November 2008 Archives

I will give small groups a brief story transcript, which you will turn into Inform 7 code.

This will be an in-class activity in which you demonstrate your ability to apply the skills we have learned about through Krug's book. (Review these usability handouts, too.)

Assigned Text:

Finish Krug

Whoops... it looks like I forgot to assign the end of Don't Make Me Think.  I do actually want you to finish the book, so, with apologies to those who had already celebrated the last of this book, here's one last Krug assignment.

Class won't meet today.

Do this assignment on your own time, before Monday's class.  But note that there is homework for Monday (a project proposal, which may require some thought).

Before Class
  1. Read the assigned readings (by Spiro and Orlowski). Blog and comment as usual.
  2. Read the Wikipedia entries Key Policies and Guidelines, and the Five Pillars. These are also assigned readings, so blog and comment as usual.
In-Class Activity
  1. Choose a Wikipedia article about a subject you know well. Click on "edit this page" and write a blog entry about what you see. (You may also look at the "history" and "discussion" sections, to see what's going on behind the curtain.)
  2. Compare the Wikipedia entries for Seton Hill University and St. Vincent College. (What are their strengths and weaknesses? What can you conclude about the activity on the "history" and "discussion" pages?). 
  1. Make substantial edits to at least two different Wikipedia pages (you may choose to edit the site you examined in step 3, but you may also pick different pages). You are of course welcome to correct typos, but I'm actually interested in seeing you contribute meaningfully to Wikipedia
  2. Let some time pass. (Give other Wikipedians a chance to react to your work.)
  3. Comment on peer entries. Remember that this page shows you the recent postings by students in EL236.
  4. Blog about your experience. (How did the community react? What did you learn? What do you think your high school teachers, your college professors, and your fellow students need to know about Wikipedia? Reflect on the whole experience..)
You may combine some of these steps into a smaller number of blog entries, but please write short, richly-linked essays that demonstrate your ability to write (and link) for the general reader -- don't just "post your homework" on your blog.
Assigned Text:

Wikipedia and Society

Moved from Friday, Nov 07

What would you like to do for your term project? Options include:

  • A creative hypertext
  • An informational hypertext (for yourself or a client)
  • An interactive fiction game
  • A research paper (related in some way to what we have covered in class)

Please bring a printout that demonstrates you've put some thought into your proposal.

("I want to do a website" is not enough. Please suggest one or two websites that you'd like to emulate.  If you want to do an IF game, name a few games, or individual segments within games, or other influences that impact your choice.)

The proposal itself (due today) can be a short note with a few bulleted lists. 

The project itself will develop over several assignments that span the last few weeks of term. (Check the Outline for actual due dates.)

All projects will include

  1. Term Project Project Report (an informal paper, about 3 pages, which could take the form of a long blog entry; bullet lists and personal anecdotes are fine, but filler is unwelcome) that analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of two or three electronic documents (such as a website or IF game), and uses the analysis to articulate goals for your project
  2. Group Alpha Test Report  (an "alpha release" is a very rough, incomplete draft)
  3. Individual Beta Testing Report (a "beta release" is a full draft, which implements improvements that you uncovered during alpha testing)
  4. Final Class Presentation (emphasizing changes that you made during beta testing)
  5. Blogging (post regular informal progress reports -- maybe at the end of each work session, post a brief entry on what you accomplished and what you want to do the next time you work on your project)
(If you are writing a research paper, I would expect you to help test your peers' projects, and have your peers read and comment on drafts of your paper.)

I will give you a rough scenario, which you will individually flesh out into Inform 7 code.

Due Today:

Portfolio 3

The same instructions as the last portfolio, but with Krug instead of Killian in section 1A.

1A) Write a new blog entry that offers a thoughtful, reflective critique of Krug's Don't Make Me Think, bearing in mind that the book was originally published in 2000. (How well has it held up? What could be improved in a new edition?)

