(Updated 10/31/2011)
COM 499, Fall 2011

Content Creation for Media
Tuesdays & Thursdays 10:35-11:50am
MURE 243

Michael Beam
MURE 215
Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30-2:30pm

Course Description
In the information society, content rules. In this class, students (also known as digital natives or netizens) will learn how to collect, create, integrate, and disseminate content from a multimedia perspective.

Multimedia perspective involves the convergence of text, graphics, audio, video and animation and the distribution of these assets over the Internet. It also involves understanding of and facility with other Web 2.0 constructs, such as usability, interactivity, social media, blogs, wikis, and online communities.

To create multimedia content and to become facile with Web 2.0 requires training in software and ability to negotiate online applications. To develop these skills, students will work through a number of online tutorials complete follow-on assignments based on these tutorials.

However, skill without an understanding of the underlying principles and theories is not enough. The best communicators practice their skills within a framework of best-practices derived from principles, theories and research. Therefore, as foundation, principles and theories will be offered in three areas: aesthetics, design and interactivity, including user-centered design and social interactivity.

When creating content for the first time, students run into a number of challenges with generating ideas. To negotiate this creative paralysis, students will work primarily on a portfolio site. Working on content related to a familiar theme (self) has at least three advantages. Students can find or create content easily for their own site. It is second nature to students because it is an extension of their Facebook persona. Most important, the About Me site developed in this class will serve as a framework for a digital portfolio that students will update during the course of their stay in the Murrow College.

At the end of the quarter, students should be able to look at images created in different media and evaluate them from multiple perspectives. Students should be able to demonstrate some basic knowledge in the following areas:

  • Learn the basic principles of aesthetics, interactivity and design.
  • Apply skills and principles to create an About Me website that could be extended to a portfolio website.
  • Create digital content, including a blog, graphics, audio, and video.
  • Introduce students to programs in the Adobe Creative Suite through online tutorials and assignments that build on the skills offered in the tutorials. The class will introduce students to Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere. Students will be exposed to other programs as well, including Audacity.

Form of Instruction
Classes will be a mixture of short lectures and interactive discussions and lab assignments. In addition to introducing concepts related to aesthetics, interactivity and design, tutorials and assignments will be discussed during the lectures.

A variety of course materials, including lectures, tutorials, and quizzes will be posted in Angel. Open lab times will be to offer help with the assignments.

This course will not require a physical textbook. A variety of online readings that include design concepts and software tutorials will be provided online.

Software for the assignments is available in the Murrow computer labs.

Required Assignments and Grading Policy
Assignments should be posted to your blog by 5:00pm on the due date, unless otherwise specified.


Assignment Points Due Date
Class Attendance 45 (1.5 per class)
WordPress Blog Creation 20 Aug. 29
Photo Collection 15 Sep. 2
Photoshop Tutorial 20 Sep. 5
Draft Graphic Collage 50 Sep. 8
Graphic Collage Feedback 20 Sep. 12
Final Graphic Collage 100 Sep. 16
Illustrator Tutorial 20 Sep. 26
Draft Logo 50 Sep. 29
Logo Critiques 20 Oct. 3
Final Logo 125 Oct. 7
Audacity Tutorial 25 Oct. 17
Audio Footage 15 Oct. 18
Draft Audio Collage 50 Oct. 24
Audio Story Feedback 20 Oct. 26
Final Audio Story 125 Nov. 1
Premiere Tutorial 25 Nov. 18
Raw Video Footage 15 Nov. 18
Draft Video Story 50 Dec. 1
Video Story Feedback 20 Dec. 5
Final Video Story 150 Dec. 14
Wrap-Up Blog Post 20 Dec. 14
Total 1000

Grade distribution:
950–1000 = A, 900-949 = A-, 875-899 = B+, 850–874 = B, 800–849 = B-, 775-799 = C+, 750-774 = C, 700-749 = C-, < 700 = D

Course Website
Course announcements, assignments, and rubrics will be posted to the course website at Grades and instructor feedback will be posted on the course Angel website at 

Online Tutorials
Online tutorials will be posted in each unit. Students are expected to work through the tutorials and submit them through Angel.

Online Feedback
All students will be assigned to a working group. Students are expected to provide feedback for each of the assignments to their group members. This feedback should be used when revising your media assets.

