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GMU EDIT 572 General Syllabus

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Note: This is a generalized version of the official course syllabus for the two sections of a class being taught Spring 2014. It is posted here as reference, and a guide for open participants who may wish to follow along. The general entry points for this course are the tagged blog post of all GMU students and the weekly assignment posts. The official syllabi (PDF) are available for section 1 and section 2

Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) Program

EDIT 572: Digital Audio/Video Design and Applications
2 Credits, Spring 2014 (March 18-May 14)
online via

Name: Alan Levine

Prerequisites/Corequisites: none

Provides basic knowledge of the range of capabilities of available audio and video design applications. Students learn to cultivate effective audio and video design practices for creating instructional products.

The realm of information, media, and entertainment has changed dramatically in the span of a generation, fueled by the world flattening and industry changing force of the Internet. Music, television, and publishing have shifted to new modes we did not grow up with. For one small example, publishing experiments like the Snowfall article, the New York Times is trying to find a new form of news delivery that include both rich dynamic media and a thread of storytelling to capture the imagination.

This course emphasizes a lens of storytelling as a vehicle for developing compelling and relevant content and for developing creative conceptual skills of creative expression in multiple media forms. By exploring storytelling in an online space where new media genres are emerging, students will critically reflect on how these new approaches that might lend themselves to the space of training and development. By doing this in an open online space, we benefit from what Steven L Johnson describes in Where Good Ideas Come From as the “adjacent possible” – increasing the potential for innovation by being exposed to an environment of divergent ideas and interests.

Assignments in this class will leverage subjects from a wide range of disciplines, news, and popular culture as exercises in translating potential into instructional environments at work. The focus is on experimentation and on demonstrating ability to narrate the ideas behind a creative exercise and its production, as much so as the final products themselves.

The work in this course will call for trying new creative tasks and experimentation with new media; it is not expected that students produce professional quality media, but they experience and learn to appreciate forms of creativity beyond text.

This course is based on previous undergraduate courses taught openly as “Digital Storytelling DS106” where interested persons outside of a class do the same work along side registered students. The benefit of this design is an opportunity for feedback from a larger and diverse group of creative people and being exposed to a diverse and international range of participants.

This course is completely asynchronous and structured on weekly readings/video reviews, independent assignments, with documentation and products published in a personal blog portfolio site. Participation credit is based on peer feedback to and from other student sites. The final summative project will be published to the student’s blog site.

Each week’s list of assignments will be posted at the course web site by noon Monday EST and will include a short video overview, and details of what needs to be published for all the assignments for that week. A weekly final summary of activity is required as a summation and reflection on the week’s work.


  • A reliable computer with Internet connection for access to course materials and publishing assignments; use of Firefox or Google Chrome as a web browser is recommended.
  • Devices for media capture may be needed; for images and video this can be a digital camera, smart phone camera, or laptop camera; for recording sound a laptop with sound input device, a portable audio recorder, or a smart phone app.
  • Specific media creation software is not required, but students will need access to software for editing images (Adobe Photoshop recommended; if not available open source GIMP or web-based, software for editing audio (open source Audacity recommended), and software for editing video (usually what comes installed with an operating system, e.g. Windows Movie Maker Live or iMovie). This course is not focused on software mechanics, and calls for a discovery based approach for learning how to achieve what is needed in the software in use.
  • Online accounts will need to be created for (a) for all publishing of assignments and visual projects; (b) for posting audio work; (c) for posting video work.

This book has no required textbook. Weekly online readings, videos, and audio files will be assigned via the web site.

As a result of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Critically examine the digital landscape of media communication technologies as emergent narrative forms.
  • Create informative materials that apply elements of storytelling (character, narrative arc, interest hook) in a context of written, visual, audio, and video forms.
  • Identify effective visual, audio, and video components in the media they encounter and integrate them into their creative projects.
  • Experiment with the creation of a message, question, format or product by applying new, different or divergent approaches to it.
  • Communicate the ideas behind a create media product and document the process in a way to help others achieve similar results.

The course is designed to meet many of the essential Instructional Design Competencies as specified by The International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (ibstpi®):

  • Communicate effectively in visual, oral and written form.
  • Select and use a variety of techniques for determining instructional content.
  • Analyze the characteristics of existing and emerging technologies and their use in an instructional environment.
  • Select or modify existing instructional materials or develop original instructional materials.
  • Provide for the effective implementation of instructional products and programs.
  • Identify and resolve ethical and legal implications of design in the work place.

Each student will publish their work and reflection in a public blog and thus is responsible for managing their online privacy. Students should not identify themselves by full name, location, or work role in any public space, and are encouraged to choose a non-identifiable name for their site. Use of a pseudonym is recommended for all accounts used in this course. Assignments and projects should make not use any proprietary content.

Communication is critical for success in this course. Do not spend more than an hour trying to work on an aspect of an assignment without seeking assistance. The discussion forums on Blackboard ( will be open as a place to post questions and answers about coursework.

The bulk of a grade in this class is based on regular work completed each week. Grades are weighted by:

  • 70 pts Summaries of weekly assignments (7 weeks x 10 pts each) • Each week’s tasks will include written responses to assigned reading or videos, a set of media assignments, all of which are documented as posts on the student blog. Assessment is based on a total weekly summary that references the work completed (see rubric below), a reflection on what was learned, and a self-assessment.

