knowing, doing, and making: digital creativity as a pedagogical choice April L. O'Brien - Clemson University

"The classroom is a place for invention rather than of reproduction." - Gregory Ulmer, Applied Grammatology
"thus, as students learn the things we ostensibly teach, we might also ask what students are not learning. what other forms of writing and thinking are being shut down or distorted--forms of writing that have their own, different powers and inventive allure." - Thomas rickert, acts of enjoyment

my Background

  • Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design Ph.D. student and instructor of ENGL 1030: Accelerated Composition
  • Prior focus on literature for B.A. and M.A.
  • Research interests: digital and visual rhetorics, social justice, digital creativity
learning to embrace the challenges

The Challenges

Homogeneous student body

Difficulty acknowledging other perspectives

Creativity beyond Arts and Humanities?

A digitally-rich composition classroom provides an atmosphere for students to grapple with diverse ideologies, learn to invent through creative heuretics, and create meaningful artifacts that displays their expanded understanding.

yes, but how?

Theopraxesis - knowing, doing, and making in one performance

first step: making (heuretics)

"Part of working heuretically is to use the method that I am inventing while i am inventing it . . ." - Gregory ulmer, heuretics

How do i use Creative cloud in the classroom?

Along with more traditional written assignments, students work with Adobe's Creative Cloud for photography and video production and showcase their work on Behance.

  • Accelerated Composition - students need to learn the fundamentals of rhetoric and writing
  • Traditional written text, visual rhetoric, orality, and aurality with Premiere Pro, Lightroom, Spark
  • Visual Rhetorical Analysis: written assignment to video
  • Sample assignment: Watch "Legacies of Fort Hill" and create a video in which you develop your own argument but use "Legacies" as a springboard.

Artifacts - prove their expanded understanding

"Electracy can be compared to digital literacy but encompasses much more: a worldview for civic engagement, community building, and participation." -- Sarah Arroyo, Participatory Composition
Academic discourse does not occur in isolation from other discourses in which we conduct our lives." Gregory Ulmer, Teletheory
Proof in student work: diverse viewpoints, heuretic invention, and powerful artifacts

Not just for my students; how i use Creative cloud

  • Forthcoming short film to be published in the Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory

Contact info:



Twitter: @aprilobrien412

Created By
April OBrien
Created with images by lamdogjunkie - "Colours" • DariuszSankowski - "fire open hot" • StockSnap - "macbook laptop computer" • Sweet Carolina Photography - "It's that time again!!!" • misiafefe - "Perspective" • Unsplash - "bridge suspension engineering" • Alexas_Fotos - "soap bubble colorful ball" • Alexas_Fotos - "soap bubble colorful ball" • bykst - "background district abstract" • wilhei - "electricity voltage light" • Josch13 - "light bulb at burn" • lamdogjunkie - "Colours"

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