Syllabus Fall 2015

CT 101 Digital Storytelling
3 crs., 2 hrs. lab, 2 hrs. lecture. Hybrid
Tues 10AM-12PM (Ryan Seslow)
Thurs 10AM-12PM (Michael Branson Smith)
2 hours online

Ryan Seslow
Site: ryanseslow.com
Twitter: @ryanseslow
FlickrInstagramTumblr
Email: ryan [at] ryanseslow [dot] com
Office Hours: by appointment

Michael Branson Smith
Site: michaelbransonsmith.net
Twitter: @mbransons
TumblrFlickr, Youtube, Soundcloud
Email: michaelbransonsmith [at] gmail [dot] com
Office Hours: M 10AM-12PM, or by appointment
Phone: 718-262-2853

Course Description

An exploration in the use of digital tools to develop a wide variety of digital narratives. Students will be required to design and build an online identity and narrate their process throughout the semester. They will place themselves within a larger narrative of networked conversation on the internet at large. This may be offered as an online or hybrid course.

Course Objectives

  • Develop a deeper sense of why we create and value stories and how nascent communication technologies are affecting ideas of narrative.
  • Develop an online identity that you will use to narrate your process as a creative practitioner and network with a community of peers to support your growth.
  • Explore a variety of digital technologies for the explicit purpose of employing them to create various narrative forms.

Course Materials

  • The internet: There is no textbook for this class, however individual readings will be assigned and will all be available online. Being successful in this class is very much dependent on a reliable, fast internet connection.
  • A computer: This class takes place in the 4M03 Computer Lab, open six days a week through out the semester. iMacs in the lab contain Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, Audition, etc.) as well as many other applications such as GIMPAudacity, and iMovie. You are encouraged to find a regular time each week to visit the lab to do work for the class. As a hybrid course, you are expected to have access to computer outside of class, if you have a laptop bring it to the lab to participate in class activities and assignments. Free software such as GIMP and Audacity should be installed on your computer.
  • A smartphone: Not a requirement, but having access to tools to shoot photos and video is a must. Apps on phones can be used for image manipulation and even editing audio/video. As well many of the social media spaces we will be inhabiting have native apps.
  • A Web Hosting account: We will be using reclaimhosting.com a web hosting company created to support students and faculty in a course like ours and beyond. Your course fee of $30 will pay for the cost of hosting, including the registration of a domain name. You will receive a coupon code at some point in the semester allowing you to register and claim your hosting account as well as a domain name.
  • WordPress: Open-source website authoring software that you will use to create a website with your domain name. You will learn to customize your site’s appearance by picking a template theme and make a number of personal modifications. You also learn to add functionality to your site using plugins.
  • Various Social Media Tools: You are expected to sign-up for and use a variety of accounts for this course: FlickrYoutubeSoundcloudTwitter, and Gravatar.
  • Class Web Site: The locus of the course’s online activity will be this site, CT101.us. You will become an author to the blog of this site, posting your assignments. After week three you will post your work to your own site, but your posts will feed to this site as well. Posts at that point will exist on both the course site and your personal site. Commenting on posts should primarily occur on the course site.

Course Activities

You will be engaging work in this class through a number of activities:

  • Blogging: Almost all the work you complete will be submitted through your blog and into the course blog. A check list of good blogging activities are described in this form.
  • Digital Storytelling Projects: You should complete at least one digital storytelling assignment a week.You should also complete assignment types of at least four different media throughout the semester. The DS106 assignment repository and the daily create are good resources to find assignments of various media types including: visual,design, audio, video, mashup, writing, fanfic, and animated gifs. But you are free to find other sources of inspiration.
  • Commenting/Critiquing: Engaging in online conversation with your peers about the work they and you are completing throughout the semester.
  • Reading Responses: Often each week there will be a reading based prompt for you to consider responding to. You can also find reading prompts on the list to get you inspired or look at previous calendars too.
  • Personal Website: As part of your reclaimhosting.com account, you will install an instance of WordPress for this class. You will use the site to post your work and reflections starting about four weeks into the semester. Also, your site can be customized in enumerable ways and your effort is considered as to creating a space to support an online identity.
  • Social Media Projects: Consider crafting a Youtube, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, to.be or any other account and use it for work in this class. Present what you’re up to in a blog post so we can find it.
  • Other: The web is a BIG SPACE and there could be enumerable other participatory web activities you might engage in. Are you a huge Reddit contributor? Sports blog commentor? Describe what you’re up to in a blog post so we can learn about it.

