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MMEDIA 1A03 Multimedia & Digital Society

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Andrea Zeffiro


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 307

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23503


Office Hours: Tuesday 3:00-5:00

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 29; #2 due Oct 27; #3 due Nov 17; #4 due Dec 1)

Final Exam                                          25%

(Exam administered by Scheduling office)

Tutorial Participation                             15%

Active in discussions about course readings and in feedback sessions with peers (5%) and completion of regular quizzes (10%). The quizzes will not be marked but students will get 1 point for completing the quiz and a zero if they are absent. The aim of the quizzes is to reiterate weekly course concepts and provide an opportunity for students to practice answering multiple choice questions throughout the term and in preparation for the final exam.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

All assignments are due on the due date provided. Any submission after that date will mean that the assignment is late. However, assignments will be accepted after the due date for up to one week without any penalty.No assignments will be accepted later than one week. The one-week grace period is to allow you to complete your assignments should you have minor medical situations or personal emergency.

Please note that MSAF is for a maximum period of three days, and can only be used for the assignment’s original due date, so even if you submit an MSAF, you will not get additional time beyond the one week grace period. If you get sick or have an emergency that prevents you from completing the assignment before the due date, just use the grace period. If something happens after the deadline, you should already have submitted your assignment.

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.

WEEK 1: SEPTEMBER 5 & 8                                                                                                       

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

Lecture Sept 5: Intro to Class, review course outline, expectations. What is digital society? What is Multimedia?

Lecture Sept 8: Discuss technologies of observation; discuss Assignment: Exercise #1 – Due September 29th (accepted until October 6th)

Tutorial: NONE

WEEK 2: SEPTEMBER 12 & 15                                                                                              

Readings: McLuhan, Twenge, Mollman

Lecture Sept 12: The Medium is Still the Message; further discussion of Exercise #1

Lecture Sept 15: Technology Transforms Everyday Life

Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings

WEEK 3: SEPTEMBER 19 & 22                                                                                      

Readings: Rosen, Wortham, Urist

Lecture Sept 19: From Disciplinary to Control Societies

Lecture Sept 22: Surveillance and Everyday Life

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

WEEK 4: SEPTEMBER 26 & 29                                                                                  

Readings: Stracey, Squires, Venkatraman

Lecture Sept 26: Intersections of Art and Science: Bio Art

Lecture Sept 29: Creativity: Not Just for Artists

Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings

DUE: Exercise #1 (September 29th by midnight)

WEEK 5: OCTOBER 3 & 6                                                                                                       

Readings: Gladwell, Glei, RSA Animate

Lecture Oct 3: Creativity in Action and in the Economy; discuss Assignment: Exercise #2 – Due October 27th (accepted until November 3rd)

Lecture Oct 6: Education Paradigms and Divergent Thinking

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

WEEK 6: OCTOBER 9 - 15

Mid Term Recess - No classes

WEEK 7: OCTOBER 17 & 20                                                                                                          

Reading: Samara

Lecture Oct 17: What is design? Design as Communication

Lecture Oct 20: Design Fundamentals

Tutorial: Discuss Exercise #2 projects in progress

WEEK 8: October 24 & 27                                                                                             

Reading: Kidd, Kreider

Lecture Oct 24: Book Cover Design; discuss Assignment: Exercise #3 – Due November 17th (accepted until November 24)

Lecture Oct 27: Introduction to Typography

Tutorial: Photoshop Basics

DUE: Exercise #2 (October 27 by midnight)

WEEK  9: October 31 & November 3                                                                                          

Reading: Samara, Bright

Lecture Oct 31: More on Typography

Lecture Nov 3: Abstract Form and Meaning

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

WEEK 10: November 7 & 10                                                                                 

Reading:  Manovich

Lecture Nov 7: Analog vs. Digital

Lecture Nov 10: Interactivity; discuss Assignment: Exercise #4 – Due December 1st

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

WEEK 11: November 14 & 17                                                                                                    

Reading:  Derisz, Fuchs

Lecture Nov 15: Code Art

Lecture Nov 18: Participatory Culture & Fandom

Tutorial: Code basics using Processing

DUE: Exercise #3  (November 17 by midnight)

WEEK 12: November 21 & 24                                                                                           

Reading: LaFrance, Murray

Lecture Nov 21: Remix Culture

Lecture Nov 24: Copyright and Fair Use

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

WEEK 13: November 28 & December 1   

Readings: Frank, Quartz                                                                                         

Lecture Nov 28: Digital Media & Materiality

Lecture Dec 1: Final Exam Review

Tutorial: Preparation for final exam

DUE: Exercise #4 (December 1 by midnight)

WEEK 14: December 5

Lecture Dec 5: Showcase of 1A03 student projects (presented by TAs)

Tutorial: None