INF 385U - Creating and Using Digital Media CollectionsSchool of Information - The University of Texas at Austin
Spring, 2009

Course Description

The broad popularity of relatively new multimedia-oriented web sites such as Flickr and YouTube, along with the increasingly common integration of audio, video, and still images into a wide range of types of web sites, demonstrate that advances in technology are making online access to multimedia increasingly practical. Although most sites today provide users with relatively limited ways of interacting with multimedia, there are many possibilities for greatly enhancing the potential value of online multimedia collections, particularly for learning and research.

Using several different media collections, this course will explore technologies and techniques for organizing and enhancing digital media resources and collections to make them more useful for study, exploration, and relating to other information resources. Note that no programming experience is required for this course; opportunities for Web programming will definitely be available for those interested, but the emphasis in the project work will be on conceptual design and mock-ups.

Topics will include at least some of the following: digitization, workflow, and project management; video encoding for online access and preservation; transcription of audio and video materials; cataloging, indexing, and tagging digital media resources and collections; distribution and access issues; user interface design and usability testing; and other associated topics. Completion of INF 385R "Survey of Digitization" is recommended but not required.

Course Objectives

At the end of this course, students should accomplish the following course objectives:

Required Books

There is one required text for this course:

Morville, Peter. (2005). Ambient Findability. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media. [ISBN: 0596007655]

In addition, the following texts are strongly recommended:

Krug, Steve (2005). Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2nd Edition). Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Press. [ISBN: 0321344758]

Morville, Peter & Rosenfeld, Lou (2006). Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (3rd Edition). Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media. [ISBN: 0596527349]

There are also required and recommended supplementary readings, and other relevant Web resources, listed on the Resources page.

Course Expectations

Students are expected to attend all class sessions. You do not have to tell me if you must miss a class but be aware that it is difficult to actively participate in class if you aren't there, and part of your final course grade is based on class participation.

This is not a lecture course so active participation is particularly important. The course will provide many opportunities for participation through discussion of required readings, in-class activities, and class projects. It is important that you do the readings each week before class so that you can participate in, and get the most out of, the discussions.

Assignments and Grading

This is a hands-on, project-oriented course. This can be a valuable approach in that it gives you something tangible you can point to at the end of the course (when applying for jobs, for example) to demonstrate your practical skills and knowledge, and for many students helps keep them interested and motivated throughout the semester. At the same time, be aware that this hands-on, project-oriented approach means that is particularly important to manage your time wisely and make steady progress on the assignments throughout the semester. The assignments are not ones you can complete successfully with a lot of frenzied work at the last minute.

There are four assignments in this course. These assignments are intended to provide a way for you to gain practical experience with the topics covered in class, to explore different ideas and approaches in working with digital media collections, and to share what you've learned with the rest of the class. The assignments involve both investigating existing digital media collections and working to help create several different prototypes of systems that feature digital media resources. Each assignment is worth a specific number of points, as will be noted in the assignment details. Your cumulative score on all assignments will help determine your final grade for the course, with each assignment weighted like so:

Assignment 1 - Investigate a Digital Media Collection 15%
Assignment 2 - Hands-On Digital Media Collections - Part 1 25%
Assignment 3 - Hands-On Digital Media Collections - Part 2 25%
Assignment 4 - Final Project/Paper 30%

Thus, the four assignments total 95% of your final grade. Another 5% of your final grade is based on class participation and other indicators of level of effort.

Assignment 1 will be due on varying class meeting dates early in the semester that depend on the group you are in. Assignments 2 and 3 will be due on dates during the semester that we agree on later in the semester. Assignment 4 is due on the last meeting day of the course, and this assignment will only be accepted late if the instructor grants permission, at least 24 hours before the due date, for the student to turn the assignment in late, on an agreed-upon date. Except in extreme circumstances, this assignment will be docked several points for each day it is late.

Disability Accommodations

Any student with a documented disability (physical or cognitive) who requires academic accommodations should contact the Services for Students with Disabilities area of the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259 (voice) or 471-4641 (TTY for users who are deaf or hard of hearing) as soon as possible to request an official letter outlining authorized accommodations.

Course Schedule

See the Schedule page for a detailed list of the topics that will be covered each week during the course, as well as any readings or assignments that should be done.

©Gary Geisler
Last revised March 26, 2009