Assignments, Grading, and Evaluation (Spring 2020)

This course has the following stated objectives:

  1. To whet your appetite for thinking about the role and effects of digital technologies, especially as it relates to the content we consume;
  2. To help you develop a framework to analyze and interpret technology-related events and trends;
  3. To better understand (but not necessarily fully comprehend) how various technologies work;
  4. To give you practical experience with a two digital publishing tools and formats: blogging (WordPress) and annotations (;
  5. To allow you to develop and express your own thoughts about various aspects of technology.

These are the objectives the instructor has identified, but they are not set in stone. On the first day of class we will review these objectives and collectively modify them to suit the goals, needs, and expectations of the class..

The extent to which we meet some of these objectives can be more easily evaluated than others. In many cases, you will be the only ones that will be able to say whether or not we succeeded.

So together we need to think about how we want to evaluate ourselves. Here is some reading to help us think through how to do this evaluation.

Evaluation Method:

Your final grade for each component of this course will be determined by a combination of you and the instructor, sometimes with feedback from your peers.

Peer evaluation comes in when students give each other feedback to help their classmates form and express their ideas. All assignments will receive written feedback. Every student will be in a position of peer-grader (working two students at a time) at least once this semester.  Giving and receiving feedback is one of the ways in which we learn together, and it is also one of the most valuable life skills you can take away from this course.


(1) CLASS ATTENDANCE/PARTICIPATION (includes reading/viewing/listening to all assignments)

Class attendance is required.  You may miss at most one class without an official (doctor or pre-approved) reason.

Excused absence requires a doctors note or equivalent. If you are missing for a non-medical/emergency reason, you have to have approval in advance and, at that time, state your plan for making up the missed work. You are still responsible for the readings and any assignments that are due.

Graded through negotiation with the instructor out of 10.


In this course we will use an online annotation tool, This tool serves several purposes, most of which help you learn. At the very least, they will shine a light on how each of you does critical reading. (We will talk about this more in class).

To participate online, install the Chrome Extension or bookmarklet and join this group. Then start making annotations (you’re encouraged to add tags as appropriate).

Good participation (both online and in-class) includes (but is not limited to): inserting new ideas for discussion, responding to other’s ideas, posing questions, highlighting interesting passages, explaining a tricky concept, offering an informed opinion, and bringing in additional resources.

You can see this rubric to give you an idea of how one might look for and consider about annotations, but in this course, annotations will be graded through negotiation with the instructor (out of 10).

(3) FIRST REFLECTION, 750-1,000 words

Write an essay/ blog post (~1000 words) in response to the discussion in the course so far. You may use the discussion questions at the end of Chapters 1 or 2 as a prompt, respond to any individual reading, or reflect however you see fit. Think of this as somewhere in between a research paper and an essay, but make it something that people on the internet would actually want to read. The essay/blog should thus be substantive, use secondary sources where appropriate, and can use video, sound, images, animation as well as text. Although it is a personal reflection, it is not a diary entry (it differs in that it contains more than your thoughts, it analyzes your thoughts).

It should be posted on our class WordPress site, visible to all (although you may choose to password protect your post with a password we will agree upon as a class), but you can also post it elsewhere on the web as well. On our site, there will be a comments section where you will receive public feedback from the professor, two or three students of your peers, and any others who wish to do so.

While your focus should be on the content (have a clear idea—communicate it clearly), do not neglect the form. Pay attention to how your essay is formatted, where and how images are embedded, etc.

You will receive feedback, but no grade, from the instructor and from your peers. You may then choose to revise your essay. The final version will be graded through negotiation with the instructor out of 20.

Students will work in teams of two and will be responsible for taking a leadership role in class discussions for a week. Typically, students will need to read a full week ahead (or at least very early into the week) so that they can steer the conversation.

Most of the work of the leadership team will take place online (in, but the leaders should also play a more active role in the week’s in-class discussion.

You can consider meeting with the instructor ahead (or early in the week) to share your thoughts and hear his. You might also consider doing some additional readings to suggest, writing summaries to share with the class, and having discussion questions on hand.

Graded through negotiation with the instructor out of 10.

Each media group should collaboratively write a blog post describing the business model you have chosen. Your post should not just describe the model, but also extol its virtues and why it is likely to succeed in the current climate. You may structure your post as you see fit, but it is suggested that you integrate description and analysis (as opposed to describing first and analyzing second).

Your post is an opportunity to reflect on what your chosen business model will excel at. Remember that success does not necessarily mean maximizing profit in the short term, or even in the long term.

This assignment should be written in a Google Doc or in the Etherpad, where you can all author simultaneously and edit each other’s work, as well as leave comments, respond, and resolve. Gaining experience with collaborative writing is a key learning objective of this assignment, and so every team member should participate on the shared document. You must grant the instructor access to the document.

Graded through negotiation with the instructor out of 10.


Each student should pay attention to how their data moves from one place in their online life to another. This might be a search for a product that then turns up as advertisement, a link you share on a messaging app that appears in your suggested readings, or anything of this nature. You may also ask your friends and family for examples in their digital lives and incorporate them into your piece. In a brief blog post (~500 words), students should reflect on their experience of tracking how they are being tracked, and what having a heightened awareness of this experience means to them.

Graded through negotiation with the instructor out of 10.


After learning how metadata is used to identify and describe content across the web, students should use the “view source” menu in their browsers to look at the metadata that is embedded on multiple web pages that they visit. The goal is to identify different pieces of metadata that are included to content be useful across pages. Examples should be added to the course etherpad.

A percentage point will be added for every example included in the etherpad, up to a maximum of 3%.


This course uses an open educational resource created by the instructor an a previous MPub student. It is a first draft of a resource that is intended to serve future MPubbers as well as others interested in similar topics. Your assignment is to write an extension, addition, or replacement for the MacKenzie & Alperin book. What was missing from the course? What needed to be explained more clearly? What aspect of the readings should have been highlighted?

Essentially, you should put yourself in the shoes of one of the authors, and consider what should go into the “Second Edition.” This will require having a vision for what the course could/should cover followed by research and writing on the topic of your choice. Your contribution can come in the form of a summary essay (like the ones in the book), a video, or a podcast, and should link to external sources throughout the content and be supported by additional resources for readers to consult.

You will receive feedback, but no grade, from the instructor and from your peers within a week of the deadline. You may then choose to revise your contribution after receiving feedback. The final version will be graded through negotiation with the instructor out of 30.

Grade Breakdown

  • Participation (in class): 10%
  • Participation (annotations): 10%
  • Class leadership: 10%
  • Assignment 1 (reflection): 20%
  • Assignment 2 (business model): 10%
  • Assignment 3 (personal data): 10%
  • Assignment 4 (metatags): bonus up to 3%
  • Assignment 5 (textbook): 30%

University Policy

The program expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, the School will follow Policy T10.02 with respect to “Intellectual Honesty,” and “Academic Discipline” (see the current Calendar, General Regulations Section).