ENG 429 | Dr. Danica Savonick | SUNY Cortland | Fall 2019


In this course, you will learn 

  • To think critically about how technologies reproduce and can challenge conditions of inequality.
  • To make persuasive arguments that are organized and supported by sufficient evidence.
  • To evaluate the affordances and limitations of different tools and platforms in order to select the best one for a task or project. 
  • To communicate with different audiences and in different contexts, with an emphasis on digital publishing.
  • To develop effective revision skills, both in revising one’s own work and in giving helpful feedback to others.
  • To collaborate effectively, for the maximum benefit of everyone in the group.


20% Active in-class participation, quizzes, homework, course evaluation 
25% Blog, class facilitation, comments 
15% Wikipedia editing assignment
20% Co-taught lesson plan 
20% Collaborative final project 


All additional readings will be available on our course website.
Safiya Umoja Noble, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (New York University Press, 2018). 


Class URL: 
This semester, instead of Blackboard, our course will use a customized site built using the content management system. is the free, open-source software upon which roughly 30% of the world’s websites are built. 

One-time registration: Before you are able to access readings, blog, and comment on our course site, you will need to register. For this course, you will be writing blogs that are publicly available. For that reason, I encourage you to sign up for an account with a username that will not disclose your identity.

From the homepage click “Register.” Your username and name should include your first name and last initial and I recommend you set “Who is allowed to see this field?” to “All Members” so that only our class can identify you. Remember to save your username and password! 

Once you are registered, you will be able to access readings, blog, and comment by logging in to our class site using your username and password. 


Academic integrity: Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students who cheat or plagiarize will be disciplined according to the guidelines in chapter 340 of the College Handbook. All students are expected to have read this chapter and to understand the Handbook’s definitions of these terms. 

Accommodation of disabilities: If you are a student with a disability and wish to request accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services, located in Van Hoesen Hall B-1 or call 607-753-2066 for an appointment. Information regarding your disability will be treated in a confidential manner.

Attendance: All students are given three unexcused absences. All subsequent absences will reduce your final grade by one-third of a letter grade. For example: if you earn a B+ but miss four classes, you will earn a B. Two late arrivals constitute an absence. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to contact other students and find out what you missed. 

Respectful discussion: Discussion is encouraged but you must always be respectful of ideas shared by your peers; the classroom should be a challenging, fun, and positive place for all.

Submission of work: All work in this class should be properly cited according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) specifications. For blog posts you may use a combination of hyperlinks and MLA style citations. Unless otherwise stated, all formal writing assignments should be submitted in hard copy (printed), with 12 pt, Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, and your last name and page number in the upper righthand corner of the document. Your grade will decrease one step every day an assignment is late (ex. 1 day late a B+ becomes a B, 2 days late a B+ becomes a B-).

Tutors: If you would like additional help with an assignment, I highly recommend you make an appointment to visit the Writing Center (Brockway Hall, rm. 216). You can also utilize the Academic Support and Achievement Program (A.S.A.P.) in Van Hoesen Hall B-205 and NightOWL online tutoring. 


  • Take notes on assigned readings. This is called “annotating” a text, which we will go over in detail during class. Your annotations will become the evidence and examples that you analyze in your blog posts. The more notes you take as you read, the easier it will be for you to participate in class discussions and complete assignments.
  • Because this is a discussion- rather than lecture-based course, it is crucial that you take notes in class, not only on material presented by the instructor, but on our class discussions and your peers’ presentations as well. This will help you write excellent blog posts and craft interesting projects.
  • Identify your intellectual investment in the course material. Pay attention to what most interests and perplexes you each class. Take note of these. Try to make connections among them. These will help you craft meaningful blog posts and projects.
  • Come see me during office hours. If you want to come but aren’t sure what you’d like to talk about, start with your list of intellectual investments. I’m here as a resource for you.
  • Ask questions. No question is too small. We are all learning and experimenting.
  • Make an effort to connect our course discussions, readings, and activities to your experiences outside of the classroom. This is called praxis.
  • Be an active classroom participant. Come to class ready to share questions and ideas. This includes reflections on the structure of the class itself. Be vocal about what does and doesn’t work for you, and suggest learning experiments you’d like us to try as a class.
  • Because this class is structured around experiments, take creative risks and be willing to fail.
  • Care about your work as much as I do. This means proofreading ad nauseum (so many times that you can’t bear to look at it again) and finding people, such as peers and tutors, willing to proofread your work. I won’t proofread your papers but if you come to office hours we can talk specifically about your revising and editing strategies.
  • Plan ahead. At the beginning of the semester, write all of your assignments down in a calendar, agenda, or planner. Include reminders two weeks, one week, and two days before each deadline. If you need to print something, do so the day beforehand. Printer problems are not an acceptable excuse for late work.


