Course Activity: “Evaluating Design in Social Media Activism”


Assignment Title: Evaluating Design in Social Media Activism

Authors: Victoria Aquilone (course instructor) and Amanda McCollom (multimedia literacy librarian), University of Delaware (

Date published: August, 2022

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Class Info/Tags: Digital Rhetoric, Multimodal Rhetorics, Writing for Social Media, Decolonizing Pedagogy

Course Motivation: Course goals include: Read texts and images critically and in context, considering multiple perspectives. Consider issues of audience and context in your own compositions. Compose print, digital, and multimodal texts. Use writing as an act of engaged citizenship.

Context of Use: This is used for a multimodal assignment that incorporates digital text, visual design and writing for public audiences. It works well as a final assignment, especially if there is a previous assignment/paper that the campaign evolves out of. Learning outcomes include identifying and employing design principles, evaluating and engaging social media landscapes, and assessing the role of public writing in activism. This class was developed in collaboration with the multimedia literacy librarian, who created the design principles presentation and facilitated the class for the first two iterations of the assignment. After observing the librarian teach, the instructor was able to facilitate the session on her own and further customize the presentation to fit specific class needs and time constraints. Notes are provided within the design presentation, as well as a link to a short video on design principles that can replace part of the presentation.

Instructor Reflection: The instructor will need to choose campaign examples that fit their class best. The ones provided here are curated to the theme of Indigenous ecological knowledge and social change, but classes with other themes or topics might not connect well with these examples. If an instructor is not familiar with Instagram or the skill of screen shotting images and formatting them in Google docs, this task could be daunting and take a lot of time. Once effective examples are chosen and put into the digital materials, the lesson is easy to implement and self-contained because a lot of the materials can be externalized to Google docs or another e-learning platform, allowing the lesson to run itself once the materials are all linked and the students are directed to them in the right order. The grading labor is multifaceted yet scalable with the actual campaign, the in-class presentation, and the reflection, but the instructor can choose to eliminate or reduce the presentation or reflection. To lighten the load without eliminating the secondary assignments entirely, I would only require the students to either present or turn in a reflection. There are pros and cons to both approaches, labor-wise: Student presentation days lighten the instruction load on those particular days, aside from managing the time of the class, and the grading can often be completed while the student presents, but the instructor loses instruction days. This presentation still allows the student significant reflection on their project. Only having students turn in written reflections opens up class sessions for further instruction and requires reading and assessing short essay reflections on the instructor’s out-of-class time. Another con of this is that students miss the community-building opportunity of sharing their work with each other. 

About Author

Jennifer Burke Reifman

Jennifer Burke Reifman is a 5th year Education Ph.D. Candidate at U.C. Davis with an emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies. Her research focuses on technology in the writing classroom, writing program administration, and student identity and agency. When she isn't being a graduate student and writing teacher, she spends most of her time playing with her 3-year old son, tending her backyard garden, or diving into a video game.

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.