evidence and illustrations of innovative pedagogy

theory/production projects

2008    MDSC 100: Intro to Media and Society podcasts

2009    MDSC 304: Media and Theory virtual critique

2010    MDSC 304: Media and Theory YouTube curation remix videos

2011    MDSC 200: Cultures of Advertising annotated advertisement

2012    MDSC 100: Intro to Media and Society research screencast

2013    MDSC 100: Intro to Media and Society grant-funded eBook project

2014    MDSC 400: Senior Seminar collaborative videographic criticism

2015    MDSC 200: Cultures of Advertising archive-based visual remix project

2016    MDSC 203: History of Television re-production videos

2017    BIDS 390: The Video Essay autobiography reimagined

2018    MDSC 100: Intro to Media and Society augmented reality critique

2019    MDSC 203: History of Television star, story, structure, style project

pedagogy-focused publications

“Immediacy, Hypermediacy and the College Campus: Using Augmented Reality for Social Critique” (with co-author Iskandar Zulkarnain) in Feminist Interventions in Digital Pedagogy, Routledge (2018)

“Using Digital Tools for Collaborative Discovery: Assurances and Ambivalences” in Flow: A Critical Forum on Television and Media Culture (2015)

“Declaration of Sentiments Wesleyan Chapel” (experimental documentary) in Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival “Habitats as Iterations” exhibition (2015)

“Progressive’s Flo: Convergence Brand” in Teaching Media Quarterly, Volume 3, Issue 4 (2016)

Digital Humanities and Media Studies Crossovers, co-edited issue of Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier (2016)

“Curation and the Video Essay” in Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier (2013)

“Extreme Searching: Multi-Modal Media Research” (with co- author Lisa Patti) in Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (2012)

pedagogy awards & grants

Faculty award for Excellence in Teaching (2018) Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Convocation Address

Innovative Teaching and Technology Grant, Hobart and William Smith Colleges Competitive award for constructing learning space (2014, 2015, 2016)

Center for Teaching and Learning Grant, Hobart and William Smith Colleges Competitive award for research supporting eBook project (2013)

Mellon Digital Pedagogy Grant, Hobart and William Smith Colleges Competitive award for creation of eBook (2013)

Center for Teaching and Learning Grant, Hobart and William Smith Colleges Competitive award for innovative use of technology in the classroom (2009)

pedagogy-focused service to profession

Steering Committee, MCFLAC (Media, Communication, Film at Liberal Arts Colleges)(2017-present)

Co-Chair, Critical Media Pedagogy/Media Literacy + Pedagogical Outreach Scholarly Interest Group (SCMS) (2014-2019)

Chair, Teaching Committee, Society for Cinema and Media Studies (2016-2018)

Teaching Committee, Society for Cinema and Media Studies (2014-2017)

THATcamp Liberal Arts Colleges Conference, Conference Planner, St. Norbert College (2011)

pedagogy presentations at national & regional conferences

Breaking Boundaries: Video Games in Teaching, Learning, Research & Design, U of Rochester (2018)

“Immediacy, Hypermediacy and the College Campus: Using Augmented Reality for Social Critique” (with co-author Iskandar Zulkarnain)

Media, Communication, and Film Programs at Liberal Arts Colleges (2016) “Teaching Introductory Media, Communication, and Film Studies Courses,” co-presented with Lisa Patti

National Association for Media Literacy Education (2013) Media Literacy Smackdown: “Splashtop in the Classroom”

Society for Cinema and Media Studies (2012) “Media Literacy and Pedagogy: Working with Local Libraries and Historical Societies”

New York Campus Compact (2011) “Higher Education and Incarcerated Students”

EdTech: Teaching & Learning with Technology Symposium, Ithaca College (2011) “Today’s Wired Student”

HWS Faculty Institute: Promoting Visual Literacy Across the Curriculum (2010) “Thoughtful Uses of Hulu and YouTube“

Faculty Symposium, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (2009) “The Ethics of the Online Academy”

Faculty Institute on Teaching and Learning, Rochester Institute of Technology (2009) “Podcasting New Media Critiques”

HWS Faculty Institute (2009) “Podcasting New Media Critiques”

SCMS pedagogy SIG events

Organizing Committee, Slow Scholarship (collaboration between Women’s Caucus, Media Literacy + Pedagogical Outreach SIG & Women in Screen History SIG) Sponsored event at SCMS 2016

Co-host, Participatory Pedagogy: a hybrid panel/workshop/maker event  (collaboration between Women’s Caucus, Media Literacy + Pedagogical Outreach, Queer Caucus, Women and Screen History SIG) Sponsored event at SCMS 2015

Presenter, Archival Activism. Reclaiming + Remixing History Sponsored event at SCMS 2014

MDSC 203 star, story, structure, style (2019)

 As we have discussed, television is a commercial enterprise. The history of television includes information and artifacts that refer to discrete television programs as well as its stars, its stories, its structures, and its style. For this assignment, you will follow a particular programming stream (sports, drama, variety, comedy, news or advertising) through the major eras of American television by researching those eras’ stars, stories, structures, and style.

You will work with a group of students assigned to the same programming stream to create four presentations: each presentation presents material drawn from 20 years in television history. You will write essays on both the midterm and the final exam that engage with student-presented material: take notes!

For each of the four presentations you will work on a different category (star, story, structure or style), but you will continue to research the same programming stream (sports, drama, comedy, variety, news, advertising). For example, a person in the news group might do a star newscaster from the 40s-50s; a style of news program from the 60s-70s; a news industry structure from the 80s-90s; and a story that was big in the news in the 00s-10s.

