Upcoming Events

Assignment Design Institute: Jesse Stommel 

April 12, 2019 

The seventh annual Assignment Design Institute will feature keynote speaker Jesse Stommel, presenting “Designing Assignments, Redesigning Assessment.” This event will be held in Shambaugh Auditorium Friday, April 12, 2019. Stommel’s keynote address will begin at 10:30 AM followed by a Q&A session beginning at 11:30 AM.

Lunch will be provided at 12 PM for all day attendees. 

At 12:45 PM, Nicholas Kelly will facilitate a workshop entitled, “Making Made Easy: Creating Multimedia Content in the Classroom with Web-Based Tools.”

Please join us as we explore creative ways to integrate multimedia assignments into the classroom and gain a broader understanding of what it means to assess. 

If you would like to register for this event, please do so by clicking the link below: 

Previous Events:

Assignment Design Institute- Part 4, John Bresland

April 20, 2018

As a pioneer of the video essay, John Bresland has spent years combining footage, image and narration into short, nonfictional films that ask big questions.  His piece “Seinfeld Analog” uses clips from the famous TV show to confront America’s inaction in the face of the Rwandan Genocide, while “Ode to Everything” uses scenes from Bresland’s home and family to ask more intimate questions about fatherhood.  His essay “Mangoes” was recently installed at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and he has previously served as the film editor for TriQuarterly magazine.

As a professor at Northwestern University, and the director of the campus Media and Design Studio, Bresland also works to bring the strengths and discoveries of video essay to a wide variety of students, giving them a chance to explore and share their ideas in striking visual ways.

In this workshop , Bresland shared some of his work with us and took us behind the scenes to show the process and scaffolding behind some of his favorite projects.  He also shared his ideas about why he works in this genre and how he teaches his students to do the same.  What can video essays bring to the classroom that other compositional forms do not?  How can students in a wide variety of classes engage with and create them?  Instructors came away from this event with an in-depth understanding of what video essays are as well as how to use them in a wide variety of classes.

Assignment Design Institute- Part 3, Annie Sand

The Language of the Eye: Teaching Students to Use Presentation Visuals to the Fullest”
March 23, 2018

How often have we watched presentations in which the slides act as passive collections of bullet points and photos played without comment behind the presenter?  In this interactive workshop, I’ll share the assignments and lesson plans I use to help students understand their slides as an opportunity to communicate ideas in visually intuitive ways. Instructors who attend will walk away able to:

  • Teach students how to create a visual system within their slides that helps the reader understand their ideas
  • Pitch to students the benefits of upping their Powerpoint game
  • Encourage students to explore the ethical implications of their visuals and other arguments


Assignment Design Institute- Part 2, Dana Thomann

Overcoming Technophobia: Tips and Tricks for Creating a Manageable Podcast Assignment”
February 23, 2018

Do you fear leading your students astray and into a chaotic mess by assigning a digital project? This workshop aims to alleviate such fears. Hear how a self-described “control freak with technophobic tendencies” overcame her fears and actually looks forward to the podcasting unit in her classroom.

Participants will leave this interactive workshop with ideas of how to:

  • locate podcast resources on campus (recorders, editing programs, experts)
  • pace a podcast assignment
  • implement discovery-based learning techniques to build necessary student skillsets such as interviewing, script writing, sound editing, etc.
  • create podcast rubrics
  • use the final student product as a meaningful course text.

Assignment Design Institute-  Part 1, Katherine Walden

Digital Humanities and Multimodal Composition
December 11, 2017

Are you looking for new ways to engage your students with their assignments? Would you like to design purposeful ways for students to use technology in your classes? Instructors interested in digital humanities pedagogy or multimodal composition assignments are invited to join IDEAL for a lunch workshop. You can adapt an existing assignment or design a new project that incorporates digital or multimodal components. Attendees will leave the collaborative, hands-on workshop with new ideas and the ability to implement them.












Show What You Know showcase event

Show What You Know is a perfect ice breaker in the early weeks of a rhetoric course. It serves as a low-stakes assignment that helps students practice and gain confidence speaking in public while introducing them to critical research skills. The assignment asks students to teach their classmates something they know how to do or give a demonstration of a skill they think classmates would want to learn.

Each class will select the best “Show What You Know” presentation by secret ballot. The winner from each class will be invited to deliver their Show What You Know in the Library Learning Commons in a special public event with publicity and catering. This year’s Show What You Know showcase was held on Wednesday, September 13 from 6-8p.m. in the Main Library Learning Commons, open area D.

 The Assignment Design Institute

IDEAL hosts an annual assignment design institute wherein participants learn how to create and implement assignments that foster innovation and invite students to engage with broader communities through the use of audio, video, still images, and other technologies. Attendees receive guidance and support to design or redesign a class project that engages students beyond the bounds of the classroom and results in a digital project that endures beyond the end of the semester.

2017 Institute: March 31

The event featured a keynote talk by Dr. Ari Daniel. As digital producer for NOVA and public radio reporter, Ari Daniel thinks, writes, and speaks about communicating science with broad audiences. Ari’s talk inspired attendees to consider how students can communicate the meaning they discover in classroom projects.

Breakout sessions allowed instructors to build an innovative assignment model that uses digital tools to inspire students to create and communicate. Session leaders included master teachers Mark McDermott (Science Education, Department of Teaching and Learning) and Matt Gilchrist (IDEAL, Department of Rhetoric).

See more about Ari Daniel on his WordPress site

2015 Institute

The 2015 institute featured keynote speaker Dr. Margaret Konkol, a visiting assistant professor of English at the New College of Florida. Her keynote address, “The Once and Future Pedagogy: Engagement Through New and Old Technologies”, focused on her recent collaborative projects at the New College of Florida and specifically her project with the John Ringling Library (

The 2015 institute also encouraged instructors to develop assignments related to social justice, in coordination with the University of Iowa’s Spring 2016 theme semester of Just Living. For more information on the theme semester, visit the Just Living website ( Those who attended the Institute also created projects for classroom use.

2014 Institute

The 2014 Institute featured keynote speaker Dr. Jon McKenzie, Professor of English and Director of the DesignLab at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His keynote address, titled “DesignLab, Smart Media and Intimate Bureaucracies,” focused on DesignLab’s recent projects in smart media and emerging scholarly genres. Professor McKenzie presented several projects, sample assignments, and evaluative frameworks that DesignLab uses to introduce digital media projects to instructors and students across all disciplines. Those who attended the Institute created project ideas for classroom use.

2013 Institutes

The March 9, 2013 Institute featured keynote speaker Dr. Cornelia Lang, an Associate Professor of astronomy/astrophysics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa. Her keynote address detailed the instructional design in her interdisciplinary course “Life in the Universe”.

The October 19, 2013 Institute featured keynote speaker Dr. Jim Ridolfo, an Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky. His work focuses on the intersection of rhetorical theory and digital technology. He has co-authored the book The Available Means of Persuasion: Mapping a Theory and Pedagogy of Multimodal Public Rhetoric with David Sheridan and Anthony Michel and co-edited Rhetoric in the Digital Humanities with William Hart-Davidson.