Two of the “acquire an alternative skill set with real world application” assignments that we teach in composition are 1) how to build and manage a wiki and 2) how to compose a PowerPoint presentation that doesn’t cause your audience to slit your throat or their wrists. I combine them into a single assignment in which students choose the text they found most compelling, develop a wiki based upon its rhetorical situation (author/auteur, historical context, themes, signature features, symbols and motifs, etc.) and then share their results with the class. On Tuesday, I stressed that their presentation must not consist of reading their wiki aloud (by virtue of emphasizing the difference in media, e.g. “How do you speak a link?”) and we discussed strategies they can employ to prevent us from mass-suiciding on Thursday.
Yesterday, midway through an already engaging presentation, one of my students paused during her discussion of the contextual allusions present in her text.
“Also,” she said as she made to forward her presentation, “I think there’s an allusion to tentacle porn.”
The class gasped.
Her mouse clicked.
I sat mute. Horrified into silence.
Time dilated as we approached the horizon of this career-ending event. I held that diphthong in “Wait!” so long it slid into a schwa.
Her mouse clicked again.
The screen brightened and . . .