The presentations are meant to give you an opportunity to share what you have learned when exploring archives, videos, books, promotional materials, ephemera and etcetera that cover American television’s history, and to share interesting examples from the breadth and depth of that history. 20 years is a long time, so we will not be making comprehensive presentations about those eras. We will, instead, be doing research aimed at finding fascinating representative examples.

The cumulative effect of learning about all these research finds will be to provide us with a sense of television’s developing style, stars, structures and stories, but the individual presentations will function primarily as opportunities to share research.

Presentations are meant to be a sharing of interesting research finds. You are not trying to summarize the era or to analyze materials: you are presenting archival information about your genre in a specific era. Your group will not have a coherent theme in their presentations beyond that you are working on the same programming stream in the same era: you will, however, need to collaborate to research and construct the presentations.

presentation guidelines

star, story, structure, style

You are looking for information that will capture our interest and uncover facets of American television history that we did not previously know much about. You will be using library resources to ask: Who are the people who worked in television at that time (Star)? What stories were circulating in programs or in the industry at that time (Story)? What developments or advances were happening in the industry at that time (Structure)? What did television look like and what visual trends were being reflected in television at that time (Style)? Do not present on programs, people, or issues we cover in class: look ahead on the syllabus or ask me if you have questions about a particular topic.

Star Who were the people whose faces and voices folks experienced on TV in that era? What made those particular people popular at that time? What notable things did they do and why are they especially interesting? Do not focus on giving biographical information like you could find in an Encyclopedia – when someone was born is not intrinsically interesting. Bring them to life with well-chosen images and the most compelling information that links them to television of their time and place and programming stream. ex. News/Star (40s & 50s): Edward R. Murrow’s reports on the red scare lead to censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Story What storylines from TV dramas captured the nation’s attention? What types of stories were popular on particular networks? What national news stories dominated the era and how were those stories presented? Your sense of what a story is will change depending on your programming stream: for some it may be describing the plot of a TV series that dominated an era; for others it might be the behind-the-scenes story of how a particular TV phenomenon came to be.  If you’re describing a plotline, be sure to explain why this particular story captured peoples’ attention in its own era, give context for your choice. ex. Variety/Story (80s & 90s): In the “Diet Dreams Come True” episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah wheeled a red wagon piled with 67 pounds of fat on it to represent the weight she had lost.

Structure How did the television industry function for your programming stream in the era you’re researching? What notable advances, changes, and shifts are characteristic of the era? How did the technology that drives TV change what we saw or heard on the programs in your stream? How did programs in your stream take advantage of changes in industry regulation or technological advances? ex. Comedy/Structure (00s & 10s): cast and crew on The Office took to the picket lines during the 2008 Writer’s Strike to protest not being paid for creating digital content for the show.

Style What did television look and/or sound like in your programming stream in the era you’re researching? What visual trends or sound trends were dominant? What did the sets look like? What did the logos look like? What kind of music were people hearing? What did dialogue sound like? What were people wearing? Connect these observations to the era by contextualizing with images: harnessing imagery is one of the primary ways that televisuality functions: give us context and examples that define style in your era for your programming stream. Ex. Sports/Style/60s & 70s: The fascinating evolution of the NFL player jersey from 1960-1980.

slide style & presentation parameters

  1. Presentations will be 11 minutes in length and include a maximum of 40 slides. You may begin with a 30 second introduction, and your last slide will be a bibliography of all sources used in the presentation, using Chicago Manual of Style citation style for bibliographies.
  2. Each person presenting will present for exactly two minutes. You can use a minimum of two slides and a maximum of four slides: the slides must be timed at either one minute or thirty seconds each.
  3. The only text on the slides should be citations of the images on the slides or quotes from archival material. Images may not be promotional material unless you are talking explicitly about promotional material. The slides may not include bullet points of keywords or summaries of anything the presenter is saying. Citations should be in Chicago style and should be under the image in a visual style that is consistent across all slides. All elements of presentations must include citations and no citations from Pinterest or Google Images are allowed.
  4. Slides should have either a white or black background: no colors or styles. Text must be readable and consistent across all slides.
  5. Video clips are required, but can take up only one minute of the presentation. You may use a maximum of two clips per presentation and they can be a maximum of thirty seconds each, or you can do one one minute clip. I suggest deciding who has the best topics for clips from each presentation and distributing them accordingly. Clips must be embedded in presentation: no clicking to another site to watch clips.

group task breakdown

I will provide each student with a handout that assigns groups and presentation numbers, so you always know what category you are responsible for during which presentation.


  sports drama comedy variety news advertising
40s-50s star S1

story S2

structure S3

style S4

star D1

story D2

structure D3

style D4

star C1

story C2

structure C3

style C4

star V1

story V2

structure V3

style V4

star V1

story V2

structure V3

style V4

star A1

story A2

structure A3

style A4

60s-70s star S2

story S3

structure S4

style S1

star D2

story D3

structure D4

style D1

star C2

story C3

structure C4

style C1

star V2

story V3

structure V4

style V1

star N2

story N3

structure N4

style N1

star A2

story A3

structure A4

style A1

80s-90s star S3

story S4

structure S1

style S2

star D3

story D4

structure D1

style D2

star C3

story C4

structure C1

style C2

star V3

story V4

structure V1

style V2

star N3

story N4

structure N1

style N2

star A3

story A4

structure A1

style A2

00s-10s star S4

story S1

structure S2

style S3

star D4

story D1

structure D2

style D3

star C4

story C1

structure C2

style C3

star V4

story V1

structure V2

style V3

star N4

story N1

structure N2

style N3

star A4

story A1

structure A2

style A3

submitting & presenting

  1. Slides must be exportable into a PDF that will be uploaded to Canvas before class begins on the date of the presentation. Assign this task to one person for each presentation.
  2. The presentation, itself, must be complete and uploaded to the class Box before class begins on the date of the presentation. The presentation must follow a naming standard: 4S(programming stream)(presentation number) space fa19. Ex. 4SVariety1 fa19 or 4SSports4 fa19. Assign this task to one person for each presentation. You cannot upload a link to a Google presentation, you need to upload a fully functional PowerPoint or Keynote presentation.

