Assignment Prompts

Final Self Evaluation Paper

Some researchers have suggested that students will likely only retain about 5% of the material covered in a course after several years have passed. This assignment is geared to help you identify the topics covered in this course that have impacted you and are ideas that you would like to carry with you well after the completion of this course.   This written assignment will be a self-evaluation reflecting on the topics studied in this course. You must pick two ideas, terms, or concepts covered at some point in this course and discuss how your ideas about these concepts have changed throughout the semester. You must also connect these topics to your larger interests, major, or career goals. The objective is to trace how an idea evolves through analysis and how that idea can have an impact on areas of your life that are important. Questions you should consider include:

  1. How has the course lectures and readings, and assignments (you must cover all three) influenced the ways that you think about your chosen terms/concepts?
  2. How can you use the knowledge gained about these terms and incorporate these ideas into your majors or your possible career paths?

The final paper must be 3-5 pages in length, doubled spaced, in Times New Roman font. You will need to cite the course readings that have impacted the ways you think about your chosen ideas/terms/concepts. These must be cited in text and in a Works Cited/References page that conforms to MLA or APA citation style. You must email me a Word document or PDF by Friday, May 16 at 10:00am. No late work will be accepted. This final self-evaluation is worth 10% of your grade. Here is the rubric I will use to grade this assignment:

  • Has a strong introductory paragraph.
  • Has well-chosen and clearly defined ideas, terms, or concepts drawn from the course (minimum of 2).
  • Demonstrates how your ideas have changed throughout the duration of the semester.
  • Offers clear examples from class lectures, readings, and assignments.
  • Offers thoughtful connections between course material and your major, your areas of interest, and/or your possible career path.
  • All ideas are cohesive and fully developed.
  • Well-written essay: few spelling or grammatical errors, no awkward sentences.
  • Has a strong concluding paragraph.
  • Citations are done correctly.
  • Meets all minimum requirements (page length, font size, etc).

 

Final Collaborative Project

The goal of this group project is to take an everyday technology and create an experience of the technology that radically transforms the way that medium is used. Drawing direct inspiration from one of the projects we will discuss during the semester, your group will design a project that gets people to use the technology in a way that pulls it out of the everyday and into an experience that offers participants a new perspective. Your group will come up with a proposal (between 250-500 words in length) that must be approved by me (due April 15th, worth 10% of your final grade). The proposal should explain your idea for the project and how you intend to complete it (you must also attach a separate schedule for milestones you plan on completing). Once approved, you will spend the final weeks of semester working collaboratively to conceive, design, and implement your project. Once the projects are done, we as a class will spend time exploring your work. This Collaborative Final Project is worth 25% of your grade (and grades will be given for individual work, not assigned as a whole to everyone in the group). Your project must be completed by Monday, May 5th with links emailed to me by 7pm (jasonfarman@gmail.com).   Here is the rubric I will use to grade your final projects:

  1. Well thought through idea, using your chosen model as a framework
  2. Clearly understands the reasoning and motivation behind your chosen model
  3. Thoughtfully adapts the model to create your own project
  4. Project pulls the technology out of the realm of the everyday
  5. Project offers participants an experience using a device in a way that offers them a new perspective on how these media can be used
  6. Project offers a strong example of “creative misuse”
  7. Effectively uses existing technology/media
  8. Project clearly comments on the topics and material covered in the course
  9. Final output of your journey is aesthetically dynamic and well edited
  10. Goes beyond parameters of the project to show evidence of effort

 

A Mis-Guide to UMD

On a typical weekday on our campus, you’ll see people rushing from class to class. They leave point A to hurry to point B. Sometimes, this will be interrupted by large groups of future students and their families slowly meandering to each highlight on campus (from Stamp to the Jim Henson statue to McKeldin Library). This project is about a different way of journeying through the campus. It is about teaching people a different way to tour, to walk, and to learn about this space. Such a project is founded on the following ideas: 1) the walker is the writer of the location and the space is a compositional catalyst; 2) the walker can reinstill the playfulness and performative nature of a space; 3) disrupting a planned journey is a powerful way to see a space differently; and 4) our mobile media can be powerful tours to writing and reading these spaces in new ways. Ultimately, a “mis-guide” is a tour book that leads people through a space by using various games, tactics, and projects that offer new perspectives on an often-familiar locale. Your project can utilize any medium to guide people on your mis-guide. You must start with a broad directive (such as “layer this map of Washington, DC on top of this map of UMD,” or, “Download this map and go to the front steps of Queen Anne’s Hall to begin your tour”) and then offer them, at minimum, a three-stage tour of campus. Your goal is to get your walkers to view things in a new way; thus, it is important to disrupt the idea of the traditional tour of campus. Your mis-guide is due at the beginning of class on Thursday, April 10 before class. You will be graded on the following:

