July 28, 2008 Archives

MWF   11:00 AM  -  11:50 PM 	M334
See daily course outline.
Contact Information:
  • 403 St. Joseph (Box 461)
  • E-mail: My last name, at the setonhill.edu domain.
  • 724-830-1909 (but e-mail is usually the best way to reach me)

Office Hours:
  • Monday, 4-5
  • Wednesday, 2-3
  • Thursday, 9-10
  • By appointment

From the Catalog:

Direction and support for the development of independent new media projects. Projects might include an online work of journalism such as a photo-documentary with voice-over narrative, a virtual reality illustration or simulation, or a traditional academic research paper examining an issue relevant to new media journalism and published in final form as hypertext.
While I didn't say so in the official course description, I'd like to think of the traditional research paper as a last-ditch backup, in case things don't work out between you and any of the software packages we'll be using. You've all done research papers before, so let's instead try to focus on the media production tools. I'm very eager to see what you'll be able to do with them.
This course is open to students in all majors, but is especially intended to meet New Media Journalism learning objectives 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

  1. Examine a wide range of genres, styles and cultural literatures.
  2. Examine the traditional canon and innovative nontraditional writers and writing.
  3. Demonstrate analytical skills of reading literature.
  4. Demonstrate a high level of research and writing skills.
  5. Write and speak in a wide range of formats appropriate to major emphasis... 
  6. Speak and write about issues in the discipline and how they interact with the culture at large.
  7. Articulate the ongoing relation between personal habits of reading and writing and the evolving study of English.
  8. Produce a professional portfolio that demonstrates an awareness of and engagement with vital issues in an appropriate professional field relating to new media journalism.

The class format is a studio, meeting for 2 hours, twice a week. 

While we will devote as much class time as possible to open workshops, you will still have to meet outside of class time in order to complete the assignments.

The course requires regular attendance, participation via in-class and online discussions, and timely completion of group and individual project work. The course is designed so that you will first complete simple assignments in a group setting, then progress to more elaborate individual assignments.

Success in the course will require patience, good communication with the instructor, a willingness to help your peers, and trust in your own ability to work in a challenging but rewarding area.

I will often send out bulk e-mails to the address on file for you in the J-Web system. If you check a different address more regularly, please use SHU's e-mail forwarding service so that you don't miss important updates.

Unless the homework assignment specifically mentions a printout, you should assume that I don't want a hard copy.

Students are expected to attend every class, and they are expected to take the initiative to make and support requests for excused absences (see Seton Hill University Catalog, p. 24, "Academic Engagement and Class Attendance").

Requesting Excused Absences

To request an excused absence, print out and complete a copy of my "Absence Form" (available at http://jerz.setonhill.edu/teaching/Absence.doc) and hand it to me (or complete it electronically and e-mail it, if you are unable to make it to campus).

I am happy to excuse students who have legitimate reasons, but no matter the reason, students are still responsible for the material covered during their absence. An excused absence does not automatically grant an extension for any work collected or assigned that day.

For some classroom activities, such as listening to peer oral presentations, there may be no appropriate make-up assignment. (See 5.2 Participation.)

5.1.1. Emergency Excused Absences
Those who miss class due to an unplanned emergency should submit an "Absence Form," with proper documentation, as soon as the immediate crisis has passed.  This simple one-page form is designed to give me the information I need in order to help you stay on track. (A note from a doctor or a photocopy of a court summons only gives me part of the information I need.)

If you miss class unexpectedly, I request that you resist the impulse to ask me to e-mail you a summary of what you missed. I welcome the chance to help you get caught up, but please consult the syllabus and a classmate's notes first, and then bring any specific questions to me.

5.1.2. Scheduled Excused Absences
Those who miss class due to a scheduled activity must plan to complete all make-up assignments before the missed class. In order to give us both time to plan, you must submit a complete, acceptable "Absence Form" (see above) at least a week before the missed class.

  • If there is insufficient time to plan an acceptable make-up assignment, or if an approved make-up assignment is late or unsatisfactory, then I may still record the absence as unexcused.
  • When I sign a roster of away games, my policy is that the student should also hand me completed copies of all the necessary "Absence Forms."
5.1.3. Unexcused Absences

Repeated late arrivals and early departures will begin to count as absences. 

