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MMEDIA 1A03 Multimedia & Digital Society (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Liss Platt


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 327

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27954


Office Hours: Wednesday, 2:30 - 3:30 pm and by appointment

Course Objectives:

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 27; #2 due Oct 25; #3 due Nov 15; #4 due Nov 29)

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.You should do everything in your power to get your assignment in by the due date; 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.

What does this mean? 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 you 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 4 & 6                                                                                                              
Reading: Review course syllabus and log onto to Avenue to Learn
Lecture Sept 4: Intro to Class, review course outline, expectations. What is digital society? What is Multimedia?
Lecture Sept 6: Discuss technologies of observation; discuss Assignment: Exercise #1 – Due September 27th (accepted until October 4th)
Tutorial: NONE

WEEK 2: SEPTEMBER 11 & 13                                                                                                     
Readings: McLuhan, Twenge, Mollman
Lecture Sept 11: The Medium is Still the Message; further discussion of Exercise #1
Lecture Sept 13: Technology Transforms Everyday Life
Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings

WEEK 3: SEPTEMBER 18 & 20                                                                                               
Readings: Rosen, Wortham, Urist
Lecture Sept 18: From Disciplinary to Control Societies
Lecture Sept 20: Surveillance and Everyday Life
Tutorial: Feedback for Exercise 1 in progress; discuss assigned readings

WEEK 4: SEPTEMBER 25 & 27                                                                                                  

Readings: Stracey, Squires, Venkatraman
Lecture Sept 25: Intersections of Art and Science: Bio Art
Lecture Sept 27: Creativity: Not Just for Artists
Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings
DUE: Exercise #1 (September 27th by midnight)

WEEK 5: OCTOBER 2 & 4                                                                                                                 

Readings: Gladwell, Glei, RSA Animate
Lecture Oct 2: Creativity in Action and in the Economy; discuss Assignment: Exercise #2 – Due October 25th (accepted until November 1st)
Lecture Oct 4: Education Paradigms and Divergent Thinking
Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings; Create groups for Exercise #2


WEEK 7: OCTOBER 16 & 18                                                                                                         
Reading: Samara
Lecture Oct 16: What is design? Design as Communication
Lecture Oct 18: Design Fundamentals
Tutorial: Discuss Exercise #2 projects in progress

WEEK 8: October 23 & 25                                                                                                             
Reading: Kidd, Kreider
Lecture Oct 23: Book Cover Design; discuss Assignment: Exercise #3 – Due November 15th (accepted until November 22nd)
Lecture Oct 25: Introduction to Typography
Tutorial: Photoshop Basics
DUE: Exercise #2 (October 25th by midnight)

WEEK  9: October 30 & November 1                                                                           
Reading: Samara, Bright
Lecture Oct 30: More on Typography; screening excerpt of Helvetica
Lecture Nov 1: Abstract Form and Meaning
Tutorial: Feedback on Exercise #3 projects in progress, more on Photoshop as needed

WEEK 10: November 6 & 8                                                                                                       
Reading: Manovich
Lecture Nov 6: Analog vs. Digital
Lecture Nov 8: Interactivity; discuss Assignment: Exercise #4 – Due November 29th 
Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings; feedback on Exercise #3 projects in progress

WEEK 11: November 13 & 15                                                                                                   
Reading: Chokshi, Fuchs
Lecture Nov 13: Code Art
Lecture Nov 15: Participatory Culture & Fandom
Tutorial: Code basics using Processing
DUE: Exercise #3  (November 15th by midnight)

WEEK 12: November 20 & 22                                                                                                       
Reading: LaFrance, Murray
Lecture Nov 22: Remix Culture
Lecture Nov 25: Copyright and Fair Use
Tutorial: Discussion of assigned readings; more code basics in Processing as needed       

WEEK 13: November 27 & 29   
Readings: Frank, Quartz                                                                                                            
Lecture Nov 27: Digital Media & Materiality
Lecture Nov 29: Final Exam Review
Tutorial: Preparation for final exam
DUE: Exercise #4 (November 29th by midnight)

WEEK 14: December 4
Review course material
Lecture Dec 6: Showcase of MM 1A03 student projects (presented by TAs)
Tutorial: None
DUE: Assignment Redo (December 5th by midnight)



Other Course Information:

The tutorials are collaborative spaces of learning, where ideas and experiences are shared and in confidence. When we enter into dialogue with one another and in these spaces, we do so with sensitivity and mutual respect. Disruptive behaviour will not be tolerated.

QUIZZES: 10% of the final course mark is generated from quizzes the completion of regular quizzes in tutorial. Students will get 1 point for completing the quiz and a zero if they are absent. For instance, if you complete only 5 quizzes, you will receive 5%. 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.

How This Course Works:             

  • Everything you need to know about the course is in the syllabus. This document provides you with a schedule of the required readings for the term, assignment due dates, a tutorial schedule and contact information for the instructor and TAs, and course policies.                                            
  • Each week you are responsible for completing assigned readings & attending lectures & tutorial.
  • All course readings are available through Avenue to Learn.
  • The assignment instructions and guidelines are available on Avenue to Learn. There are 4 in total. We will go over the assignments in tutorials.


  • This course has one instructor, six teaching assistants.                                                              
  • Our goal for this course is to facilitate a positive online learning experience for you.
  • We will not chase down students who are not contributing or doing the work.
  • We will be available to you if you need help with the course material – themes and issues in the readings, the assignments, or any technical issues. Please visit office hours for these purposes.                       


