DCC 105

Perspectives on Design Cultures and Creativity


Tuesdays 4:00-5:15pm

PFH 1105

Sections: Wednesday 4:00-4:50pm Wednesday 5:00-5:50pm Thursday  4:00-4:50pm Thursday  5:00-5:50pm


Dr. Jason Farman


Office: 0123 Prince Frederick Hall Office Phone: 301.405.2866

Office Hours: Mondays 1:00-2:30pm or by appointment


Joseph Meyer



Nina Cardillo




As the introductory class to the Design Cultures & Creativity Program, this course is designed to familiarize you with a variety of perspectives on digital media, design, creative practices, emerging research in the field, and ways in which the DCC program can augment and extend your chosen majors. Throughout the course, we will focus on topics such as community and emerging media, design in everyday life, identity, the impact of digital media on what we know and how we learn, privacy, mobile technologies, the physical reality of digital media, e-waste, and the digital divide. Coupled with these lectures, we as a class will engage these ideas through hands-on explorations such as redesigning the university lecture, collectively tracking down the surveillance cameras on campus, the screening your 1-2 minute cellphone movies at our own film festival, repairing broken technologies, working toward solutions for those who don’t have access to digital media, and the creative misuse of computer code. This class will be cool.



What You Will Learn in this Class (Some of Our Course Objectives):

  • You will learn about how technology impacts identity and community (and has done so throughout history).
  • You will learn what makes good design in everyday life and will explore ways in whichall aspects of life are designed.
  • You will gain a greater awareness of how your data is being tracked and the pervasiveness of surveillance around
  • You will understand the trajectories of mobile technology and how this medium can transform a public
  • You will gain a deeper understanding of the tangible objects and infrastructures in the world that are required for the internet to
  • You will be able to better assess the sustainability and environmental impact of digital
  • You will gain skills to be able to repair broken technologies (and understand why repair is an intervention into a culture of e-waste and planned obsolescence).
  • You will learn the deeper causes and solutions for the digital
  • You will gain a deeper understanding of how digital technologies are transforming the creative


Required Texts:

All readings will be available through online links in the syllabus or posted on Canvas (



  • Active Engagement: 5%
  • Twitter: 10%
  • Quizzes: 10%
  • Attendance at Events/Lab: 15%
  • Photo Assignment and Reflection: 15%
  • WordPress Blog and Portfolio: 20%
  • End of Year Self Evaluation Paper: 25%


Active Engagement:

Your active engagement grade is determined by your participation in all lectures, discussions, and hands-on explorations. Your participation is crucial to the learning you will experience in this class and absences are weighted accordingly. Because this is a discussion-driven and hands-on class, the quality of the class for everyone is in large part dependent on the quality of preparation and visible engagement of each participant. Please realize that although you may have prepared the readings and assignments and may be listening to others, if you do not actively demonstrate your preparation and ideas in discussion, there is no way to observe and, hence, evaluate the quality of your preparation and participation.

Students are expected to attend classes regularly. Consistent attendance offers students the most effective opportunity to gain command of course concepts and materials. Excused absences must be requested promptly and must be supported by appropriate documentation. Excused absences include those based on medical necessity and religious observation. Students are responsible for meeting with the instructor to discuss appropriate academic accommodation, and are responsible for determining all information and material missed due to absences. Students are expected to inform the instructor in advance of medically necessary absences, and present a self-signed note documenting the date of the missed class(es) and testifying to the need for the absence. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the instructor within the first 3 weeks of class regarding any religious observance absence(s) for the entire semester. Active Engagement is worth 5% of your grade.

Twitter Responses:

You will need a Twitter account to interact with the in-class lectures. We recommend that you set up a separate account just for this class. Please be sure to email your username to your discussion leader.

Please note, your Twitter account cannot be set to private (or others in the class will not be able to see your tweets, including your instructors who are grading you on this assignment).

You must post to Twitter at least once during each lecture on Tuesdays (you will not tweet on days that we have hands-on explorations). All tweets must include the hashtag #dcc105.

Your baseline score is out of 8 percent; exceptional posts and uses of Twitter may garner you a bonus score up to a maximum of 10 percent total. To gain the 2 bonus percentage points (for a total of 10 percent for the semester), you must post especially insightful posts, provide useful links to outside material, or offer consistently helpful and engaged responses to classmates’ posts. Tweeting multiple times in a week will not make up for days that you did not tweet or were absent.

I recommend downloading a Twitter application to use during class such as Tweetdeck.

