A Course example

Media and the Design of Social Learning Contexts

Communication/MT 115, Human Development 115

Fall 2004

LCHC: Tu, Th 9:30-10:50

Instructor:  Sonja Baumer                    
Office: LCHC, # 517

Office Hours:  Friday 10-12am or  by appointment   

Course Objective:

This course is designed to provide you with an intense experience that combines theory and practice in studying the roles of media and social interaction in human development.  In this quarter  our focus will be on digital story telling. Together children who participate in the Fifth Dimension afterschool program you will learn how to produce   digital stories,  using I-movie . You will also develop  qualitative research skills (participant observation field note taking techniques and data analysis techniques) and use field experience as the foundation for evaluating theories of learning, communication, and development. As a result of participation in this class, you are expected to improve writing skills for creating research reports, data analysis, and expository and narrative texts,  and enhance  your interpersonal skills for communicating with adults and children in informal academic settings 


Required Core Activities:


1) To attend class two times per week on campus.  The class sections will be devoted to discussions of basic readings and relation of those readings to field site activities.   Readings are listed at the end of the syllabus by the day they will be discussed (together with URL from where they can be downloaded).


2) To attend an after-school activity site at Boys and Girls Club/Earl Warren Mmiddle School in Solana Beach, twice per week for a total of approximately 3 hours. Each time while you are at the site you will spend one and a half hour doing the 5th Dimension program. Your goal at the site is to work and play with children to promote their intellectual and social development. 


3) To write detailed field notes on the experience following site visits each week.  You are expected to write one field note per each visit. Field notes must be turned in both in hard copy and in electronic form.  They are best written within 24 hours of the site visit.

Hard copies:  Constructive feedback on field note content will be provided by the professor and is one of the major educational elements of this course.  Hard copies are due at the class session following a site visit.

Electronic copies: Field notes must be written and saved within the Note Pad word processor (Please do not use any other processor but Note Pad). Field notes must be submitted within 24 hours of the site visit to the web site:  http://iacs5.ucsd.edu/~co116x

Select:  Boys and Girls Club Program. In addition to that, electronic copies should also be published on the class web-board.

4) Participation in web board discussions. Thursday classes will be devoted to discussions about site experiences. In order to prepare for this activity, you need to write a response/comment to a field note/s posted by your classmate/s, at least once a week and bring the hard copy in the class.


5)  To help a child (or several children) produce a “digital story” and publish it  on the Fifth Dimension web site . (You will receive specific instruction about  producing digital story during Week 2). 


6)  To produce a project report, as well as a personal reflection paper based on theories discussed in class and site experiences.




Grades for the course will be based on performance of work in class and at the field site.


1. Portfolio

You are required to produce a portfolio that incorporates and synthesizes different activities that you have performed during the quarter: 

- Class notes + glossary, homework and quizzes                      10%

- Field notes (quality and submission)                                        25%

- Digital story (CD)                                                                     20%,

- Self-reflection paper (3 pages)                                                 5%

- Final paper (7-10 pages)                                                          20%

-  Web-board participation                                                       10%


2. Engagement and attendance                                              10%


The final paper and self-reflection papers are due on the last day of the class, December 2nd. The final paper will report on the digital story project . It will be based on the site experience  in working with the children in creating digital story (as documented in fieldnotes)  and draw upon course readings for theoretical points .

The self-reflection paper will focus on your own development during the course, using the first field note as a starting data point and the remaining notes as support.

Detailed guidelines for writing field notes and papers will be given in class.

Course Calendar:

Week 0

Thurs., September 23

Introduction to the course. History of Fifth Dimension. Information about the site visits and activities.


Week 1

Tues, September  28

Class exercise on writing field notes (no readings).

Thurs, September 30

Cole, M., Olt, A. and Woodbridge, S. (1994).  Documenting children's

problem solving behaviors during computer based game playing by using

fieldnotes of participant observers. Paper presented at the 75th Annual

meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA. April.


Week 2

Tues., October 5

Vygotsky, L.  (1978). Interaction between learning and development. 

Chapter (6). In Mind in society.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press. (pp. 79-91). (no electronic copy will be available)

Thurs., October 7

Introduction to digital story telling

Lambert,J (2003). Digital Storytelling  Cookbook and Traveling Companion (version 4.0) (pp. 1-20)

Discussion of initial site experiences.


Week 3

Tues., October 12

Introduction to doing research with children

Fine, G. A. (1988). “Preface” & ”Researchers and kids” in “Knowing Children: Participant Observation with Minors (pp. 9-36). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Thurs., October 14

Fine, G.A. (1988). Participant observation with preadolescent children, in “Knowing Children: Participant Observation with Minors (pp. 49-59). Newbury park, CA: Sage Publications.


Week 4

Tues., October 19

Rogoff, B. (1995).  Observing sociocultural activity on three planes:

Participatory appropriation, participation and apprenticeship.  In J. Wertsch, P. Del Rio, & A. Alvarez (Eds.). Sociocultural studies of mind.  Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.  (pp. 139-164).

Thurs., October 21

Approaches to Scripting & Storyboarding, in Lambert, J. (2003). Digital Storytelling Cookbook and Traveling Companion (version 4.0) (pp. 21-30)


Week 5

Tues., October 26

Nocon, H. (2002). Productive resistance: After school environments and engaged noncompliance. Paper presented at the 2002 AERA, New Orleans, LA.