Portfolio Projects
Fifty percent of the grade for this course rests on four design portfolio projects, which will be posted in your blog. A self-reflection write-up accompanies each creative component presented in the blog post. Tutorials and weekly assignments will help students make incremental progress in developing the portfolio.

Weekly assignments will be evaluated on various criteria, which will be explained in class, with rubrics posted online. In general, scores are based on the quality of content, including attributes such as creativity, design excellence, analytical thinking, attention to detail, and polished writing.

Required Flash Drives
Students should invest in a 4GB USB memory stick, which should be brought to the lab. Always make sure that you back up all your work.

Downloading Trial Software
If you have your own computer, you can download trial versions of Adobe software from However, the trial period lasts only 30 days. I recommend that you download the software toward the end of the semester to avoid the end-of-semester rush at the labs. Also, you can purchase your own copy at academic discount rates.

Course Policies
The primary reason for poor performance in this course is failure to complete the tutorials and to keep up with the requirements posted online.

Also, it is important to read instructions posted online. Each assignment has different evaluation criteria. Try to fully understand the requirements of each assignment before you begin a project.

Text, graphics, music, video or any content that you did not create on your own does not belong to you. If you use content that you did not create, the plagiarism and cheating policy will be enforced.

All assignments must be completed to receive credit in the course.

Late assignments will receive zero credit towards the final grade.

Grades of “Incomplete” will be given only in cases of documented medical or family emergencies.

All work for this course must be new: you may not submit assignments produced for other courses.

All work for this course must be your own: you may not submit work done by your friends or submit something purchased online or lifted off a website as your own work.

No cell phone/text message use during class. Please do not text message or talk on your cell phones during class. You will be counted as absent from each class in which you use a cell phone during class.

No disruptive computer use during class. If others are distracted by your computer use during class, you will be counted as absent from that class. Please be respectful of the instructor and your peers by treating the lab as a learning environment.

Academic dishonesty will result in a failing grade in the course. Academic dishonesty includes cheating, falsification, fabrication, multiple submission, plagiarism, abuse of academic materials, complicity, or misconduct in research, all of which are defined in section WAC 504-25-310 of the student handbook.

Repeat courses: Students may only repeat a course graded C- or below one time at WSU during fall or spring semesters. Additional repeats are allowed from another institution or at WSU during summer terms or by special permission of the academic unit offering the course.

Disability Services
Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and may need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please visit the Disability Resource Center (DRC). All accommodations MUST be approved through the DRC (Admin Annex Bldg, Room 205). Please stop by or call 509-335-3417 to make an appointment with a disability specialist.

Calendar (subject to revision)

Week Day Readings and Topics Assignments Due
Week 1 Aug. 23-25 Introduction to class
The New Media Mindset
Wordpress Blog Setup
Create WordPress Blog 
Graphic Design / Adobe Photoshop
Week 2 Aug. 30 – Sep. 1 Elements of digital photography & digital editing Photoshop Tutorial
Photo Collection

Week 3 Sep. 6-8 Online Identity Draft Graphic Collage
Week 4 Sep 13-15 Unity and Elements of Design, Gestalt Principles. Graphic Collage FeedbackFinal Graphic Collage
Vector Graphics / Adobe Illustrator
Week 5 Sep. 20-22 Balance, Figure, Ground Illustrator Tutorial
Week 6 Sep. 27-29 Principles of User-Centered Design Draft Logo 
Week 7 Oct. 4-6 Logo Feedback
Final Logo

Audio / Audition
Week 8 Oct. 11-13 Audio Storytelling Audacity Tutorial
Week 9 Oct. 18-20 Audio Editing Raw Audio Footage
Week 10 Oct. 25-27 Interactivity Draft Audio Story
Audio Story Feedback

Video / Adobe Premiere
Week 11 Nov. 1-3
Fundamentals of AV Capture Final Audio Story
Week 12 Nov. 8-13 Editing Digital Video
Week 13 Nov. 15-17  Compressing, exporting and sharing video Premiere Tutorial
Raw Video Footage 
Week 14 Nov. 22-24 NO CLASS:
Week 15 Nov. 29-
Dec. 1
Exploring Digital Effects Draft Video Story
Video Feedback 
Week 16 Dec. 6-8 Final Presentations / Course Wrap-Up  
Final No In-Class Final  Post Final Video and
Wrap-Up Blog Post
By 11:59pm, Wed. Dec. 14


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