basic tips

  1. Write your presentation text on notecards. Do not read off your phone or computer.
  2. Rehearse enough so you can look at us while reading from your notes.
  3. Practice so you have your timing correct & do not forget to turn on timing for your slides.

 grading rubric

group grades:

Did the presentation follow the guidelines for presentation format?

The presentation followed the guidelines for format. (8)

The presentation did not follow the guidelines for format. (0)


Did the presentation correctly use Chicago style citation on all quotes and images?

The presentation used Chicago style citation correctly. (8)

The presentation used Chicago style citation incorrectly. (0)


Did each person present within the time allotted?

Each person presented within the time allotted. (8)

Each person did not present within the time allotted. (0)


Was the style of the slides consistent?

The style of the slides was consistent. (8)

The style of the slides was not consistent. (0)


Did the group submit the presentation as directed?

The presentation was submitted as directed. (8)

The presentation was not submitted as directed. (0)


individual grades:

What is the quality of the cited sources? The sources:

Demonstrate significant research. (20)

Demonstrate adequate research. (15)

Demonstrate minimal research. (10)

Do not appear in the presentation. (5)


What is the quality of the presentation information? The information:

Is fascinating and demonstrates a firm grasp of the topic. (20)

Is interesting and demonstrates a grasp of the topic. (15)

Is underwhelming and demonstrates confusion about the topic. (10)

Is barely comprehensible or does not exist. (5)


What is the quality of the presenter’s presentation style? The presenter:

Was clear, extremely engaging and very interesting. (20)

Was clear, engaging and interesting. (15)

Was clear and had some ideas. (10)

Was not clear and had no ideas. (5)


starting points for research

Pioneers of Television Timeline:

Television Academy Foundation: The Interviews

Museum of Broadcast Communications

Lantern: Media History Digital Library

Writer’s Guild Foundation Library

Vanderbilt Television News Archive

Critical Studies in Television

American Comedy Archives

Library of Congress Digital Collections/television

Moving Image Source


BIDS 390 autobiography reimagined (2017)

“[She] writes essayistically who writes while experimenting, who turns [her] object this way and that, who questions it, feels it, tests it, thoroughly reflects on it, attacks from different angles, and in her mind’s eye collects what [she] sees, and puts into words what the object allows to be seen under the condition established in the course of the writing.”

from Max Bense, quoted in Theodor Adorno’s “The Essay as Form”

The challenge of this assignment is to transform the text you have created in the Autobiography Reimagined assignment into a video essay. As you were invited to experiment with structure, form and their relationship to content and to the self in your written essay, we invite you to do the same here.

Your written essay should provide a jumping off point for your video essay rather than an explicit map. We have analyzed and discussed the various ways that video essays experiment and play with moving image and sound formats and tools: we expect that you will experiment with them as well. We urge you to move past creating a simple narrated slideshow with a voice over. Use both the form AND the content of your written work to guide you as you produce your first video essay for this class.

This essay assignment is intended to challenge your concept of self as it relates to viewers, so transitioning from the written reimagined autobiography to moving image and sound text is your task. As we assess your work we ill will for three major criteria:

 1) Willingness to experiment with form in a way that’s innovative and effective in representing the content, meaning how you use the affordances of the video essay tool set should have a connection to your content

2) Stylistic excellence. The video essay has voice and attention to the way sound and image can be used for expression.

3) The video essayist is considerate of the needs of their viewer, including connecting their personal story to aspects of the world around them. The essayist explores self while seeing readers’ wishes.

original prompt

So in many respects it is about discovery. Your search. Your meaning. There is no way to be thorough in depicting your life, especially in 4-5 pages, so you should not attempt to capture the whole of your life. This assignment asks that you step beyond yourself in the typical narrative sense—I was born—I was raised—. The specific challenge of this assignment is to move beyond the plodding, chronological rendition of your life we typically think of as autobiography.

What you are after is a way to tell the story of you that represents you. In order to achieve the truest imaginative reflection you must search your story for the heart, or better, the vascular and skeletal structure that supports it. Along with imagining the content of the essay, we would like you to experiment with narrative form and structure.

Your search for the content of your essay should be paramount to the writing, but we encourage you to create autobiographies that are told through an interesting structure. Ideally, this structure should be relevant and integral to the story’s content, not necessarily chosen for its novelty. You may find these structures in the next episode of The Loveboat or the battles of the Spanish Civil War. Stories float out of forms we have yet to recognize, fake emails from kings in a Tajikistan prison, captions from Catalog Living, infomercials for The Snuggie or Forearm Forklift, etc.

All of these story forms could be sampled to organize your essay. Remember the five-paragraph essay? Well, this is its sacrificial burial. It is easy to be swept up in the excitement (as we are) of telling your autobiography in the structure of your handy Facebook page or a recipe, but please attempt to find a form that, ideally and in the best circumstances, parallels your story. We will brainstorm forms in which to tell your story. This essay assignment is intended to challenge your concept of self as it relates to the reader, so transitioning from personal content to the world around is the task of the essayist.

