In 2015, I was approached by my faculty colleagues in our New Media program to teach the senior-level capstone course in New Media Theory (NMAT-G 411), based on my previous teaching experience in my well-received Honors Colloquium on digital culture and my own research interests. I developed an effective capstone seminar informed by my own background in critical theory and cultural studies, which formed the conceptual bridge that allowed me to teach this class.
In the last two decades, digital technologies have become enmeshed into our everyday lives to such a degree that one can be forgiven for thinking, “What more can we possibly say about them?” and I figured this sense of “digital exhaustion” might have a special resonance with New Media students in a senior-level capstone course. However, I also wanted to give these soon-to-be-graduates some flexibility in terms of choosing and developing their assignments and projects for the course. To that end, I implemented a Coursework Menu from which students would choose any combination of assignments and projects totaling 50% of the final course grade. Students made their choices, provided a rationale for the projects they chose, and then submitted a Coursework Agreement. Because this was a Capstone/Senior Seminar course, I also wanted students to spend considerable time reflecting on the skills they had learned in their degree program, so I structured the seminar around the various theories and concepts that circulate throughout new media studies and critical theory.
Finally, I took quite seriously the “theory” part of this course. I wanted to make sure that students could do more than merely describe new media phenomena; I also wanted my seniors to be able to take these phenomena apart and understand the constitutive concepts that make them “work.” Asking students to effectively map out 50% of their grade via the Coursework Menu—which could include anything from blogging and responding to discussion questions to making a podcast—encouraged them to map out their own itinerary through such challenging sites as digital identity, social media, privacy and surveillance in the information age, and the economic foundations of digital culture.
Course Evaluation Summaries (Quantitative)
On this Likert scale, 5 = “Strongly Agree” and 1 = “Strongly Disagree.” A perfect score for each category would be 5.00.
|NMAT-G 411: New Media Theory||Spring 2016 (31737)|
|1.) My instructor organized this course well.||4.64|
|2.) My instructor is well-prepared for class meetings.||4.79|
|3.) My instructor uses teaching methods well-suited to the course.||4.50|
|4.) My instructor is knowledgeable on course topics.||4.57|
|5.) My instructor treats students with respect.||4.57|
|6.) My instructor is regularly available for consultation.||4.57|
|7.) The instructor promotes an atmosphere conducive to learning.||4.64|
|8.) The objectives of this course are clearly stated.||4.43|
|9.) Announced course objectives agree with what is taught.||4.64|
|10.) The grading system for the course was clearly explained.||4.29|
|11.) Grades are assigned fairly and impartially.||4.21|
|12.) The course improved my understanding of concepts in this field.||4.57|
|13.) The instructor uses Oncourse or Canvas to post grades, syllabus, and class materials in a timely fashion.||4.57|
|14.) New media/art projects are appropriate to the level of the course.||4.50|
|15.) My instructor values my creativity and/or originality.||4.14|
|16.) Evaluations of my performance/artistic products are constructive.||4.29|
|17.) I can apply the learning in this class to work in my future profession.||4.14|
Course Evaluation Summaries (Qualitative)
Students did not provide any qualitative feedback on this course.
Click here for the Course Syllabus.
Click here for the Coursework Agreement and here for the Coursework Menu.
Click here, here, here, here, and here for sample assignments, exams, study guides, and projects; click here for a handout on posthumanism and Blade Runner (Dir. Ridley Scott, 1982).