Category: media literacy

Below are a few slides for the Technology in the Classroom panel sponsored by the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching and organized by three CET Fellows: George Carstocea, Emma Bloomfield, David-James Gonzalez. I’m delighted to join Professors Owens and Sheehan on this panel.






Rip the Red Carpet Oscar Hack

Sunday, February 22, 2015
4PM to 8PM SCI Building
Media Arts + Practice Division
School of Cinematic Arts

The last few years have seen an emphasis on the gender and racial inequity in many Oscar nominated films, both behind the camera, as well as in front of it. In 2014, the New York Times* reported that the ratio between speaking roles for male versus female characters in all Oscar nominated films was more than two to one. Moreover, an extensive study commissioned by the Geena Davis Institute for Gender and carried out by a team at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism reported the same gender as well as racial imbalance in the top ten box office markets globally.*

Using clips from Oscar nominated films as a starting point, students will analyze their features, before “talking back” to them by editing, and/or generating new clips via The LAMP’s MediaBreaker online video editor and media advocacy site (see below for a demo).

* Sources:

Lee, Kevin. “The Gender Gap in Screen Time.” The New York Times. 27 February 2014. Online. 4 March, 2014.

USC Annenberg School of Communication website. “Gender stereotypes persist in films on a worldwide scale.” 22 September, 2013.  Online. 30 September, 2014.


In 1945 Vannevar Bush decried the deleterious effect of information overload and poor data management, noting that Mendel’s groundbreaking work on genetics was lost to the world for a generation because it was not accessible to those who might expand upon it. More than half a century later, the situation has increased exponentially: Contemporary culture is characterized by information overload, data deluge and an awareness of the systems complexity of a globally networked world. As such it is no surprise that the visual display of information has exploded as a means of representing vast datasets.

Infographics and three-dimensional simulations join conventional pie charts and bar graphs as numerous consumer level tools for creating these visualizations have emerged over the last few years. Critical engagement with these images and with the tools that produce them will form the basis of this assignment, as we work through the interpretation and production of information visualizations in various forms. Using a comparative model, you will explore and analyze the ways in which information shifts based on the type of visualization used to express it, and speculate about how this impacts knowledge in the key research area into which your thesis project is intervening.

The rationale for this assignment is twofold: first, most of the theses over the last few years have included some aspect of data visualization or infographic and this makes complete sense given that digital technologies are as amenable to images as to words. Thus, your visualization may well be directly placed into your thesis itself. However, if it is not appropriate to your project, the visualization will become part of your documentation, showing the research that you have done, even as it may also demonstrate “multiple approaches to the same issue,” which is a sub-area within the thesis parameter RESEARCH COMPONENT.

Project Plan due on wiki: 2/3. Project due on wiki: 2/24.

Below is a slideshow with several models from previous theses, followed by the four thesis parameters and the three facets that demonstrate each.

• The project’s controlling idea must be apparent.
• The project must be productively aligned with one or more multimedia genres.
• The project must effectively engage with the primary issue/s of the subject area into which it is intervening.

• The project must display evidence of substantive research and thoughtful engagement with its subject matter.
• The project must use a variety of credible sources and cite them appropriately.
• The project ought to deploy more than one approach to an issue.

• The project’s structural or formal elements must serve the conceptual core.
• The project’s design decisions must be deliberate, controlled, and defensible.
• The project’s efficacy must be unencumbered by technical problems.

• The project must approach the subject in a creative or innovative manner.
• The project must use media and design principles effectively.
• The project must achieve significant goals that could not be realized on paper.

2015 Sample student projects

This is a presentation for the Karen Kensek’s class with students from the Masters in Building Science at the USC School of Architecture.

These are some materials for discussion in the 2014 Annenberg Graduate Fellows Microseminar convened by Aniko Imre and Virginia Kuhn.


Much of my work centers on digital pedagogy and these pieces are grouped below, along with a few seminal essays that I use in teaching.

Teaching the Video Essay Assignment,Cinema Journal Teaching Dossier Vol. 1(2) Spring/Summer 2013.  Various authors.

Critical Commons: This is a media advocacy site run by a colleague; you upload clips that you use often in class and add some commentary making the fair use evident.  It takes some effort but then you have them for good! You can use others’ clips too, and it makes a great class project to upload and annotate.

The Rhetoric of RemixTransformative Works and Cultures, Vol 9, 2012. (Kuhn) This is a rationale for remix as digital argument. It’s one of my most cited essays so it might be helpful.

Nomadic Archives: Remix and the Drift to Praxis, from Digital Humanities Pedagogy, Open Book Press, January, 2012. (Kuhn and Callahan). Full collection available online. This is an overview and rationale for the trajectory of a foundational class. (For a graduate version with some examples, please see: Hacking the Classroom: Eight Perspectives and then “Kuhn” although all of these pieces are smart and useful.)

Speaking with Students: Profiles in Digital Pedagogy, (Kuhn, Johnson, Lopez) Published in Kairos and republished in a “best of” 2010 articles book. A video-based rationale for students producing digital theses.

The YouTube Gaze: Permission to Create? (Kuhn) in Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture. Special issue on Video and Participatory Culture, October 2010. Lists alternatives to YouTube.

From Pencils to Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technology by Dennis Baron. A seminal articles that has influenced my thinking a great deal.

Filmic Texts and the Rise of the Fifth EstateInternational Journal of Learning and Technology (done in Scalar ). This is the first piece published in Scalar, which is a good option for using in class. It’s free and open source, created by academics for academic scholarship.