Final Project Grading

Final Project grades have now been made available via ELMS. Projects were graded according to the rubric established in the syllabus:

understanding and use of narrative elements

appropriateness of the platform for your narration

use of the technology

quality of the overall project.

There were four specific factors we looked for within these criteria:

That the product used storytelling devices correctly (plot, character, narrative arc)

That there was a clear persuasive element to the product (a story with no point of view or claims to be made didn’t cut it)

That the visual and audio elements were consistent with the storytelling elements and that there was a specific point to their use

That the digital elements enriched the product and were carefully selected

The instructors met in person and discussed each project individually for these elements, provided their own verbal assessments, and collaboratively graded the final product. The grade you earned represented the groups’ assessment of the product.

The four highest scoring projects received almost perfect marks by doing the following:

Building out their technical platform beyond perfunctory linking

Moved beyond a simple storytelling arc to allow the viewer to engage story elements independently of the narrative

Used the visual and audio elements to enrich the storytelling arc

Provided clear character motivations and persuasive tactics

For examples of these successes, please check out:

Dani and Tyreese’s which not only used the story site but leveraged other platforms to create character depth and engagement

Kelsey’s which used classification as a way to create story elements

Jason’s careful use of sound and visual elements to enrich his machinama

Alexis’ interesting use of textual and video materials that rebuilt the mentor’s program into a story of community


Proposal Presentation

For thursday’s assignment, you are being asked to give a 3-5 minute presentation on your class project. You should explain what your project is and explain how you are going address the theme of the class: persuasive storytelling.

But, you can’t just get up and give a boring presentation. We want to see you at your most creative and persuasive. A song, a dance, a video, you could create an ad, anything is within limits. Be your most creative!

At the end of class, we will vote on the most effective, creative presentation and that person will win a special prize.

Course Evaluations

I know you are all super sad that the semester is ending….but cheer up. You now get to complete your official University of Maryland course evaluations.

We’ve been asked to communicate the following things:

the CourseEvalUM website ( is open from today through Wednesday, December 12.

all evaluations are confidential.

you can find the summarized results at the same location once those are released.

the system does not identify to any of the instructors whether or not you submitted an evaluation.

We ask the following things of you:

1) You complete the evaluation so that we can improve the class the next time it is offered.

2) That your feedback be constructive. If you don’t like things, be specific about what you don’t like, why you don’t like it, and how it could be improved for next time. If you like things, be specific about what things you like, why you like it, and whether it could be improved.

3) That you try to offer feedback on the class as a whole as well as individual lessons where possible.


If you have any questions, let me or one of the other instructors know. Otherwise, we are looking forward to reading your rough drafts…due this thursday!

Planning the Project Timeline

It’s been a week since you started working on your project proposals. You should have a good idea of what you want to do and what it might take to do it. I want to take some time and share with you how I approach time management when planning programming projects here in MITH.

The two principles I work from when managing time are: we don’t want to get into a death march project, and we want the highest priority requirements to be met at the end of the project.

The first principle, that we don’t get into a death march, means that we only work forty hours a week or so and don’t work overtime. Studies have shown that working overtime too much leads to less work getting done than if you only worked a forty hour week for the same number of weeks. No use risking burnout if it means you’ll be turning out poor work.

If we want to limit ourselves to the time we have available for a project, then we have to know how much time we have, how much time we think we need for each thing we need to do, and the relative importance of each item so we know what we can leave undone if we run out of time.

For your project, you have fourteen hours, more or less, so you want to figure out how to fit your todo list into those fourteen hours and make sure you get the things done that will have the highest impact on your grade.

When we start a project at MITH that might take months to complete, we break it into a sequence of milestones that can take a week or more each. We have a rough idea of what needs to be done, but we recognize that we learn a lot along the way and don’t want to be too specific in the beginning about what we’ll be doing in six months if we’re going to have to redo the planning anyway because of stuff we learned during the earlier milestones.

You only have one milestone: your project and fourteen hours of work.

At the beginning of each milestone, we get together and walk through what we need to do to accomplish the milestone. This is our todo list that we will prioritize and check off as we do each item.

Beside each item, we write a single letter denoting how difficult we think the item will be: Quick, Easy, Moderate, or Hard. We assign each one a time: quick is 30 minutes, easy is an hour, moderate is two hours, and hard is four hours. If we think it’ll take more than four hours, then we know we need to break it down into simpler steps.

The reason for not allowing ourselves to take on anything that will take more than four hours to accomplish is so that we don’t have to stop in the middle of a task and go home, then come back in the morning and take time figuring out where we were. If we have a two hour block of time, we can pick something from the list that is moderate or easier.

Of course, you’re not working on this as part of an eight hour workday. Knowing how long you expect a task take will help you fill in those odd hours here and without having to stop in the middle of something and hope you can come back to it later.

Once you have your todo list and how much time it will take to do each item, you can prioritize the items. Which items are fundamental to your project? Which ones add flavor? Which are at the core and which are expanding on the central theme?

After prioritizing, you can run down the list adding up the time for each item. When you hit fourteen hours of work, you know what you can expect to have done by the end of the semester.

After you finish your project in December, you can look back and see how well you guessed your time requirements. Computer work is notoriously difficult to estimate, so don’t be surprised if you’re off. The rule of thumb is to double the estimate from an expert in the field.

Project Proposal Guidelines

Below is the Final Project Proposal Guidelines and Worksheet that was passed out in class yesterday. Let one of the instructors know if you have questions.

Your final project for this course is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your understanding of narrative elements, digital technologies, its potential benefits and constraints, and your ability to construct a narrative.