  •       Effective use of your chosen medium
  •       Creative approach to tour of campus (i.e., shows innovation and imagination)
  •       Keeps walkers engaged with this new approach to touring the campus
  •       Disrupts traditional ways of walking the campus
  •       Clearly expresses its purpose, perspective, and ideas
  •       Is a learning experience for the walker (teaches, informs, makes relevant, reminds, etc.)
  •       Effectively combines the site-specificity of campus with broad directives that can be integrated into everyday life
  •       Goes beyond parameters of the project to show evidence of effort
  •       Is free of unintentional flaws (well edited)
  •       Is handed in on time

 Sample Ideas:

  • Places that always change/places that stay the same (e.g. Construction projects as a moment of transition)
  • Overlapping two maps (have people walk around the campus with another map — what’s where the Washington monument should be? Or the Eiffel Tower?)
  • Using GPS, spell out your name across the expanse of campus — where does this take you?
  • Run/Stroll (run anytime you’re heading north/south, stroll anytime you’re heading east/west…run when no one is around, stroll when you see someone)
  • Change directions every minute
  • Walk a specific lat or long, regardless of what gets in the way
  • Walk along Campus Drive and photograph every sign you come across
  • Follow a new person every 2 minutes
  • Tour of logos
  • Tour of student poverty (e.g., the vending machines on campus as dining facilities)
  • A student guide to studying in McKeldin (move every 15 minutes to a new floor and a new part of the library)
  • Scenes from a memorable past (revisit important sites for people)
  • Visual map: draw a map of a place you know well and mark it with as many details as you can. Then, visit the place and compare your map and what you see in front of you.
  • No steps

Assignment #2: Life Cycle of a Digital Medium

Part of the process of hypermediacy in everyday life is to gain a critical distance on the intimate objects and technologies we use on a daily basis. One component of this is understanding all of the various stages in the life of a device. This assignment asks you to trace the life cycle of a digital medium, beginning with the various elements that go into the technology, the manufacturing process, distribution, consumption, and finally, how that medium is recycled or disposed. Your goal, beyond tracing the life cycle of your chosen device, is to also elaborate on the social conditions that exist at each of these stages and the larger consequences of such conditions. This is a research project, so finding out the necessary information for each of these stages will take some time. Once you get all of the necessary facts, your final project can take many forms. You may turn in a write-up explaining the various stages of your chosen devices or your project might take a visual form like a video, an interactive visualization, or an animated Google Earth flythrough. There is no minimum length for this assignment; we will instead grade you on the quality and thoroughness with which you’ve explained the life cycle of your medium. You must cite all of your sources and each phase of the life cycle must be backed up with a reliable source. Make sure that your content is visibly linked to the source from which you got these facts (i.e., I want to be able to look at something on your assignment and go back to the source you used for that stage of the life cycle). Please cite all sources using APA or MLA style. Your project must be emailed to me before lecture on Thursday, March 27th. Below is the rubric we will use to grade this assignment: Rubric

  • Effectively chronicles the technology’s entire life cycle
  • The social contexts of each stage are thoughtfully discussed
  • Is well researched and uses reliable sources
  • All sources are cited accurately
  • Project thoroughly explains each stage of the life cycle
  • Project is creatively presented or well written
  • Project has strong continuity between life cycle stages
  • Keeps viewers/readers engaged with the project
  • Offers an interesting and insightful perspective on the life cycle of your technology
  • All elements have been turned in fully and correctly

Assignment #1: Charting the Everyday

One essential element of everyday life is the fact that it becomes so commonplace that we don’t think about it or critique it. This assignment is designed to get you to pay attention to the aspects of your everyday life and look at them with a new lens. Much of what constitutes everyday life are the routines we carry out day in and day out. For this assignment, you’ll notice your routines or different “unremarkable” aspects of your everyday life and journal about it using text and photographs. You will pick one aspect of everyday life for each day for 7 consecutive days. By the end of your journaling, you’ll have looked in depth at 7 different aspects of your everyday life. First, you must pick one routine or aspect of everyday life for each day of your journal. Some possibilities might include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Food
  • Boredom
  • Transportation
  • Technology
  • Communication
  • Work
  • Sleep
  • Clothing (laundry, getting ready, style)
  • Public spaces
  • Home life
  • Walking
  • Purchasing
  • Things you throw away
  • Water usage
  • Electricity usage
  • Daydreaming
  • Laughing
  • Entertainment
  • Play