  • It is your responsibility to understand the requirements, expectations, and policies of the course. All of this information is available in the syllabus.                                               
  • We encourage you to create a schedule for yourself: map out and organize when you will work on this course.  
  • We recommend dedicating 7-8 hours per week for this class: 2 hours for lecture, 1 hour for tutorial, 2 hours for course readings and review, and 2-3 hours for working on assignments.       
  • The course moves at a rapid pace. To succeed, you will need to stay on top of required readings and assignments, and attend lectures and tutorials regularly.
  • Please ensure that you are familiar with the layout of Avenue to Learn.

Course Policies                                                                                                                          


  • Please use e-mail only for booking appointments with your T.A. or the instructor. If you send e-mail, please identify the course number (MM1A03) in the subject heading, and include your full name and student number.
  • All other questions are to be submitted in the ‘Ask a Question’ Discussion Forum: Questions concerning course content and/or assignments are to be submitted in the ‘Ask a Question’ discussion forum. You can access this forum via Avenue to Learn. In the dropdown menu, select: ‘Communication’ ---> ‘Discussions’---> Class Questions ---> Ask a question                                                        


  • Assignments for the course are submitted online through Avenue to Learn and only Avenue to Learn. To submit assignments:  --->‘Assessment’ ---> ‘Assignments’ ---> Select the assignment folder that corresponds to the assignment number (i.e. Submit Assignment #2 – in Assignment #2 folder)
  • Word files are to be uploaded in a pdf or rtf format.                                          
  • Files that cannot open and/or incorrect files will receive a grade of 0. We will not be chasing down assignments. It is your responsibility to ensure the file is compatible.
  • Assignments sent via email will not be accepted.


  • This course has six TAs to facilitate the grading of assignments.
  • Please allow a two-week turnaround for assignment grading.
  • Marked assignments/grades will be returned in tutorials.
  • Remember: One does not start out with a perfect score. Marks are not lost because points are taken off. Grading begins at zero and marks are allotted based on the demonstrated mastery of the assignment.

Assignment Redo
Everyone has the opportunity to redo one assignment (Assignment 1 or Assignment 3), but only if it’s submitted by the due date, not by the end of the grace period.

Here are the guidelines:
• The new exercise must be a new concept and execution (not an improved version of the original).
• The new exercise must fulfill the original exercise requirements.
• The deadline for re-done assignments is December 9th at midnight.
• Submit the assignment on Avenue to Learn in a folder called 'Assignment Re-do’.
DUE: December 4 by midnight - no extensions.

We make every effort to fairly evaluate your assignments. Our evaluations rely upon comparison between the assignment criteria and the completeness and quality of the work submitted. We make sample and overall average comparisons between the assessment of different evaluators to ensure that we are consistent in our application of the assignment criteria and assessment of the quality and completeness of the submitted assignments. Evaluation feedback contributes to learning outcomes and therefore we welcome dialogue in cases where students do not understand, or have reasoned arguments disputing the rationale given for the evaluation.

What to do if you do not understand or disagree with your assignment evaluation?

Wait 24 hours. There is no rush to take action. This time will allow you to reflect and prepare your written rationale, if necessary (see below).

Review. Use your 24 hours (or longer if you wish) to re-read the assignment criteria, compare the assignment criteria to your submitted work, and your assessment comments and grade. The outcome of your review will help you decide whether you wish to proceed to request an evaluation review. If, after reviewing the criteria, work, comments, and letter grade definitions (see below) you require a clarification of the evaluation comments please contact your TA. If, however, you would like to request a review of your evaluation grade, then you will need to make an appointment with your TA and present a written rationale.

Prepare a written rationale. In order to effectively challenge an assignment evaluation you will need to present a written argument (point form is fine) addressing your evaluation, specifically relating the issues identified in your review comments to the assignment criteria, and the general qualitative narratives associated with your letter grade level (see below).

Attend a meeting. Make an appointment with your evaluator (TA) and review together the assignment description, evaluation, and your rationale for challenging the grade. As a result of this meeting, together you and your TA may decide upon one of the following steps:


            a) Your grade may remain unchanged because you are satisfied with the fairness of the   evaluation or,

            b) Your grade is increased because your TA is satisfied with your rationale, or

            c) If you are still unsatisfied with the fairness of the evaluation, or you can request that                           the Instructor (our choice), review your written rationale, assignment and

                        evaluation. The second reviewer and your TA will then render a final decision.


Definitions of Grading Descriptions

A+ Exceptional. Thorough knowledge of concepts and/or techniques and exceptional skill or great originality in the use of those concepts/techniques in satisfying the requirements of the assignment.

A Excellent. Thorough knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with a high degree of skill and/or some elements of originality in satisfying the requirements of the assignment.

B+ Very Good. Thorough knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with a fairly high degree of skill in the use of those concepts/techniques in satisfying the requirements of the assignment.

B Good. Good level of knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with considerable skill in using them to satisfy the requirements of the assignment.

C+ Competent. Acceptable level of knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with considerable skill in using them to satisfy the requirements of the assignment.

C Fairly Competent. Acceptable level of knowledge of concepts and/or techniques together with some skill in using them to satisfy the requirements of the assignment.

D+ Passing. Slightly better than minimal knowledge of required concepts and/or techniques together with some ability to use them in satisfying the requirements of the assignment.

D Barely Passing. Minimum knowledge of concepts and/or techniques needed to satisfy the requirements of the assignment.

D- Marginally Failing.

F Failing.