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COM 472 | Digital Storytelling | Spring 2018 | Aimée Knight, PhD

Merion 174 | Section 1:M, W, F, 12:20 – 1:10 | Section 2 M, W, F 2:30 -3:20 | Office hours 1:10 – 2: 30 M, W  
Bronstein Annex 203

Course Description

Data-driven storytelling is a powerful and innovative extension of traditional methods of research and dissemination. In this upper-
level digital media course, we will explore a variety of field methods in order to collect, interpret, and creatively share our stories. Over
the course of the semester, students will work with a variety of open source platforms and tools for translating data into visual and
interactive forms, while discussing principles of narrative, audience, and design.

Goals and Objectives

Effective Communication Human Centered Design Critical Awareness

This course enables students to Students will give extensive Students will learn how to
gain experience in critiquing attention to each stage of the investigate and tell digital
and creating media rich stories design process as they critique stories through multiple lenses
and videos, including the and create multimedia (historical, social, cultural,
development of skills in projects. Students will learn aesthetic, and technological).
writing, editing, photography, how to successfully ideate,
video, sound, and design. create content and execute
creative design solutions.
Course Schedule

Weekly Readings Monday Wednesday Friday

Week 1 1/17 1/19
Lupton, E. (2017). Design is
Introduction to storytelling. (First half) Introduction to Introduction to
Digital the course discussion

Week 2 1/22 1/24 1/26
Lupton, E. (2017). Design is
Design in storytelling. (Second half) Theory/ Design Activity Design Activity
Storytelling Discussion - Part 1 - Part 2
Paper 1 Due
Excerpt. Chimero. F. The Shape
of Design: “Stories and voids”.

Week 3 Excerpt: Ritchin, F. (2013). 1/29 1/31 2/2
Bending the frame:
Visual photojournalism, documentary, Theory/ Design Activity Photovice
Storytelling: and the citizen. Discussion Discussion
Photography Integration
Excerpt. Middleton, M. K., Hess, Paper 2 Due Report and
A., Endres, D., & Senda-Cook, S. Write for
(2015). Participatory critical Design Activity Scenes
rhetoric: theoretical and 1 Due
methodological foundations for Photovoice.
studying rhetoric in situ. Handbook

Excerpt. An American index of
the hidden and unfamiliar:
Taryn Simon.

Weekly Readings Monday Wednesday Friday

Week 4 Excerpt. Emerson, R. M., Fretz, 2/5 2/7 2/9
R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (2011).
Ehtnography Writing ethnographic Theory/ Design Activity Photovice
and Field fieldnotes . Discussion Workshop
Recording Excerpt.
Integration Lamott, A.
Excerpt. Culhane, D., & Elliott, Paper 3 Due (1995). Bird
D. (Eds.). (2017). A different by bird: some
Design Activity instructions
kind of ethnography:
2 Due on writing
imaginative practices and
creative methodologies. and life.
”Writing.” “Finding Your
Wang, C., & Burris, M. A.
(1997). Photovoice: Concept,
Methodology, and Use for
Participatory Needs
Assessment. Health Education
& Behavior, 24(3), 369–387.

Week 5 Excerpt. Bernard, S. C. (2011). 2/12 2/14 2/16
Documentary storytelling:
Documentary creative nonfiction on screen. Theory/ Design Activity
Filmmaking Discussion Round 1
Excerpt: Hidalgo, A.
Paper 4 Due
(2017). Cámara retórica: A
feminist filmmaking
Design Activity
methodology. Chapter Three: 3 Due
“A taxonomy of rhetorician’s
film and video production”.

Weekly Readings Monday Wednesday Friday

Week 6 Excerpt. Pink, S. (2013). Doing 2/19 2/21 2/23
visual ethnography. “Ways of
Visual and seeing, knowing, and showing.” Theory/ Design Activity PhotoVoice
Sensory Discussion Phase 2:
Ethnography Methods
Excerpt. Pink, S. (2015). Doing Paper 5 Due
sensory ethnography.
Chapter 6. Design Activity
Chapter 7. 4 Due
Chapter 8 .