Active in-class participation, quizzes, homework, course evaluation (20%) Class discussions are a vital part of our class and it is essential that all are actively involved. The more effort and energy you put into this course, the more we will all learn. In order to actively listen, participate, and learn you must not use electronics in class for anything unrelated to our course. Every class will involve some assortment of group discussion, note taking, quizzes, and activities. In order to get full credit for participation, you must come to class with the assigned readings annotated and you should try to contribute at least one comment or question during each class. Most quizzes will be announced ahead of time. The frequency of quizzes will increase if students attend class unprepared, without readings and notes. 

Blog, class facilitation, comments (25%)
Blog post (10%): At the beginning of the semester, you will sign up to write a blog about the assigned reading and serve as a discussion leader for one of our course sessions. Blog posts must be uploaded onto the course blog by NOON the day before class so other students have ample time to comment. Responses should be thoughtful and organized, around 600-800 words (roughly 3 solid paragraphs), and should end with two robust discussion questions. We will go over how to ask excellent questions (NOT: what did you think about the reading? Did you like my blog post?).

Your blog should draw our attention to something specific about the assigned reading, helping us to see it in a new way. Your blog does not have to address every aspect of the assigned readings; instead, the best posts will have a main argument (thesis), make 1-2 observations, and elaborate on these observations: exploring their implications and using these observations to raise new questions. The deliberate use of images, music, video, and supplementary materials is encouraged. 

Some options for your blog post:

  • highlight your key takeaway from the reading. 
  • illustrate an important connection between two texts, such as a common question they both take up.
  • introduce additional examples that either support or complicate the author’s argument.
  • connect an example from the text to a current event aka something going on in the world beyond the classroom.
  • creative option: make an infographic, interactive game, or other multimodal composition that engages with the author’s argument.

Facilitation (5%): On the day of class for which you are blogging, you will also facilitate a class discussion based on your blog post and discussion questions. Similar to the blog posts, the goal of these facilitations is to help the class see a specific aspect of the readings in a more complex way. You may lead the class in a short activity (think-pair-share, a close reading exercise, a writing prompt, etc.), design a worksheet, give a presentation, organize a debate, or lead a discussion based on your post and students’ comments. Students can elect to work individually or as a group. Each student is responsible for a 10 minute facilitation. If you elect to work with other students, this time compiles (so two students would be expected to lead a 20 minute activity). Either way, you must coordinate ahead of time with the other blogger(s). If you need additional time for your activity, some exceptions can be made if you contact the professor at least 48 hours ahead of time.

Facilitations should

  • Teach us something: help the class see an aspect of the assigned reading(s) in a new way.
  • Encourage class participation, engagement, and critical thinking.
  • Be well-organized, not haphazardly thrown together, and stick to the time allotment of 10 minutes per person.
  • Include every member of the group (if you elect to work as a group).
  • Be creative and delivered with enthusiasm – this is your opportunity to teach the class in whatever way you want. Make it your dream lesson! The way every course should be taught!

Comments (10%): For classes in which you are not responsible for writing a blog entry, you are expected to comment on someone else’s post. These comments should demonstrate a respectful and collegial engagement with other students’ ideas and/or questions. For this reason, commenters are expected to quote at least once from the assigned reading. For instance, you can introduce an additional piece of textual evidence (a quote from the reading) that either supports or complicates the blogger’s interpretation. Comments should be about 50-150 words in length and must be posted before class. We will go over effective commenting strategies in class. Comments will be evaluated collectively for a total of 10% of your final grade.

I will not accept any late blog posts, facilitations, or comments. These cannot be made up so remember to check your own schedule before signing up for response dates.

Wikipedia editing assignment (15%) This semester, we will discuss how Wikipedia reflects the biases of its authors. With this assignment, you will learn more about these dynamics as you attempt to edit an existing Wikipedia article or create your own. Evaluation of this assignment will be based on 1) completion of all Wikipedia editing training modules 2) your attempt to contribute to Wikipedia, adhering to its guidelines of notability and neutral point of view and 3) a two-page critical reflection on the assignment. Given the strict community-driven standards for contributing to Wikipedia, you will not be graded on whether or not your content sticks. More details to follow.

