Graduate Students

In Brief:

Here’s how I introduce this project in the syllabus for the class:

Graduate student project:  the “Writing for the Web”/”Social Media” electronically mediated interview:  250 points. If you are taking this 400 level class for graduate credit, then you are required to do an additional project, and this term, each graduate student will conduct an electronic interview (via email, possibly a recorded Skype call, etc.) with some expert in the material we are covering this term, and then each graduate student will present that interview as part of their 444 portfolio and also as a part of our class discussion.

How are we supposed to find someone to interview?

That’s a good question, and I think it’s one of the challenges of the assignment.  However, it seems to me that as a graduate student– especially one participating in a 400 level class, where you should be leading by example– you will be able to rise to the challenge.  Here are some basic ideas/things to think about though:

  • Take a look through the schedule at the assigned readings, along with the assigned books for the class.  All of the books we’re reading this term cite dozens and dozens of people who you might want to contact for an interview.
  • And, of course, there are tons of web sites, scholarly articles, journals, and everything else a few google searches away that have lots of writings about the general subject matter of the class, authors who may very well be interested in chatting with you further via email or some other sort of recorded discussion. If you are interested in a more “teaching of writing” and writing for the web angle or you get stuck for some other reason, let me know and I can recommend some folks.
  • Obviously, you’ll have to have some means of getting in contact with your interviewee, which means that you will probably need to track down an email address, web site, twitter account, etc.
  • Also perhaps obvious, you will want to be realistic about who try to contact to interview.  It might be cool to get Clay Shirky or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg or someone like that to participate in this project, but it’s probably more realistic to interview someone with a less significant profile.
  • Each student should interview someone different– we don’t want to bother potential interviewees too much.  If there is a situation where two students really want
  • No matter what, you will need to let me know who it is you want to interview by the date on the class schedule.

What are we supposed to ask these people?  And how are we supposed to do it?

I think that will depend in great part on who you are interviewing, though part of what we might want to talk about here is screening some questions we want to ask all of the interviewees.  I’d be happy to help you frame some questions, but I basically have two suggestions.  First, do your homework, meaning if you have secured an interview with someone who wrote an article on the blog A List Apart, you had best read that article and have some questions based on it.  Second, keep your questions to a number that will occupy your interviewee for only a half-hour or so.

How to conduct your interview will depend in part on who you are interviewing, but for most of you, I would suggest email.  You could use lots of other options of course, but one way or the other, you are going to want to reproduce your interview for the class web site (see below), and it seems to me that email would be the easiest way to do this.

That said, if you are able to somehow record video or audio that can be then put together and posted on the class web site, then great!  Just let me know.

How are we supposed to present this?

I am imagining a brief blog entry/article on the class web site, where you introduce your interviewee to class readers and then share the results of your interview.  It doesn’t have to be like this, but I am imaging a “Q&A” format similar to Rolling Stone magazines.

When we figure out who will be interviewing whom, we will also figure out a schedule for posting these interviews.  But realistically, I am assuming that you will be posting the write-ups about your interviews toward the end of the term.

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