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All assignments should be submitted through You will need to create an account at in order to submit your assignments. This account is free and comes with 2 GB of storage. You will receive an invitation to join the shared folder from me shortly before the semester begins or by the first night of class.

I have created a course folder called Information Design Spring 2014 with a subfolder called Students, which includes a subfolder for each of you. Within your student folder are several folders, one for each of the individual deliverables. Inside each of those folders is another folder called Ready for Grading. I will assume that any documents placed in this folder are ready to be graded.

You can use dropbox in two ways: 1) Access it through the website or 2) download and install the dropbox client, which creates a drive on your computer like any other drive. You will not be able to download the dropbox client if you are not using your own computer.

Because I need to provide you all access to the course dropbox folder (Information Design Spring 2012), which will include multiple folders with materials necessary for the class (e.g., worksheets, readings, and so on) and which includes students' folders, everyone will have access to everyone else's folder. We will work on the honor system and agree that no one will go into someone else's folder without permission.

Explanation of Grading Process
Grades are given on a 5-point scale. Scores indicate the level of competency your work shows. Each assignment described on this page (both individual and collaborative) are worth five points each. I do not necessarily just add up the points and determine a final score (grade). In determining a final grade, I like to notice factors such as improvement in thinking process, design, and articulation of design choices as affecting the final grade. I make each assignment worth 5 points (as opposed to weighted averages, for example) because I want you to consider a one-page memo or a one-sheet design as equally important as a ten-page website. I believe that design always matters no matter how big or little a document is.
Individual Deliverables


1. Various in-Class Exercises + Participation or graduate paper

One aspect of participation will be a weekly Show & Tell. For the first few minutes of class, you will have the opportunity to bring in/show something you saw/noticed and prsent it to the class. I expect everyone to particiapte in this process at some point in the semester.

2. Response to the Syllabus & Course Materials

I want to be sure each of you are clear about what is expected from you in this class and to give you opportunities for raising questions about what I have planned. I also want to challenge you now to start being creative (but coherent) with a document that might otherwise seem to you to have great potential for being flat.

All students must read/comment on the About Grading item under Course Policies.

Read all the materials on this course website and look through the Weekly Schedule. Write 400-500 words in response, using the following questions to guide you. (Please do not write your response as a sentence-by-sentence response to these questions; instead, please work & play to come up with a creative but coherent way to respond.) Feel free to be as creative as you want to be.

Note: This is not a critique of the syllabus design. I’m looking for a response to the content of the syllabus.

    • What are the main skills I am hoping you will gain by the end of the quarter?
    • What do you think you need to learn or do to achieve those skills?
    • Why am I asking you to keep a design journal?
    • What strategies can you think of now for making the observation journal be something meaningful?
    • How will we arrive at your grade for this class? Are you comfortable with how you imagine this process to work?
    • What makes you most nervous about what I've written in the syllabus?
    • What do you think will give you the most pleasure in this class?
    • What are the skills you bring to class that you think will help you the most?
    • Can you envision the shape of the semester from the Syllabus & Weekly Schedule? What remains vague to you? Is there anything you can suggest now for improving what you see ahead?


3. Responses to Readings

Throughout the semester, we will be reading a variety of articles/chapters that focus on some aspect of document/information design. For this assignment, I will ask you to write a one-page response to the reading. This response should be process oriented, which means that you should focus on your interpretation of the reading, that is, how you understand what the author(s) is arguing. Interpretation goes beyond simply summarizing an argument. You need to parapharse the argument (using some language from the reading) and offer your own explanation through paraphrase. Do not simply repeat what the author says. Once you have interpreted the reading, imagine the interpretation in your real life by offering examples, application, or further explanations of the reading.

Additionally, do not submit your responses as dictated by a documentation style (e.g., MLA). Your responses should be designed in ways that demonstrate your growing undestanding of the principles of design.

FInally, you do not have to write responses for readings from the textbook. Submit only the responses indicated on the syllabus.


4. Observation/Sketch Journal

The design process starts with observation. Whether they are print, digital, or visual, many of the texts you encounter every day contain both verbal (textual) and visual (images, icons, symbols) components that strive to capture your attention. For the next two weeks, I’d like you to practice looking. Use the questions below to help you get started.

