English 414 Multimedia Explorations in the Humanities



Class Roster, Portfolios, & Projects




Individual and Group Work

Online Resources



414 §001 TTh 1:10-3:00 G444B Mason Hall
Eric Rabkin, esrabkin@umich.edu, Office: 3243 Angell Hall, TWTh 3:10-4:00 & by appt; 764-2553


MULTIMEDIA EXPLORATIONS offers students the opportunity to work in groups creating and/or augmenting web-based resources for the study of a humanities topic of their choice. Students may register in groups with the mentorship of any collaborating faculty member or register singly and form partnering and, if needed, mentoring relationships. All students will study in the field of their chosen group, learn modern information technology, and use that technology to produce materials that become part of on-going resources for use by themselves and others. Reading, writing, and production requirements will be adjusted to the backgrounds of each student and the needs of each group. A typical minimum requirement is the equivalent of reading five books in the field of choice (e.g., 18th century satire or The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood), mastering at least three substantial computer programs or skills (e.g., Photoshop or Javascript), and producing the multimedia equivalent of 30 pages of revised, researched prose.
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The text already selected is available at Shaman Drum Bookstore on State Street. It is:
Steve Krug. Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. Indianapolis: Que, 2000.
Further materials will be selected by individuals and other further materials may be selected by the class.
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Each student in the course will create an online portfolio and contribute to an online group project.

Portfolio: Each student will create and maintain an online portfolio in his/her own IFS (web) space. This portfolio will showcase the student's mastery of computer programs, critical judgment, and individual learning. Each student is expected to place items in this portfolio by the dates in the Calendar but may replace and/or augment those items as long as the student likes. As can be seen by examining the Calendar and the Sample Portfolio Menu Page, some portfolio entries are obligatory while others will reflect the interests of individual students. All students are asked to work with the instructor on an on-going basis in deciding what to place in their portfolios. Some items in the portfolios may well be used to enrich the course website and/or to help build one or more of the group projects.

Projects: Each student will participate in a group project. Each project will involve an online site treating some topic in the humanities. Sites may vary in purpose: they can be, for example, fundamentally informational (example: a dictionary of symbolism), fundamentally analytical (example: women in science fiction movies), fundamentally historical (example: a chronology of Western portraiture), or any combination of these approaches (example: 18th century England) or others (example: vampires). Sites may be newly created in the course or may be existing sites that can be improved. Sites may be broadly or narrowly defined. All sites, however, are expected to serve as permanent resources for the U-M community and, to the extent allowable under copyright laws, to the world. Thus, these sites are not expected to expire at the end of the semester; students in this course must assign copyright on an unlimited, nonexclusive basis to the Regents of the University of Michigan for any materials students contribute to these sites. Those materials and these sites are subject to augmentation and modification by future students.

Students should work collaboratively, both in lab and online, both among themselves and with the instructor, to define their group projects. If students register with a project in mind, they should, if possible, meet with the instructor before the course begins. If they register without a project in mind, they should begin offering and discussing project ideas as soon as the course begins. If any given project could be helped by the professional mentorship of someone other than the instructor, the instructor will attempt to secure that mentoring relationship.

The projects themselves have two parts: a) the group product itself, and b) a group analysis discussing and/or demonstrating one or more theoretical problems encountered in producing the product. The group product should reflect in rigor and substance the committed, extended work of a number of people. It should reflect a serious and creative approach to a well-defined humanities topic; use appropriate scholarly resources to address that topic; take proper advantage of today’s available presentational technologies; and present its results in compelling ways that are appropriate to the matter, purpose, and audience for the product. The group analysis should be equivalent to a 5-10 page traditional paper in rigor and substance. Its length will depend on the nature of the project group's experience. The nature and focus of the group analysis may well vary from group to group, but the "theory" in "theoretical problems" always should have to do with our common experience of producing a collaborative multimedia product. What have your experiences been in pursuing the group project? Could it be that your fundamental presentational design needed major revision? If so, how did you come to notice that need? What assumptions did you need to revise to make that revision properly? What solution did you come up with? How did you come up with it? What did you, in general (that is, theoretically) learn about presentational design? Or, could it be that you have discovered that the very medium you have chosen enhances, inhibits, or distorts your viewer/auditor's appreciation of the materials you want to treat? How did you discover that? Why and/or how does it happen? What did you do to compensate for or take advantage of that? Again, what did you learn in general from this process? Or, could it be that the methods by which you worked in a group mediated by certain technologies enhanced or inhibited collective progress? How? Again, what did you learn from this? I invite you to come talk to me about these group analyses. Although they are to be objective, the objects under analysis are supposed to be your collective experience in producing your group product itself. The resulting group analysis is supposed to be something as solid and informative as a traditional analytic essay. Indeed, it very well may be a traditional analytic essay.
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The individual portfolio contributes 25% toward the student’s final grade. The group project contributes 50% toward the student's final grade. Each student receives the grade of his or her project group on the group work. (The relative weight of the group product and the group analysis will depend on what each project group encounters but is likely to be about 2/3 and 1/3 respectively.) Participation in the course as a whole contributes 25%. (N.B.: Plagiarism—an especially important issue when dealing with electronic reproduction—will not be tolerated. If in doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, please see the English Department Plagiarism Policy Statement and/or consult the instructor. Even a single instance of plagiarism may result in failure in the course.) The course will not be graded on a curve; rather, each participant, portfolio, and product will be judged against what it could ideally have been. If all work by all individuals and groups are excellent examples of their kind, every student will earn and be awarded an A.
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T 1/7