A student's final grade may be lowered by the proportion of unexcused absences. Thus, a student with a final grade of 75% with a record of 10% unexcused absences would get a final grade that is 90% of 75% (that is, 67.5%). (If you have only a few absences and your class participation is good, I will probably waive the penalty.)

Because there are so few class meetings, even a few absences can leave you far behind.

If you are absent from class without a legitimate excuse on a day when a major assignment is due -- perhaps because you stayed up all night working on a project and are too tired to attend class -- the assignment will be counted an extra day late. (You might as well go to bed without finishing the project, come to class so you don't fall farther behind, and then turn in the paper the next morning.)

Students are expected to contribute actively to a positive classroom environment, both in person and online.

Common sense and common courtesy dictate that absences, late arrivals and early departures, use of telephones or headphones, lack of preparation or participation, inattentiveness or disruptive behavior will impact your participation grade. Those who contribute above and beyond the call of duty will receive a bonus.

Students who dislike public speaking may wish to invest more effort in their online writing, and vice-versa.

Class participation may raise a student's final grade by up to 1/3 of a letter grade, or lower it by as much as a full letter grade.  Having above-average class participation will earn you a slight boost if your final grade falls near a border (e.g. I will have a reason to report a 2.95 as a B).

This course expects you to use the internet regularly. I'm not expecting you to have 24/7 internet access, but just as students in generations past learned to carry an extra inkhorn and spare lamp wicks, there are certain common-sense strategies that will help you do the necessary work.

  • Print out a copy of the course syllabus, and print out online readings in advance, so that you can work on the readings if the internet happens to be down.
  • Get in the habit of e-mailing drafts to yourself, so that you can retrieve them from your archives if you lose your thumb drive or your hard drive crashes. (The website docs.google.com will let you store your word-processor files in a format you can edit online.)
  • Unless the homework assignment specifically mentions a printout, you should assume that I don't want a hard copy. Essays will be submitted via turnitin.com, but most work will be submitted during class -- you'll need to put a file on my thumb drive, or post it on your blog so I can download it. (I'd prefer that you not e-mail big files, since my in-box is usually almost full.)

Getting Credit for Late Work

By default, late assignments automatically lose one letter grade if they are not submitted on time, and another letter grade for each additional day late (counting weekends as one day). This means that no assignment will earn any credit if it is more than four days late (unless there are extenuating circumstances).

If you are asking that I waive a late penalty, e-mail me a copy of your completed Absence Form (see section 5.1, above) with a subject line that follows this pattern: "Smith EL236 Ex 1-2 Absence Form". (Make sure your absence form specifies the assignment in question.)

Deadlines for the submission of turnitin.com assignments are typically 15 minutes before class starts. (This is to discourage you from being late for class because you were working on your homework, and it also permits me to scan the assignments briefly before class begins.) If your assignment is late by a few minutes, but you are still on time to class, your paper won't count as late.

Please note that late submissions always go to the bottom of my to-do list. If I have already marked and returned a set of assignments, chances are I won't even notice when you submit your late work.  Call my attention to late submissions by e-mailing me a note with a subject line that follows the pattern "Smith EL236 Ex 1-2 Late." 

If you are concerned about not getting a late paper back soon enough to help you complete the next step in a multi-stage assignment, please make an appointment during my office hours, so that I can go over it with you orally.

Special Cases

Some assignments are designed to get you ready for a particular day's class, or to give you the skills you'll need to tackle a larger assignment. For that reason, some assignments can't be made up. (I am willing to make an exception in extenuating circumstances, with proper documentation and follow-through from you.)

Reading Response (4R) Items: These time-sensitive assignments earn no credit if they are late. (You should still complete any items you missed in order to get full credit for your class portfolio.)

Class Participation: The ideal way to get credit for a missed in-class activity is to contribute substantially to the online discussion. Post thoughtful comments on the course website, your peers' websites, and/or your own. To make sure that I see and record credit for this alternative work, include the URLs of your make-up blogging assignments in an e-mail to me. If you post comments on someone else's blog, include the URLs of those entries, too.)

