DRAFT Syllabus for EMAC 2321 Spring 2012


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For those interested, here is my draft syllabus, with web-based reading list on writing for new media. Detailed assignments aren't yet complete.

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DRAFT Syllabus for EMAC 2321 Spring 2012

  1. 1. ATEC 2321 Writing and Research For New MediaSpring 2012SyllabusCourse DescriptionDigital media play an extremely important role in contemporary writing and research techniques. Infact, it would not be inaccurate to say that all writing and research are now digital! However, theplatforms and technologies that make up digital media are constantly changing and shifting. Anyonewho only learns writing and research techniques tied too closely to a single platform is likely to findthat these skills rapidly go out of date. This course, Writing and Research for New Media, seeks toavoid this pitfall by helping students learn broad, transferrable skills that will help them use currentplatforms successfully, and adapt to new platforms as they emerge. As such, this course stresses theprocess of learning over rote memorization! Students are expected to experiment with techniques, andlearn to be comfortable exploring new platforms and tools.This print version of the syllabus is provided to give students a clear initial overview of the course, andto meet university requirements for course syllabi. The syllabus website, available at [FILL IN HERE]contains a more up-to-date version of this syllabus. If the print version and website version of thesyllabus disagree the web version is correct.ReadingStudents are not required to purchase reading material for this course. Instead a variety of web-basedresources will be provided.Contact InformationThe best way to contact either the instructor (Prof. Famiglietti) or the TA (Tameka Reeves) is to send anemail to the email address listed below. • Prof. Famigliettis Office: ATEC Building, room 1.602 • Prof. Famigliettis Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 2pm-5pm and by appointmentCourse PoliciesAll students should familiarize themselves with official UTD course policies, as listed on the provostswebsite (http://provost.utdallas.edu/syllabus-policies/). In particular, be sure to carefully review thesections on Academic Integrity, Class Attendance, and Avoiding Plagiarism. Here are some additionalguidelines that will ensure your success in this class:Be BoldThis class is about learning how to learn. The learning process always involves experimentation, trialand error, and making mistakes, especially early on. In some cases, I will ask you to participate inassignments that are designed to give you experience with this process, and in these cases I may simplyask you to attempt to accomplish a particular task using a particular technology, without explaining adetailed set of instructions for accomplishing this task. When this happens, it is important that you bebold and experiment with the assigned task. Try your best to accomplish the task, and ask for help fromthe instructor and your classmates as you encounter difficulties you cant resolve on your own. You will
  2. 2. not be penalized for having difficulties!Furthermore, the major class project, the group blog project, will also require boldness on the part ofstudents. For many stages of the blog project, I will give detailed instructions on how to completenecessary work. However, as the project goes on and the blog becomes your own, you will want to findways to make the blog meet your own personal goals and aspirations. To do this, you will need toengage in experiments and listen to the feedback provided to gauge when experiments are or are notworking. Be brave!Be In ClassThis class is a discussion class. Our class meetings provide an essential opportunity for discussingreadings and assignments, working through difficulties and misunderstandings, and exploring ideasfrom different points of view. I cannot arrange to have a class discussion over again if you miss ourmeeting! For this reason, your regular attention is essential. All students are permitted three classabsences over the course of the semester, no questions asked. Students may miss an additional twoclasses if they complete a make-up assignment for each absence. Make-up assignments will be devisedon a case-by-case basis, but will generally consist of at least a two-page essay summarizing classreadings and ideas. Students who miss more than five absences must schedule an appointment with theinstructor to discuss the reasons for their absences, the steps the student has taken to document theseabsences with University authorities, and their prospects for completing the class successfully. Studentsthat miss more than five class meetings and do not promptly schedule such a meeting will fail thecourse.Be In TouchThis class asks students to be bold, experiment, and try new things. It also asks that they takeresponsibility for completing a large and complex new media