Get-Acquainted Lab
Course Overview
Gathering roster information
Review "The Basics" (See Online Resources): IFS, ITD online documentation, ftp, telnet, file sharing via e-mail and via shared IFS folders, course resources, other resources

Th 1/9

Review basics, continued
Begin discussing group projects

T 1/14

Introduction to HTML (Online Resources; compare text editors, MS Word, Dreamweaver)

Th 1/16

Introduction to Photoshop (Online Resources; compare with Microsoft Office applications)
Begin reading Krug
Portfolio deadline: HTML

T 1/21

Introduction to Flash (Online Resources; compare with PowerPoint, ImageReady, Director)
Continue discussion of group projects
Portfolio deadline: Photoshop

Th 1/23

Introduction to website evaluation (Online Resources and see Bookmarks for Eric Rabkin under Writing For the Web and under Miscellaneous)
Discuss Krug

T 1/28

Introduction to databases (Online Resources; practice with FileMaker; compare with Excel and Access)
Discuss Krug

Th 1/30

Discuss group projects (should be final possible selection day)
Portfolio deadline: Flash

T 2/4

Collaboration tools discussion (Online Resources), including Microsoft Word collaboration tools demonstration
Individual and/or group work and/or tba

Th 2/6

Individual and/or group work and/or tba
Group deadline: finalize group associations
Portfolio deadline: evaluations of 5 online resources relevant to our course as a whole

T 2/11

Individual and/or group work and/or tba

Th 2/13

Individual and/or group work and/or tba
Portfolio deadline: evaluations of 5 online resources relevant to your group project

T 2/18

Individual and/or group work and/or tba

Th 2/20

Individual and/or group work and/or tba

T 3/4

Individual and/or group work and/or tba

Th 3/6

Individual and/or group work and/or tba
Portfolio deadline: evaluations of 5 substantial offline resources relevant to your group project

T 3/11

Usability testing (25-minute, prepared, interactive presentation by each group)

Th 3/13

Individual and/or group work and/or tba

T 3/18

Individual and/or group work and/or tba

Th 3/20

Individual and/or group work and/or tba

T 3/25

Individual and/or group work and/or tba
Portfolio deadline: all items for evaluation must be available online by midnight

Th 3/27

Individual and/or group work and/or tba

T 4/1

Group deadline: Group in-class presentation: not needed--> Group work

Th 4/3

Group deadline: Group in-class presentation: not needed--> Group work

T 4/8

Group deadline: Group in-class presentation: Group B

Th 4/10

Group deadline: Group in-class presentation: Group A

T 4/15

Summary and Course evaluation
All revised group analyses due as e-mail attachments to instructor by midnight

All revised group products must be available online by midnight.



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"The Basics"
Bookmarks for Eric S. Rabkin (see especially section on Writing For the Web)
Collaboration Tools
Database Introduction
Evaluating Websites
Flash Introduction (key concepts and resources)
HTML Information for Portfolio Samples
HTML010111 (click to view sample interactive page; download to view source with commented JavaScript example and Refresh tag)
Photoshop Introduction, Demo1, Demo 2 and Assets, Tutorials & Tips, Adobe's Photoshop Expert Center
Working With Networked Resources

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Last Updated on
Eric S. Rabkin
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