Excerpt. Culhane, D., & Elliott, D.
(Eds.). (2017). A different kind of
ethnography: imaginative
practices and creative
methodologies. “Sensing.”

Week 7 Excerpt. Boellstorff, T. (Ed.). 2/26 2/28 3/2
(2012). Ethnography and virtual
Digital worlds: a handbook of method. PhotoVoice Integration Photovoice
Ethnography Phase 2: Paper 6 Due Workshop
Methods Design Activity Round 2
5 Due Discussion
Excerpt. Patton, M. Q. (2015).
Qualitative research &
evaluation methods: integrating
theory and practice. “Qualitative
inquiry”; “Qualitative
frameworks” .

Week 8 3/5 3/7 3/9
Hannington, B., Martin,
Methods of B. (2017). 100 Ways to Research Midterm: Midterm: Midterm
Design Complex Problems, Develop Photos & Theory and Due
Midterm Innovative Ideas and Design Descriptions Reflection
Effective Solutions.
Design Activity
Taryn Simon Examples 6 Due

Weekly Readings Monday Wednesday Friday

Week 9 Spring Break 3/12 3/14 3/16

Spring Break

Week 10 Excerpt. Eisenman, S., & Granof, 3/19 3/21 3/23
C. (2008). Design in the age of
Data Darwin: from William Morris to Theory/ Reading: Ch. 3 Group Projects
Storytelling in Frank Lloyd Wright. “Designing Discussion Dare To See Introduction
Time evolution.” Excerpt.

Integration Causey, A.
Excerpt. Causey, A. (2017). Paper 7 Due (2017). Drawn
Drawn to see: drawing as an to see:
ethnographic method. drawing as an
Introduction ethnographic


Design Activity

Week 11 Gries, Laurie. (2017). Mapping 3/26 3/28 3/30
obama hope: A data
Data visualization project for visual Theory/ Design Activity Easter Break
Storytelling in rhetorics. Kairos: A Journal Discussion
Space ofRhetoric, Technology, and
Pedagogy. Integration
Paper 8 Due
Dear Data: Brainpickings Design Activity
7 Due
Intro to Dear Data book

Designer’s Sketchbooks

Weekly Readings Monday Wednesday Friday

Week 12 Excerpt. Miller, C. H. (2014). 4/4 4/6
Digital storytelling: a creator’s Easter Break Integration
Interactive guide to interactive Paper 9 Due Design Activity
Documentary entertainment Design Activity

“Interactive cinema.”
 8 Due

Excerpt. Culhane, D., & Elliott, D.
(Eds.). (2017). A different kind of
ethnography: imaginative
practices and creative
methodologies.” Recording and

Excerpt. Bernard, S. C. (2011).
Documentary storytelling:
creative nonfiction on screen.
“Voiceovers and narration.”

Week 13 4/9 4/11 4/13
Excerpt: Kim, J. Y., Allen, J. P., &
Augmented Lee, E. (2008). “Alternate reality Theory/ Design Activity Group Projects
Reality gaming.” Discussion

Excerpt. Miller, C. H. (2014). Paper 10 Due
Digital storytelling: a creator’s Design Activity
guide to interactive 9 Due

“Alternate realty gaming”.

Week 14 4/16 4/18 4/20

Group Presentations Presentations Presentations
Projects Design Activity
10 Due

Weekly Readings Monday Wednesday Friday

Week 15 4/23 4/25 4/27

Group Presentations Presentations Presentations

Week 16 4/30 5/2

Final Exam Final Exam Final Exam
Review Instructions Workday

Final Exam Time TBA

Required Texts:

Cannington, B., Martin, B. (2017). 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas and Design Effective
Solutions. ISBN:1631593749

Lupton, E. (2017). Design is Storytelling. ISBN:194230319X

Course Readings - Links and PDFs

Bernard, S. C. (2011). Documentary storytelling: creative nonfiction on screen (3rd ed). Amsterdam ; Boston: Focal Press.