Note: for students who don’t have a laptop or smartphone, iPads and tablets will be available for you during each lecture. You may instead send tweets during class by using the text message feature on your phones. You must text your message to 40404 after setting up your cellphone at See also:

Your Twitter Responses are worth 10% of your grade.



Each week that has readings associated with it in the schedule will have a quiz on those readings. These quizzes will cover the material in the readings and cover content from the previous lecture. These quizzes, which are mainly multiple choice, matching, and the occasionally short answer question, are designed only to make sure that you are keeping up with the readings and attending lectures. There are no trick questions; if you have done the readings and taken notes on the lectures throughout the week, you will get a good grade on these quizzes. These quizzes are taken on our ELMS/Canvas site and must be completed prior to lecture each Tuesday (except for the days that have no reading, i.e., days where we’ll be doing a “Hands-On Exploration”). Each quiz will be available on Canvas for 24 hours prior to the lecture. Once lecture begins on these days, the quiz will be closed and cannot be taken if missed. For example, a quiz due by lecture on Tuesday will be available starting at 4pm on Monday and will cover topics discussed in the readings due for that day and will include questions drawn from the previous lecture. Quizzes are worth 10% of your grade.


Attendance at Events and Lab Studio Hours:

Since we are a living-learning community, much of our learning will take place outside of the traditional classroom environment. As part of your grade for DCC 105, you are required to attend at least 1 Design Camp. You are also required to attend 1 of the following: guest speakers in DCC, approved public lectures across campus, approved art events, or attendance at a film screening and discussion. Lastly, you must log 5 studio hours in the DCC Lab and/or Sound Studio. These events and studio hours are worth 15% of your grade.


WordPress Blog and Portfolio:

You will sign up for your own website that will be a part of your entire career in DCC. You will use it in this course for written responses to the course material (and to engage the writing of your fellow classmates), to post your work, and to set up a professional web presence that can be used as you apply for internships and jobs. In future DCC classes, you will continue to use this site as a portfolio for your work and, ultimately, as the main site for your Capstone Project. For full details on this aspect of the course, visit “Assignments” on the Canvas page, which will have a full grading rubric and list of expectations.


Things We Carry Photo Assignment:

Drawing inspiration from Jason Travis’ Persona series (see: jasontravis/sets/72157603258446753/), this assignment asks you to document three people and their “mobile lives.” The goal of this assignment is to expand our definition of “mobile media” to include the mobile devices, objects, and technologies that people carry with them on a day-to-day basis. The mobile media that we discuss in this class live in a media ecology with other mobile objects like wallets, keys, identification cards, writing utensils, tools of all sorts, and items that are required to get us through the day while we are on the move. For this assignment, you will create three diptych photographs: on the top will be a well-crafted portrait of the person, and on the bottom will be the objects they carry on them in a given day. You may work with your clients to curate which objects get displayed (or, alternatively, you can surprise your clients while they are out and about, asking them to display the objects they have with them at that moment). These photographs should be well-composed, well-lit, and aesthetically beautiful. You will save your final products as high-resolution jpegs, submitting them to the Canvas site for this class.

End of Year Self-Evaluation:

Some researchers have suggested that students will likely only retain about 5% of the material covered in a course after several years have passed. This assignment is geared to help you identify the topics covered in this course that have impacted you and are ideas that you would like to carry with you well after the completion of this course. This written assignment will be a self-evaluation reflecting on the topics studied in this course. You must pick two ideas, terms, or concepts covered at some point in this course and discuss how your ideas about these concepts have changed throughout the semester. You must also connect these topics to your larger interests, major, or career goals. The objective is to trace how an idea evolves through analysis and how that idea can have an impact on areas of your life that are important. The Self-Evaluation Paper is worth 25% of your grade.


Note on Academic Honesty and Plagiarism: Any source that you draw ideas, quotes, or media (photographs, videos, vectors, schematics, etc.) from must be cited accurately in your writing. If you use any source in your work without correctly citing the work, this constitutes plagiarism.

Any intentional plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the assignment and may result in a failing grade for the course and an XF on your transcript.



Category A: Sloppiness. Automatic “0” on project with option to redo for no better than a “C” Category B: Ignorance. Automatic “0” on project with option to redo for no better than a “C” Category C: Obvious Conscious Cheating. Automatic “0” on project, with no option for redoing. You will likely receive a failing grade for the course. You will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct and may face the Student Conduct Board in a hearing to determine the consequences of the offense. Students found responsible for a violation of the Code of Academic Integrity by the Student Honor Council, receiving an “XF” or worse, will be removed from the Honors College, including the living and learning program.


