Although I thought that overall the Viz site was an incredibly rich and dynamic site that had facilitated a wonderfully sustainable community of visual rhetoric scholars and teachers, the very richness of the blog conversations going on about the theoretical and cultural implications of the visual left me feeling that I wanted more as a teacher. The blog discussed everything from how museums both "save" and put art in a politically removed and potentially irrelevant cultural position to the Obama campaign's choice to put three white young men wearing Abercrombie and Fitch in the visually pivotal audience behind the podium. I wanted to see this type of depth in classroom assignments. I envisioned students constructing their own political campaign slogans or protest art or creating an Adbuster-type answer to Abercrombie and Fitch's all-white-all-the-time construction of the world. 

But although rich in visual discussion, most of the assignments on Viz seem to allow students only to rhetorically analyze visual texts. While critique, especially rhetorical analysis, is a valuable skill that helps students become more critically aware citizens, it keeps them in the role of a passive rhetorical consumer instead of active rhetors who can create and deliver their own visual rhetoric that subverts and resists negative cultural forces. As Anne Wysocki (2004) argues in Writing new media, “people in our classrooms ought to be producing [new media] texts using a wide and alertly chosen range of materials—if they are to see their selves as positioned, as building positions in what they produce” (p. 20) and if they are to see themselves as having any power to actually shape and change their world (p. 21). Actively designing, not just critiquing, visual multimedia projects, provides students, as Steve Westbrook (2006) contends in "Visual rhetoric in a culture of fear," “with more initial power and responsibility to shape, recognize, and claim their social-textual identities ” (p. 465) within their social worlds.

Analysis and design are intertwined. Critical analysis is vital in helping students learn to become critical thinkers who can analyze different media and genres so that they, in turn, can then design the most socially relevant and rhetorically effective visual multimedia for themselves. As Mary Hocks (2003) writes in "Understanding visual rhetoric in digital writing environments," “To establish a balanced rhetorical approach, then, we must offer students experiences both in the analytic process of critique, which scrutinizes conventional expectations and power relations, and in the transformative process of design, which can change power relations by creating a new vision of knowledge” (pp. 644-645).

Figure 3. WWII Propaganda Poster

Because most of the assignments on Viz ask for only analysis, they seem like missed opportunities. For instance, the assignment entitled Visual rhetoric and propaganda is a prime example. The assignment is nearly brilliant in conception. Students read Burke’s (1939) "The rhetoric of Hitler’s battle," discuss visual rhetoric and rhetorical fallacies at length, and then write an “extended rhetorical analysis of examples of propaganda.” Alongside the assignment, many sites displaying and exploring propaganda (see Figure 3) are linked so that students can easily find examples of visual propaganda to analyze and discuss—German Propaganda Archive (2008), World War II Poster Collection (2008), and World War II Propaganda, Cartoons, Film, Music, and Art (2007). The site, the Propaganda Remix Project (2006), also offers students an example of World War II propaganda that has been remixed to actively subvert current propaganda from the Bush administration. However, instead of just giving students these examples of other artists remixing propaganda, why not assign students their own remix assignment? After getting student permission, why not then post students’ best propaganda remixes online and post them alongside the other visual artists and rhetors on the Viz site? In fact, the pedagogy for the remix assignment is already scaffolded into the current assignment. Doing a rhetorical analysis of propaganda would be a natural lead-in to the remix assignment. By doing the rhetorical analysis assignment, students would then gain the visual rhetorical awareness and savvy to create their own visual rhetoric subverting current propaganda.