In-class Activities and Quizzes – 10%
On most class days we will have an in-class activity, which may include responding to a writing prompt, a short two question reading quiz, group activity, or a technology exercise. The goal of these activities is to foster participation and reward you for coming to class prepared. For that reason, you must be in class to receive these points. If you have an excused absence (documented illness, religious observance, etc.) you will be allowed to make up the points through an additional blog post addressing the topic of the day.

Active Engagement and Participation – 10%
HDCC 208 is a hybrid course, blending seminar and studio approaches toward learning and making. This class is highly dependent on the quality of preparation and visible engagement of each participant. Discussions, screenings, critique, and presentations are an integral component of the course. Therefore, it is expected that you approach all modes of exploration with intellectual rigor, openness, and curiosity. In addition, a number of in-class assignments will be given throughout the semester where you will be asked to collaborate. Our goal is to create an environment conducive to thoughtful exchange, experimentation, and risk-taking. Please come to class having read all of the day’s required readings, having completed all assignments, and ready to engage each other with questions, ideas, and generosity. You are also encouraged to bring your own research and references to share with the class. Attendance alone does not guarantee an A in class participation.

Please note: The University of Maryland values the diversity of its student body. Along with the University, I am committed to providing a classroom atmosphere that encourages the equitable participation of all students regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Potential devaluation of students in the classroom that can occur by reference to demeaning stereotypes of any group and/or overlooking the contributions of a particular group to the topic under discussion is inappropriate.

Digital Storytelling – 20%
In this class we will not only read stories (digital and otherwise), we will put what we learn into practice using the storytelling technologies we study. Over the course of the semester you will learn to tell stories using a wide range digital media. These are creative works, but they are also technical exercises where you will be expected to demonstrate fluency in the medium and the relevant course readings. Over the course of the semester students will create five stories:

  • A blog narrative in the style of Andy Weir’s The Martian
  • A hypertext narrative/game using Twine
  • A collaborative short story via Twitter
  • An Omeka digital archive
  • A short film using video game screen capture (also called “machinama”)

Practitioner Presentation – 10%
Students will give a 10 – 15-minute presentation on an individual (or group of individuals) that we study in the class. Presentations will include a brief biography, an exploration of a significant work, and an analysis of their influence in the field.

Capstone Proposal and Workshops – 5%
Attend two capstone workshops and turn in capstone proposal (in preparation for HDCC 209).

Final Project and Critical Reflection – 30%
In lieu of a midterm and final exam, in this class you will complete a final project and write a critical reflection of your work. For your final project you will choose an active cultural discourse and use one of the digital storytelling tools studied in class to tell a story that engages that topic in a thoughtful and creative manner. The final project can build on work done earlier in the course, but must show significant development beyond the initial work. Final projects will be graded on the following criteria:

  • Topical engagement: how well does the work address a relevant discourse in contemporary culture?
  • Mastery of the medium: does the work take full advantages of the chosen medium’s unique storytelling affordances ?
  • Avoids the “Single Story”: does the work offer a thoughtful engagement with its topic that goes beyond stereotypes?
  • Emotional resonance: does the work make the “reader” care about the events in the story?

Blog Entries – 15%

All blog posts are due the Friday after they are assigned.

Blog posts are meant to be well-written, both thoughtful and thought-provoking; the best ones will also stimulate discussion on the course site and in the classroom. Feel free to end your post with questions you haven’t answered yet or would like to hear your classmates answer; also consider embedding relevant pictures and other media in your posts. Recording a video or audio blog to Youtube and then embedding it into a blog post on our course site is also allowed. The grading rubric for blogging (below) takes effort into account. Although there’s not a hard and fast rule as to blog length, most blogs should be at least 300 words and/or 2-3 paragraphs long, and you want most of your post to be content–don’t waste time on empty statements and repetition.

The best blog posts will both demonstrate you’ve done the reading and show you have understood and analyzed it. Blogs should never be a summary of what you’ve read or heard; if you’re writing in response to a reading or lecture, your blogs should consist of a) analysis and reaction and criticism of that content, or b) how the readings apply to our larger questions of defining literature and digital literature and considering what happens to literature as it changes from one medium to another. Images and videos are awesome, but they should be classroom-appropriate.

Blog Post Grading Rubric

Blogs will be graded on the following scale:

Rating Characteristics
7 Exceptional. The blog entry is focused and coherently integrates examples from the course readings with explanations or analysis. The entry demonstrates awareness of its own limitations or implications, and it considers multiple perspectives when appropriate. The entry reflects in-depth engagement with the topic. The blog meets the requirements of the assignment (i.e. answers the question in the blog prompt, includes any other features the instructor asked for), stands on its own as a coherent piece of writing making a solid argument, and goes beyond answering the blog prompt in the quality of its style, claims, and support.
5-6 Both Meets and Exceeds Assignment Requirements. The blog entry is reasonably focused, and explanations or analysis are mostly based on direct examples from course readings (e.g. quotations or paraphrased but cited arguments) or other evidence. Fewer connections are made between ideas, and though new insights are offered, they are not fully developed. The entry reflects moderate engagement with the topic. The blog meets the requirements of the assignment (i.e. answers the question in the blog prompt, includes any other features the instructor asked for) and also stands on its own as a coherent piece of writing making a solid argument.
3-4 Meets Assignment Requirements. The blog entry does not do anything more than directly answer the blog prompt; it may be mostly description or summary, without consideration of alternative perspectives, or with few connections made between ideas. The entry reflects only a brief amount of time thinking about the topic. The blog meets the requirements of the assignment (i.e. answers the question in the blog prompt, includes any other features the instructor asked for) but does not stand on its own as a coherent piece of writing making a solid argument (e.g. feels like an answer jotted down on a test, not a piece of writing one might find on a decent journalism site). A “2″ does not address specific arguments or quotations from course readings.
2 Limited. The blog entry is unfocused, parrots the work of others without making significant additions, or simply rehashes previous comments, and displays no evidence of student engagement with the topic.
0 No Credit. The blog entry is missing or consists of a few disconnected sentences.