Assignment Ideas: Tactical Media

Tactical media, also called media activism and digital journalism, enables students to make original contributions to an array of discourse communities. Assignments that remix crowd sourced data, convert open source images into memes, or analyze films by creating films are all examples of media that values what Dan Evans calls the “’the former-audience,’ those people who react to, participate in, and even alter a story as it is unfolding.” (Clay Shirky, “It Takes a Village to Find a Phone” 5). Digital technology enables novices to shape expert driven discourse at all stages of the learning process. Since students do not have to wait to become active producers of new knowledge in the tactical media classroom, they are motivated to perform critical thinking and writing tasks that challenge potentially repressive institutional constraints.

Kellner, Douglas and Gooyong Kim. “YouTube, Critical Pedagogy, and Media Activism.” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 32.1 (2010): 3-136.

This article defines the relationship between activist medial and critical pedagogy through the examination of YouTube as a learning tool in the classroom and beyond. The authors’ discussion of analytics and voluntary participation is especially useful. While no specific assignments are discussed, examples of “readers become writers” and the democratization of information via tech can be adapted to specific class situations.

Interventionist Aesthetics.

This site includes a syllabus, blog, and assignment descriptions/sequences for a tactical/activist media course at The New School.


Activist, remix, participatory media site that includes blogs, social media, book reviews, a magazine, digital media publications, analog/digital publication services, and a community of individuals who work inside media to transform it. Offers many suggestions for assignments such as hypertext film reviews, postscript, funny news, and open video forums.

Participatory Media and Social Practice.

Website for a graduate seminar taught at the University of Oregon that provides examples of assignments, sequencing, student participation, and assessment.

Occupy Class.

Occupy Class is the weekly digital publication of ENGL 3120: Electronic Writing and Publishing at Georgia State University. Class members are engaged in a semester-long documentary investigation of the Occupy movement in its local and national manifestations in addition to the movement's effect on popular culture and politics” (Pete Rorabaugh).

This site is a terrific resource for faculty looking to incorporate crowd-sourced research and data collection into tactical media assignment sequences.

Tactical Media.

The NYU archive provides examples of tactical media assignments and products, as well as articles written by teachers and practitioners.

Welch, Nancy. “Review Essay: The Point is the Change It: Problems and Prospects for Public Rhetors.” CCC 63.4 (2012): 699-714.

Welch reviews a number of new publications on activist, tactical, and participatory media in this essay to think through the highs and lows of “the public turn rhetoric and composition” (700). Welch argues the authors she reviews “affirm the efficacy of the public voice at a time when actual public space and decision making rights are being converted to private property and prerogatives” (701). The books reviewed also show how digital activism has shaped and been shaped by the field of composition studies: Reforming Writing Assessment to Improve Teaching and Learning, Going Public: What Writing Programs Learn from Engagement, The Public Work of Rhetoric: Citizen-Scholars and Civic Engagement, Activism and Rhetoric: Theories and Contexts of Political Change.