COM 472 | Digital Storytelling | Fall 2016 | Aimée Knight

SeeMerion 150 | Section 1: T, TH 8:00-9:15  | Section 2: T, TH 12:30-1:45  | Office hours: T,Th 9:15-10:45  | Bronstein Annex, 2nd Floor | Contact:

Course Description

Data-driven storytelling is a powerful and innovative extension of traditional methods of research and dissemination toward new audiences and ends. In this course we will explore ways to creatively interpret data digitally, rendering information more useful, engaging, and accessible. Over the course of the semester students will work with a variety open source platforms and tools for translating data into visual and interactive forms, while discussing principles of narrative, audience and design.

Goals and Objectives

Effective Communication: This course enables students to gain experience in critiquing and creating multimedia stories and videos, including the development of skills in writing, editing, photography, video, sound and design.

Human Centered Design: Students will give extensive attention to each stage of the design process as they critique and create  multimedia projects. Students will learn how to successfully ideate, create content and execute creative design solutions.

Critical Awareness: Students will learn how to investigate and tell digital stories through multiple lenses (historical, social, cultural, aesthetic, technological, etc.).

Required Books

  • The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future, Kevin Kelly, 2015.
  • Digital_Humanities, Burdick, et al., 2012. PDF
  • See the Reading Schedule  

Required Tools

Eli Review ( – an online app we’ll be using to facilitate peer feedback. You’ll need to purchase a subscription ($25) and can do so in the app. Eli Review Student Registration Instructions 

Course Schedule

Project 1 Multimedia Storytelling Weeks 1-3

Project 2 Data Storytelling Weeks 4-6

Project 3 Interactive Storytelling Weeks 7-9

Project 4 Group Project: Data Storytelling Weeks 10-15

Course Assignments and Evaluation

60% 3 Analytical Essays (Includes a 1st draft and revision) at 20% each

20% Group Project Project: Rubric

20% Participation (discussion leader, in class activities and ELI)


I expect you to come to class on time, fully prepared to engage in the exchange of ideas. It is your responsibility to bring the necessary materials to class each week. A USB drive is required (to save your work and transport it as needed). You will also need to access (and use) Blackboard and email. Save and backup all work at all times. It is also a good idea to bring headphones to class, as we will often be interacting with media-rich content.


Be here, on time. You are expected to attend class each week and be well prepared. We will often work on projects, watch videos, conduct group work, and other activities during class time. There is no substitute for your presence during class. Significant absences will hurt your grade because you will not be in class to participate and collaborate. I take attendance. You are allowed three “free” absences. Thereafter, you will lose this 10% of your final grade. If you miss 6 or more classes, you will not pass the course. Lateness or leaving early is considered unprofessional and will also affect your participation grade – three late appearances will lower your participation grade by 10%; please show respect by being on time. I use


*Fair waring: I always grade on a straight scale, with no rounding. 

A  4.0 Distinguished; exceptional performance in all aspects of the course

A- 3.7 Exceptional performance, but somewhat less than that rated as A

B+ 3.3 Very good; meritorious work; exceptional performance in several aspects of the course; notably above average expected of students

B 3.0 Good; sound performance in all aspects of a course; completely fulfilling and satisfying the requirements of the course

B- 2.7 Good; sound performance in all aspects of a course; completely fulfilling and satisfying the requirements of the course, but somewhat less than that rated as B

C 2.0 Passing; marginal work, acceptable, sound performance in some aspects of the course, but below the level of expected competence in other areas

F Failure; not evidencing significant grasp of subject matter or techniques; failure remains on record even if course is repeated and the original grade still affects the cumulative average

Late work

Late work is deducted 10% for each late day.

Office hours and after hours

I hope you will take advantage of my office hours. I am available to offer extended feedback on your projects (beyond the written feedback you formally receive). You don’t need to have a problem to come visit, but if you do find yourself having some difficulty, then I certainly want to see you sooner rather than later. If you cannot make scheduled office hours, arrange to see me at another time.

Equipment to check out

The COM Studies department has most of the equipment what you will need to complete course assignments. Everyone in the department, including faculty, use the gear for their work, so it’s important that we all treat it kindly and return it on time. Available gear is listed here.

  • Where is the gear?

The department equipment room is located on the second floor of Bronstein Hall. It is opened during limited hours during the semester, so be sure to plan ahead. During Fall 2016, the room is open from Monday- Thursday 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. A list of equipment will be available on the website.

  • Check-out

Equipment is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Equipment can be checked out for blocks of time. If you check something out on Mon.-Wednesday, it’s due on Thursday. If you check something out on Thursday, it’s due Monday. Check-outs are renewable if no one is waiting for it.

  • Loss and damage

You are responsible for the item that you check out. If you lose it or damage it, you are responsible for repairs or replacement.