You will trace your chosen routine/aspect through a text-based journal and photographs. For each day, take a picture of the moment you think is indicative of this aspect of your everyday life. This photograph must be accompanied by a short paragraph of 2-5 sentences that analyzes this aspect of your everyday life. You must be thoughtful about trying to identify things about this mundane component of your life that you’ve never thought about before. Take time to pause and contemplate this element of your life. Try to see it as if you were from another era or from another planet: what would people who have never experienced this think of it? What things are actually strange about these habits and practices? What things deserve a second thought and some more analysis? In what ways are certain aspects of this part of your life hidden from you (i.e., what power structures might not want you to think too much about this aspect of your life)? You will start this project any time between now and next Tuesday (Feb. 4) and do it for 7 consecutive days. You will soon receive an email invitation to join the class blog as an author. After you click on the link, register for a WordPress account if you don’t already have one. The class blog will then show up in your “My Blogs” section of the site. Click on the title of our Digital Media and Everyday Life blog and then, hovering over the name in the upper left-hand corner, choose Dashboard to access the place on the website where you can add content. Sometime before class on Thursday, February 20th, you will need to compile all of your photographs and statements and publish them on the course website as a single blog post. To visit the site and add content, you will log in at: wordpress.com with your email address and the password you created when you registered. You will begin your “Post” on the website with a short summarizing paragraph addressing the questions: What do these aspects of your everyday life say about your identity? How do they reveal your character? What do they say about our culture? This paragraph should be roughly 250 words (equivalent of 1 typed page double spaced). Your Post must be tagged with the tag “Journal,” which is available on the right side of the screen while writing your post. You should also give your Post a unique title such as “Jason Farman’s Everyday Life Analysis.” Your assignment is due before class on Thursday, February 20th. Be sure to log into the class website beforehand to make sure you understand how to create a new Post. You can begin early (and update it daily) simply by inserting your content and hitting “Save Draft.” Rubric

  • Well chosen aspect of everyday life
  • Insightful statements about your encounter with the everyday
  • Statements are well written and strongly edited
  • Everyday moments are well documented with the photographs
  • Original and creative approach to your documentation
  • Summarizing paragraph is well written
  • Summarizing paragraph offers important insights about your everyday life
  • Project achieves objective of giving a critical distance to the everyday
  • All elements of the project have been turned in correctly
  • Goes above and beyond the parameters of the assignment

How to upload your work to the class website:

  • Login at wordpress.com with your email address and the password chosen when you registered for the site.
  • Once logged in, go to “My Blogs” at the top of the page. Click on our course blog, Digital Media and Everyday Life. Next, you’ll see the course website. Hover over the course title in the upper left-hand corner and then choose “Dashboard” from the dropdown menu. You’ll now be at the site’s Dashboard. On the left, click on the menu option “Posts” and then choose “Add New.” add-new-post
  • Add paragraph titles before each section (like “Summarizing Paragraph” or “Day 1: Food”) to make it easier to read online. Make these bold or change the format from “Paragraph” to “Heading 2” or “Heading 3.” (Note: to access the Heading 2 or 3 options, you may need to click on an icon in the WordPress toolbar above the text box that looks like this:

kitchen-sink-button

  • To add an image, click on the box “Add Media” (above the main box where you enter your text and format it).
    • Then choose “Upload Files” and choose the picture from your computer to upload. You can then pick a size for the image (ideal image size is an image that is no more than 700 pixels wide). Then click “Insert into Post”

insert-image

  • After you hit “Save Draft,” you can click on “Preview post” at the top of the page.
  •  Once you are finished, please be sure to click the checkbox for “Journal” for Categories (and be sure to uncheck “Uncategorized”).

journal-category

  • One last thing before publishing: in the lower right side of the page, click “Set Featured Image” and choose one of your pictures as your blog’s main image.
  • After completing all of these steps, you can hit “Publish” on the right side of the screen.

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