project: the group blog project. All thiswill require students to keep in touch with each other, and the instructor, much more closely than theydo in other courses. Students should expect to receive communication from the instructor in the form ofemail on a regular basis. For this reason, you should plan on checking your campus email at least onceper day. Students who do not check their campus email regularly will have difficulty completing thiscourse successfully. If circumstances make it difficult for you to check your email this often, try to finda classmate to serve as your “email buddy,” and send you a text message or call when important emailsarrive.In addition, this course will make extensive use of Twitter as a platform for informal communication,troubleshooting, and collaboration. You are encouraged to make use of the Twitter platform to keep intouch with your classmates and instructor. Twitter can be used via text message, if that makes sense foryou.Be RespectfulThis classroom is a safe space. You are expected to show your classmates the highest level of respect.Language or actions that discriminate against class members on the basis of Race, Age, Religion,Ethnicity, Sex, Gender, or Sexual Orientation will not be tolerated.Be On TimeWork that is not complete by the date due will be penalized 30% for each day or fraction of a day it islate. As work this class will be comprised of many small assignments, it is imperative that you not getbehind. If you do find that you have missed an assignment, it may be better to abandon this assignment
  3. 3. and complete the next one on time.Pseudonymous Participation PolicyThis class asks students to participate in publicly accessible blogs and other forms of public writing.Writing in public has several advantages for student learning. It creates a closer analogue to the “realworld” environment, and allows for the creation of writing that is designed to be shared with a realaudience, instead of just an instructor. It also allows students to learn from each other. However, somestudents may have legitimate privacy concerns about participating in publicly accessible assignments.These students may choose to participate in public assignments under a pseudonym, or assumed name.If you wish to request this accommodation for any reason, please contact me immediately.Assignments and Grade BreakdownThe major assignments for this class are listed below, along with the percentage of the total class gradeeach assignment is worth. In this print version of the syllabus, detailed descriptions of each assignmentfollow the course • Annotated Blog Roll (15%) • Group Blog Proposal (15%) • Group Blog Project (25%) • Class Participation (15%) • Reflection Blog (10%) • In-Class Assignments (10%) • Final Presentation (10%)ScheduleFor each class meeting, the schedule lists the reading to complete for that meeting, if any under theheading READ. This reading must be completed PRIOR TO the class meeting it is listed for. Inaddition, a brief summary of what to expect during each class meeting (discussion, class activities etc.)is listed under IN CLASS for each class meetings. Due dates and assignment announcements are listedin italics at the bottom of the listing for the nearest class meeting to the due date.Introduction: Background and first stepsWednesday, January 18: Introductions and Syllabus reviewREAD: NoneIN CLASS: Icebreakers and Syllabus review.The blog group questionnaire will be announced today.Monday, January 23: Why blogging?READ: Introduction to “Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What Its becoming, and Why ItMatters,” by Scott Rosenberg (http://www.sayeverything.com/excerpt/say-everything-introduction/)IN CLASS: Discuss the history of blogging and the basic elements of the blogs form. What separatesblogs from earlier media, both digital and analog? Why use blogging for this class? Introduction to theWordpress dashboard.Blog group questionnaire responses due at 11:59pm January 23!Unit One: Analyzing a blogging community
  4. 4. Wednesday, January 25: Understanding the community aspects of writing and research for new mediaREAD: Broadcast Institutions, Community ValuesIN CLASS: Discuss what the “community” metaphor means for digital communications. Why is“publish then filter” such a radical change?The annotated blog-roll assignment will be announced today.Blog groups will be assigned today.First Reflection blog post due at 11:59pm January 27Monday, January 30: Filter FailureREAD: Watch the video “Its Not Information Overload, Its Filter Failure” featuring Clay Shirky(http://blip.tv/web2expo/web-2-0-expo-ny-clay-shirky-shirky-com-it-s-not-information-overload-it-s-filter-failure-1283699) NOTE: This video may be hard to watch on a slow internet connection. Studentswithout fast connections at home may want to plan to watch this video on campus or at a coffeeshopwith a fast connection.IN CLASS: Discuss the idea of “filter failure.” How does the inability to filter information effectivelyalter our practices