MDSC 203 Re-Production Video

For this assignment, you will work with a group of classmates to create a shot-by-shot recreation of a 1 minute to 2 minute clip from some text we have watched or will watch this semester. You also need to include, in the final video, a copy of the scene that you are reproducing. You should put the original first, then your reproduction.

Click here to see an example from a previous semester

assignment requirements

  1. the successful sending of the video pair to Prof. Shafer using large file transfer;
  2. the completion of the attached worksheet (which you can cut-and-paste into a document to be uploaded to Canvas by Wednesday, October 16 by noon);
  3. a storyboard for your clip (which you turn in on paper during class on Monday, November 4);
  4. a 200-250 word reflective essay from each student describing the process your group went through to complete the project, which you will upload to Canvas on Friday, April 26.

You can expect to see a question on the final exam about your creative process and the choices you made while producing this media text.

Be sure to use a horizontal format, be sure we can hear, and be sure you are reproducing every edit and every sound cue from the original. You have approximately two months to complete this project, so I expect very polished results.

Upload the final video in either an .mov or .mp4 file format.

This document will help you to complete the remake video in a collaborative and organized manner. The more precise you are in your planning, the easier it will be for you to complete the assignment with a minimum of difficulties. You can make creative choices to represent the televisual elements of your chosen clip. Your remake should be a faithful reproduction of the style, setting, characters, sound, and mise-en-scène of the clip you’ve chosen. This means you should work to re-create everything that you see and hear in the clip as closely as possible. The more pre-production work you do (scouting locations, enlisting friends to be actors, determining camera angles, assessing how sound will work) the more polished your final reproduction will be.

 proposal worksheet:

  1. Names of people in group:
  2. What show are you taking your clip from?
  3. Write a 50 word summary of the clip:
  4. Why are you choosing this particular clip?
  5. Write a shot-by-shot analysis of the clip:
  6. Assign responsibilities for producing the remake & list the names of the people performing each role:

Director:  (The director plans the shoots, directs the actors, and assesses whether or not the shots are up to par.)

Cinematographer: (The cinematographer is responsible for shooting the footage and making sure that it is transferred to the editors in a workable format.)

Producer: (The producer is in charge of the schedule; finds the locations, actors, costumes, and props for the shoot; and makes sure that everyone completes their tasks.)

Editor(s): (The editors edit the shots together, upload them to YouTube or Vimeo, and post the link to Canvas.)

Production Schedule:

Producer locates talent by:

Producer determines locations for each shot by:

Producer identifies and procures necessary props & costumes by:

Director schedules film shoot schedule for each shot by:

Cinematographer makes sure equipment is available and ready to use by:

Film shoot dates:

Cinematographer transfers raw footage to editors by:

Editors begin editing on:

Editors complete editing by:

MDSC 200 visual remix of archival texts (2015)

“In Plato’s Republic, Socrates presents the argument that everything in this world is an imitation, because it is an echo or reproduction of an idea that exists beyond the realm of sensible forms. A Louis Vuitton bag is the imitation of an idea, in leather and other materials, while a photograph of such a bag is an imitation of an imitation.” (“What is a Copy?” Marcus Boon,18)

Today’s exercise will ask you to design a paper bag which reflects American Advertising from the pre-20th Century era. As you recall from our class discussions this past week, two of the fundamental changes brought to American manufacturing and advertising at the end of the 19th Century were: the introduction of coherent advertising campaigns, and the introduction of individual packaging to the consumer economy. The paper bag package project will allow you to make inventive creative decisions that reflect historical trends.


Choose a particular commodity category for today’s work (housewares, dry goods, personal products, &tc). Your examples should be drawn from that category. Then, use the following archives to search for two examples of advertisements from the era between 1850-1900.

University of Washington: Early Advertising of the West, 1867-1918

Duke University Library Collections: Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920

Ad* Access: John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History

Remix and Reproduce

Each group will receive a set of markers, some scissors, glue, two sheets of paper, and a paper bag. For the creative reproduction part of this exercise, you will create two different products.

The first product should be a deliberate remix of the two advertisements that you researched. Cut and paste different elements from the two ads into one remixed print ad that literally incorporates text and images from the two ads you researched. Your end product should reflect the trends, themes, and ideas that arose from your research. It does not have to make complete sense: what is most important is that it thoughtfully incorporates elements from the copies into a new ad that reflects the aesthetics and commodity category of the ads you researched. Write your names and the date on the back of the ad.

The second product should be a paper bag package for a snake oil medicine. You have complete creative control over the brand name and the promise of the product. The design of the package should be explicitly informed by the historical examples you have researched. Write your names and the date on the back of the bag.

Turn the remixes, bags, markers, scissors and glue back in to me at the end of class.

