During the semester, you will complete five lab reports. Each report is worth three points, making lab reports worth 15% of your final grade.
Five different times during the semester, we will meet in the Digital Studies Center for lab sessions. During these sessions, you will work in groups to investigate some digital object or tool. Primarily, these sessions will be self directed. I will be present to answer questions, but your main task during labs is to explore and tinker. This will mean successes and failures - some confusion is inevitable. That's part of the assignment!
These five lab sessions will take place on Wednesdays, and you must be present to complete the work. Lab materials will be distributed during the lab session, and those missing class will not be able to make up the work. On the Friday following the lab session, you will submit a lab report. Lab reports will be submitted on Sakai.
Reports will have three sections:
Part A: Initial questions (no word limit)
List the initial questions you have about the tool or object we are analyzing. You will write these down during the first 10 or 15 minutes of our lab session. The questions should be as specific as possible. In this section, we want to set up an agenda for your group's lab session. What are you most interested in? What do you want to learn?
Part B: Lab Narrative (250 words maximum)
Description of your group's interaction with the object. What did you try? What worked? What didn't work? Why? What strategies did you use to investigate this tool or object? How did your group collaborate?
Part C: Conclusions (250 words maximum)
Describe a potential project that would either use or examine this object/tool. We've discussed looking AT and THROUGH technology this semester, and your Part C can take either approach. You might describe a project that would use this tool/object in some way to answer a question--this would involve looking THROUGH the tool or object and using it toward some end.. Alternately, you might describe a project that would attempt to analyze or examine this tool or object--this would involve looking AT the tool or object and examining it. Your proposed project could take a number of forms. Here's a list of possibilities, but this list is not exhaustive: a historical analysis, a "remix" of this tool or object that changes its functionality, an analysis of its design, a proposed redesign of this technology, a research paper about the creator(s) of this tool or object, etc.
Either way, you should take this section to describe the potential project you have in mind. Remember that you don't have to actually complete the project. You only need to describe it, but you should be as specific as possible. In these 250 words, you should begin to describe what the proposed project is, how you would approach such a project, and what you think it might accomplish.
Each lab report is worth three points. Here are the grade criteria I will use when evaluating lab reports. If your report falls in between these descriptions, your grade will reflect that. For instance, if you fall between the description of a "3" and a "2" you will receive a grade of 2.5
The lab report offers a detailed and extensive list of initial questions that go beyond surface level concerns, demonstrating that the student is thinking carefully about how to best explore and understand the tool or object. The lab narrative provides a detailed account of the group's activities, describing the collaborative and exploratory strategies used by the group. The conclusions section demonstrates careful thinking about a potential project and shows an understanding of what the affordances and constraints of tool or object in question. This lab report is carefully written, free of grammatical errors, and observes the word limits described above.
The lab report offers a partial list of questions that is moderately detailed. There is some evidence that the student has considered the best ways to explore this tool or object. The lab narrative offers a general description of the group's activities. The conclusions section begins to describe a potential project, though that project is not fully articulated and may not demonstrate an understanding of the object's affordances and constraints. The report may have benefited from more revision to attend to the clarity of writing, has grammatical errors, and/or may not observe the word limits.
The lab report offers few questions and the questions it does offer are too general. There is little or no evidence that the student has carefully considered what they want to learn about the tool or object. The lab narrative is incomplete or too general and does not fully account for the group's activities. The conclusions section does not offer enough detail and does not demonstrate an understanding of the tool/object's affordances and constraints. The report may have significant issues with clarity and grammatical errors, which prevent the reader from understanding the content of the report. The lab report does not observe word limits.