Professor teaches course with a twist

By: John Konapelsky

In the fall of 2018, FIU welcomed Dr. Vytautas Malesh to the Department of English’s writing and rhetoric program. Dr. Malesh brings with him over 12 years of professorial and writing experience.

Previous to arriving in South Florida, Dr. Malesh had stints at the University of Nevada, Schoolcraft College and Wayne State University.

When comparing his previous places of employment, Dr. Malesh has seen quite a few similarities, especially with Wayne State University. He says, “Both are ‘commuter campuses’ and both have a high number of first-generation college students.” He uses this commonality in the way he teaches his courses.

A lot of my practices have remained the same: flexible scheduling, a lot of online communication and an emphasis on building peer network. Cooperation is key.Dr. Malesh

Dr. Malesh currently teaches Writing and New Media (ENC 3416). He teaches this hybrid course by focusing on all three words from the title as individual concepts (writing, new, and media). He aims to challenge these key terms to learn not just the essentials of web-based communication, but a higher-level historical and theoretical appreciation of what it means to be writing.

Dr. Malesh has his students work on three major projects during the semester, two of which they show in class. He brings a twist to the class by having students focus their major projects on different periods in history (pre-industrial, post-industrial/pre-digital and the digital time periods). For the first two projects, Dr. Malesh allows his students to choose whatever form they want their project to evolve into.

When reflecting on prior students’ projects that were most memorable to him, Dr. Malesh recalled two instances in which one student had a failure while one had success. “One student composed their project on dried leaves, only to have the leaves crumble on their way to class. Another student produced a pre-digital ‘zine and wound up launching a lifestyle blog inspired by that format.”

When speaking to current ENC 3416 student Madeline De La Cruz about the major project assignments for this class, she said, “These projects were unusual. For most English classes at FIU, I’ve come to expect doing papers for class. I haven’t had an English class that made me think this creatively since I was in high school. These assignments have made me realize the effort it took to make old media like making paper.”

The ENC 3416 class is about to transfer from a hybrid course to a fully online based course starting in the upcoming summer 2019 semester. When asked what would change as a result of this format change, Dr. Malesh said, “The biggest alteration will be the removal of the weekly in-person meeting. Students in the online sections should expect video discussions, interactive assignments, online forum participation and a turn towards community writing with an emphasis on digital media production.”

Dr. Malesh will teach two sections of ENC 1102 during the summer 2019 semester and ENC 3249: Technical Writing for Computing and his first fully online version of ENC 3416: Writing and New Media during the fall 2019 semester. If you have any questions regarding these courses or the writing and rhetoric program, please email Dr. Malesh.