds with one stone by creating my presentation in the form of a Scalar book.

[Sidebar: Findlay, OH and UF are cute, you guys – here’s proof:]

Hancock Historical Museum
Hancock County History Museum in Findlay
UF Main Building
Old Main at University of Findlay
UF Oilers Fountain
Findlay Oilers Fountain
UF Bell
UF Bell

I mean, cute, right?

I had been meaning to get down and dirty with Scalar for a while because I’ve had a few students try it out and I’ve seen some colleagues use it for publishing their work, so I knew I needed to work with it seriously to produce a digital text and this conference seemed like the perfect opportunity. As it turned out, I attended a session in which one of the presenters, the terrific Liza Potts at Purdue, detailed a collaborative authoring DH project using Scalar, so I was really glad to have done my own so I could talk with her about the challenges and strengths of the application.

I am now working on my syllabus for Fall 2017’s Writing for the Web course, a course I’m revamping fairly significantly, adding Naomi Baron’s Words Onscreen to our reading for the semester and re-thinking the big multimodal authoring project I have students do. I think it might make sense to think about those two things together and have us all use Scalar to compose our own “books” while also engaging with the concerns about books and reading that Baron raises. The key will be to think, as authors, about how to engage readers so that they will REALLY READ a longer digital text. I suppose they might remediate something they’ve already done – perhaps an academic paper they did in a previous course – or create something entirely new. Perhaps I need to think more about that in order to set the parameters and make this as easy as possible since they’ll already have the complex task of learning Scalar (and, let me tell ya, it ain’t an easy program – the learning curve is steep, y’all!). Anyway, I think this will be a good opportunity to bring together several threads of the course – multimodal composing, digital affordances, digital reading practices, and tool literacy – in a way that I hope will be productive.

Stay tuned for more. I plan to be posting more here in the fall, too, because I’m also going to have the class use their blogs as reading response spaces, so I’m going to use my own blog the same way. In the meantime, you can check out my C&W 2017 presentation and see what I did with Scalar here: Georgia Through the Looking Glass. Enjoy!

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