    • What do you see and why do you notice it?
    • How does the layout shape the message?
    • How does the medium affect your attention? Is it effective or ineffective? Why?
    • What colors stand out and why? What effect is this design intended to have?
    • What audience do you think the design addresses?
    • What elements & arrangements in the design led you to conclude something?
    • What you have about the design's purpose and audience?

Between January 16-28, 2014, I will ask you to make daily observations about the designs you find in the environments you encounter while shopping, while studying, while partying, while driving, while doing anything you normally do. Record these observations in a journal daily. Entries should be descriptive and detailed. Connect your observations to the Practices of Looking reading.


5. Article/Webtext + Cover Memo + Presentation

This assignment is in two parts:

First, I will ask you to take a paper you've written for another class that is at least 10 pages and design and lay it out as if for a print journal using InDesign. If you do not have a paper of your own, I have two essays that you could use.

Second, remediate (refashion a text from one type of medium to another) that article into a webtext using Dreamweaver. A webtext is a document designed in a native format for the web. The webtext should include appropriate images, whether textual and/or visual. Both the print and webtexts will be used as content for the collaborative journal project.

Third, I will ask you to present your webtext to the class.

Some examples:

Kairos (All articles in this online journal are webtexts.)

"kairotically speaking: Kairos and the Power of Identity" (Bridgeford)
Monitoring Order (Wysocki)

Escapist Magazine
Programmatic Perspectives
The Jump: The Journal for Undergraduate Multimedia Projects
Orange: A Student Journal of Technical Communication

The cover memo should articulate your design decisions. See Assessment for a fuller explanation.

6. Visual Technology Autobiography + Cover Memo

Even if it doesn’t seem like it, we have always represented our “selves” visually to other people every day. The most obvious visual we use to communicate who we are to other people is, of course, the photograph. The photograph is used in a variety of situations: mug shots, IDs such as drivers' licenses or passports, family albums, and class pictures.

But a photograph is only one way we visually present our “selves.” We also present visual images of our identities in print and online with resumes, letters, forms, homepages, credit cards, movie choices, cooking, fashion, makeup, jewelry, and computer desktops. Each of these artifacts represents some kind of technology that we use to present an image of our “selves.”

How we arrange our computer desktops speaks volumes about our identities whether we intend for them to or not. Wallpaper and color choices, folder placement, program alias on the desktop, and the programs that remain open all present a picture of our “working” selves, whether that “work” is for fun or for a job. One perspective of this desktop screenshot is that it provides a picture of your technological self that is embedded with meaning about your identity. I call this a Visual Technology Autobiography (VTA).

The VTA can be constructed with a possible combination of photography, narrative, screen shots, scanned images, audio, video, and media representations. For this assignment, I will ask you to create a VTA using screen shots of your desktop computer. These screen shots should come from the computer you normally work on whether it is at home or at work or at the library and should narrate and explain the aspects of your “self” that appear in the screenshot. The first shot should be the desktop without any open windows (although the status bar might very well show open programs). The second and third shots should represent two different work sessions that provide two different, albeit related, images of your technological self. You may need to resize windows to show what you need for the narration to make sense.

Your Visual Technology Autobiography should be presented in a format that is not a double-spaced, MLA-formatted paper. You are encouraged to be as creative as you can be with this assignment. I will demonstrate some methods in class for how to take screenshots and modify their size and add text to the image.

The cover memo should articulate your design decisions. See Assessment for a fuller explanation.

7. Individual Deliverables connected to the collabortive project

  • Pitch Proposal (with website analysis of other journal websites; use worksheet in dropbox in preparation for Pitch Night)
  • Individual Activity Narrative (accounting of your time and activities on the collaborative project)
  • Performance Evaluations for each group member and self (critical evaluation of your own and your group members' performance on the collaborative project)

8. End-of-Semester Reflection Memo

As a cover memo for your semester work addressed to me, reflect on what you have learned about observation, design, the design problem, and the design process. Consider the technical skills you’ve learned and still need to learn. How does this course connect to other courses in technical communication? What is its relevance? How do you think this knowledge can fit into your future plans, whether you intend to go on for additional schooling or to transition into the workplace? 