MDSC 100 research screencast (2012)


You will work in a group to complete a group project, developed in stages over the course of the semester.  Your group will submit a collaboratively produced research dossier as a preliminary step toward the completion of your final project. The research dossier provides the foundation for the final project and is made up of:

  1. an annotated bibliography
  2. an analysis of the assigned object
  3. a research screencast (in which you will use an online screencasting tool to record and narrate the path of your research process)

The research dossier project will provide you with the content you will need to create a remix video and reflective pop-up remix video. It will also introduce you to the process of academic research. The research dossier project breaks the process of research down into comprehensible pieces: each stage of the project will bring you closer to the construction of a robust collection of materials that engage your subject area.

training session

First, you will attend a library research training session. The library session will introduce you to resources and strategies for using the rich research resources available at the Colleges. By the end of the library session, each group will need to have collected 12 images and 6 articles that relate to your subject area. You will use these images and articles in our iMovie training session, and as a springboard for your final project. Further, several questions on the quiz following the research training session will engage materials introduced during the session, so take notes!

annotated bibliography

Your research dossier will include an annotated bibliography.  An annotated bibliography is a list of sources that includes a summary and an evaluation of each key source. Your bibliography should include approximately 15 sources (5 sources per group member).  Each source should include an annotation – a short one-paragraph analysis (approximately 100-150 words) that provides a summary, assessment, and reflection based on your initial review of the source.  For each group member, your set of 5 sources should include: at least one article from a scholarly journal (print or digital), at least one article from a trade publication (print or digital), and at least one image (a film poster, a production still, etc.)  Your bibliography should demonstrate the breadth and the depth of your research, documenting a research process that moves beyond simple Google searches to engage multiple research tools and rigorous research methods.  A balance between primary and secondary sources and between print and electronic sources will produce a rich bibliography.

Your bibliography should also include as an appendix a list of 6 annotated sources (2 sources per group member) that you have opted not to use as sources for your final project.  These sources should be included on a separate page and labeled as rejected sources.  Your brief annotations for these sources (approximately 100 words) should discuss the reasons you found these sources to be unsuitable for your project.  This section of your bibliography should demonstrate your ability to evaluate critically the sources you locate.

Each student in your group will be responsible for preparing annotations for 5 included sources and 2 rejected sources. All sources for the annotated bibliography should be integrated into one document formatted in MLA style and correctly alphabetized.

Please consult the resource documents posted in the Group Project Resources folder on Blackboard for relevant guidelines. Each group member should indicate which annotations she prepared by writing her name parenthetically at the end of each citation she authored. Please do not duplicate sources.

sample entry:

La Motte, Richard. “Designing Costumes For The Historical Film.” Cineaste 29.2 (2004): 50-54. Academic Search Premier. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

Richard La Motte writes an intriguing article concerning “the attempts of motion picture production designers and costume designers to achieve historical” truth, with an emphasis on costume designers.  Based on his own work as a “Costumer, Costume Department Supervisor, and Costume Designer,” his personal and often critical account regarding this craft is indeed noteworthy.  With respect to historical authenticity, La Motte acknowledges the creative liberties designers often take but, in turn, discusses the importance of withholding judgment until an overall understanding is obtained.  La Motte provides a direct and honest assessment of a costume designer’s job, and corresponding role, in connection with a film as a whole and describes the challenges associated with creating costumes for not only historical films but modern films as well. (Student’s name.)

analysis of text

The analysis of your text object will include three elements: detailed screening notes; three 200 word essays, each focusing on one element (editing, color, character movment, sound, &tc) that is prominent in the text, with attention to specific details; and one 500 word essay that identifies a social or historical issue that is prominent in the text, and then argues for how a remix of that text can address that issue.

research screencast

The screencast will be a scripted recording that leads the viewer through your research process by following the path of your online research process.  You will choose salient examples from your search process and use screencasting technology to record a narrated re-enactment of your research path. This screencast is meant to demonstrate the pathways your group has followed, to serve as an example of research methods, to illustrate the development of your intellectual investment in your research subject, and to allow your voices and thoughts to be heard in a provocative and media-rich format.  Your screencast should be focused on the research process for your project rather than on the generic use of research tools.  In other words, each group’s research screencast should be very different from the screencasts produced by the other groups and should provide a glimpse of the project that your group is planning.  The research screencast should be approximately 3 minutes long. You should prepare a written script and a storyboard for the screencast before you begin the recording process.  [Please consult the instructions for using Screen-cast-o-matic prepared by the Digital Learning Center and posted in the Group Project Resources folder on Canvas.  The screencasting technology will be reviewed in class before the dossier is due.]

subject areas

For this project, you will be researching one of the texts we have watched in class: one experimental film, one broadcast television show, one genre film, and one documentary. Your research will aim to contextualize your particular text within the traditions of its form and as an example of that kind of form in its moment in time. So, you will want to develop a research process that focuses on that text, and you will want to demonstrate knowledge of both the text and its form. You will want to focus on the following questions: what were the historical conditions of this text’s production? what elements define this text? what have critics said about this text? what ideology is promoted by this text?

MDSC 200 annotated advertisement (2011)

Annotated Advertisement

The critically informed annotated analysis of a television advertisement will allow you to engage and apply our readings and classroom discussions to an innovative digital product. For this project you will create a “pop-up video” style annotation of a 30 second television commercial. There will be both written and digital components to this assignment.

  1. proposal of advertisement

 You will choose three 30 second television commercials that you would be interested in analyzing.  For each advertisement, you should write a paragraph (100-150 words) that argues how and why this advertisement is a cultural representation.  In an email to me with the subject line “Ad Links for (your name here)” provide links to where a video of each advertisement can be found online.  Provide a title for each advertisement with the link. Please submit the paragraphs on paper, and the links via email. I will provide you with brief comments and a decision about which advertisement you will proceed with.

resources for finding ads:


  1. screengrabs and descriptive notes

After receiving my comments, the next step in the assignment is to break the advertisement down into its component parts, in order to help you analyze its elements. To begin doing this, you will create a document that includes screengrabs of each second of the advertisement and descriptive notes.  Using the attached directions, pause your advertisement approximately once every second, and capture that image using the screengrab technique. You will produce 30 of these images.  Using these images as your guide, write a descriptive storyboard of what happens in the advertisement: note what you see, what you hear, what the transitions are like, which elements are most important visually and which elements are most important thematically for each image. It will be helpful for you to use Photoshop – or colored pens – to draw arrows at, circles around, or other visual commentary that marks important or prominent elements, on the images. Note the ten most evocative moments, then choose five of those moments to write a paragraph long (100-150 words) preliminary analysis about. Be sure to reference the elements of the advertisement in your discussion of the moments.