For those of you who are not aware of what constitutes plagiarism, here is a breakdown of the various types:

  • Buying papers, borrowing papers, or recycling former papers unrevised and claiming these types of papers as your own for your assignment in this (This constitutes a Category C offense)
  • Cutting and pasting parts of a webpage or borrowing passages from a book for your paper without properly citing these parts and claiming the material as your own for the expressed intent of (This constitutes a Category C offense)
  • Failing to use proper citation style for material you borrow, (This constitutes either a Category A or B offense)


Students with Disabilities: The University of Maryland is committed to creating and maintaining a welcoming and inclusive educational, working, and living environment for people of all abilities. The University of Maryland is also committed to the principle that no qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of the University, or be subjected to discrimination. The University of Maryland provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals. Reasonable accommodations shall be made in a timely manner and on an individualized and flexible basis. Accessibility & Disability Service (ADS) facilitates reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals. For assistance in obtaining an accommodation, contact Accessibility and Disability Service at at 301.314.7682, or More information is available from the Counseling Center. After receiving an Accommodations Letter from ADS, as a student you are expected to meet with each course instructor, in person, to provide them with a copy of the Accommodations Letter and to obtain their signature on the Acknowledgement of Student Request form. You and your instructors will discuss a plan for how the accommodations will be implemented throughout the semester for the course.


—Please Note: This syllabus is subject to change at any time according to the professor’s discretion. The assignments below may also include readings handed out in class, which each student is responsible for completing.




Week 1 — Course Introduction: Being a Community Through Technology

Aug. 28


Week 2 — The Design of Everyday Life

Sept. 4


Week 3 — Hands-On Exploration: Redesign the Classroom Experience

Sept. 11

  • Blog post due by Friday for sections 0101 (Joseph 4pm) and 0103 (Nina 4pm)
  • Blog responses due by the following Monday for sections 0102 (Joseph 5pm) and 0104 (Nina 5pm)
  • [Religious Holiday: Hijra]
  • In attendance: Steve Hart from Adobe
  • Design Camp: 3D Printing (Instructor: Danielle Abe) Mon/Wed 7:30-9pm
  • Approved Event: Makerspaces Tour (Tour guide: John Fitzell) Tues 12-2pm


Week 4 — Information Society: Whose Information? Whose Society?

Sept. 18


Week 5 — Big Data and Identity

Sept. 25


Week 6 — Hands-On Exploration: Create Surveillance Maps of the Campus

Oct. 2

•             DUE in Section: Photo Assignment

  • Blog post due by Friday for sections 0102 and 0104
  • Blog responses due by the following Monday for sections 0101 and 0103
  • Every video group must have at least one member sign up for the Video Editing Design Camp held this week.
  • Design Camp: Video Editing with Premier (Instructor: Josh Hall) Tues or Wed 7-9pm


Week 7 — The Documented Life


•             DUE by 4pm: Photo Assignment Reflection Papers

  • José Van Dijck, Mediated Memories, Ch. 1
  • “Photography, Self Documentation, and Social Media: An Interview with Nathan Jurgenson,”
  • Film screening in lab: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Monday, Oct 8th, 7-9pm)
  • [Religious Holiday: Sukkot]
  • Design Camp: Non-traditional storytelling (Instructor: Jessica Morris) T/Th 7:30-9pm


Week 8 — Hands-On Exploration: Cellphone Film Festival

Oct. 16

  • Blog post due by Friday for sections 0101 and 0103
  • Blog responses due by the following Monday for sections 0102 and 0104
  • Design Camp: Bookbinding (Instructor: John Fitzell) M/W 7-8:30pm

Week 9 — Materiality in a Wireless World

Oct. 23


Week 10 — Planned Obsolescence and E-Waste

Oct. 30


Week 11 —The Digital Divide

Nov. 6

Week 12 — Hands-On Exploration: The Art of Repair

Nov. 13

  • Blog post due by Friday for sections 0102 and 0104
  • Blog responses due by the following Monday for sections 0101 and 0103

Week 13 — Hands-On Exploration: Digital Divide Design Challenge

Nov. 20

  • Thanksgiving Break: No Sections This Week


Week 14 — Creativity in the Digital Age and Acts of Creative Misuse

Nov. 27

_leaders (16:35)

Week 15 — Hand-On Exploration: Code Dance

Dec. 4

  • End of year party immediately following class


Week 16 — Finals Week

·      Monday, December 17: Self-evaluation paper due by 11:59pm. Upload to Canvas. No final exam!

Blog at

Up ↑

Create your website with
Get started