    Two to three weekly creative assignments for visual, design, audio, and video can be chosen by students from a list of 8-10 options provided in each week’s announcement. These are all ones available from the ds106 assignment bank (

    The required characteristics of an assignment write up are that it can stand alone as a full explanation of the work; it includes appropriate and relevant hyperlinks, any media is embedded within the post. It must include a narrative explaining the inspiration or source of the idea, the media created for it, and a description of methods, techniques used to create the media. Examples of the kind of assignment summaries are included on the course web site.

  • 10 pts Peer Contributions • Quality and regularity of constructive feedback given to other students in this class via comments on their blogs and/or providing perr support via the Blackboard forums. This is a weekly requirement starting in week 2. Specific feedback prompts will be included in the week’s assignment post. To find material to comment on, all blog posts by students section 1 can be found at and for section 2 (posts from both sections combined are available as well)
  • 20 pts Final Project • A final project will be published to the student’s blog site along with a summary of its development. The project will be to take an example of a traditional instructional activity that might be more effective through introduction of storytelling concepts and integrated use of media. Students will be create an online multimedia “trailer” web page for this activity aimed at motivating participants; it set up a story based design that can be carried out in the actual carrying out of the activity in its delivery format.

All weekly summaries are due 11:59PM EST Sunday of each week, the date when it is published to the student’s web site. Late work is reduced 10% for each day past the deadline. Individual exceptions will be made if the instructor is notified in advance; there is flexibility available for unplanned situations.

The final project is due Monday May 12 at 11:59PM EST, again to be published to the student’s blog site. There are no exams for this class.

Grades are not based on artistic quality of media products produced, but on how the idea is described, conceptualized, and the development documented plus how well the concept demonstrates a storytelling approach.

The grading scale used in this course is the official George Mason University scale for graduate-level courses:

A	A-	B+	B	B-	C	F
94-100	90-93	86-89	83-85	80-82	70-79	<69


Week 1 (week of March 17): What is Story?

  • Set up of site, blog url sent via email to instructor, personalization of a theme, creation of appropriate categories for posts
  • Methods of embedding media
  • Exploring the shape of stories
  • What makes stories work?
  • Storified vs non storified content
  • Assignment: Starting perspective on what is story
  • Assignment: Charting the shape of a story
  • Assignment: What might benefit from a story approach?

Week 2 (week of March 24): Listening and Looking Closely at Audio and Video

  • Understanding Layers in Media
  • Learning by listening to radio shows
  • Commercials as 60 second film story
  • Assignment: Peer Feedback
  • Assignment: Analyze audio elements of a podcast/radio show
  • Assignment: Analyze plot and media elements of a commercial in 5 second segments

Week 3 (week of March 31): Visual Storytelling; What Can We Tell in Photos?

  • Principles of visual composition
  • What can one photo communicate?
  • How to become a better photographer
  • Assignment: Five Photo Story
  • Assignment: Photo Safari
  • Complete two more ds106 Visual Assignments

Week 4 (week of April 7): Elements of Design

  • Principles of visual design
  • The animated GIF/Cinemagraph- a space between photograph and video
  • Assignment: Finding Elements of Design out in the world
  • Assignment: Reduce key scene/character to animated GIF
  • Complete two more ds106 Design Assignments

Week 5 (Week of April 14): Telling Stories in Audio

  • Why audio stories?
  • Audio Basics
  • Principles of layered sound
  • Exploring sound effects, ambient sound, and Foley
  • Assignment: Review/analyze an audio podcast
  • Assignment: Sound Effect story
  • Assignment: Charlie Chaplin Foley
  • Complete two more ds106 Audio Assignments

Weeks 6 and 7 (Weeks of April 21 and April 28): Telling Stories in Video

  • How to “read” movies
  • Key elements of video editing
  • Assignment: Look, Listen, Analyze a Scene
  • Assignment: Re-editing the Charlie Chaplin Clip
  • Complete 3 more ds106 Video Assignments

Finals Week (Week of May 5): Final Project

  • Work on final project, due May 12

Below are elements the instructor will be using to evaluate weekly assignments and the final project.


  • Blog Affordances, use of media


  • Creative title that attracts interest, assignment and related media embedded, relevant and extra information provided via contextualized hyperlinks


  • Original title, assignment media embedded, some hyperlinks present and contextual


  • Title paraphrases assignment, media is linked; none to minimal use of hyperlinks; most hyperlinks via URL


  • Narration of Idea and Storytelling Elements


  • Inspiration, influences and evolution of idea narrated, linked to related concepts; connected to larger ideas or works included; strong connection of storytelling elements


  • Inspiration for the idea described as well as how it evolved; connection cited to storytelling elements.


  • Singular source of idea described; Storytelling elements not clear.


  • Media Created for Assignment


  • Media created is a novel or even opposite interpretation of assignment, justified in write up, shows experimentation with special features/techniques of tools; fine attention to media assemblage, graphic details, transitions, sound levels (where appropriate).


  • Media created uses a creative interpretation or unexpected view of assignment, shows experimentation with features of tools; Media assemblage shows effort to blend together.


  • Media created satisfies literal interpretation of assignment, makes use of basic features of tools. Media assemblage is linear, cut and paste.


  • Narration of Creative Process


  • Techniques and methods are explained in sufficient form to help someone else do a similar assignment, explained as narrative steps, with supporting screenshots or screencasts. Sources of external media cited by name and URL.


  • Specific techniques listed as narrative with screenshots. Sources of external media cited by URL.


  • Lists name of tools used, brief text summary of steps. General sources of external media used listed


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