Description and Assessment of Assignments
The course is designed to balance critical and experiential approaches to interactive media, and the evaluation methods aim to reflect this. While there are several “must-do,” graded activities with fairly rigid parameters, many assignments in the course offer flexibility for you to investigate particular forms, theories, and practices that you find most valuable or interesting. Sharing our curiosity, expertise, and research findings is paramount in the course.
You are expected to have read/watched/played the assigned texts before each class; it will be obvious and a bummer if you don’t (think of your peers!). Over the course of the term, you will submit to the course website, ctcs505.com, five critical comments on the week’s readings (15%); comments (400-600 words) should be posted by noon on the day before class (i.e., Sundays). The comments should present an analysis of arguments/ideas communicated in the week’s readings and, ideally, extrapolate from these ideas to consider related works, ideas, or experiences of critical interest. Worth 3% each, comments will be evaluated in terms of their clarity and intellectual verve; we’ll likely reference your comments in class.
You will also be assigned one or two dates (depending on enrollment numbers) on which to introduce and demonstrate a work of interactive media (10%) that you deem to be important, innovative, surprising, or just generally awesome. The work should be something we can “experience”—either through direct interaction or by observing the interactive experience in some way (e.g. demonstration, play-through, or other visual documentation). The intro/demo should not take more than 15 minutes.
You will make something and share it with the class; this is the interactive practice assignment (20%). There is much latitude here, and I will be introducing you to interactive authoring tools, exemplary works, and prototyping strategies to provide inspiration and direction. Consult with me when you have decided on a project. Examples of something to make: an interactive narrative (Twine, Texture Writer), a short interactive film (Eko), a first playable table-top game, an app (Marvel, Appy Pie), an augmented reality experience (Aurasma), an AI chatbot (Sequel, Dexter), an interactive artwork—and many other options. You’ll be asked to post a link and other documentation of your creation on our course website so that we may read/view/play in advance of class discussion.
One or two classes will be student-designed and student-led (20%). We will work in teams (the numbers of which will, again, depend upon enrollment) to develop a plan for one- or two-hour sections of our class time; the plan should identify a particular topic, and it may be comprised of some combination of lecture, discussion, activity, guest speaker, workshop, assignments, tests—or whatever else your dream class in interactive media would look like (within the limits of practicality!). You must assign at least one reading, at least two weeks in advance, and post it as a PDF on the course website. I will be providing ideas for topics and meeting with teams to assist in plotting as needed.
The final assignment involves research and analysis on a topic of your choosing, and may be delivered either as a formal paper or a presentation (25%). Both paper (approx. 2500-3000 words) and presentation (45-60 minutes) will offer a critical argument and analysis on a subject related to interactive media. Please consult with me before deciding on your topic/thesis.
Participation (10%) will be based on one’s level of engagement with ideas and themes in the course, as demonstrated by thoughtful and constructive contributions to class discussion and questions posed to presenters and guest speakers. Every class will begin with a “check-in,” where we may informally report upon and discuss relevant items or experiences from the past week. Participation can also take the shape of responses to peer entries on the course website, bringing to our attention course-related events or resources, or anything else that will extend our understanding of interactive media.
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Assignment Submission Policy
Written assignments should be submitted on time and in electronic form (PDF). Contributions to the course forum should be submitted to the course website by noon on the day before class (i.e., Sundays).
Essays submitted after the due date will be penalized half a letter grade per day late to a maximum of four days, at which point the essay will receive a zero. Attendance is mandatory; if you need to miss class for medical reasons, please provide me with a doctor’s note. Classes missed without documentation will result in a 2% deduction from your participation mark. Arriving late to and departing early from class is considered an absence. On screening days, you are encouraged to remain and view the film, but you may be excused on the condition that you will watch the assigned film before the following class. If we have a guest speaker scheduled, you must remain in class for their presentation and Q&A. You are permitted to miss one “interactive session” without penalty.
Laptops and tablets (but not phones) may be used during class, but only for note-taking or course-related activities. I’ll often ask you to put away all electronic devices, so be sure to have paper and pens with you, in case you need to take notes.