English 875: Digital Ethics (Borchert, J.J.)


Name: Jessica Jorgenson Borchert

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Date published: 2021

Course level: Graduate

Course title: English 875: Digital Ethics

Course description: This is an online course where you will think about terms such as design and ethics to rhetorically examine how individuals and organizations use digital spaces. You will gain practical skills and theoretical knowledge of copyright, fair use, user experience, and usability. Assignments will include an infographic on a topic related to digital authoring practices, a remix project of a terms of service document, and a final project focused on ethical design. Most weeks will include a discussion topic unless a major assignment is due.

Course philosophy/motivation: “I practice a feminist, critical pedagogy where I find that I learn just as much as you and that I learn along with you. I have a PhD, but I have no illusions that I know everything about my field. I started college as an unsure, quiet, second-generation college student (my dad went back to college a little before I started college). Academia was a foreign concept to me, but I believe this challenge helped me to become a better, more thoughtful member of the academy (or so this is always my goal). When I step into a classroom, whether in person or virtually, I step in with the expectation that I will not have to discipline you. For example, I should not have to tell you to not be a troll. I ask you to respect differences in embodied experiences. With this, I encourage you to bring your own knowledge, experience, and expertise to our discussions, but also to participate in our online class with an open mind. I learn as much from you as I hope you learn from me. I welcome you to the course and I look forward to getting to know you better. Thank you for your labor, and for being here.”

“My main motivation was to help graduate students understand various digital practices and concepts (like big data) and understand the ethical practices employed (or not) around the gathering of user data.”

Cite as: Borchert, J. J., English 875: Digital Ethics, July, 2021,  Gayle Morris Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative.

About Author

Nupoor Ranade

Nupoor is a PhD Candidate in the Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media at the North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on audience analysis, digital rhetoric, user experience and information design primarily in the field of technical communication and artificial intelligence. Her research experience and partnerships with the industry help her bridge gaps of knowledge that she then brings to her pedagogical practices.

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is a PhD candidate in the Joint Program in English & Education at the University of Michigan, where she also teaches in the English Department Writing Program. Her research interests include digital rhetoric, gender and discourse, and gaming studies. Her dissertation project explores how women use multimodal discourse—grammatically, narratively, and visually—to navigate online gaming ecologies.

Jianfen Chen

Jianfen Chen is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition at Purdue. Her research interests include public rhetoric, digital rhetoric, risk communication, intercultural communication, and professional and technical communication.