of information gathering online?Wednesday, February 1: Mindful Infotention and Filter TechniquesREAD: “Mindful Infotention,” by Howard Rheingold(http://blog.sfgate.com/rheingold/2009/09/01/mindful-infotention-dashboards-radars-filters/)“Practical 101S: Google Reader and Persistent Search,” by Dave Fleet(http://davefleet.com/2008/10/practical-101s-google-reader-and-persistent-search/)“Screen Shots: How I Use RSS To Track Thousands of News Sources Easily,” by Marshall Kirkpatrick(http://marshallk.com/how-i-use-rss-to-track-thousands-of-news-sources-easily)IN CLASS: Discuss the “mindful infotention” concept. How can we use filters to manage informationand discover sources? How can we tune into the larger conversation? Begin building sharedinformation sources to use to inform your blog project.Monday, February 6: Crap DetectionREAD: “Crap Detection 101,” by Howard Rheingold (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/rheingold/detail?entry_id=42805)IN CLASS: Discuss the methods Rheingold gives us for evaluating sources. Investigate why“reputation” is a helpful way to think about sources. Source evaluation exercises.Wednesday, February 8: More Filter Techniques/Thinking Critically About Filters 1READ: “Twitter Literacy,” by Howard Rheingold (http://blog.sfgate.com/rheingold/2009/05/11/twitter-literacy-i-refuse-to-make-up-a-twittery-name-for-it/)“How Journalists Verified Info Around Eltahawys Arrest,” by Andrew Katz(http://storify.com/katz/freemona)IN CLASS: Discuss the use of social media as an information filter. Join twitter. Discuss theconnections between social media and blogging. Discuss how to critically evaluate information ontwitter. Observe how messages move from blogs to social media and vice versa. Begin building lists oftrusted twitter sources for group blogs.Second reflection blog post due at 11:59pm February 10Monday, February 13: Thinking Critically About Filters 2 – Systemic filter problems to be aware ofREAD: Watch the video “The Filter Bubble TED Talk,” (http://www.thefilterbubble.com/ted-talk)NOTE: This video may be hard to watch on a slow internet connection. Students without fastconnections at home may want to plan to watch this video on campus or at a coffeeshop with a fast
  5. 5. connection.IN CLASS: Discuss the possible systemic problems with available information filters, and techniquesfor avoiding falling victim to these failings.Annotated Blogrolls must be submitted by 11:59PM February 13Wednesday, February 15: Collaboration Workshop – Building your group blogrollREAD: A brief activity will take the place of reading for today. Prior to class, experiment with GoogleDocs and Etherpad.IN CLASS: Work together in groups to combine your individual blogrolls into a collective blogrollusing collaboration software like Google Docs or Etherpad. Practice combining, commenting on, andediting collaborative documents in this environment.The blog proposal assignment will be announced today.Unit Two: Developing the group blog proposalMonday, February 20: Writing and OrganizationREAD: “My Ten Years of Blogging,” by Malik Om (http://gigaom.com/2011/11/26/10-years-gigaom/)IN CLASS: Discuss the written and organizational techniques of effective blogging. What does it meanto develop a unique “voice” for blogging? Why is writing regularly important? How does creatingcontent categories help readers understand and use your blog? Observe how these writing andorganization techniques are used on some successful blogs.Wednesday, February 23: Visual Design and Image UseREAD: Non-Designers Design Book Chapters 1, 6 and 8IN CLASS: Discuss the CRAP design principles. Observe how these principles are used on successfulblogs.Third reflection blog post due at 11:59pm February 24Monday, February 27: Content Reuse and LicensingREAD: “About Creative Commons” (http://creativecommons.org/about)“About the Licenses” (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/)IN CLASS: Discuss how both laws and norms guide how we reuse content. Explain the legal conceptsof Copyright, Public Domain, and Fair Use. Discuss how the Creative Commons licenses revealcommunity preferences for reuse. Observe how successful blogs use creative commons, reuse contentproduced by others, and reuse their own content across different platforms.Wednesday, February 29: Sources, Citation, and LinkingREAD: “New Rule: Cover what you do best, link to the rest,” by Jeff Jarvis(http://www.buzzmachine.com/2007/02/22/new-rule-cover-what-you-do-best-link-to-the-rest/)IN CLASS: Discuss how linking and citing sources can add value to your blog. When should youlink/cite? How should you link/cite? Who should you link/cite? Observe linking and citation practiceson successful blogs.Monday, March 5: Presentation Prep/Workshop DayREAD: None, BUT students should come to class with significant work on the blog proposal alreadycomplete to be fully successful.IN CLASS: Work in your blog groups to complete your blog proposal presentations. The instructor andTA will offer feedback on your progress.
