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MMEDIA 1A03 Multimedia & Digital Society

Academic Year: Fall 2016

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Andrea Zeffiro


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 307

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23503


Office Hours: Tuesday 2:45-4:45 or by appointment

Course Objectives:

This course is designed to help students better understand the role of digital technologies in contemporary life and to encourage students to reflect on, and create new possibilities for, how they participate in today’s digital society. Lectures will explore topics such as what it means to live in a mediated society, the power of creativity and divergent thinking in today’s economy, fundamentals of graphic and multimedia design, interactivity, and remix culture. Special attention will be paid to social and cultural issues surrounding the use of technologies. Tutorials will provide opportunities for in-depth discussions of course readings and also facilitate students’ ability to express themselves effectively with diverse types of media.

In support of these learning goals, students will complete four multimedia exercises.  A series of feedback sessions on work in progress during the tutorials will ensure that all students are developing the knowledge and skill to create effective media-based expression and communication. The final exam will cover lecture materials as well as readings discussed in lecture and/or tutorial.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required materials and texts:

• It is recommended that students purchase at a usb key for storage.

All required readings will be posted on Avenue to Learn (Learning Management System).


Students will use a variety of software packages.  In some cases, this will be free and open source software that students can easily install on home computers or laptops – in other cases, this will be commercially distributed software available in Faculty of Humanities computer labs.

Method of Assessment:

Assignments: Detailed descriptions of individual assignments will be posted in Avenue to Learn and explained in class. You are encouraged to begin working on assignments immediately to fully benefit from the work-in-progress feedback sessions provided in tutorial. All assignments will be submitted via Avenue to Learn in the forum associated with your tutorial.


Four Multimedia Exercises (4 x 15% each)    60%    

(#1 due Sept 30; #2 due Oct 28; #3 due Nov 18; #4 due Dec 2)

Final Exam                                                        30%

(Exam administered by Scheduling office)

Tutorial Participation                                      10%

(Active in discussions about course readings and in feedback sessions with peers)

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Detailed descriptions of individual assignments will be posted in Avenue to Learn and explained in class. You are encouraged to begin working on assignments immediately to fully benefit from the work-in-progress feedback sessions provided in tutorial. All assignments will be submitted via Avenue to Learn in the forum associated with your tutorial.

All assignments are due on the due date provided. Any submission after that date will mean that the assignment is late. No assignments will be accepted later than one week. Please note that MSAF is for a maximum period of three days, and can only be used for the assignment’s due date, so even if you submit an MSAF, you will not get additional time beyond the one week grace period.

E-mailed assignments will not be accepted. A technical difficulty (network outages, hardware or software malfunctions, data loss) does not warrant an extension. Please keep this in mind. Plan accordingly and maintain backup copies of work. 

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

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.

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.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. 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:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

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.

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. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Note: Readings are listed on the week they will be discussed so you must read them prior to that class/tutorial meeting.


Reading: Review course syllabus and log onto to Avenue to Learn

Lecture Sept 6: Intro to Class, review course outline, expectations. What is digital society? What is Multimedia?

Lecture Sept 9: Discuss technologies of observation; discuss Assignment: Exercise #1 – Due September 30th

Tutorial: NONE

WEEK 2: SEPTEMBER 13 & 16                                                                                                    

Readings: McLuhan, Turkle

Lecture Sept 13: The Medium is Still the Message; further discussion of Exercise #1

Lecture Sept 16: Technology Transforms Everyday Life

Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings

WEEK 3: SEPTEMBER 20 & 23                                                                                            

Readings: Marche, Klinenberg, Rosen

Lecture Sept 20: Surveillance and Digital Society

Lecture Sept 23: Mediated and Augmented Reality

Tutorial: Feedback for Exercise 1 in progress; discuss assigned readings

WEEK 4: SEPTEMBER 27 & 30                                                                                         

Readings: Stracey, Squires

Lecture Sept 27: Intersections of Art and Science: Bio Art

Lecture Sept 30: Creativity: Not Just for Artists

Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings

        DUE: Exercise #1 (September 30 by midnight)

WEEK 5: OCTOBER 4 & 7                                                                                                            

Readings: Gladwell, Glei

Lecture Oct 4: Creativity in Action and in the Economy; discuss Assignment: Exercise #2 – Due October 28th

Lecture Oct 7: Education Paradigms and Divergent Thinking

Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings; create groups for Exercise #2

WEEK 7: OCTOBER 18 & 21                                                                                                       

Reading: Samara

Lecture Oct 18: What is design? Design as Communication

Lecture Oct 21: Design Fundamentals

Tutorial: Discuss Exercise #2 projects in progress

WEEK 8: October 25 & 28                                                                                                      

Reading: Kidd

Lecture Oct 25: Book Cover Design; discuss Assignment: Exercise #3 – Due November 18th

Lecture Oct 28: Introduction to Typography

Tutorial: Photoshop Basics

        DUE: Exercise #2 (October 28 by midnight)

WEEK  9: November 1 & 4                                                                                                         

Reading: Samara

Lecture Nov 1: More on Typography; screening excerpt of Helvetica

Lecture Nov 4: Abstract Form and Meaning

Tutorial: Feedback on Exercise #3 projects in progress, more on Photoshop as needed

WEEK 10: November 8 & 11                                                                                              

Reading: Manovich

Lecture Nov 8: Analog vs. Digital; Residual Media

Lecture Nov 11: Design and interactivity; the possibilities of code; discuss Assignment: Exercise #4 – Due December 2th

Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings; feedback on Exercise #3 projects in progress

WEEK 11: November 15 & 18                                                                                                    

Reading: Keen & Jenkins

Lecture Nov 15: Live Coding and Physical Computing

Lecture Nov 18: Participatory Culture

Tutorial: Code basics using Processing

        DUE: Exercise #3  (November 18 by midnight)

WEEK 12: November 22 & 25                                                                                                   

Reading: Lessig

Lecture Nov 22: Remix Culture; Copyright and Fair Use

Lecture Nov 25: Copyright and Gaming

Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings; more code basics in Processing as needed       

WEEK 13: December 2 & 4     

Readings: None                                                                                                

Lecture Dec 2: Showcase of 1A03 student projects (presented by TAs)

Lecture Dec 4: Showcase of 1A03 student projects (presented by TAs)

Tutorial: Preparation for final exam

        DUE: Exercise #4 (December 2 by midnight)

WEEK 14: December 6

Readings: Review course material

Lecture Dec 6: Final Exam Review

Tutorial: None