Grading

CT 101 uses a point based system to evaluate your final grade in the course. Points can be earned by completing any variety of coursework activities. You do not have to complete every activity, in fact you will have significant choice over which activities you complete and the pace at which you complete them. But you must report your work in the CT 101 Weekly Check-in. If you do not you will not receive credit the work of the week. No exceptions.

Each activity in the check-in is valued at one point and you should complete four activities per week to receive full credit for the week. You are also able to complete one additional activity per week if you are looking to make up for lost time.

Since this point system is being instituted midway through the semester you will be able to contribute previous work up to March 24th for a maximum total of eight points. Below details the totals possible for the remainder of the semester and the corresponding grading scheme.

Below is the maximum value for each week based on the last day to submit work from the previous period:

Week Max Points Possible
Sept 5 5
Sept 12 5
Sept 19 5
Sept 26 5
Oct 3 5
Oct 10 5
Oct 17 5
Oct 24 5
Oct 31 5
Nov 7 5
Nov 14 5
Nov 21 5
Nov 28 5
Dec 5 5
Dec 12 5
Attend/Bonus 15
Final Site Present 10
total possible 100 pts.

Grading Scheme
85 or above = A 63-66 = C
80-84 = A- 60-62 = C-
77-79 = B+ 57-59 = D+
73-76 = B 53-56 = D
70-72 = B- 50-52 = D-
67-69 = C+ below 50 = F

Bonus Points

  1. On several unannounced days, attendance will be taken at 10:05 AM. Those present will receive 3 bonus points.

  2. Additional bonus point options will be offered at the discretion of the instructor.

Final Presentation

On the scheduled exam day, you will have the opportunity to present your personal website and the work completed on it throughout the semester. You will need to have a blog post as well that describes your site’s final status as well as your future plans for the site.

Course Activity Descriptions

Blogging
Learning good blogging practices is an essential component to this course. You should consider what  attributes of a good post are:

Reporting Post – this post type is used as a simple reporting-out blog post of an assignment completed.

  • A thoughtful title.
  • An embedded media artifact relevant to the assignment (image, video, audio).
  • A clear statement of the post’s purpose.
  • At least one contextual link related to the post’s purpose.
  • A clear statement of reflection.
  • Good use of categories and tags.
  • Appropriate grammar and syntax.

Reflective Post – this post type is used to reflect more deeply and give additional context to the assignment you’ve completed.

  • A thoughtful title.
  • At least two embedded media artifacts relevant to the assignment (image, video, audio).
  • A clear statement of the post’s purpose.
  • At least two contextual links related to the post’s purpose. One of these links must be to a piece of research related to the completed assignment.
  • A description of the piece of related research and how it influenced/impacted your completed assignment.
  • A reflection on your process detailing how you completed the assignment.
  • A final reflection on the assignment.
  • Good use of categories and tags.
  • Appropriate grammar and syntax.

Digital Storytelling Projects
You will be completing a wide array of projects across a broad variety of media throughout the semester. You will need to complete at least one project across each media as well as at least one daily create post (encompassing three daily creates). We will be moving across different medias across the weeks, so you may time your projects types to those timeframes. Also there may be specific assignments we’ll ask you to complete as possible digital storytelling projects.