You will turn in a document that includes the 30 images, each with accompanying commentary, and the preliminary analysis of what you feel are the five most evocative moments in the advertisement.

III. guided analysis

In this stage, you will take the five moments that you wrote about in the descriptive notes and write revisions of those notes that integrate both responses to my comments and cited critical commentary from course readings.  You will use these expanded notes to begin drafting an overall analytical reading of the advertisement. This analysis will make an argument about the ways that the advertisement communicates its message, the content of that message, and the way that the message reflects the culture out of which this advertisement was produced.  Details or research about the product, the campaign, and the agency behind the advertisement will provide useful context.

You will turn in a document that is 4-5 pages of written text (approximately 1000 – 1250 words), an appendix of images that you refer to in your text, and a bibliography of sources, using the MLA style.

  1. annotated advertisement

You will the tool of your choice (such as a timed Powerpoint with narration, an enhanced podcast, an iMovie) to translate your analysis into a 2-3 minute annotated version of the original advertisement.  You will essentially be creating an annotated version of the advertisement that integrates your insights and observations (as demonstrated in the earlier stages of the assignment) into a digital format that mirrors and expands on the original advertisement.  The work that you began in the screengrabs and descriptive notes – particularly the elements that you highlighted, drew on, or otherwise marked – will serve as a guide to your work here.  You will want to think of this digital version as something that offers us analytical insight into the way that the advertisement communicates its message as well as commentary on the ways that that the advertisement, its evocative elements, and its overall message, engages and reflects its cultural moment.

  1. reflective response

The final phase of this project is the reflective response, which will take the form of a two minute video that you will upload to our course Tumblr page. This is not meant to be an edited video, but a narrated commentary in the form of a vlog entry. Detailed instructions on how to record yourself making this commentary will be made available. In this response you will talk about the process of putting together this annotated advertisement, the insights that you gained from working this closely with the material, and your thoughts about the annotation process. We will spend time in class responding to and critiquing the annotated advertisements created by the class on this date, so you will also be responsible for having watched the advertisements annotated by your fellow classmates.

general guidelines for written assignments:

All submitted written work should:

*be printed on white paper and stapled.

*use a standard 11 or 12 point font (i.e. Helvetica, Times New Roman, etc.).

*be double-spaced with 1 ½ inch margins.

*have a title.

*Don’t underline or italicize your own title.

*Center your title on the page.

*Use the same font that you use for the rest of the essay.

*include your full name, your e-mail address, and the date in the upper right corner.

*contain documentation and a list of references using the MLA format

*provide the correct page number for all quoted material.

MDSC 304 YouTube Curation

For this assignment, you will work in a group of three students to curate three YouTube videos based on a theme that will be assigned to you during class.  Curation is the act of assessing, collecting, and presenting works of interest for an audience.  Careful and intelligent curating is a vital skill for media studies students to develop, particularly in the media rich 21st Century.

The completed assignment will consist of three parts:

First, you will work together to search for and choose three YouTube videos that engage the theme you have been assigned.  Your group will want to consider choosing videos that all respond to the theme, but in different ways, such as: commercial vs. amateur, cell phone upload vs. high production values, musical vs. silent, narrative vs. non-narrative, &tc.  The total length of your collection should not exceed 10 minutes.

Second, you will work together to write a curatorial assessment that discusses your collection and the way that it exemplifies your theme.  Define the theme and the way that your group approached thinking about what it means as a category for online video.  Make concrete observations about elements (objects, characters, costumes, composition, editing, pacing, sound, framing, &tc) within the videos that respond to the theme. Analyze and discuss the connections and disjunctions that these elements evoke when considered as a curated collection.  The assessment should include a smart and catchy title for your collection.  The completed assessment should be 250-300 words.

Third, prepare six brief but evocative points of commentary that you will share with the class as an introduction when we screen the video collections next week.

Create a word document that includes the URLs of the videos, your curatorial assessment, and the six points of commentary, and save it with your collection’s title as the document name.  Be sure to include your names on the document, and to make copies for yourself.

Prepare all of these items during our regular class time on Thursday, September 2 and post your completed project document to the folder marked “Curation Exercise” by the end of our regular class time.  If you have technical difficulties with Blackboard, email the document to XXX by the end of the class hour.

We will screen the videos and discuss your commentaries next week in class.




MDSC 304 virtual critique (2009)

As cell phones become increasingly indispensable to global communication networks, educators are constantly telling students to turn them off in class.  In Media and Society classes, however, these exhortations to disconnect ring false.  In this course, students will investigate the cultural impact of mobile communications through provocative deployments of cell phones, surveillance cameras, digital projection, global positioning systems, and data mapping.  Projects designed by collaborative student groups, and assessed by experts in the field, will engage all of campus in investigations of participatory media environments, and will provide the students in the course with provocative material for analyzing communications networks and cultures of interactivity.

MDSC 304, Media and Theory, offers students opportunities to work with interactive technologies while investigating the ideological, historical, and conceptual issues raised by our densely technological social world. Interactivity, surveillance, social networks, data mapping, and flow will be investigated as current global practices that engage crucial intersections between theoretical models and lived experience.  The organization of the course suggests that theory, research, and practice are, themselves, interactive forms that are best understood when engaged as both content and context.

goals and objectives:

*Engaging theoretical study through interactive media experiences.

