From Gerald R. Lucas
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Digital Composition: A Social Media Approach


Teaching the best practices for digital communication is becoming increasingly important in higher education. Digital Composition: A Social Media Approach will be an electronic writing textbook for the digital age. In its first edition, it will have ten lessons; each will cover several digital literacy skills and apply them to a particular social media service, like Twitter, or general media applications, like blogging. This text will teach necessary digital literacies for students of new media who hope to improve their communication efficacy in all forms of digital communication, from Web 2.0 communities to mobile applications.

DigComp’s audience is upper-level undergraduates interested in new media and digital humanities who have core knowledge of college composition skills.

DigComp’s main focus will be developing student literacies for specific applications, not a users’ guide for those applications. While some practical how-to knowledge will be covered, DigComp is not meant as a operator’s manual for social media, but as a guide for expression within the various media that constitute our virtual identities. Obviously there will be some overlap.While DigComp will emphasize specific applications — generally the most used and popular platforms in social media — its approach will be general enough to allow students to develop comprehensive skills when composing for any digital platform.

Method of Publication

A textbook about digital composition should exemplify its subject matter. Therefore, DigComp will use a method of publication that (1) provides access to a variety of digital devices, and (2) may be easily updated to incorporate the latest social media applications and practices. DigComp will use Inkling’s Habitat for publication as it currently provides the greatest accessibility for the production and dissemination of multimodal texts.

This publication method has several benefits. It uses the model of software development and release rather than that of traditional print publication. It adopts the “release early, release often” philosophy of open software development to emphasize feedback from users of the text and professionals in the field, and to maintain a flexibility in content that cannot be matched by print media. The writing of the text, then, is a continuous process of release-feedback-update, rather than the time-consuming process of traditional print publication.


The first beta edition will be published by the end of the fall semester, December 2013, in order to be used in a spring section of NMAC 3108 Writing for Digital Media. The first version (v1.0) will then be released by the end of the spring semester, 2014. Like an application, DigComp will continue to release updates thereafter as needed, pending user feedback, social media shifts, and developer interests and research.


DigComp will deliver the following results:

  • Fill a much-needed gap in textbooks for classes in digital media writing;
  • Provide students with the most current and best practices in composing and communicating via digital media;
  • Provide a low-cost textbook solution;
  • Encourage integral digital literacies that match the institutional goals of Middle Georgia State College;
  • Show Middle Georgia State College as a progressive institution that embraces new modes of professional development, scholarship, and teaching;
  • May be used as a valuable, interdisciplinary reference book, for classes with any digital media components.

General Outline



Composing in a digital world, guiding principles: affinity, access, participation, and professionalization.


  1. General Guidelines for (Digital) Writing: Foundational Skills
  2. Lean Forward: The Web 2.0 and Secondary Literacies (HTML, CSS, and Hypertext)
  3. The Here and Now: Twitter
  4. Professional Documents in the Digital Age: Cover Letters and Résumés
  5. Behance: the Digital Portfolio
  6. Digital Daily: Blogging Platforms
  7. Microblogging Communities: Tumblr and Google+
  8. Community Knowledge: Wikis
  9. Present It: Prezi
  10. Lean Back: Mobile Applications