WRT 330


In-Class/Online Work (40%): This includes your active and informed engagement with course material and assignments and with the work produced by your peers in this class. You will be required to read/watch all online texts and to respond twice weekly to course materials in Moodle forums and at other online sites. Your responses may require you to develop visual, audio, or video texts, so be prepared to play with a lot of new software this semester.

Digital Autobiography (10%): You will research and critically analyze your own engagement with digital culture. While this analysis will include your personal experiences with various forms of digital culture (software, hardware, networking site, interactive mediums, etc), you will conduct secondary research to support the personal claims you make about those forms of digital culture.

The research element of this project need not be especially academic: it should embellish, enliven, decorate, support, and/or illustrate the points you make in your more personal analysis. You may choose to compose a hyperlinked essay, create a wiki, develop a digital story, compose a website, create a video, or record a podcast for this project, and the research you do and use will depend quite a bit on the type of "text" you create. You may find you need quotes from experts like Bill Gates or Donna Haraway, or you may find yourself writing to an online community of gamers to ask their opinions about a game you played as a child, or you may find yourself collecting screen shots from your facebook page or recording a friend playing Doom.

I'm leaving a lot of the requirements up to you (which can drive some people nuts, I know and I'm sorry), but the grading standards for this project are available in Moodle and here are the goals of this assignment:

You will:

Length requirements: Compose a hyperlinked article or website with at least 5 separate pages (and at least 1500 words) OR create a wiki article (with links to outside sources and at least one internal page) of at least 1500 words OR develop a digital story that is 3-5 minutes long OR shoot and edit a video that is 4-6 minutes long OR record and edit a podcast that is at least 7 minutes long. (we'll go over some of the technology for these projects in class, but I'll also give you some time to play with the software to decide if you want to try it out).

Research of Emerging Media (20%): You will conduct both primary (interview, survey, observation, participation) research and secondary (articles, websites, etc) research to develop a critical analysis of some emerging form of digital culture (multi-player online game, networking site, interactive medium, etc). You will present your analysis as a game, video, digital story, audio essay, wiki, or interactive website, cite all of your sources, and address your work to a specific (informed but not expert) internet audience.

To complete this project, you will collaborate with a small group of classmates to compose a single game prototype, video (5-7 minutues), digital story (5-7 minutes), audio essay (5-7 minutes), interactive website, or a wiki of at least 2500 words that may also include images or screenshots, graphs displaying your research, and external links.

Digital Ethnography (20%): For this project you will work with a group of classmates to fully explore a variety of aspects of a single digital culture online. Your group will examine as many of the following: the digital "place" or "places" where that group meets (facebook, myspace, ning, wiki, listserv, website, flickr, blog, chat rooms, second life area, etc), their digital activities (writing, advocating, creating, etc), their language as a community (acceptable types of discourse, visual/verbal/oral forms of discourse, abbreviations or common--to that culture--expressions), their digital artifacts, and their rituals (celebrations, habits, quirks, etc).

Begin by researching what an ethnography is, what ethnographers do to gather their research, and what ethical standards they follow. Then start researching to locate an online culture that is rich enough to support a thorough and interesting ethnography. Note that the culture you choose must be readily identifyable and researchable. They must also be willing to let you research them, interact with them, and, possibly, interview them. You will gather mostly primary data (participant-observations, interviews, surveys, etc), but you may incorporate some secondary research as well (articles, reports, academic works).

Your group will compose a hyperlinked article or website with at least 4 separate pages (and at least 2000 words) OR create a wiki article (with links to outside sources and at least two internal pages) of at least 2000 words OR develop a digital story that is at least 5 minutes long OR shoot and edit a video that is at least 7 minutes long OR record and edit a podcast that is at least 7 minutes long.

This project is due the last week of class. Your group will present this work to your peers and me, and then you will have no other work to submit for this class, and no exams to take.

Field Work Notebook (10%): While your digital ethnography will be the compilation of all of the research your group has gathered about the digital culture you are investigating, you will keep your own Field Work Notebook where you will record your own formal observation notes, interview notes, reports about your encounters with the culture you are studying, and your own reflections on this culture. You may include images, soundclips, audio recordings, text, charts, etc.

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These course materials
are licensed by Lori Ostergaard under a
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