  • DS106 Assignment Repository – This is a crowd-sourced set of digital storytelling assignments which is categorized by a variety of media types including: visual, design, audio, video, mashup, writing, fanfic, and animated gifs. Since the repository is community built, anyone can submit an assignment, there is a vast array of quality and difficulty in assignments. Each category sorts by most recent by default, but it’s useful to sort by views and example to get a sense of interestingness of the assignments in a category.After you create the artifact for the assignment (GIF, JPG, Youtube Video, Soundcloud audio, etc.) you must embed it in a blog post on your website. You are encouraged to also submit this blog post directly to the assignment examples so that others might see it and respond to it.
  • DS106 The Daily CreateThis site offers daily a creative prompt for you to consider and describes a social media site – youtube, flickr, or soundcloud to submit the completed prompt. You will need to properly ‘tag’ your submission to the social media site used. These are generally relatively simple prompts, meant to be done in a short period of time. You should think of them as brief creative workouts.After you complete three daily creates, you must embed all three in a blog post on your website. You should link back to each of the daily create prompt pages.
  • Other Options – There are many unique opportunities to create something inspired by what you discover on the world wide web. There are other ‘digital storytelling’ communities, both formal and informal. There are often calls-to-create contests under various for photos, videos, designs, etc. If you find something participate in it and submit a blog post that embeds the artifact and describes the project.We will be introducing a few of our favorite opportunities throughout the semester, such as GIF Fight!, GIF the Portrait, and Photoshop Battles. And if others pop up on our radar, we’ll be sure to point them out – especially trending memes!

Commenting

Throughout the semester, provide comments each week of constructive feedback on your peer’s blog posts. It is best to consider including a positive piece and negative piece of feedback. For project posts, constructive feedback could consider the piece’s craftmanship, compelling nature and/or reflecting on process by the post’s author. If someone else has already commented on the post, then you should provide additional insight to the project’s critique. And finally it is possible to construct a thoughtful question as part of your feedback. The original poster can reply thoughtfully to a question and this will count a piece of feedback for the original poster.

Reading Responses

Each week there may be a prompt that will ask you to reflect on how you feel you are currently doing in the course and/or respond to a reading for the week. You will need to create a blog post and respond to the prompt. You can respond to these prompts at anytime during the semester, even after the week it was originally posted, but you cannot complete more than to reading response posts per week.

You can also refer to the reading list and find something to respond to. Please be sure to link to the original reading in your response post, as well as be sure to pull from the reading at least one particular piece of information that spoke to you.

Social Media Projects

There are innumerable social media tools that you might employ as part of your digital storytelling practice and experimentation. Please consider crafting a Youtube, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, to.be or any other account and use it for work in this class. Or use an existing account for work in the course. Please write a blog post to inform us of your work in other spaces.

Personal Website

Throughout the semester you will be working on your website through blogging as well as crafting it as a space to support a framework for your digital identity. You be evaluated at two points in the semester each accounting for half of the total points of this assignment. There are a number of criteria to consider in evaluating the site as you work on it:

  • a thoughtful domain name was chosen and framed in a site description (this could be in the about page),
  • a thoughtful site title is clearly presented,
  • an about me page exists (there are many ways to do this),
  • a theme was chosen and customized reflecting you and the direction of your blog,
  • plug-ins to add functionality have been activated, possibly adding hooks to various social media, creating galleries, etc.
  • Blog posts are appropriately categorized and tagged.
  • all default pages, posts, comments, site description have been removed.

DECORUM

Students are expected to treat the instructor and fellow students with the appropriate degree of respect, both in class (if applicable) and in online discussions. Communication, either in person or through electronic media, that is deemed abusive, threatening, or harassing in nature will not be tolerated.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

York College’s Academic Integrity Policy & Procedures, developed to conform to the CUNY policy on Academic Integrity.

INC GRADES

The following overview of the INC grade is condensed from York’s grading policy website

The student must be passing the course, and have work remaining to complete the course requirements. The student must request an INC grade. The instructor must approve whether the student has a valid reason for not completing course requirements and has reasonable expectation that the student can in fact successfully complete the requirements of the course within the allotted time.

POLICY ON ACCOMMODATIONS FOR DISABLE STUDENTS

CUNY York College is committed to providing access to programs and services for qualified students with disabilities. If you are a student with a disability and require accommodations to participate and complete requirements for this class, contact the STAR Program (Specialized Testing & Academic Resources), services for students with disabilities (Academic Core Building (AC), Room 1GO2, 718-262-2191/3732) for verification of eligibility and determination of specific accommodations.