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Case Study: Digital Media and Culture

Art 247. Professor Amy Hauber, St. Lawrence University

Please provide the course description as it appears in the catalog and the typical enrollment for the course.

This course is an introduction to the digital medium concentrating on its capacity to convey artistic concepts through the interactive and multimedia capabilities of the Mac computer. The evolution of technology, ideas, contemporary art discourse, visual culture and the digital medium will be examined through lectures, readings, discussions, and hands-on experience. Near the end of the term, after experimenting with available software, students will select the application and form (e.g. still, video, digitized film) to best express their personal statements then plan and produce a final project.

What are the learning goals of the media assignment(s) in the course. If your course assignments contain both analysis and creative production components, describe the learning goals of each.

All of the assignments have both analysis and production components and the learning goals are intended to be intertwined for each. For instance:

creative production - create a personal blog that you will maintain throughout the term as well as your own youtube, delicious, flickr accounts linked to your blog.
GOALS: get student familiar with WP blogging software and understand the basics of blog designs and functionality.

look at a very wide variety of blogs, news, entertainment, political, personal, and even the youtube-famous Amanda Baggs' autism blog and her attendant video. Attempt to get students to think critically about the uses of blogs, both in reality and other future potential uses. Get students to consider how this type of communication is different that others IE. facebook, email, websites, written letters, codex, etc.
Encourage students to consider the potential for personally detrimental effects/outcomes of social-software.
Critically examine the notion of authorship and audience and how these are changing as communication changes.

What are the relationships of the media assignment(s) to the other aspects of the course?

In the above case, the students' blogs function as a complete and reflexive portfolio/document of the course. All of the student work, the actual produced work and then reflections on the work are contained within their blogs.

Describe your assignment design/structure.

I am not sure how to answer this. In general, for this beginning-level course, the basic structure is this:

  1. give students software documentation for the particular project and then
  2. demo the software once while they are just watching me, and then again immediately after while they follow along. The demos are short and just cover the basics.
  3. give the students an assignment that will force them to learn the basics of the softrware and introduce the theoretical component after they have completed the first, cursory assignment. Give them a reading, etc., and
  4. have them begin on a more complex and self-directed project.
  5. at the end of the particular software unit there is critique and discussion and reflection on the theoretical issues posed earlier.

To what extent does your assignment design address issues of visual/aural literacy?

The analytical/production assignment for BLOGGING:
I am not so sure that this happens in this assignment. This assignment is basically more of an exercise in "exposure therapy" to get them to realize the immense use/variety/potentials for blogging and social software in general.
We do not go into much analysis of actual images/meaning in this one.

To what extent does your assignment design address issues of information literacy?

In all the ways noted in the box above. It does this very very well.

To what extent does your assignment design address issues of technology skills?

Again, this assignment is more about exposure and demystification, more than anything. There are not many skills needed to set up a basic blog/youtube/flickr account.

What are the resources necessary for your assignment (content/materials, institutional support, equipment)?

Almost none. The lab with macs, an internet connection to show related videos and blogs, etc.,

Describe how you evaluated the project outcomes? Did you evaluate process? Outcomes? Both?

I evaluate the students' blogs by these criteria:

  1. how much they use the blog, both as assigned for reflection and posting their finished projects and also for their own use/investigation (they are encouraged to do this from the beginning).
  2. how involved they get in designing/personalizing/using their blog to reflect something about themselves.
  3. if they create a significant level of complexity using the blogging tools that are available to them.
  4. how well they follow instructions.
    1. For instance they are asked to post all images to flickr first, then resize the photos and embed in their blog. Many students were just too lazy (I guess??) to do this. And of course they ran out of server space mid way through the term.
    2. if their links work, etc.

Estimate the time invested in the project by you, your students, and academic support staff.

ME: almost none. the amount of time it takes to demo, and work out their kinks. I have done this before.
STUDENTS: hard to estimate, they are using this throughout the term.
ONGOING ME: Lots of time (3 hours a week, conservatively) when giving feedback on their blogs via blogging outside of class.

How many times have you taught this course/assignment? What would you do differently next time?

Three times. The only thing that I will do differently is test the students on their knowledge. They will do almost nothing if not threatened with a test. (depressing).

What is your level of expertise with respect to media technologies and scholarship?

I would say my level of expertise is moderate (on the high side)??
Like on a 1-10 scale, 10 being the most "expert" I am about a 7-8.
I am very good at some technologies/theories and can fairly easily feel my way through others that I am less familiar with.

An instructor created model, instructor comments and students projects can be found here.