*Constructing participatory environments for exploration and evaluation.

*Raising consciousness about issues of surveillance and privacy in digital worlds.

*Gaining real world experience and insight by interacting with new media practitioners.

For this project, students in MDSC 304: Media and Theory studied examples of multi-media performance pieces about interactivity; worked collaboratively to create proposals for their own multi-media performance pieces; assessed each others’ proposals in a multi-step process; presented their proposals to media professionals in a virtual critique; used consensus and discussion to choose one project to mount as a class; and, successfully mounted a campus-wide, interactive multi-media performance piece.

The project grew out of my interest in critically and creatively engaging students in theoretical discussions about the social and cultural effects of their preoccupation with text messaging. Further, I was inspired by the way that innovative multi-media performance work engages complex ideas about interactivity through simple and witty participatory events.  I believed that the gap between theory and lived experience could be thoughtfully bridged if students were given the space to investigate the ways that communications technologies affect their interactions in campus environments.  Finally, I wanted to connect the students with professionals working in new media fields and to provide them with an opportunity to use cutting-edge multi-media presentation tools in a quasi-professional format.

modeling the project:

Much of the course was focused around preparation for and responses to a virtual critique in which students used an online meeting space to present their ideas and work and to engage in a robust question and answer session with new media professionals.  The preparation for the virtual critique began with the study of representative examples of multi-media performance work.  This project was designed to engage the students in what Tim O’Reilly calls “the architecture of participation”.  Models for the project were provided by areas of inquiry that we established in class at the start of the semester.  We defined these areas through the study and analysis of representative examples of multi-media performance pieces, including:

* Paul Notzold’s Txtual Healing’s SMS-projection exhibits, recently used as part of a cross-country Obama campaign promotion, where viewers are invited to send text responses to questions projected on a wall.

* Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz’s Hole-in-Space project (1980) a live event featuring large-scale projections of crowds in NYC and L.A. which allowed viewers to communicate across space and time for two-hour periods over three days.

* The Surveillance Camera Players, a group of guerilla theatre activists who highlight issues of public and private spaces by inviting spectators to watch them perform rehearsed scenes in front of surveillance cameras.

project and assignment breakdown

For each of these examples, the students discussed the works in small groups.  Each group was responsible for coming up with a set of key terms that described the works’ intervention into questions of interactivity.  Then, the students used these key terms as associative introductions to the concepts discussed in our readings for that week.  By compiling these lists, the students were able to create, throughout the semester, an overview of the major theoretical concepts covered in the course.

After studying the examples, the students formed groups and worked together to come up with a preliminary proposal for their project, which was workshopped in front of the class.  The project, for which the students were given a proposed $50 budget, was meant to The students then had a week to come up with a formal presentation. In preparation for the virtual critique, I used a small portion of the grant funds to attend a virtual meeting about best practices for holding virtual meetings.  It was with this guidance in hand that I devised the format for the students’ virtual critique, which consisted of five minute PowerPoint presentations followed by ten minute Q & A sessions.  Additionally, the students all received a handout on presentation skills from the Center for Teaching and Learning.  The students followed a standard format: they began by presenting which theoretical issues their project hoped to address, they outlined their proposed multi-media peformance piece, and then they described the pragmatic details needed to make their piece happen.  During these presentations, each student filled out an assessment sheet for each presentation.  I then scanned all of the assessments and sent them to the groups following their presentation.  The groups met outside of class to discuss the assessments and make changes in their presentations that implemented their peers’ suggestions.

Throughout the semester, I worked closely with the office of Instructional & Research Technology in order to prepare for the virtual critique.  We determined that we would use a program called Adobe Acrobat Connect, which allowed us to see and hear all the participants and provided interactive access to the PowerPoint presentations for both the students and the professionals.  We were able to stage the virtual critique in the Library’s Learn Lab, which has three large projection screens and connected laptop stations, so the students could see the critique on both large and small screens as they participated.

For our final rehearsal, we set up the web camera, microphone, and Adobe Acrobat Connect site so the students could get a feel for the technology before they gave their presentation to the professionals.  Ruth Shields, from the Center for Teaching and Learning was able to attend several of these rehearsals, and gave the students feedback about their presentation style and the look of their slides.

I was able to recruit Bob Andriesciewicz, an award-winning independent television producer, and Paul Notzold, the media artist behind txtual healing, to respond to the students’ work.  Bob and Paul had access to drafts of the students’ presentations in the online meeting space for two days before the event.  The students had studied Paul’s work, and were given Bob’s bio and Paul’s resume to read in preparation for the critique.  Both Bob and Paul provided thoughtful, friendly, and challenging comments and questions to the students during the virtual critique.  At the end of the presentations, the students chose one project, “Going Ape,” to perform on campus.  Paul encouraged those students whose projects were not chosen to continue working on them.  After the presentation portion of the event was over, the students filled out assessments of the project as a whole.

The project “Going Ape” involved a simple but effective combination of live and virtual events.  The students created an “Event Page” on Facebook stating that there was going to be a Gorilla on campus and that people should try to get their photo taken with the Gorilla and then text the photo to the Facebook event page.  They invited people to sign up for the event virtually and promised a $50 reward for the best photo uploaded to the site.  Over 250 people signed up as participants in the event.  After the event was posted, a student in a Gorilla suit roamed campus for two days.  Approximately 30 photos were eventually posted on the event page.  For the final assessment of the project, the students engaged in a wide-ranging discussion about the successes and failures of the “Going Ape” event as it engaged cell phone use, interactivity, and virtuality.

