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Syllabus for Upper Division Course in Digital Storytelling, Team-Taught by a Multimedia Scholar-Designer & an Historian


DTC 354 Digital Storyteling

This is a course in digital storytelling found in the curriculum of The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program (CMDC) at Washington State University Vancouver.  It is broadly described in the university catalog as the study of “[n]onlinear, multi-linear, and interactive narrative using elements of creative writing such as character, dialog, setting, plot and image.”  The Chief Ranger at The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Greg Shine and I are team-teaching it in spring 2012 with the aim of bringing in students to work with us on the Fort Vancouver Mobile Project, mobile narratives funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Because we need access to the artifacts and space at the Fort in order to produce the content for the project, the course is organized so that “Theory and Practice” is taught on Tuesdays in VMMC 111 on the WSUV campus and is led by me, and “Fieldwork” is taught on Thursdays at the Fort and is led by Greg Shine.  Thus, during the semester students will not only learn the basics of storytelling, multimedia, and mobile design and development but also the history of the Fort from experts in history, archaeology, and anthropology. Major projects include:

  • Written report on history learned about the Fort
  • Production of a mobile narrative work

Additionally, numerous guest speakers are planned as well as an overnight camp-out at the Fort where participants will experience, firsthand, what life what have been like living in The Village during the Fur Trade Period.

The course meets two goals of the CMDC Program:  


Goal 7. Recognize various forms of language processing and their implications for media authoring:

A. Use digital media terminology and concepts, such as medium, media, multimedia, mass media, remediation, repurposing, translation, text, textuality, language, and code, appropriately in presentations and projects
B. Employ various types of texts, such as visual, auditory, kinetic, and kinesthetic texts, for appropriate mediums
C. Illustrate the way artificial systems acquire language
D. Demonstrate knowledge about the process by which is language is made via computers
E. Study, create, and critique digital text and its central role in human-computer interactions
F. Employ textual content in web pages and other digital interfaces or environments that respond to specific audience needs

               Goal 10:  Be practiced and capable communicators in all mediums

               A.    Create a digital text in a variety of mediums
               B.    Construct and deliver an argument focusing on the way the medium affects the message, audience, and other rhetorical components
               C.    Evaluate the effective use of language in a digital text

In terms of assessment students must 1) stay current with all of the required assignments that lead to completion of their projects, 2) participate in class activities, 3) attend all classes, 4) turn in all assignments on time. Work will also be assessed for its professional quality. Other factors considered in the assessment of work include being turned in on time, uniqueness, and, of course, content. Components that will be assessed are:

Written report on history learned about the Fort:             25%
Production of a mobile narrative work:                              50%
Participation and attendance:                                             25%

Items turned in late will be penalized a letter grade per day (not class day but each day) late. Items not turned in cannot be made up by other work.

We will be using numerous books & resources.  Students are responsible for purchasing the following texts:

1.  Exploring Fort Vancouver, by Douglas Wilson & Theresa Langford, UW Press, 978-0-295-99158-0. $24.95
2.  Mobile Interface Theory, by Jason Farman, Routledge Press, 978-0-415-87891-3. $34.95

Additionally, each student is responsbile for reading a book relating to the Fort and the Fur Trade Period that is on reserve at the library.  This particular reading constitutes the first project that students must undertake.

Here is the course schedule.  Names of guest speakers and the overnight stay at the Fort will be added shortly:





Theory & Practice

Thursday––Fort Vancouver

Field Work




Week 1


Introduction to course:  readings, theories, hands-on practice, Fort Vancouver

1/12 Reading due:  EFV, pp. 1-27

Tour of Fort Vancouver; presentation on research in action

Week 2


Introduction to mobile media

Assign mid-term project

1/19 Reading due: EFV, Chs. 2 & 3

Presentation on Daily Life in the Village; House #2 & artifacts

Week 3

1/24 Read for mid-term project

Online Research methods for non-fiction storytelling

1/26 Reading due: EFV 4 & 5

Archaeology Studies; guest speaker from FV

Week 4

1/31 Read for mid-term project

Presentation on Telling Digital Stories

2/2 Reading due:  EFV, finish book

Demo of Fort Vancouver Mobile; guest Brett Oppegaard & Brady Berkenmeier

Week 5

2/7 Read for mid-term project

Presentation on Approaches to Mobile Storytelling (how stories and collections work in mobile media)

2/9 Read for mid-term project

Presentation of women’s lives at the Village

Week 6

2/14 Read for mid-term project

Tutorial on how to write reports & produce presentational materials

2/16 Read for mid-term project

Presentation on Native American lives at the Village

Week 7



Reports due; presentations due


Meeting to discuss groups & teams for final projects

Week 8

2/28 Reading due: MM, Chs. 1 & 2

Introduction to mobile media prototyping & mapping stories; mobile app guidelines


Presentation of theories of interpretation

Week 9

3/6 Reading due: MM, Chs. 3 & 6

Studio time to conceptualize projects


Site visit to map stories & check data

Week 10


Spring Break


Spring Break

Week 11

3/20 Reading due: MM, Chs. 4 & 5

Presentation on the way design & development impacts digital storytelling


Presentation of digital media as interpretative tool; guest speaker, NPS?

Week 12

3/27 Reading due:  Finish book

Studio time to develop projects


Video shoot & audio taping

Week 13


Studio time to develop projects


Video shoot & audio taping

Week 14


Studio time to develop projects


Video shoot & audio taping

Week 15


Studio time to develop projects


Demo/present drafts of projects

Week 16


Usability testing


On-site usability testing

Week 17

Final Exam


Final project presentations?


Final project presentations?




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