Boellstorff, T. (Ed.). (2012). Ethnography and virtual worlds: a handbook of method. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Causey, A. (2017). Drawn to see: drawing as an ethnographic method. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Chimero, F. (n.d.). The Shape of Design (First edition). Minnestota: Shapco Printing.

Culhane, D., & Elliott, D. (Eds.). (2017). A different kind of ethnography: imaginative practices and creative

methodologies. North York, Ontario, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Eisenman, S., & Granof, C. (2008). Design in the age of Darwin: from William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright. Evanston, Ill: Mary and Leigh

Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University : Northwestern University Press.

Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (2011). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes (2nd ed). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Gries, Laurie. (2017). Mapping obama hope: A data visualization project for visual rhetorics. Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology,

and Pedagogy 21(2). Retrieved January 13, 2018, from

Kim, J. Y., Allen, J. P., & Lee, E. (2008). Alternate reality gaming. Communications of the ACM, 51(2), 36–42.

Lamott, A. (1995). Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life (1st Anchor Books ed). New York: Anchor Books.

Martin, B., & Hanington, B. M. (2017). The pocket universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop

innovative ideas and design effective solutions.

Middleton, M. K., Hess, A., Endres, D., & Senda-Cook, S. (2015). Participatory critical rhetoric: theoretical and

methodological foundations for studying rhetoric in situ. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.

Miller, C. H. (2014). Digital storytelling: a creator’s guide to interactive entertainment (Third edition). New York: Focal Press, Taylor &

Francis Group.

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research & evaluation methods: integrating theory and practice (Fourth edition). Thousand Oaks,

California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Pink, S. (2013). Doing visual ethnography (3rd edition). Los Angeles: SAGE.

Pink, S. (2015). Doing sensory ethnography (Second edition). London ; Thousand Oaks, California: Sage


Ritchin, F. (2013). Bending the frame: photojournalism, documentary, and the citizen (First edition). New York, N.Y: Aperture

Foundation, Inc.

Simon, T., Dworkin, R., Kukielski, T., Rushdie, S., Sussman, E., & Whitney Museum of American Art (Eds.). (2012). An American index of

the hidden and unfamiliar - Taryn Simon: on the occasion of an exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art, March

- June, 2007 (3. ed). Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz.

Sunstein, B. S., & Chiseri-Strater, E. (2012). Fieldworking: reading and writing research (4th ed). Boston: Bedford/ St. Martins.

Wang, C., & Burris, M. A. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, Methodology, and Use for Participatory Needs Assessment. Health Education &

Behavior, 24(3), 369–387.

Course Materials

•  Adobe Creative Cloud Our classroom computers have this installed already, but you may also subscribe to CC month-to-
month.). In this course, we will primarily be using Photoshop. The library computers also have Adobe software. . In a pinch,
you can use this open source method editor or this one for some of the more simple design activities.
• Headphones Bring headphones class, as we will sometimes be watching videos and self-directed tutorials.

Assignments Due Date Evaluation

Integration Papers Weeks 2 - 13 20%

Design Activities Week 2 - 13 15%

Discussion Week 2 - 16 20%

Midterm Week 8 15%

Group Projects Weeks 14 - 15 15%

Video Essay Week 17 15%

Course Assignments and Evaluation

Integration Papers 

 Integration Papers respond to the weekly readings. The papers are contemplative in nature and demonstrate your engagement with
the ideas in the assigned weekly course material. Your papers will contain observable signs of notable effort, thinking, and
involvement with the texts. An effective response demonstrates that you have thoroughly read and understood the material (or that
you ask and attempt to answer compelling questions that reveal careful reading). The essay will develop connections between the
material and the themes of the course and demonstrate that you have considered the implications of the materials. Please note that an
Integration Paper is not a summary of your reading, but a response to an objective  (non-judgmental) way of thinking about the
materials. Weekly integration papers must be typed, 2-pages, double-spaced, approximately 400-500 words in length. APA citation
format (with no title page). See the OWL for APA details.

