Syllabus

Course Information

Course Number: MTEC 4800

Course Title: Interdisciplinary Team Project

Course Description: An advanced studio in the Emerging Media Technology program that provides an opportunity for students to apply the skills they’ve acquired in the course of pursuing their degree to build collaboratively designed and implemented projects.

Throughout the semester, the students will conduct design-led research that investigates our relationships in post-oil scenarios through narrative techniques and design futures methods. We will develop a hyper-reality testing environment populated with experiential futures prototypes that bring these new imaginaries to life.

Credits / Hours:  3 cr / 1 cl hrs, 4 lab hrs

Date: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 6-8:30 pm

Location: Online, via Zoom and Slack

Pre/Co-requisites: Department approval; complete three of the required courses in selected media concentration

Class Meetings

Online Space(s):

Faculty Information

Professor(s) Name:

  • Chris Woebken

Online Office Hours/Information:

  • Remotely, (by appointment)

Contact Information

  • Email: ChWoebken@citytech.cuny.edu

Visiting Lecturer/Critic

Alexander Klose, cultural researcher, and curator at Office for Precarious Concepts, Berlin, Germany.

Partner organization

We will be partnering with 1014, a project space on Fifth Avenue. [Think of this as a project space where we’ll set up artifacts and models combined with digital layers and environmental setups. We’ll provide individual studio access to ensure social distancing.]

https://www.1014.nyc

Course Goals

To give students an introduction to:

  • the field of participatory speculative design and critical design research
  • collaborative group project development, between people from different disciplines, skills and backgrounds
  • physical model making and hybrid digital prototyping
  • project communication strategies and online exhibition design

Learning Outcomes

By the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Gain an understanding of design as a mode of inquiry, and design as a means of facilitating discussion and debate
  • Learn how to use fictional narratives to open a debate about alternative futures
  • Designing participatory engagements
  • Introduction to speculative design methods and essential futures studies principles
  • Research and pursue an area of interest through designing and making
  • Introduction into set design and immersive prototyping techniques
  • Combine alternative world-views with emerging technology
  • Introduce critical and imaginative thinking as well as rigorous experimental design to their practice

Course Materials

  • Zoom
  • Shared Google Drive Folder (Presentation Material & Communication)
  • Physical Prototyping (We will be building objects. Expect to put up to $50 aside for prototyping materials. We’ll work on partnership options to scale up the fabricated prototypes for anything that goes beyond that.)
  • Readings (will be supplied for you as downloadable PDFs or links)
  • OpenLab
  • Slack
  • Camera or photographic device
  • Adobe Creative Suite (Loaner Computers and Virtual Lab machines are available)

Expectations

Arrive on time and attend all classes— see below for attendance policy.

  • Spend at least 2-4 additional hours a week (outside of class) on class projects, readings, writing your journal entries.
  • Check OpenLab for assignments and materials (typically announced and posted at the end of class on Mondays).
  • Check Slack regularly for group and private messages.
  • Post weekly reading responses & journal entries to shared discussion google doc by midnight on before the day of class unless otherwise specified in the assignment.
  • Actively participate in class discussions & group critiques. Please be present
  • Back up your work regularly.
  • Follow good device etiquette: Please be present on Zoom during group work and lectures. No non-class related cell phone use during class. Laptops only used for lecture note-taking and related class activities.
  • Thoughtfully contribute to a positive classroom environment, while actively supporting and challenging your classmates’ ideas.
  • Push yourself creatively and technically. Be ambitious. Work hard. Stay open and curious!

Communication

  • To contact your instructor with a brief, private question or message, send a DM (Direct Message) through Slack. This is preferred over email.
  • If you have a question that may be relevant to the group, post in the #general channel on Slack for all to see and comment on.
  • Use Slack for easy communications with your classmates as well—you can DM individuals or selected groups.
  • To discuss a longer matter with your instructor, DM to set up an appointment for office hours.
  • If you have a tech support question, post in the #techsupport channel or DM our CLT for assistance.

Participation Policy (The Rules + Regulations for Keeping the Ship Sailing)

  • We will meet on Zoom at the start of each class. Check Slack for the meeting link and password (reoccurring meeting is posted there).
  • As our work is interdependent, it is critical for everyone to be fully present, participating, and engaging in the course.
  • If absent from class, this will impact other students and lab activities. If you will be late or absent, DM your instructor via Slack ASAP.
  • Absences may be excused in the following cases: illness, religious observance with advanced notice, and on a case-by-case basis for other critical events and extenuating circumstances.
  • In the case of an absence, check GitHub and contact a classmate to catch up on what you missed. Contact the instructor if you have additional questions.