 The goals of the project were to engage theoretical study through interactive media experiences; to construct participatory environments for exploration and evaluation; to raise consciousness about surveillance and privacy in digital worlds; and, to gain real world experience and insight by interacting with new media.

About the Performance Piece

 If we choose your performance piece, you will be in charge of working with the rest of the class to make sure that all sites, technology, marketing, event management, and follow up are staffed.  Everyone will work on the event. Your event does not need to take place at only one day and time.  A week long project with several related events may be preferable.

Proposal (10 minute powerpoint proposal)

*inspirations & theoretical issues engaged

  1. use example of asynchronous class assignment to curate a collection of images and text that engage your idea
  2. use the list of themes from txtual healing as a guide, and state which theme or themes you’re exploring

*kind of event

  1. visualize and define all elements of your proposed event
  2. describe ideal outcomes

*where, when, who

  1. note time, place, personnel needed
  2. make chart of responsibilities

*space and technology required

  1. determine need for permissions and equipment
  2. make chart of needs, responsible persons, timeline

*recording and assessing event

  1. how will event be publicized?
  2. how will event be recorded?
  3. how will event will be assessed?
  4. how will you measure your ideal outcomes?
  5. how will recoding and assessment be published on website?


  1. Pre-Critique Meetings with Prof. Shafer/Instructional Technology

today: outline of proposal, including preliminary ideas for each of the proposal categories

next week: noon: draft of powerpoint posted to Blackboard

next week: feasibility meeting with Instructional Technology

next week : group meetings with Prof. Shafer

Tuesday, Nov. 3, noon: final proposal posted to Blackboard


III. Critique and Consensus

Thursday, Nov. 5: Virtual Critique with Paul Notzold and Bob Andruszkiewicz

  1. Event, Recording, Assessment

Event needs to be staged before Thanksgiving Break

Assessment should be finished by end of first week of December

  1. Website

Posting materials to the website needs to be completed by  Tuesday, Dec. 8



MDSC 100 podcast assignment (2008)


For this assignment, you will work in a group of three to create an enhanced podcast. Composing and analyzing our own podcasts is one of the foundational projects of Introduction to Media and Society.  This project has several components, including: following news stories, learning research methods, learning software, writing storyboards, creating enhanced podcasts, and assessing each other’s podcasts.

We will present a series of enhanced podcasts organized around major topic areas traditionally covered by newspapers: Sports, Health, Opinion, International, Local, Entertainment, Technology, and Politics.

Because this is a class whose goals include the analysis of mass media within theoretical, cultural, and historical contexts, we will not be creating podcasts that simply report on the news.  We will follow news stories on our topic and assess, interpret, and analyze the way that the story is presented in the media.

what is a podcast?

“The best way to understand podcasting is to imagine a merger between blogging (regularly posted articles of news, insight, fun, gripes, literature, and more) and radio (an established broadcasting medium that people have listened to for news and entertainment for generations).      Podcasting is essentially radio programming that can be produced with a standard computer, microphone, free software, and a web site for posting your programming. Podcasting can be listened to with any computer connected to the Internet and able to play standard MP3 audio files.” (  Enhanced podcasts include a slide show of images with voice over commentary.

groups, topics, and the wiki:

You will work with a group of two other students to determine a podcast subject before the library research session.  Your group will have a wiki space available on the course Blackboard site.  You will use this wiki space to store images and text for your podcast.  Remember: always save citation information for images and text.  You are responsible for citing all images and text that you use, so be sure to save the citation information along with your images and text.

library research session:

During this session, you will meet with members of the library staff for instruction in searching for text and images appropriate for your podcast.  The session will cover: information in general, news headlines, organizational tools, copyright, and finding images.  During the session, you will work with your group to find a quote about your topic that you will use as a voice over for your 15 second preliminary podcast.  You will also search for and upload to your wiki 20-30 images for your preliminary podcast.

garageband tutorial:

During this session, you will meet with members of the instructional technology staff for instruction in using the podcasting software, a program called Garageband. The session will cover: storyboarding, the interface, setting voice levels and using microphones, importing images and aligning to sound, making chapter markers, editing sound tracks and adding music, working with track levels, and exporting. During the lab session, you will use the images and text that you collected during the library research session to create a 15 second preliminary podcast using the Garageband software. A copy of the presentation as well as blank storyboard sheets and helpful pointers will be available on your course Blackboard site.

meeting with tech fellow:

During the week before your podcast is due, you will meet with a student tech fellow for assistance with the completion of your podcast.  You are responsible for setting up this appointment via XX and for attending the meeting. The tech fellow is your peer, and they have generously offered to share their expertise with you.  Please do not disrespect their time or resources. They do not grade you, but we have asked them to note whether or not you show up for your appointment, and whether or not you were prepared. When you arrive at this session, you need to have your script, your storyboard, and a rough cut of your podcast completed before this meeting, so the tech fellow can help you to fine tune the podcast, to add professional finishing touches, and to help you through the process of exporting and posting your completed podcast.

turning in your completed podcast:

You will turn in your completed podcast by noon on the day before the podcast is due in class.  To turn in the podcast, you need to upload the podcast to XX.

responding to other groups’ podcasts:

The final element of the assignment involves crafting a thoughtful and thorough response to your classmates’ podcasts. The podcasts will be assessed according to a grading rubric that was developed by previous Intro to Media and Society students.  The areas assessed include: depth of analysis, thoroughness of content coverage, audio elements, narrative voice, editing and pacing, entertainment factor, visual style, and overall creativity.