Design Lab – Workshop on Evaluating Media Assignments and Assessing Digital Literacies

Post-Conference Workshop

Jon  McKenzie
Director,    DesignLab  and  Professor,
Department  of  English
University  of  Wisconsin

Rosemary  Bodolay
Associate  Director,  DesignLab
University  of  Wisconsin

Workshop Description

Integrating digital media projects into courses and curricula can present real challenges for many instructors and administrators, including the difficulty of evaluating multimedia work (“I only know how to grade written papers and exams”), collaborative work (“I know how to evaluate individual students, not groups of them”), work that remixes existing materials (“We have strict guidelines regarding plagiarism”), and work that combines all three (“I don’t even know where to begin!”). A closely related challenge: as we look forward and find ways to make, teach, and learn digital media, it is increasingly necessary to assess and report on our efforts. In the early phases of an innovative initiative, we may be need to prove its worth, even if emerging forms, assignments, courses, and programs do not easily fit existing assessment models. Our proposed half-day workshop explores both evaluating digital media projects and assessing digital literacies that takes place through them.

The two-part workshop concretizes ideas and issues described in our proposed presentation, “DesignLab: Democratizing Digitality via Smart Media.” In the workshop’s first part, we will share insights, models, and practices of evaluating student media projects gleaned from our experience as media instructors and as directors of DesignLab, a digital composition center. Our approach is that of studio-based critiques or “crits,” where in work is shown, discussed, and analyzed by the entire class. Thus, part one focuses on:

  • looking, listening, interacting and sharing student work
  • teaching a language for evaluating multimedia
  • tapping dormant design sensibilities
  • distinguishing conceptual, aesthetic, technical, and organizational criteria
  • distributing the evaluative process

In part two of the workshop, we shift gears and ask participants to draw on their own experiences and share insights, stories, and resources pertaining to the assessment of digital literacies, including information literacy, technological literacy, and media literacy. We are especially interested in:

  • defining expectations, skill sets, and competencies
  • portfolio-based assessment
  • surveys
  • testing
  • badges
  • aligning with campus initiatives and assessment programs

Our half-day workshop is intended for instructors, administrators, and educational technologists.

Our space and technical requirements are a large, open room with projector and sound system, white board and markers, and moveable tables and chairs.


Jon  McKenzie  is  Director  of  DesignLab  and  Professor  of  English  at  the  University  of Wisconsin-­‐Madison,  where  he  teaches  courses  in  performance theory  and  new  media.  He  is  the author  of  Perform  or  Else:  From  Discipline  to  Performance  and  numerous  essays,  including “Global  Feeling:  (Almost) All You  Need  is  Love”  and  “Towards  a  Sociopoetics  of  Interface  Design.” He  is  co-­‐editor  of  Contesting  Performance:  Global  Sites  of  Research,  and  his work  has  been translated  into  a  half-­‐dozen  languages.  McKenzie  trained  as  a  painter  and  later  worked  in  NYC’s Silicon  Alley  as  a  writer  and  information architect.  Along  the  way,  he  has  produced  media installations  and  video  essays,  including  The  Revelations  of  Dr.  Kx4l3ndj3r  and  This  Vile  Display, and he  has  recently  presented  and  given  workshops  on  smart  media  and  performative scholarship  in  South  America,  Europe,  and  the  United  States.

Rosemary  Bodolay  is  the  Associate  Director  of  DesignLab  and  coordinator  of  the  Media  Studios at  the  University  of  Wisconsin-­‐Madison.    Before  working on  DesignLab  in  2011  she  had  been with  the    Art  Department  (UW-­‐Madison)  teaching  courses  in  artist  video  and  digital  technologies since  1997.    Her video  and  installation  work  has  been  shown  nationally  and  internationally  and most  recently  has  designed  several  video  walls  for  museum  interiors.    In addition  to  her  position with  DesignLab,  Rosemary  is  on  the  Steering  Committee  of  the  Community  of  Educational Technology  Support  (ComETS),  is  the co-­‐coordinator  of  the  Digital  Salon,  and  on  the  Arts Assembly  at  UW-­‐Madison.