Attendance Policy

  • Students are expected to attend every class, arrive on time, and actively engage/participate.
  • If you will be absent, or if you are running late, DM your instructor ASAP.
  • In the case of an absence, contact a classmate for notes and what you missed, check OpenLab for assignments, and contact the instructor if you have additional questions.
  • Lateness and absences will impact your grade. Worse, not showing up will impact everyone else in the class. As most of our projects are collaborative, we are dependent on everyone’s presence and full participation.
  • All in-class activities are graded for participation. Unexcused absences will result in a 0 for participation for the day.
  • Unexcused lateness counts as 1/3 absence when up to 25 minutes late, 1/2 absence when 26-50 minutes late, and a full absence beyond that point.
  • Absences may be excused in the following cases: documentation of illness provided by a doctor, religious observance with advance notice, official school-related activity (with documentation and advanced notice), and on a case-by-case basis for other critical events.
  • Project critiques are mandatory and cannot be made up. Missing a critique will result in a deduction of one letter grade for the corresponding project.

Academic Integrity Policy: Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.

Instructor Note: Code borrowed from another source at more than four lines in length must be attributed as a //comment within the code itself. If you are unsure of whether or not your work may constitute plagiarism, please check with your instructor before submitting.

Deliverables

For successful completion of the class, the students will deliver:

  • Individual work
    • Signal scanning/Scenario Matrix
    • Process documentation
  • Group work
    • Documentation of Project 1/Project 2/Project 3 
    • Story / functional illustrations
    • Website documenting the process of creation of the aforementioned project
    • Physical models / hybrid digital artifacts, along with photo documentation and description
    • Exhibition design, setup and online documentation

Evaluation and Final Grade Calculation

Attendance / Participation*10%
Readings10%
Project 1 (incl. process documentation and description)10%
Project 2 (incl. process documentation and description)10%
Teamwork (supporting the project development in your working group)20%
Project 3 (incl. process documentation and description)20%
Story / functional illustrations10%
Publishing & Disseminating10%
TOTAL100%

* Participation will be graded out of 3 points:

3 = full participation: fully present, on task, and supportive of classmates throughout the class session.

2 = partial participation: late arrival or early departure, on task for some of the time.

1 = minimal participation: absent from lab for more than 30 minutes, minimally on task.

0 = no participation.

All assignments and projects will be graded on a standard A-F scale, according to the rubric detailed below.

Grading Rubric

VALUESExcellent (90-100)Good (80-89)Fair (70-79)Poor (60-69)Unsatisfactory (0-59)
ConceptCore concept is intriguing, original, and well-exploredCore concept is intriguing but lacking in examinationCore concept is present and supported by the workCore ideas are scattered without considerationNo clear concept, or work doesn’t reflect it
ProgressClear and consistent progress from ideation to executionProgress was made, but was not consistentEvidence of procrastination, “last minute” pushes or crunchLack of progress in 1-2 areas resulting in project deficienciesLittle to no progress shown on the project
PresentationConcept is clearly presented and strongly supported through audio, visuals, interaction, and narrative (if applicable)Concept is supported through presentation, but 2 or more areas of the design are lacking or distractingConcept is weakly supported through presentation, project requirements met at a “bare minimum” level1-2 presentation requirements are not met.3+ presentation requirements are not met.
SkillsClear demonstration of skills in all development areas (visual, text, audio, interaction, programming)Clear demonstration of skill in 2+ development areasDemonstrates skills, but omits topics covered in class.Evidence of skills, but underutilization of techniques learned in classDoes not use any techniques learned in class.
CollaborationConsistently provides honest, supportive feedback to peers, responsible in meeting team goals, communicates effectively.Generally supportive, responsible, and good communication, with a few issuesMultiple issues/problems with collaboration, meeting goals, or communicatingLittle to no evidence of communication, goal setting, and collaboration in a team setting.Disrespectful to fellow students work, with negative impacts to class/team dynamics.

Academic Integrity Policy

Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalogue.

Instructor’s note: all borrowed text, code, or media used for this course must be attributed to the original creator. Any direct text quotes from another source must be specified with quotes and appropriately cited. Code borrowed from another source at more than four lines in length must be attributed as a //comment within the code itself. If you are unsure of whether or not your work may constitute plagiarism, please check with your instructor before submitting. Any instance of plagiarism will be reported to the MTEC Program Director as well as the Chair of ENT.

Course Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations students must first be registered with The Center for Student Accessibility). Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the Center (phone: 718–260–5143). If you have already registered with the Center, please provide your professor with the course accommodation form and discuss your specific accommodation.

