Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

MMEDIA 1A03 Multimedia & Digital Society (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2020

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. David Ogborn


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 306

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27603

Office Hours: Tues + Weds 4:30-5:30 PM (TSH-306), and by appointment

Course Objectives:

Course Description: This course examines the impact of digital technologies on contemporary life. Lectures, readings, discussions, and multimedia projects will enable students to both reflect upon and participate in today’s digital society. The principal learning goals (which mirror most of the learning goals of the Multimedia program as a whole) are to:

  1. Conceptualize, initiate, propose, and plan multimedia projects
  2. Design, produce, and present multimedia projects
  3. Engage historical, critical, and philosophical approaches in making and analyzing Multimedia art and communication
  4. Differentiate and employ multiple approaches to critiquing multimedia works
  5. Understand and engage ethics in multimedia research, practices and processes
  6. Recognize and apply intellectual property considerations in the production and evaluation of multimedia projects
  7. Be aware of, and engage critically with, diverse milieus of multimedia production and reception

Format: The class meets for two one-hour lectures each week, as well as one one-hour tutorial session. Note that four lectures will be delivered in an online video format instead of in-person (these are noted specifically on the schedule below) and will be available as links from within Avenue To Learn.  The semester is divided into a prelude, four modules each of which culminate in a creative project, and a postlude where we collectively imagine multimedia futures. A final exam completed during the examination period assesses and reinforces conceptual, technical and terminological gains made during the course.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Materials and Texts: All required reading materials are freely and legally available online and will be provided as links or in other appropriate formats through Avenue To Learn. The course will make heavy use of various pieces of free and open source software (FOSS) that can be installed on home computers or personal laptops. It is strongly recommended that a personal laptop be brought to lecture and tutorial sessions if possible as any of these may involve guided technical exercises and experiments.

Method of Assessment:


  • 20% Weekly lecture reflections and tutorial attendance (best 20 out of 24 @ 1%, rolling deadlines)
  • 60% 3 x 20%, highest three grades out of four multimedia projects:
    • Project #1 due Sunday 2 Feb 11:59 PM
    • Project #2 due Sunday 16 Feb 11:59 PM
    • Project #3 due Sunday 8 Mar 11:59 PM
    • Project #4 due Sunday 29 Mar 11:59 PM
  • 20% Final exam (during examination period, scheduled by examination office)
  • (100% Total)

Weekly Lecture Reflections and Tutorial Attendance: Students are expected to attend and reflect upon all lecture discussions, and to attend and participate in all tutorial activities (both of which will normally lead to stronger performance on the projects and exam, moreover). Minor absences or omissions due to illness or other circumstances are accommodated (in advance, as a matter of policy) by the grade for these portions of the course (20%) being based, for all students, on the average of the best 20 grades out of 24 possible (12 weeks of lecture reflections, 12 tutorials to attend). No additional accommodation for minor absences and omissions is possible. If circumstances present larger obstacles to the completion of course requirements (eg. illness/absence/hardship of more than a week in duration) students should consult with the instructor and with their home faculty’s advising office, as soon as possible.

The portion of the grade for weekly lecture reflections involves answering, in a short paragraph, reflective questions about lecture materials, your own learning and Multimedia practice, possible applications of that learning, etc. The deadline for completing these reflections is Friday at 5 PM in each week of the course, with the single exception that the three reflections for the first three weeks of the course are all due on the Friday of the third week of the course (to accommodate those who join the course during the first weeks of semester). No extensions to these Friday deadlines are possible (see above re: accommodation in advance via the grade being based on the highest 20 out of 24) so students are encouraged to complete the reflections well in advance of the deadline (eg. immediately after the Wednesday lecture session).

The portion of the grade for tutorial attendance is based on attendance at the beginning of, and throughout, each assigned tutorial section, as recorded by the teaching assistants leading each tutorial section. No credit for tutorials missed due to short-term illnesses/absences/etc is possible (see above re: accommodation in advance via the grade being based on the highest 20 out of 24).

Projects: Detailed descriptions of the four creative projects will be posted to the course’s Avenue-to-Learn site, together with the rubrics used to determine grades and give constructive feedback. All creative projects are to be handed in electronically through Avenue-To-Learn. Students are encouraged to begin working on projects well in advance of their due dates. Note that the portion of the final grade represented by these four projects is based on the highest three projects grades out of the four. If a student chooses to complete only three of the four projects, the uncompleted project will (naturally) receive a grade of 0 and the grade for the projects will be based on the three grades for the projects they did complete.