Baumer, S & Chaidez, S (2004). Negotiating power in a homework club and a computer based after school: the development of voice through resistance. Paper presented at the 2004 AERA conference, San Diego, 2004.

(both papers will be available from the web board)

Thurs., October 28

Digitizing Story Elements:  Introduction to Photoshop and iMovie

Lambert, J (2003). Digital Storytelling Cookbook and Traveling Companion (version 4.0) (pp. 30-53).


Week 6

Tues., November  2

Stories of children's lives.

Bruner, J (1990). “Entry into meaning” and “Autobiography of Self”. In J. Bruner, Acts of Meaning, pp. 99-138. (Web board)

Thurs., November 4

Story Boards due.  Presentation and review of story boards .


Week 7

Tues., November 9

Turkle, Sherry, "Who Am We?" 1996,


Thurs., November 11

Veterans Day Holiday (no classes)


Week 8

Tues., November 16

Gee, J. P.(2003) Learning and Identity: What does it mean to be Half-Elf. In J. P. Gee, What Video games have to teach us about learning and literacy”. (pp. 39 –55)

(Will be available from the web board)

Thurs., November 18

“Co-Authoring Identity:  Digital Storytelling in an Urban Middle School” by Alan Davis, University of Colorado at Denver. (Will be available from the web board) Site Experience Discussion: “Real” and “Virtual” Identity


Week 9

Tues., November 23

Chandler, D., “Writing Oneself in Cyberspace”


Chandler, D. & Roberts-Young, D., “The Construction of Identity in Adolescent Personal Home Pages”. In Marquet, Pascal, Alain Jaillet, Stephanie Mathey & Elke Nissen (Eds.) (1999): Internet-Based Teaching and Learning (IN-TELE) 98 (Internet Communication, Vol. 2). Frankfurt: Peter LangPublishers, pp. 461-466.



Thurs., November 25

Happy Thanksgiving!


Week 10

Tues., November 30

Computer games and aggressive behavior

Anderson, C. A., Dill, K. E., “Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in the Laboratory and in Life” http://www.apa.org/journals/psp/psp784772.html

Cesarone, B., “Video Games and Children”. ERIC Digest. http://www.ericfacility.net/ericdigests/ed365477.html

Jones, G. & Moore, M., “Violent Media is Good for Kids” Excerpt from the upcoming book, "Power Play"


Thurs., December 2

Presentation of the class projects.

General discussion.



1) Within 24 hours of your first site visit of each week, send electronic copies of your field notes to: http://iacs5.ucsd.edu/~co116x. By doing this, you will automatically send the fieldnote to the class webboard as well.

2) Bring hard copies of your field notes to the next class.

You will have need to have 16 field notes.. 25% of your grade will be based on 16 field notes.

3) Electronic and hard copies of your field notes should be based on the following template:

Heading (1 point):
Your name: Fulano de Tal
Field site you visited: SE or EW,
Date: mm/dd/yy
Children: Carly Smith, 6, or 1st grade, Adam Gomez 7, or 2nd grade
Activities: Oregon Trail, read Green Eggs and Ham, math homework
Letters to: Wizard, El Maga at La Clase Magica, Olaf Berg in Ronneby, mom

General Observation (1 point):
Here you are setting the scene for those who will read your notes. Describe the things you notice when you come in. Describe the general atmosphere, your state of mind (did you get stopped for speeding trying to get to site on time?), feelings expressed by others. This section describes the view from a wide angle. It should contain lots of observations about the site you enter and how you find your way in to the day's interactions. Your early notes should describe the people and physical spaces you encounter. In later notes, you should mark changes, things that are unusual. This section is usually about one or two paragraphs long.

Narrative Description (4 points):
Here you are zooming in to your interactions with children and adults at site. Try to describe your interactions as accurately as you can.
Be careful to report behaviors rather than imputing your interpretation of the child’s mental states. For example, "Carlos ran in, smiling, jumping, and waving a paper." vs. "Carlos was happy". This is the longest section of the field note and contains several paragraphs. It should be as long as it takes you to describe your time at site.
Game/Task Summary (1 point):

This is a very brief report on what the child accomplished during your visit.
For example: Carly completed the Good level on Oregon Trail, then we sat with Adam and we read Green Eggs and Ham. We finished the book. After Carly left, Adam and 1 played chess until his father came. We did not complete our game.

Reflection (3 points):
Here you state your thoughts and opinions about what happened at site. What have you learned about yourself and others? You can bring in your background experiences or any information that helps frame your thoughts about the interactions at site.
You should also use this space to reflect on how readings from the class are useful in explaining the phenomena at site, or alternatively, not very helpful at all. This is also a good spot to ask questions.


4) Grading:

Heading matter:                        1 point
General Site Observations:       1 point
Narrative Description:              4 points
Game/Task Summary:              1 point
Reflection:                                 3 points 

Each field note is worth 10 points.          
Total possible points for field notes:  10 X 16 notes = 160 points                            

Notes turned in late will loose points. Notes that are not proofread will also loose points.
Notes more than one week late WILL NOT be accepted for a grade.