Design Activities 

To promote the integration of theory and practice,  we will embark on a new design activity each week. After this hands-on activity, a
blog post will be due. This post will include: 1) 5+ clear and engaging photographs or a video of your work from the week’s design-
related activities. 2) a 100-200 word write-up, video, screen recording, or sound file (think short podcast or video blog) of what you
achieved (or what you were working toward) from a data-storytelling perspective. Use vocabulary, concepts, and ideas from the week’s
reading material and any additional course material to link theory with practice. Make it a habit to thoroughly relate your design work
with the readings. (This includes material from your Integration Papers.) Assessment of your blogging activity is ongoing throughout
the semester. Late work receives a zero.


This class requires engaged listening and engaged speaking. Each member of our learning community needs to be actively engaged
in the learning process. Each student is here to contribute to the exchange of ideas. Ask questions. Be curious. As a student in this
course, you will create your own communal context for learning by engaging in conversations with others. As such, being prepared to
participate in discussions and activities is paramount. This entails having read, annotated, and thought about the required materials
carefully before class starts.  More discussion details here. 


This midterm is an examination of your critical thinking about themes in the course. This is a 2-part exam focus on the theory and
practice of the Photovoice Project.

Group Data Storytelling Project 

For this group project, you will design and produce a narrative experience that tells a story with data, around data, or about data. It
could be a data visualization on the web, a physical installation using hardware and human bodies, or an interactive
documentary experience. You may work with one or more partners.

Final Video Essay/Video Resume 

How would you describe your growth in digital storytelling throughout the course of the semester?  Create a reflective documentary
video essay in which you tell the story about your growth as a designer/design thinker/storyteller/ethnographer/researcher. Show your
own design work from this class and how that work solves/or attempts to solve issues. How best to show this growth? In your narrative,
discuss what contributed to your development as a designer/design thinker/storyteller/ethnographer/researcher. What is the value of
digital storytelling?


Come to class fully prepared to engage in the exchange of ideas. It is your responsibility to bring the necessary materials to class each
week. You will also need to access (and use) Canvas and email. Save and backup all work at all times. It is also a good idea to bring
headphones to class, as we will sometimes be interacting with media-rich content.


Be here, on time. You are expected to attend class each week and be well prepared. We will often work on projects, watch videos,
conduct group work, and other activities during class time. There is no substitute for your presence during class. Significant absences
will hurt your grade because you will not be in class to participate and collaborate. I take attendance. You are allowed three absences.
If you are absent more than three times you will automatically lose 10% of your final grade. If you miss 5 or more classes, you will not
pass the course. Lateness or leaving early is considered unprofessional and will affect your daily participation grade by 10%.

Late Work

Late work is deducted 20% for each late day. If a project is posted after a deadline, it will be deducted 20%. For example, if the project
is due at 10:00 AM and you post it at 10:01 AM, it will indeed be marked late. Please plan accordingly.

Office Hours and After Hours

I hope you will take advantage of my office hours. I am available to offer extended feedback on your projects (beyond the written
feedback you formally receive). You don’t need to have a problem to come visit, but if you do find yourself having some difficulty or
questions, then I certainly want to see you sooner rather than later. If you cannot make scheduled office hours, arrange to see me at
another time.

Equipment to check out

The COM Studies department has most of the equipment what you will need to complete course assignments. Everyone in the
department, including faculty, use the gear for their work, so it’s important that we all treat it kindly and return it on time. More details

Writing Center

The Saint Joseph’s University Writing Center is free to all members of the SJU community. The undergraduate and graduate student
writers who make up the staff can assist you in any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to organizing and developing your
ideas, to citing sources to proofreading. They work with students from across the university on a variety of assignments and projects:
lab reports, business policy papers, poems, essays, research papers, dissertations, resumes, and personal statements for graduate

school applications, among many others. You name it; they’ve helped writers write it. Both appointments and drop-in sessions are
available. The main Writing Center is located in 162 Merion Hall. The Center also has a satellite location in the Post Learning Commons
(room 128). For more information, including hours of operation and instructions on how to make an appointment, please visit the SJU
Writing Center website at

Academic Honesty

If you use ideas or information that are not common knowledge, you must cite a source. This rule applies to all the course activities and
projects including reading responses, multimedia projects, and essays. How to cite a source will be discussed in class. St. Joseph’s
University’s academic honesty policy can be found here.