A Note on City Tech’s Counseling Center

The Counseling Services Center supports the educational, emotional and career development of City Tech students by providing opportunities for skill development, counseling and referrals that address obstacles to success. The Center is currently available to students remotely. For questions and appointments, contact the Center at counseling@citytech.cuny.edu or 718-260-5030.

Inclusivity

Part I. Name + Pronoun Usage

This course consists of individual work, group work and group discussion. We must therefore strive to create an atmosphere of inclusion and mutual respect: all students will have their chosen gender pronoun(s) and chosen name recognized. If the class roster does not align with your name, gender, and/or pronouns, please inform the instructor.

Part II. Inclusivity Statement

It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well-served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that the students bring to this class be viewed as an asset, resource, strength, and benefit, rather than a checklist item or worse, a hindrance. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender identity, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, and culture. Your suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally, or for other students or student groups. Feel free to reach out to me via email or Slack at any time about any issues concerning you or with any such ideas.

Structure

Weeks 1-4: Design Futures Principles

In this phase, students will deepen their understanding of the different design disciplines that engage with critical future casting, from Design Futures to Speculative Design, Tactical Media, through Design probes to Critical Design at large.

Weeks 4-7: Pre-cognitioning Posts

In this phase, students will learn to co-create scenarios that will be interpreted as artifacts, devices, and simulated environments. We’ll develop alternative tools for co-creating different Futures, challenging the model of traditional Think Tank approaches and suggesting new roles for practicing design. Writing and video narrative will be tools used in one section of this module, while physical and digital prototyping will take place in the other.

Weeks 8-11: Simulator Development at 1014

In this phase, students will develop an immersive hyper-reality testing environment for momentarily “living” in these scenarios. Through the process of fabricating, situating and testing prototypes, we aim to create a reflective space for deeply considering the details of these new interactions, and to discover unforeseen opportunities, twists and challenges.  

Weeks 12-15: Documentation and Synthesis

During the last 3 weeks of class, students will be asked to reflect on their semester achievements and invited to convey all the insights into a strong final design. In this phase, students will synthesize the learnings from the hyper-reality testing environment and integrate the complex details of their observations into an iterated and amended set of hybrid digital/physical artifacts.

Course Schedule

The detailed schedule is posted on the Schedule page.

Assessable Tasks

Coursework

Quantity in and of itself is not a marker of quality or growth. Students are expected to be producing work of high caliber. The work should articulate intended ideas and concepts and demonstrate independence of thought and be original in nature. The execution of the work should effectively employ technical, formal, and/or conceptual strategies that effectively work together to communicate the intended meaning of the work.

Critiques, presentations, and meetings

Students are expected to possess knowledge and understanding of their own work and the issues surrounding it and be able to articulate them. Participants are expected to be well prepared for all presentations and meetings. A lack of attendance and considered preparation overall will impact the final grade. As a contributing member of a collaborative academic group, students are expected to evaluate the work of other participants and express critique in a professional, constructive manner.

Assignments and projects

Thorough and on-time completion of all assignments is essential. Failure to meet deadlines, late or incomplete assignments will dramatically reduce your grade. Repeated or chronic lateness or incomplete assignments will result in a failing grade for the course.

Recommended Readings

Tony Dunne, Fiona Raby. “Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction and Social Dreaming” (chapter 3). The MIT Press 2013

Lawrence Wright “How Pandemics Wreak Havoc—and Open Minds”. 2020 (accessed 8/18/20)

Rem Koolhaas – “Delirious New York” (p.13-33). 1994

Maja Kuzmanovic, Tina Auer, Nik Gaffney, Tim Boykett. “Making Things Physical”, Journal of Futures Studies, June 2019

Stuart Candy. “Dreaming Together: Experiential Futures as a Platform for Public Imagination”. 2018

DesignIssues: Volume 34, Provocation, Conflict, and Appropriation: The Role of the Designer in Making Publics”. 2018 

Manaugh, Geoff, “Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions”, Actar, 2013.

Tsing, Anna, & others, “Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene” University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

Jeremijenko, Natalie. “Milgram’s Mice: bioinformatics in the wild”

Hénaff, Elizabeth ”Invisible Inhabitants”, The Journal of Design and Science (JoDS), 2017.

Ursula K. Le Guin Keynote Talk at the Anthropocene Conference: “Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet”, 2014 https://vimeo.com/97364872

Tsing, Anna. “The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins”, New York: Princeton University Press, 2015. 

Sanderson, Eric. “Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City” Harry N. Abrams, 2009.

Shotwell, Alexis. “Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times” University of Minnesota Press, 2016.

Gissen, David. “Subnature: Architecture and Other Environments”. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009.

Morton, Timothy. “Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence”. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

Zacks, Stephen “Other Voices, Other Worlds” ArtInAmerica, 2018.

 

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