What suggestions do you have about the course? What worked or didn’t work and why? What would you change and why? Addressing these questions is not an invitation to complain about the course in nonconstructive ways such as unhappiness with an assignment or lack of time to put into an assignment or to meet with a group. From a university perspective, work outside class time amounts to three hours per credit hour. I’m interested in substantive comments about course content and instruction. Simply responding to the questions above will not be considered competent-level writing. Find a way to focus the content. Please treat this memo as a significant piece of writing, paying attention to your prose and style. You might point to specific artifacts you created during the semester as support.

Collaborative Deliverables

Online Journal Website

For this assignment, I will ask you to work collaboratively with 2 or 3 other students creating an online journal of your choice (see examples under Resources). These websites will involve invention, planning, and production of an interface design, navigation, and indication of content.

What you will create here is the shell, or a design template, with indication of the content areas for the journal, using the article webtexts and visual technology autobiographies as content. You may also need to use placeholder text for some content.

This assignment will begin with Pitch Day. Each student will make a 60-second pitch for a journal name, purpose, and content. It's likely that this original idea will become modified as groups work on their projects. After all pitches have been made, the class as a whole will choose the five projects we will work on throughout the semester and then choose the group with which they'd like to work. Students will then indicate the projects on which they want to work. This process involves significant negotiation.

Each group will turn in for a grade the following deliverables:

  1. Design justification (cover memo) (addressed to me justifiying your design choices; see example in dropbox --> Course Documents)
  2. Audience Analysis Report
    This report should be a one page memo with rich descriptions that characterize the audience's sense of identity, its demographics, culture, reading habits, expectations for reading/viewing the journal, understanding of the subject matter, and how it finds meaning in the content.
  3. Logo & Journal Cover (This will also serve as a flyer advertising the inaugural issue of journal (use Photoshop and InDesign and save as PDF)
  4. Website
  5. Peer Group Website Evaluation (use worksheet in dropbox)
  6. Collaborative Narrative Report
    This report should be a one-page memo with rich descriptions that characterize how your group worked together to complete the project. This report should not simply state who did what. It should provide vivid descriptions of how the collaboration worked, how it created a sense of identity, and how the completion of the work resulted in the final product.
  7. Presentation

Individual Deliverables connected to this project:

  1. Pitch Proposal ( use worksheet in dropbox in preparation for Pitch Night)
  2. Individual Activity Narrative (two paragraph, thick description of how your group worked collaboratively)
  3. Performance Evaluation for each group member (one paragraph, thick description for each group member)
Graduate Synthesis Paper

For the graduate portion of your grade, graduate students will write a 10-page synthesis paper. A synthesis paper is an argument-structured discussion focused on a specific area of interest, in this case, information design. Essentially, your argument is an argument for a particular reading/interpretation of the sources provided.
Students should begin by reading all articles/chapters provided in dropbox --> Graduate Readings folder. There are several articles/chapters that include strictly theoretical to applied theory readings. These articles/chapters provide you with a snapshot of research questions and discussions in the field. Feel free to bring in additional research.

I have provided two examples of what I consider to be well-written synthesis papers from previous classes in dropbox. Note that the authors synthesized information within their own arguments/voices, as opposed to simply providing a literature review with summaries. Although they include a focus on specific literature, synthesis papers are not literature reviews nor are they summaries. Your synthesis should be a focused, meaningful discussion that brings together the information within the articles/chapters in a new way within your own voice/argument.

Remember that this paper, although shorter, is equivalent to a seminar paper and should be written in the academic prose expected at the graduate level. I’d be willing to read a draft of the paper with a two-week notice.

I’d recommend that graduate students get together and discuss the readings throughout the semester in preparation for writing this paper. I am willing to participate in these meetings.

Some sources I found on the Web about writing synthesis papers:

Your task is to organize some of the information around a theme or a question, make generalizations, and then present information (statistics, quotes, examples) in a logical way to support your argument. Remind yourself that a synthesis is NOT a summary, a comparison or a review. Rather a synthesis is a result of an integration of what you heard/read and your ability to use this learning to develop and support a key thesis or argument. Learning to write a synthesis paper is a critical skill, crucial to organizing and presenting information is academic and non-academic settings.



Design downloaded from free website templates.