The penalty for plagiarism is an automatic Fail for this class and a letter of notification to the Committee on Discipline. If you are
suspected of plagiarism or an act of dishonesty, action will be taken. In all courses, each student has the responsibility to submit work
that is uniquely his or her own. All of this work must be done in accordance with established principles of academic integrity. Specific
violations of this responsibility include, but are not limited to, the following:

Cheating, copying, or the offering or receiving of unauthorized assistance or information in examinations, tests, quizzes, reports,
assigned papers, or special assignments, as in computer programming, studio work, and the like.

The fabrication or falsification of data, results, or sources for papers or reports

Any action which destroys or alters the work of another student;

The multiple submission of the same paper or report for assignments in more than one course without the prior written permission of
each instructor;

Plagiarism, the appropriation of information, ideas, or the language of other persons or writers and the submission of them as one’s
own to satisfy the requirements of a course.

Plagiarism thus constitutes both theft and deceit. Compositions, term papers, or computer programs acquired, either in part or in
whole, from commercial sources or from other students and submitted as one’s own original work shall be considered plagiarism. All
students are directed to the standard manuals of style or reference guides for discussions of plagiarism and the means by which
sources are legitimately acknowledged, cited, quoted, paraphrased, and footnoted—whether presented in an oral report or in writing.

Rules regarding the use of information in this course:

1) If you use the language of your source, you must quote it exactly, enclose it in quotation marks, and cite the source. If you use the
language of your source, quote the wording exactly. This is called a direct quotation. A direct quotation is either enclosed in quotation
marks or indented on the page. If you omit part of the wording, use an ellipsis (three periods, four if necessary for punctuation to
indicate the omission).

2) A paraphrase employs source material by restating an idea in an entirely new form that is original in both sentence structure and
word choice. Taking the basic structure from a source and substituting a few words is an unacceptable paraphrase and may be
construed as plagiarism. Creating a new sentence by merging the wording of two or more sources is also plagiarism.

Services for students with disabilities

Reasonable academic accommodations may be provided to students who submit appropriate documentation of their disability. 
Students are encouraged to contact Dr. Christine Mecke in the Office of Student Disability Services, Bellarmine, B-10, at; or at 610.660.1774 (voice), or 610.660.1620 (TTY), for assistance with this issue.  The university also provides an
appeal/grievance procedure regarding requested or offered reasonable accommodations through Dr. Mecke’s office.

FERPA: Once eligibility is determined, the student must sign a release of Information form (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act –
FERPA) in order for the University to release the Accommodation Plan to the student’s professors. This form must be signed annually in
order for accommodations to continue.  If the FERPA form expires, the student will need to sign a new form before the Accommodation
Plan is sent out to the student’s professors.  Therefore, it is recommended that the student contact the Office of Student Disability
Services as early in the semester as possible in order to ensure continuity of their accommodations.

Reasonable Academic Accommodations:  If it is determined that the student does qualify for accommodations, a plan will be
developed that addresses the student’s individual needs.  This Accommodation Plan, which specifies what academic adjustments have
been granted to the student by the University, will be sent to the student’s professors.

In the event that a student does not qualify for services under Section 504 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, other support services
open to all University students will be discussed with the student.

Grievance procedures for students with disabilities

Appeal Process: The Office of Student Disability Services will seek to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with
disabilities. However, there may be times when a disagreement as to what is considered a reasonable accommodation will occur
between the student and the University.  The student has a right to file a grievance for complaints regarding a requested or offered
reasonable accommodation on the basis of a disability under Section 504 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) and University policies.

If you have any questions regarding the appeals process, please contact Dr. Christine Mecke, Director of Student Disability Services –
Bellarmine – Room G10 –