Abstract of Research Study: Creating Community in eTC

A drawing of a handshake A pencil scribbling a line An open laptop Five interlocking circles symbolizing the five canons of rhetoric Four hands reaching out to meet in the middle A computer with speech bubbles on the screen A profile view of a face with an open mouth to indicate speech A person with shoulder-length hair looking at their reflection in the mirror Interlocking puzzle pieces

This webtext discusses our IRB-approved study of the integration of multimodal modules in online technical communication classes (eTC) at our institution—an urban, Research 1 university. Our eTC courses integrate multimodality through instructional tools (video lectures, podcasts, blogs, etc.) and course curriculum, including assignments and discussion board prompts that ask students to create texts that use more than one mode to communicate. Our discussion boards also emphasize localized, community-based writing topics, which we suggest encourages students to become multiliterate advocates within the online community and the larger communities in which they live as they learn to interact with peers using a multiplicity of modes. In this webtext, we present data from a study in which we assessed eTC students' development of multimodal communication fluency as evidenced by discussion board interactions. From our analysis, we suggest that designing an online course that focuses on multimodality and community advocacy—where community encompasses the online space and the larger society—can promote student success as literate citizens in the digital world within and beyond academia.