Make-up/Extra Credit Assignments: I do not have a policy of inventing make-up or extra-credit assignments to enable you to pull your grade up in the last few weeks of the term. At any time, however, you may demonstrate your willingness to work for your grade by doing more than the required amount of work on your weblog. (Call my attention to this extra work when you submit your weblog portfolio.)

Much of our instruction will be in the form of user-created tutorials and videos, many of which you will find on your own (with guidance from me), and some of which I have purchased for classroom use.

Required Text for New Media Projects (Fall 2008)

McAdams, Mindy. Flash Journalism. Focal Press, New York: 2005.

The links below are for your convenience. You may buy these from any source, including the SHU bookstore. 

Also Required:

A portable USB drive (capable of holding at least 1G). Any model is fine; here is a suggestion.

This section contains important official statements, using language provided by the SHU administration.

Disability Statement
If you have a disability that requires instructor consideration please contact the Director of Disability Services at 724-838-4295. It is recommended that this be accomplished by the second week of class.

If you need accommodations for successful participation in class activities prior to your appointment at the Disability Services Office, you should offer information in writing that includes suggestions for assistance in participating in and completing class assignments. It is not necessary to disclose the nature of your disability.

Academic Honesty and Ethical Conduct

Seton Hill University expects that all its students will practice academic honesty and ethical conduct.

The University regards plagiarism, cheating on examinations, falsification of papers, non-sanctioned collaboration, and misuse of library material, computer material, or any other material, published or unpublished, as violations of academic honesty. Violators of the code may expect disciplinary sanctions, which are discussed in the Seton Hill University Catalog, page 30, Code of Academic Conduct.

Many of your college assignments will involve quoting from or responding to other people's words and ideas. However, using those words or ideas without properly citing them, or resubmitting your own work for a different class, constitutes plagiarism.

Paraphrasing the thoughts or written work of another without reference -- even with permission from the source -- is also plagiarism. Helpful information is available at What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It.

Reusing someone else's source code is a gray area. Use your weblog to keep a record of which tutorials, examples, or other resources you drew on in order to develop your own project.  If someone posts 3D models or source code examples online, in a context in which visitors are invited to download and re-use those models, I see nothing wrong with doing so, even without giving credit in your final publication, so long as you give full credit in your development log.

You needn't interrupt a first-person shooter level with disclaimers every time you use an explosion sound effect that you lifted from somewhere else, but your project should somewhere include an "About" section that gives credit where it is due.

Any plagiarism or other form of academic dishonesty will result in a zero for that assignment. Any plagiarism or other form of academic dishonesty on a draft will result in a zero for the final grade on that assignment. All academic dishonesty will be reported to the dean's office.

The course is based on 100 points, simply because that number happens to make the various components work out to nice, whole figures.

All assignments are marked on a 4-point scale, just like your official university transcript. Every year, some students panic because they see their grade hovering in the 70s, and they worry they are going to get a C.  But with a four-point system, if a particular exercise is worth 40 points, and you get 30 on it, you got 75%, or a B.

Course Work

  • 10 Exercises 50%
  • Term Project 50%
    • Proposal  5%
    • Alpha 10%
    • Beta 15%
    • Gallery 20%

Feel free to post your questions here, or on any other page on the site.

Posting a comment here will automatically generate an e-mail, so you don't need to e-mail me to tell me that you left a comment.

If you'd like to talk in person, check the syllabus for my office hours.

Recent Comments

Dennis G. Jerz on Blender3D Tutorial: If you would like to purchase your own copies of t
Dennis G. Jerz on Blender3D Tutorial: The tutorials should be in an EL405 directory, und
Jeremy Barrick on Blender3D Tutorial: Why can't we just download the tutorials on our ow
Daniella Choynowski on Blender3D Tutorial: where is the tutorial on the computers in the lab?
Dennis G. Jerz on Ex 1-2: Practice Screencast: Yes, we'll practice in class before the due date.
Daniella Choynowski on Ex 1-2: Practice Screencast: I hope we're learning how to do this on tuesday? o
Dennis G. Jerz on Ex 1-1: Goals Statement: Let me know if you still have trouble. Other stude
Jeremy Barrick on Ex 1-1: Goals Statement: Dr. Jerz, are you going to open up a slot on turni
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