Final Exam: The final exam takes place during the final examination period, as scheduled by the registrar. The exam consists of 60 multiple choice questions plus a set short-essay question. The set essay question will be based on ideas developed throughout the course and will be shared with the class during the final 2 weeks of the course. The multiple choice questions are worth 60% of the exam grade, and the short-essay is worth the remaining 40% of the exam grade.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late policy: Projects submitted after the due date will be subject to penalty of 5% per day. No assignments will be accepted more than one week (7 days) late. No late weekly reflections will be accepted.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Integrity

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  • plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  • improper collaboration in group work.
  • copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Authenticity / Plagiarism Detection

Some courses may use a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. For courses using such software, students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or must still submit an electronic and/or hardcopy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to or A2L. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, other software, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to

Courses with an On-Line Element

Some courses use on-line elements (e.g. e-mail, Avenue to Learn (A2L), LearnLink, web pages, capa, Moodle, ThinkingCap, etc.). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of a course using these elements, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in a course that uses on-line elements will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Online Proctoring

Some courses may use online proctoring software for tests and exams. This software may require students to turn on their video camera, present identification, monitor and record their computer activities, and/or lockdown their browser during tests or exams. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Conduct Expectations

As a McMaster student, you have the right to experience, and the responsibility to demonstrate, respectful and dignified interactions within all of our living, learning and working communities. These expectations are described in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities (the "Code"). All students share the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment for the academic and personal growth of all McMaster community members, whether in person or online.

It is essential that students be mindful of their interactions online, as the Code remains in effect in virtual learning environments. The Code applies to any interactions that adversely affect, disrupt, or interfere with reasonable participation in University activities. Student disruptions or behaviours that interfere with university functions on online platforms (e.g. use of Avenue 2 Learn, WebEx or Zoom for delivery), will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. Outcomes may include restriction or removal of the involved students' access to these platforms.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities policy.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

Request for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work
McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar "Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work".

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.

Copyright and Recording

Students are advised that lectures, demonstrations, performances, and any other course material provided by an instructor include copyright protected works. The Copyright Act and copyright law protect every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including lectures by University instructors.

The recording of lectures, tutorials, or other methods of instruction may occur during a course. Recording may be done by either the instructor for the purpose of authorized distribution, or by a student for the purpose of personal study. Students should be aware that their voice and/or image may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak with the instructor if this is a concern for you.

Extreme Circumstances

The University reserves the right to change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances (e.g., severe weather, labour disruptions, etc.). Changes will be communicated through regular McMaster communication channels, such as McMaster Daily News, A2L and/or McMaster email.

Topics and Readings:



  • Jan 7 lecture: course overview
  • Jan 8 lecture: multimedia, art, and design
  • no tutorial first week of classes

Module 1: Images

  • Jan 14 lecture: colour and colour models
  • Jan 15 lecture: parameters of bitmap images
  • Jan 13-17 tutorials: GNU Image Manipulation Program
  • Jan 21: introducing the first project
  • Jan 22: vector images
  • Jan 20-24 tutorials: InkScape
  • Jan 28 lecture: fonts and typography
  • Jan 29 lecture: image ethics and intellectual property
  • Jan 27-31 tutorials: project assistance and critique
  • Project #1 due Sunday 2 Feb 11:59 PM

Module 2: Audio

  • Feb 4 *online video lecture*: introducing the second project
  • Feb 5 *online video lecture*: parameters of digital audio
  • Feb 3-7 tutorials: Audacity
  • Feb 11 lecture: sound art forms and histories
  • Feb 12 lecture: sound ethics and intellectual property
  • Feb 10-14 tutorials: project assistance and critique
  • Project #2 due Sunday 16 Feb 11:59 PM

Module 3: Video

  • Feb 25 lecture: introducing the third project
  • Feb 26 lecture: parameters of digital video
  • Feb 24-28 tutorials: OpenShot
  • Mar 3 lecture: video art forms and histories
  • Mar 4 lecture: video ethics and intellectual property
  • Mar 2-6 tutorials: project assistance and critique
  • Project #3 due Sunday 8 Mar 11:59 PM

Module 4: Generativity and Interaction

  • Mar 10 *online video lecture*: introducing the fourth project
  • Mar 11 *online video lecture*: generative art with Processing
  • Mar 9-13 tutorials: Processing
  • Mar 17 lecture: game studies, design, and development
  • Mar 18 lecture: multimedia in (live) performance
  • Mar 16-20 tutorials: More Processing
  • Mar 24: the Internet, the Web, social and mobile media
  • Mar 25: ethics and intellectual property of generative and interactive media
  • Mar 23-27 tutorials: project assistance and critique
  • Project #4 due Sunday 29 Mar 11:59 PM

Postlude (multimedia futures)

  • Mar 31 lecture: multimedia futures I
  • Apr 1 lecture: multimedia futures II
  • Mar 30-Apr 3 tutorials: discussion and exam review
  • Apr 7 lecture: multimedia futures III
  • Exam in final examination period (to be scheduled by examination office)

Other Course Information:

Basic Needs Security: Any student who faces challenges securing their food or housing and believes this may affect their performance in the course is urged to notify the instructor, if they are comfortable in doing so. This will enable him to provide any resources that he may possess.

Avenue To Learn: In this course we will be using Avenue To Learn. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Teaching Assistant Contact Information: TBA on Avenue To Learn.