Technological Media Literacies
Students were required to create a digital portfolio to demonstrate their proficiency in technologies and media literacies. The portfolio is used as a platform for the presentation of five artifacts to the student's defense committee at the time of the student's Master of Arts in Professional Communication defense.
Rhetorical Situation and Goals
During the MAPC program students were required to create a digital portfolio for the presentation of five artifacts they created individually or in groups to demonstrate proficiency in the six program competencies. The competencies are Visual Communication, Technical Communication, Scholarship and Empirical Research, Professional Communication, Rhetoric and Professional Communication. The purpose of the digital portfolio is to serve as a presentation platform for five artifacts and the accompanying writing about their rhetorical efficacy, and to serve as evidence to university representatives and potential employers of the degree or job candidate’s professional communication skills and qualifications.
The audience for the digital portfolio includes select Clemson University faculty members and potential employers.
Constraints included time and content. The website must contain five artifacts created by the student and an accompanying written work of critical reflection about each artifact. Graduate school deadlines affected the deadlines for completion of the webpage.
In the early planning stages of the project I began to gather and review the various projects that spanned the length of my experience in the MAPC program. Having two audiences affected this process somewhat. An artifact that would be of interest to a faculty member might not be of interest to an employer, and one purpose of the website is to serve as a platform for five or more wordy, required documents that the faculty audience would be reading. In keeping with Redish’s recommendations to have rich content with little writing on the home page, I placed the explanatory video there and included a brief statement about the purpose of the website (30). I located photographs for each page of the site that would serve a rhetorical purpose. The banner photograph alludes to a reference in the research paper that compares tacit knowledge to the lower, unseen portion of an iceberg. Each photograph illustrates and introduces the subject matter and content of the page, in addition to adding visual beauty and visual page variation for increased navigational clarity for the user. Combined with the sans serif, neutrally colored font, the photographs are integrated into the entire design, and also set a tone of professional, confident and ageless sophistication that agrees with the design concept to quickly and clearly establish a tone, identity and brand on the home page (Redish 47-48).
I chose to limit the content on the website to only the essential components and followed the Army acronym KISS, a maxim to keep it simple, stupid. I addition, I have observed that the use of digital forms of information sharing can be over extended and become confusing and abusive in the demands made on the user. When the end of the paper never appears the information continues and the demands on the user increase in proportion. I call this assignment creep. By placing all but the largest artifacts and documents on each of the sub-category pages, I limited the options, as Garret explained, of the user to the intended purpose of the site, the viewing of the text, and the reading of the accompanying text (12-13). In addition, the faculty audience is able to simultaneously view the unlinked artifacts as they read the attending written response.
The video is a source of “rich content” and provides an “experience” that agrees with Shedroff’s statement that “all experiences are important” (Shedroff 2). To use clips of military movies as illustrations of the tacit knowledge acquisition and communication processes was suggested by my committee Chair, Dr. Sean Williams. This process began with a collection of movies from various local libraries and online sources. After I had a list of possible scenes and the processes they demonstrated, I worked in Adobe Premier to cull and edit the scenes together using the most simple and basic editing methods. The clips that listed the upcoming processes were then edited in.
This digital portfolio is minimally functional with a streamlined and attractive design. The large photographs are inviting to view and give a feeling of openness rather than of confinement. The wide, white margins and the white, san serif font also contribute to this feeling. The site is text heavy on the secondary pages, but the neat organization and generous white surrounding margins prevent a feeling of entrapment and visual noise. A user who desires to read the accompanying text will not be hampered by visual clutter and confusing organization.
Perhaps the portfolio says too little, visually, about my personality. Upon consideration, I decided to refrain from excessive and cute design elements that seemed unsuited to a “professional.” The rhetorical exigency prevented my use of blog-like designs and fonts in pretty colors. In addition, by using different and large photographs in every page’s banner, a choice of color that would harmonize with every photograph seemed unlikely. Instead, the pages are unified in their appearance because of the clean sophisticated style and photographic choices.
The video is acceptable and very useful. The movie scenes demonstrate the tacit knowledge acquisition and communication processes very well. The introduction leaves out, possibly, necessary information about the four categories of acquisition. However, the research paper is available for download on the website. Due to the length of the film I opted to refrain from including further explanation of the other artifacts and MAPC competencies. A thirty minute film of the same type with voice-over and a more complete explanation of the categories and processes would be an option, and perhaps, would make for an entertaining and informative presentation. It is possible that I could present the original film, or something much like it, with a suitable introduction in person, to an audience of the Clemson University ROTC. To receive feedback on the presentation would be valuable to me regarding the efficacy of the findings. In addition, to be able to meet with the same cadets after their summer ROTC training and hear of their experiences and to learn whether knowing the processes assisted them in any way during the course of the training, would be beneficial.