Co-taught lesson (20%) For this assignment, you will work in small groups to plan one session of our course. This will include identifying a topic, assigning readings or other homework, and planning and executing activities for one 50-minute class period. Sample topics include accessibility and universal design, racism in ridesharing applications, open education resources, trans communities on the internet & gender bias in dating applications. More details to follow.

Collaborative final project (20%) For this assignment, you will work in small groups to create a public digital project related to our course content, discussions, or your own personal interests. This assignment has several stages: 1) evaluating the affordances and limitations of different digital platforms in order to select the best one for the task you want to achieve 2) drafting a project proposal and voting on your top choices and 3) planning and executing your project. More details to follow. 


Dates designate the day on which readings will be discussed in class and the due dates of assignments. Dates and assignments are subject to change.

11Mon 8/26Welcome! Introductions. 

Framing Texts: Developing a Vocabulary for Discussing Race, Class, Gender, Education and the Internet 

2Wed 8/28Badger, “Whites Have Huge Wealth Edge over Blacks (but Don’t Know it),” & Crenshaw, “The Urgency of Intersectionality” 

3Fri 8/30Dyer, “The Matter of Whiteness” & Delgado et. al,“Critical race theory” (1-12) 

No class Mon 9/2 – Labor Day

4Wed 9/4Davidson, “Introduction” & “Against Technophilia,” The New Education
Blog posts and comments 

5Fri 9/6Davidson, “Against Technophobia,” The New Education
36Mon 9/9Nakamura, Digitizing Race (1-6, 13-19, 30-35, 202-209)
Blog posts and comments

7Wed 9/11Nakamura, Digitizing Race

The Politics of Platforms 

8Fri 9/13Eubanks, Automating Inequality (excerpt)
Optional: Eubanks, “The Digital Poorhouse”  
Blog posts and comments
49Mon 9/16Madrigal, “The Racist Housing Policy that Made Your Neighborhood” & Gilliard, “Digital Redlining, Access, and Privacy” 

10Wed 9/18Noble, “Introduction,” Algorithms of Oppression (1-4) 
Suggested viewing: “The Rabbit Hole” (The Weekly, 1.9, Hulu)
Blog posts and comments

11Fri 9/20Noble, “A Society Searching,” Algorithms of Oppression (15-63) 
512Mon 9/23Noble, “Conclusion” & “Epilogue,” Algorithms of Oppression (171-186)
Blog posts and comments

Situated Knowledges & Wikipedia

13Wed 9/25Haraway, “Situated Knowledges”

14Fri 9/27Haraway, “Situated Knowledges” 
Blog posts and comments
615Mon 9/30“Systemic Bias” (Wikipedia), “Gender bias on Wikipedia” (Wikipedia) & Paling, “Wikipedia’s Hostility to Women” 
In class: Introduce Wikipedia assignment 


16Wed 10/2Levidow, “Women Who Make the Chips” & article on Foxconn
Blog posts and comments 

17Fri 10/4Nakamura, “Ecologies of Digital Production in East Asia” 

An Introduction to Digital Humanities 
718Mon 10/7Risam, “Introduction,” New Digital Worlds
Blog posts and comments

19Wed 10/9Risam et al., “Creative and Critical Precepts for Digital Humanities Projects” 

20Fri 10/11Choose a digital humanities project to analyze. Write a short blog (1-2 paragraphs) analyzing your digital project. Be prepared to present your findings in class. 

Student-Led Sessions
821Mon 10/14Introduce student-designed and led class sessions

22Wed 10/16Individual lesson plans due in class 

23Fri 10/18Co-working day: lesson plans 

No class Mon 10/21 – fall break 




1129Mon 11/4TBD

30Wed 11/6No class – prof at conference – work on Wikipedia assignment

31Fri 11/8No class – prof at conference – work on Wikipedia assignment

Final Projects – Class Becomes Maker Lab! 
1232Mon 11/11Wikipedia assignment due
Introduce collaborative final project 

33Wed 11/13Tool parade: possible platforms to use for your final project 

34Fri 11/15Submit your collaborative project proposal and vote on your top threeLab day: collaborative projects
1335Mon 11/18Lab day: collaborative projects

36Wed 11/20Lab day: collaborative projects

37Fri 11/22Lab day: collaborative projects
1438Mon 11/25Rough drafts of collaborative projects due in class for peer review. Submit project to prof for feedback by 11:59 pm Tuesday 11/26.

Thanksgiving Break: Wed 11/27 – Sun 12/1

39Mon 12/2Lab day: collaborative projects

40Wed 12/4Lab day: collaborative projects

41Fri  12/6Final project presentation 

Final course reflection due via email by 11:59 pm on Monday, 12/9.

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