On the Oculus Rift and using VR in the classroom

oculusworlddemo screenshot

On the Oculus Rift and using VR in the classroom. On October 22, 2014, Stephen Addcox and Joshua Hussey conducted a demonstration of the Oculus Rift (DevKit 1).   (In the darkened space of DevLab, Eric Rettberg, Stephen Addcox, Nicole Lobdell, and Joshua Hussey take turns stepping into augmented realities through the Oculus Rift headset. NP: Jon Kotchian, Julia Smith, Andy Frazee.)   When Dr. Stephen Addcox and I were developing tutorials for demonstrating the … Continue reading

Using Video Games in the Technical Communication Classroom

The 21st Century developments in technology, integrated national and internal economies, and workforce demographics create the expectation that the workplace will be a space in which workers are actively learning, developing competencies, and acquiring skills throughout the duration of their professional lives. In response to this future, instructors must envision the classroom, the projects, and the assignments differently. As Mehlenbacher emphasizes in Solving Problems in Technical Communication, “Future technical communicators will operate in work contexts … Continue reading

Introduction to Tools and Methods

Welcome to a new section in Techstyle. 21 Century students need 21 Century teachers that can prepare them; this means different things to different people. IN this section, we will take the time to explore the tools and methods that work to achieve these goals. You might ask, why pair tools and methods. The answer is straightforward. Tools give us many affordances; they can save us time, they can save us effort, sometimes they can … Continue reading

Teaching Composition with Interactive Fiction, Part Three

In two earlier posts in this series, I gave an overview of why I use interactive fiction games in my composition classes, and described an “easy way” to do this: that is, using these games as “the reading” for a course unit.  If you’re just joining us and you want to get a quick idea of what interactive fiction (or “IF”) is, the fastest way might be to go here and play a tutorial game … Continue reading

Mock Interviews with Contemporary African American Writers


My “English 1102: African American Literature from the Harlem Renaissance to the Digital Present” students’ final assignment this term was a version of one that Anne Sexton gave in her “Anne on Anne” course at Colgate University in the spring of 1972. Sexton taught a class on her own poetry and her teaching notes for it are in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin (regarding Sexton’s teaching see also Diane Middlebrook’s Anne Sexton: A Biography (1992) and … Continue reading

Making Editing Multimodal


Like so many writing instructors, I frequently find myself frustrated with what appears to be a lack of attention to editing in the papers I receive from my students.  In the Fall 2013 semester, I tried something new in an effort to address this issue by inviting students to record themselves reading their drafts as a part of their editing process. Too late to make it an assignment in and of itself, I provided an … Continue reading

Mapping Jacob’s Room


In my English 1102 “Digital Woolf” class at Georgia Tech this fall, we began with Howards End (1910), by Virginia Woolf’s contemporary, E. M. Forster, which we followed with Woolf’s novels, Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), and To the Lighthouse (1927).[1] We will be concluding the course with her essay, A Room of One’s Own (1929). Along the way, the class viewed and blogged about the film of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours (2002), an … Continue reading

My Next Job Will Be At Starfleet Academy (Another Tech, No to Tech, Yes Column)


We were fans of Star Trek.  Sure, we thought: people will travel through space, we’ll meet with beings from other planets, we’ll fly space ships, and for work, we’ll hold flat, thin computers in one hand and tea in the other, the simulated daylight shining ever-so-slightly off our bald pates.  Sure, that will happen, because it’s space, and because it’s the future. __ In my weekly seminar last night, I had a keyboard hooked up … Continue reading

Telling Stories, Building Community: “This I Believe” in the First-Year Writing and Communication Classroom


In the spring of 2011, Georgia Tech started a “This I Believe” project in partnership with the Writing and Communication Program. The campus reading series and student contest are unofficial off-shoots of a popular radio series, originally hosted by Edward R. Murrow in the 1950s, and then resuscitated on NPR from 2005-2009. The radio essays are short and powerful personal essays about core beliefs, written by people from all walks of life. The genre enjoys … Continue reading

Teaching Composition with Interactive Fiction, Part Two

Plotkin's tutorial game

In an earlier post, I explained why I think interactive fiction (IF) computer games can drive valuable experiments in the multimodal composition classroom.  You can check out Part One for an overview of what IF is and what I think it can do for students.  In the present post, I’ll lay out a few more specific suggestions and resources for teachers thinking of exploring this rich genre. Using Interactive Fiction in Your Classroom, the Easy … Continue reading