  6. 6. Wednesday, March 7: Presentations and Mid-semester evaluationsREAD: None, BUT rehearsing your presentation prior to class is strongly recommendedIN CLASS: Groups will present their blog proposals to the class and receive peer feedback. Tenminutes of class time will be reserved for mid-semester class evaluations.Blog Proposals are due by 11:59pm March 7.Fourth reflection blog post due by 11:59pm March 9.Unit Three: Maintaining and revising group blogsMonday, March 12: SPRING BREAKWednesday, March 14: SPRING BREAKMonday, March 19: Managing Online Projects – Principles from the example of WikipediaREAD: “The Hive” by Marshall Poe (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/09/the-hive/5118/?single_page=true)IN CLASS: Discuss what the example of Wikipedia suggests about successful collaboration strategiesin the digital environment. What made Jimmy Wales a more effective project manager than LarrySanger? How does the digital environment favor some leadership and collaboration techniques overothers?The final presentation assignment will be announced today.Wednesday, March 21: Advanced Wordpress SkillsREAD: Selections from the Wordpress codex TBA. Experiment with the Wordpress dashboard. Make alist of things you want to do with your blog, but are having trouble accomplishing.IN CLASS: Demonstrations of the advanced features of the Wordpress dashboard. Discussion ofwidgets and sidebars. A very brief introduction to custom CSS and fonts.Your blog group is expected to complete their proposed posting schedule this week, and every weekfrom now until the last week of classes.Monday, March 26: Managing Online Projects – Peer communication and collaboration at a distanceREAD: NoneIN CLASS: Groups will compete in an exercise designed to test their ability to collaborate using digitalcommunications.Wednesday, March 28: Collaborative EditingREAD: Review the Wikipedia Manual of Style(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style). You do not need to closely read the wholething, as it is rather extensive. Skim it, get a sense of what is there, and be ready to navigate it quicklyduring class, as you will be using it.IN CLASS: Small group collaborative editing exercises. Discuss how the Wikipedia Manual of Stylerules might be adapted to fit the needs of your blog project.Fifth reflection blog post due by 11:59pm March 30.Monday, April 2: Transmedia 1 – What is transmedia?READ: “Transmedia Storytelling 101,” by Henry Jenkins(http://www.henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html)IN CLASS: Discuss the idea of “transmedia.” What does a message gain by being spread among manyplatforms? Jenkins is explaining how large media companies make use of transmedia techniques. How
  7. 7. might we apply these techniques to our blogs? How are they used by other blogs in our bloggingcommunity?Wednesday, April 4: Transmedia 2 – Thinking critically about platformsREAD: “Project Reclaim,” by Boone Gorges (http://teleogistic.net/2011/03/project-reclaim/)IN CLASS: How do the values Boone uses to guide his project help us learn to think critically aboutplatforms? How can we evaluate the reputations of platforms in the same way we evaluate thereputations of our sources?Monday, April 9: Group blog project midpoint discussionREAD: Prior to todays class students should familiarize themselves with their classmates blogs. Feelfree to comment!IN CLASS: Each group should be prepared to talk about the progress of their blog project for about 10minutes. The instructor and TA will lead the class in a discussion of the relative strengths andweaknesses of each blog, with the goal of providing constructive criticism for groups, and allowingstudents to learn from their peers.Wednesday, April 11: Presentation DesignREAD: Watch the following videos:“Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity”(http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity.html)“Apple iPad, Steve Jobs Keynote” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBhYxj2SvRI)IN CLASS: Discuss how Jobs and Lessig use visuals and spoken language to make their respectivecases. How does each tailor his presentation to meet the needs of his audience? What is effective, orperhaps ineffective, about these presentations?Monday, April 16: Transmedia 3 – Location aware mediaREAD: “Location Literacy and Foursquare in the Classroom,” by Dean Terryhttp://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/content/location-literacy-foursquare-classroomIN CLASS: What are the possible uses of location aware media Dean Terry imagines in this piece?How are these uses frustrated by the current economic model supporting locational media? How mightblogs engage with locational media as part of a transmedia communication strategy.Wednesday, April 18: Digital Divides 1 – Awareness of race, class, and gender divides in new mediaREAD: “The Better Off Online” (http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1809/internet-usage-higher-income-americans)“For Minorities, New Digital Divide Seen” (http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2011-01-10-minorities-online_N.htm)IN CLASS: Discuss why we need to be aware of digital divide(s) as we consume and produceinformation online. What steps can we take to ameliorate digital divide(s)?Sixth reflection blog post due by 11:59pm April 20.Monday, April 23: Digital Divides 2 – Accessibility and Universal AccessREAD: “For the disabled, just getting online can be a struggle.”(http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/01/21/5892186-for-the-disabled-just-getting-online-is-a-struggle)IN CLASS: Experiment with screen-readers, and evaluate the readiness of your group blogs for use bypeople with disabilities.
  8. 8. Wednesday, April 25: Final Presentation workshop dayREAD: NoneIN CLASS: Discuss your final presentation plans with the instructor and TA, and work to revise anddevelop these plans.All groups must complete a draft of their final presentation visual, and draft outline of your finalspoken presentation prior to this class.Monday, April 30: Final PresentationsREAD: NoneIN CLASS: Groups 1-3 will give their final presentations todayWednesday, May 2: Final Presentations, Evaluations, DonutsREAD: NoneIN CLASS: Groups 4-5 will give their final presentations today. Students will complete courseevaluations. Donuts will be provided to reward attendance during this last class meeting of thesemester.Final reflection blog post due by 11:59pm May 8.All changes your group wishes to make to your blog prior to the final blog grade being assigned mustbe completedDetailed Assignment Descriptions