* You may include links to entries you have previously posted, and/or links to what your classmates have written on the subject.

1B) As you did for your last portfolio, create a portfolio entry on your weblog, with a title that emphasizes what you feel you have accomplished so far this term. Write a brief introduction that introduces the class and your portfolio to a reader who doesn't know the purpose of the assignment or what the class is supposed to cover.

2) Use material you have posted on your blog to support your statement about what you learned. You may give a simple bulleted list, or you may write a paragraph that includes key words that link to specific pages on your site.

When including a blog entry, write some significant words, such as the title of the entry or the reason you are including it in your blog, and turn those significant words into a link. (Please don't use neutral words like "click here" or "my homework" or "foreshadowing in 'A Good Man Is Hard to Find'" for the links... make your words communicate the insight contained in your blog entry: "Emily Dickinson is a sick cookie.")

Sort and organize your entries into the following broad categories. (I definitely do NOT want just the URLs of every entry you have posted.)

2A) Coverage: Link to one or several entries that include a direct quote from the assigned reading, that identify the source of the quote, and that links back to the course web page devoted to that reading.

2B) Timeliness: Link to one or several entries that you posted on time (such as agenda items posted 24 hours before the class discussion, or reflection papers posted before the class meeting... something you posted during a classroom exercise would be a weak contribution here).

2C) Interaction: Include one or several entries that demonstrate your ability to interact with peers. Your entry might link to something a classmate posted, or your entry might have attracted comments from peers. If someone leaves a comment, you should reply to the comment in order to try to keep the conversation going.

2D) Depth: Include one or several links to entry on your blog that shows your ability to write in depth.

2E) Discussion: Include one or several links to a page on a classmate's blog where you left a significant comment that was part of a fruitful discussion. (Would "Good job!" or "LOL" count as significant comments? Probably not.)

3) Submit your portfolio by posting a link to it on this page.

Whoops, looks like I accidentally put this on the syllabus twice. The progress report is actually due on the 14th.

Post an informal progress report on your blog, with quotations/links/samples that demonstrate your progress. Post 2-4 comments on peer entries, demonstrating your willingness to help peers solve problems.

Delayed from Nov 14.

What is an Alpha Release?

A partial draft, with some sections more or less fully complete, but whole sections left unfinished.

So, if you plan a website with a home page, four supporting pages, and a "credits" page, your alpha release might have the home page, just one supporting page, and an
incomplete "credits" page.

If you plan a game in which the character explores a three-story house, your alpha release might include one more-or-less complete floor.

The basic idea is that you need some parts complete enough that your users can actually test them usefully, but you have to be willing to change your work based on what you learn from your test users.

(A beta release is an essentially finished product - your game should have an ending, your website should be written and proofread.  Your beta-testers will identify improvements that you hadn't thought of -- synonyms you should implement in Inform 7, new sections or navigational features on web pages, etc.)

Due Today:

G4: Alpha Reports

Small teams test each other's projects and report results. This is not a contest - this is a practical, honest exploration of strengths and weaknesses.

Focus on getting ready for your beta testing. After break, I will be shifting to trouble-shooting what you've already completed, and giving feedback on the big picture. So today will be a good time to ask me about how to do something you haven't yet learned to do.

Recent Comments

Aja Hannah on Term Project Workshop: Thanks for all your help guys! And thanks to Jess
Aja Hannah on Term Project: Beta Release: I'm having a slight problem with one of my pages a
Aja Hannah on Term Project: Beta Release: I'm having a slight problem with one of my pages a
Jackie Johns on Term Project: Beta Release: okay, another link...since the first one didn't sh
Jessie Krehlik on Term Project: Beta Release:
Aero Windwalker on Term Project: Beta Release:
Alex Hull on Term Project: Beta Release: Blog update:
Aja Hannah on Term Project: Beta Release:
Aja Hannah on Term Project: Beta Release: Proj
Daniella Choynowski on Term Project: Beta Release:
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