IAS 343: Digital Media Workshop
IAS 343: Digital Media Workshop
IAS 343: Digital Media Workshop
IAS 343: Digital Media Workshop
IAS 343: Digital Media Workshop
IAS 343: Digital Media Workshop
IAS 343: Digital Media Workshop

IAS 343: Digital Media Workshop

Winter 2011 (31 Students)

Course Site

The Syllabus


Media Collection, Curation, and Exhibition Course (designed and taught with the approval of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell)

Full Course Title: “Digital Media Workshop (Collaboration and Publication: Do-It-Yourself Music Cultures)”

Course Description

This course is an introduction to collaboratively composing, collecting, and curating digital content using multi-authored, web-based platforms. As a class, we will collectively use the Omeka platform to develop online exhibits of media assets (such as digital video, audio, and images). Rather than writing only individual essays or producing work independently, we will collaboratively develop our own exhibit. This collaboration will require students to determine their own roles and responsibilities as the project develops. Such roles involve web design, content and metadata management, outreach, interpretation, and media production. No previous experience in any of these domains will be assumed, and I will encourage students to develop competencies in areas new to them.

Of course, the project necessitates both a context and some content. To that end, we will be in conversation with our partners in the Puget Sound region (and beyond), specifically musicians who are (or were) somehow involved in “do-it-yourself” (DIY) scenes. At its core, a term like “DIY” is highly subject to debate. Why does DIY matter today, especially when so many things are composed digitally? What does it mean in the first place? What is “done,” how, and for whom? How is “DIY” motivated? And to what effects on people’s perceptions of local culture? With the UW’s “Crocodile Cafe Collection” as our focus, we’ll unpack these questions with our community partners, who will converse with the class and present their differing perspectives and artifacts. Students will be expected to work with our partners to digitize existing materials (e.g., print texts and analog recordings), conduct interviews, and research the region for assets that could be included (with consent) in the exhibit. In so doing, we will learn more about the politics, aesthetics, and histories of DIY music cultures and do our best to represent the complex and often contentious diversity of that spectrum on the web.

Learning Outcomes for the Course

By the quarter’s end, students should:

Develop competencies in online project management and collaboration using Omeka as the primary platform for collecting and curating media assets (including digital images, video, and audio).

Demonstrate a project-specific awareness of how to compose with multiple media (e.g., video, audio, and text) that engage various modalities (e.g., watching, reading, and listening) and audiences (e.g., academics and enthusiasts).

Articulate how the design of web-based content influences people’s interpretations of and access to it and explain why the project should be digital in the first place.

In groups, create an online exhibit consisting of at least twenty media assets, determine whether it should be published on the web, and develop a post-quarter sustainability plan for it.

Individually and in writing, document changes made to the project, reflect on contributions made to it, and identify what was learned, what could be done differently, and what future contributors need to consider.

Learn more about “do-it-yourself” cultures in the Puget Sound region and elsewhere, not to mention the multiple valences of DIY, and articulate how (if at all) those cultures should be represented through an online exhibit.

What I Learned

This course was the first time I asked a class to collaboratively participate in a single collection and curation project. In this case, 31 students collectively developed an Omeka exhibit of the University of Washington’s Crocodile Cafe Collection and, in so doing, engaged the University’s community partners (e.g., bands, fans, and audio engineers who are somehow represented in the Collection) to help construct that exhibit. This community-based approach to the media workshop format gave me the opportunity to draft prompts and modules related to (1) large-scale collaboration; (2) working with libraries and dynamic media collections (e.g., of audio at the UW); (3) iteratively collecting, describing, and presenting digital resources; (4) conducting multimodal “lightning reports” in the classroom; (5) documenting changes to (as well as bugs found in) a project; (6) critically engaging collections as acts of representation; and (7) assessing an exhibit composed by 30+ students (not to mention 30+ community partners).

Since the Course

I presented findings from the course at MLA 2012 in Seattle, and I reference it toward the end of my 2012 essay on “Tinker-Centric Pedagogy.” I am also in the process of working with everyone involved in the project to publish the exhibit online. Since over 65 people are involved, this process is intricate, to say the least.

Course Evaluations

Available upon request.

(All images on the left are screen shots of the course site, blog, or class Omeka exhibit, which were designed by the students and me.)