Assignments + Course Evaluation


20%      10 2-page Integration Papers due in class

10%      10 Design Activities for Portfolio + reflections

20%      Discussion/Engaged speaking and listening

10%    5 Writing Workshop projects

10%      Midterm

10%      Final Presentation

20%      Final Video Essay

Integration Papers 

What are Integration Papers? Integration Papers respond to the weekly readings. The papers are contemplative in nature and demonstrate your engagement with the ideas in the assigned weekly course material. Your papers will contain observable signs of notable effort, thinking, and involvement with the texts. An effective response demonstrates that you have thoroughly read and understood the material (or that you ask and attempt to answer compelling questions that reveal careful reading). The essay will develop connections between the material and the themes of the course and demonstrate that you have considered the implications of the materials. Please note that an Integration Paper is not a summary of your reading, but a response to an objective  (non-judgmental) way of thinking about the material.

Tips for writing: Adopt a contemplative stance. By adopting a contemplative stance, writers observe what is. Rather than separating ourselves from what is through judging, analyzing, and criticizing, in contemplative writing we learn how to be with it, just as it is. This is about descriptive observation (rather than judgment).

Judgement: This dish is awful.

Description: This dish tastes over-salted.

The contemplative essay combines the sense of free-form thinking with careful editing to create the artifice of good conversation on the page. Of course, you can’t have an actual conversation, unless you are co-authoring with another person, so it falls upon you to hold up both ends.

Ask questions. Suggest alternative ways of looking at things. Be curious. The best areas to explore in writing are those areas of the text that you truly don’t understand. The goal is to be writing in a fresh and surprising way. That’s what these papers are all about.

Details: Although these are not formal academic papers, they should be carefully written and cited nevertheless. Include direct quotes from the readings that support your integration of the material. Be specific about the works you’re discussing, give details to back up any assertions you may make, include references, page numbers, and in-text citations when appropriate. Finally, pay attention to grammar and mechanics.

Weekly integration papers must be typed, 2-pages, double-spaced, approximately 400-500 words in length. APA citation format (with no title page). See the OWL for APA details.

Integration papers are due on their due date at the start of class. If class starts at 12:20, that is when your paper is due in Canvas. Technology failure is not an excuse. Plan ahead – do not wait until the last minute. You may want to print a hard copy to use in class discussion. I will not collect hard copies. If you are absent from class you can still submit your paper via Canvas. A doctor’s note will give you an extra week to complete an assignment.

Design Activities 

To promote the integration of theory and practice,  a blog post will be due each Friday after the week’s in class design activity. This post will include:

1) 5+ clear and engaging photographs or a video of your work from the week’s design-related activities.

2) a 100-200 word write-up, video, screen recording, or sound file (think short podcast or video blog) of what you achieved (or what you were working toward) from a data-storytelling perspective. Use vocabulary, concepts, and ideas from the week’s reading material and any additional course material to link theory with practice. Make it a habit to thoroughly relate your design work with the readings. (This includes material from your Integration Papers.) Assessment of your blogging activity is ongoing throughout the semester. Post your link to your blog by Sunday at midnight. Late work receives a zero.


This class requires engaged listening and engaged speaking. Each member of our learning community needs to be actively engaged in the learning process. Each student is here to contribute to the exchange of ideas. Ask questions. Be curious. As a student in this course, you will create your own communal context for learning by engaging in conversations with others. As such, being prepared to participate in discussions and activities is paramount. This entails having read, annotated, and thought about the required materials carefully before class starts.  More discussion details here. 

Writing Workshop 

Practice writing strategies and produce a series of digital stories designed for a variety of audiences and purposes. More details TBA.


This midterm is an examination of your critical thinking about themes in the course. Part 1 will ask you to engage in a data-storytelling problem. More details to come.

Group Data Storytelling Project 

For the group project, you will design and produce a narrative experience that tells a story with data, around data, or about data. It could be a data visualization on the web, a physical installation using hardware and human bodies, or an interactive documentary experience. You may work with one or more partners. More details TBA.

Final Video Essay/Video Resume 

How would you describe your growth in digital storytelling throughout the course of the semester?  Create a reflective documentary video essay in which you tell the story about your growth as a designer/design-thinker/storyteller. Show your own design work from this class and how that work solves/or attempts to solve design related problems. How best to show this growth? In your narrative, discuss what contributed to your development as a designer/design thinker/storyteller. What is the value of digital storytelling?

Alternatively, you could turn this project into a Video Resume. What abilities, skills, and experiences do you want to highlight for potential employers?

Upload your 3-5 minute video to Vimeo and Youtube (mark the video as public) and post the link o your blog by the Exam Date, when we will watch the video essays together.

Questions to consider

  • Look at your portfolio of work from the course. Think about your goals for each project. What, specifically, were you trying to accomplish–above and beyond satisfying the minimum requirements outlined in the task description? In other words, what communicative work does this piece do? Does it solve a problem? For whom? In what contexts? What is its meaning? What is its value?
  • What specific rhetorical, material, methodological, and technological choices did you make in service of accomplishing the goal(s) articulated above? Catalog, as well, choices that you might not have consciously made, and those that were made for you when you opted to work with certain genres, materials, and technologies. Why did you end up pursuing this plan as opposed to the others you came up with?
  • How did the various choices listed above allow you to accomplish things that other sets or combinations of choices would not have?
  • What skills and techniques did you use during the course of these projects? What can you do better now than you could do before the class? How has your thinking about design and aesthetics changed or grown during the course? How can this be useful beyond the course?
  • What is digital storytelling?
  • Pose and answer a question of your own