As part of your final project, we are asking for a two page project proposal that outlines exactly what you plan to do for your final project. Your final project will be evaluated based on four criteria: understanding and use of narrative elements, appropriateness of platform for your narration, use of the technology, and quality of the overall project. The total point value available for the final project is 70 points. This proposal is worth an additional 20 points. It is due:

either by email (to or by paper copy to Jen’s MITH desk by 4:00pm EST on November 29th.

To aid you in writing your proposal, here are potential questions that we expect you to answer in your written proposal:

Statement of Significance: explain–in terms comprehensible to a general audience- the significance of your proposed project. What will your project contribute to your understanding of persuasive storytelling? What type of audience might be interested in your project? How would you reach out to your potential audience?

Statement of Objectives: what specific objectives or deliverables will this project offer (e.g. an X page long story, X pages of html code, X visualizations, X graphics, etc. where X is the amount/length of material)? You must itemize your objectives. We are looking for an outline that accounts for the components of your project and gives a clear statement on what final product will be. It is not sufficient, for example, to say that you will write an e-lit story that is 10 html pages long. You should outline the elements of the story—character, motivations, climax, etc–and how your links will be integrated in that story.

Workplan: once you’ve outlined what you are going to do and what you want to deliver, we would like a timeline of how you are going to complete your project by NOON on December 14th. You might break down a to-do list into days or by how many hours it will take you. At minimum, you must set a week by week plan of what you will accomplish. Make sure to describe the specific tasks that will be accomplished, identify the computer technology to be employed and where specific areas where you might need help in accomplishing a to-do item (e.g. I need help building x tech feature). We will provide feedback on this workplan.

REMEMBER THAT THIS PROJECT SHOULD REPRESENT TWO WEEKS OF CLASS TIME PLUS THE TIME YOU WOULD HAVE SPENT PREPARING FOR A FINAL EXAM (PER PERSON INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT). In our estimation based on the mid-semester evaluations you completed, we are expecting your project to represent at least 14 hours of effort (2 weeks x 3 hours of class preparation per week + 5 hours of class time + 3 hours for your final exam).

Final Product Plans: How do you intend to disseminate your final project? Is this a website that you are hosting? Do you plan to turn in files? How will you point your classmates to your final project?

For projects where you have a classmate/partner working with you, you should also include a section outlining who is responsible for what and showing that this work adds up to twice the amount of a single-person project’s hours.

We will provide you with comments on the proposal. You will then be expected to do a short presentation for class on December 6th. That presentation is worth 10 points.

Your final project:

Instead of a final exam, your final project is due in by December 14, 2012 at noon EST.
Please do both of the following:

1. Email either the files constituting your project (if applicable) or a link to your final project (if published online).

2. Publish a blog post on this course site that links your classmates to your final project (if it’s online) or contains screenshots, an explanation, and/or downloadable files for your project (if it isn’t online).

The Real Story behind “MITH mug”


Upside-down photo of green MITH mug

The evidence

Jen’s description of the green MITH mug would make you think this is just an ordinary coffee cup, but a closer analysis of the photograph reveals that this is, in fact, a Reversed Gravity MITH Mug which rose to the ceiling and then got stuck there: it’s upside-down, and the shadow in the upper-left corner of the mug indicates that the light source is coming from one of windows across the room (i.e. from below the object). If you look closely at the reflection, you’ll see that Jen is looking up at the mug while taking its photo. Jen ordered these special mugs in 2010, when MITH was still in its subterranean McKeldin digs; the garish lime green enamel was intended to act as a cheap substitute for a sunlamp to combat the staff’s lack of sunlight. If you’ve watched Season 5 of the new Dr. Who series, the green MITH mug is basically a precursor to the gravity globe (rises up to the ceiling, is a substitute for natural light). Jen is a huge Dr. Who nerd and player of VVVVVV, but was too embarrassed to give everyone on the staff a sonic screwdriver or indie game; instead, she created an object that would reference the show in an extremely subtle way.

Tips for Omeka Items

Can’t see anything on the Omeka site? You need to be logged in to view objects!

If you don’t understand a field or don’t think it applies, it’s okay to leave it blank. To read more about how capital-A archivists use these fields, this page has nice short descriptions of what each field is meant for.


  • “All Rights Reserved” if you want to totally retain copyright: no one can use what you posted without your permission.
  • The Creative Commons Chooser helps you pick a CC license if you want to let people use your work in new projects, memes, etc., but want to place some restrictions on this use (e.g. users must attribute you, can’t make money off of your work, or needs to use a CC license on whatever they make that uses your work). Some specific CC licenses you might use:
  • CC BY (must attribute you)
  • CC SA (anything they make with it must also have a CC license, i.e. they must also allow reuse)
  • CC NC (can’t make money off of whatever they make)
  • If you want a combination of these things, just string them along like this: CC BY SA

Extra Credit Opportunity: Wikipedia Loves Humanities Edit-a-Thon

Tuesday, October 16th, was Ada Lovelace Day, in honor of Byron’s daughter, who is often recognized as the first computer programmer. To celebrate, UMD English Professor Melanie Kill’s “Computer and Text” class organized a “Wikipedia Loves Humanities” Edit-a-Thon from 3:30-6:00pm in the Learning Commons on the second floor of McKeldin Library.

Plus! In addition to contributing to a resource that I’m sure you use all the time, there is EXTRA CREDIT at stake. Attend the Edit-a-Thon and email me a link to a page you edited and your Wikipedia username so I can verify you participated, and you’ll get 7 points of extra credit (equal to one blog post). You may still receive extra credit if you couldn’t attend, but if you can make one meaningful edit to Wikipedia and send me links to both your edit and your Wikipedia user page before class on Thursday.