  • Overdue gear

Overdue equipment will result in the suspension of borrowing privileges and could result in a hold placed on the borrower’s university account.

  • Charging

Please recharge the batteries before returning the item and make sure you remove your SD card (SD cards are not provided by the department).

Writing Center

The Saint Joseph’s University Writing Center is free to all members of the SJU community. The undergraduate and graduate student writers who make up the staff can assist you in any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to organizing and developing your ideas, to citing sources to proofreading. They work with students from across the university on a variety of assignments and projects: lab reports, business policy papers, poems, essays, research papers, dissertations, resumes, and personal statements for graduate school applications, among many others. You name it; they’ve helped writers write it. Both appointments and drop-in sessions are available. The main Writing Center is located in 162 Merion Hall. The Center also has a satellite location in the Post Learning Commons (room 128). For more information, including hours of operation and instructions on how to make an appointment, please visit the SJU Writing Center website at

Academic honesty

If you use ideas or information that are not common knowledge, you must cite a source. This rule applies to all the course activities and projects including reading responses, multimedia projects, and essays. How to cite a source will be discussed in class. St. Joseph’s University’s academic honesty policy can be found here.

The penalty for plagiarism is an automatic Fail for this class and a letter of notification to the Committee on Discipline. If you are suspected of plagiarism or an act of dishonesty, action will be taken. In all courses, each student has the responsibility to submit work that is uniquely his or her own. All of this work must be done in accordance with established principles of academic integrity. Specific violations of this responsibility include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Cheating, copying, or the offering or receiving of unauthorized assistance or information in examinations, tests, quizzes, reports, assigned papers, or special assignments, as in computer programming, studio work, and the like.
  2. The fabrication or falsification of data, results, or sources for papers or reports
  3. Any action which destroys or alters the work of another student;
  4. The multiple submission of the same paper or report for assignments in more than one course without the prior written permission of each instructor;
  5. Plagiarism, the appropriation of information, ideas, or the language of other persons or writers and the submission of them as one’s own to satisfy the requirements of a course. Plagiarism thus constitutes both theft and deceit. Compositions, term papers, or computer programs acquired, either in part or in whole, from commercial sources or from other students and submitted as one’s own original work shall be considered plagiarism. All students are directed to the standard manuals of style or reference guides for discussions of plagiarism and the means by which sources are legitimately acknowledged, cited, quoted, paraphrased, and footnoted—whether presented in an oral report or in writing.
  6. Unauthorized Collaboration.

 Rules regarding the use of information in this course:

1) If you use the language of your source, you must quote it exactly, enclose it in quotation marks, and cite the source. If you use the language of your source, quote the wording exactly. This is called a direct quotation. A direct quotation is either enclosed in quotation marks or indented on the page. If you omit part of the wording, use an ellipsis (three periods, four if necessary for punctuation to indicate the omission).

2) A paraphrase employs source material by restating an idea in an entirely new form that is original in both sentence structure and word choice. Taking the basic structure from a source and substituting a few words is an unacceptable paraphrase and may be construed as plagiarism. Creating a new sentence by merging the wording of two or more sources is also plagiarism.

Services for Students with Disabilities

Reasonable academic accommodations may be provided to students who submit appropriate documentation of their disability.  Students are encouraged to contact Dr. Christine Mecke in the Office of Student Disability Services, Bellarmine, B-10, at; or at 610.660.1774 (voice), or 610.660.1620 (TTY), for assistance with this issue.  The university also provides an appeal/grievance procedure regarding requested or offered reasonable accommodations through Dr. Mecke’s office.

FERPA: Once eligibility is determined, the student must sign a release of Information form (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act – FERPA) in order for the University to release the Accommodation Plan to the student’s professors. This form must be signed annually in order for accommodations to continue.  If the FERPA form expires, the student will need to sign a new form before the Accommodation Plan is sent out to the student’s professors.  Therefore, it is recommended that the student contact the Office of Student Disability Services as early in the semester as possible in order to ensure continuity of their accommodations.

Reasonable Academic Accommodations:  If it is determined that the student does qualify for accommodations, a plan will be developed that addresses the student’s individual needs.  This Accommodation Plan, which specifies what academic adjustments have been granted to the student by the University, will be sent to the student’s professors.

In the event that a student does not qualify for services under Section 504 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, other support services open to all University students will be discussed with the student.

Grievance Procedures for Students with Disabilities

Appeal Process: The Office of Student Disability Services will seek to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities. However, there may be times when a disagreement as to what is considered a reasonable accommodation will occur between the student and the University.  The student has a right to file a grievance for complaints regarding a requested or offered reasonable accommodation on the basis of a disability under Section 504 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and University policies.

If you have any questions regarding the appeals process, please contact Dr. Christine Mecke, Director of Student Disability Services – Bellarmine – Room G10 –