CAT 125: Winter 2012

Public Rhetoric and Practical Communication Online

Elizabeth Losh

lizlosh (at) ucsd (dot) edu

Course Description:

This course in public rhetoric and practical communication in digital environments covers a wide range of potential genres, media, and audiences. We will study everything from Facebook profiles to video sharing-sites as rhetorical spaces for public persuasion, commemoration, and comment. Students will do most of their graded writing to create an online portfolio that may include a personal statement, undergraduate research blog, and video essay demonstrating expertise. Further information about this course is available on the syllabus at

NOTE: Class Attendance is mandatory. Although numerically class participation seems only to account for 20% of your grade, class attendance is a required element for course credit. More than two absences can be grounds for failure in the course.


Grade Breakdown:

Expertise Speech/Ignite-Style Oral Presentation: 20% (Expertise Speech Rubric) 5 minute speech with 15 automatically timed slides

Personal Statement Assignment: 20% (Personal Statement Rubric) 5300 characters in length

Website Assignment: 40% - likely this will take the form of an online portfolio, research website, online reference work, or blog or video blog showcasing your expertise. Plan on writing regularly to stay on track, although scripts for online videos or e-mails explaining your design decisions can count toward your word count if you choose to avoid a text-heavy online presence (Online Portfolio Rubric)

Class Participation: 20% (Participation Rubric)

Please aim to write at least 5,000 words in this class and significantly revise your writing by composing pre-writing reflections and submitting multiple drafts.

Office Location: Pepper Canyon Hall 249

Office Hours: Mondays 1-3PM


Monday, January 9th: Your Rhetorical Position (Slides for Lecture 1)

Alexsay Vayner, "Impossible is Nothing"

Michael Cera, "Impossible is the Opposite of Possible"

James Kotecki


Monday, January 16th: No Lecture, Martin Luther King Day

List of Courses Taken Due in Section


Monday, January 23rd: Your Online Reputation (Slides for Lecture 2)

Reading for Lecture:

dana boyd, "Social Network Sites: Public, Private, or What?"

Domain Name Thought Experiment Due in Lecture


Monday, January 30th: Graphic Design (Slides for Lecture 3)

Viewing for Lecture: Helvetica

"What I Learned in College" Due in Lecture - 500-1000 words, can be reused in the online portfolio

Tuesday, January 31: Special Photoshop Workshop in the Digital Playroom 3:30-5:00 PM (Limited Seating, RSVP in Advance)

Files for Workshop


Monday, February 6th: Public Speaking (Slides for Lecture 4)

How Do We Understand Information?: Doing Compelling Public Talks

Reading for Lecture:

Ian Bogost, "The Cocktail Party Test"

Ian Parker, "Absolute Powerpoint: Can a Software Package Edit Our Thoughts?"

Viewing for Lecture:

Daniel Pink, "Pecha Kucha: Get to the Point in 20 Slides"

TED Talks from Jill Bolte Taylor, Ron Eglash, VS Ramachandran, John Bohannon, Lawrence Lessig, Seth Priebatsch (close to CAT 125 students in age), Nancy Duarte (about the secret of giving good talks)

Ignite Talks from Matt Harding, Lee Stewart, and Mehal Shah

More TED Talks (recommended not required): Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, Susan Blackmore, Paul Stamets, Paul Rothemund, Nathan Wolfe,

"What I Learned Outside of College" Due in Lecture - 500-1000 words, can be reused in the online portfolio

Tuesday, February 7th: Special Web Design Workshop in the Digital Playroom 3:30-5:00 PM (Limited Seating, RSVP in Advance)

Smart Classroom Exercise in Section to Compare Different Online Presences


Monday, February 13th: Appealing to Audiences (Slides for Lecture 5)

Video Gallery I: Disability Videos

Video Gallery IV: Sexuality videos

First Draft of Expertise Speech Script Due in Lecture!

Tuesday, February 14th: Special Digital Storytelling Workshop in the Digital Playroom 3:30-5:00 PM (Limited Seating, RSVP in Advance)


Monday, February 20th: No Class, President's Day

First Draft of Online Portfolio Design Reviewed in Section


Monday, February 27th: Getting Feedback (Slides for Lecture 6)

Video Gallery II: Sample YouTube Student Video Essays (privacy, publicity, network neutrality, online identity, social media, electronic text, ubiquitous computing, etc.)

Provost Dan Donoghue Guest

Final Script of Expertise Speech Due in Lecture

Tuesday, February 28th: Special Video Editing Workshop in the Digital Playroom 3:30-5:00 PM (Limited Seating, RVSP in Advance)



Monday, March 5th: Composing with a Purpose (Slides for Lecture 7)

Viewing for Lecture:

Video Gallery III: Copyright videos

Another Lawrence Lessig TED Talk

Recommended Viewing but not required: Copyright Criminals

First Draft of Personal Statement Due in Lecture



Monday, March 12th: Claiming Authorship

Monday, March 12th: Digital Salon That Reviews Software Taught in All Workshops 7-8 PM (Limited Seating, RVSP in Advance)

Showcase of Oral Presentations!

Final Draft of Personal Statement Due in Last Section Meeting!


Examination Week:

Monday, 12 Noon Online Portfolio Due! URL E-mailed to your section leader!