Current Courses

New Course for Spring 2024!

82.265 Whispers & Echoes:
Third Cinema: People, Language & Culture in Documentary Storytelling

In this semester-long course, we will explore world documentary cinema through the themes of language, culture, and identity. Discover echoes of lives, identities, and traditions within diverse communities, crafting narratives that mirror the intricate tapestry of languages, identities, and shared histories.

This is a collaborative project-based applied language and culture course. We will begin by exploring aspects of documentary filmmaking, taking our inspiration from filmmakers across world cinema. We will celebrate storytelling traditions, navigate through difficult ethnological and ethical questions, and delve into the nuances of representation and portrayal – all in preparation for navigating the process of writing, shooting, and editing a short documentary film.  

We will encourage you to tell stories of personal significance, perhaps drawing from your own upbringing and experience. Your (team) films will reveal aspects of language and culture, from intimate traditions to bonds of family, friendship, and shared experiences. We may encounter communities engaged in conflict and protest, shedding light on issues such as education, human rights, health, and housing. You may reach out to heritage language groups and explore linguistic diversity. This may be an opportunity to establish connections with the various diasporic communities in the locality.

Guided by a formal production process, we will support each other with our projects, offering feedback on treatments, scripts, edits, and final films. The culmination of this journey will be a screening of your short documentary films, where friends, colleagues, contributors, and the public will join us to see your work. 

This course would attract students studying languages, cultural, sociolinguistic, and/or political discourse. Additionally, perhaps there are budding narrative filmmakers who would like to explore the possibilities of the documentary genre. However, there are no expectations for prior experience and, hence, no prerequisites. You will be taught technical and production skills, in addition to ethical interview practices and culturally humble and informed methods of engagement. Your success will come from an ability to form relationships, share ideas, and tell engaging and impactful stories.

Apply today via the Hub

82.250 Digital Realities:
Introducing Immersive Technologies for Arts and Culture

As Immersive and spatial media increasingly feature in our cultural life, innovators are needed who can blend technological skills with creative imagination and critical humanistic practice. This introductory course aims to enable hybrid technologists, media-makers, and storytellers who can create mediated experiences that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the creation of augmented, immersive, and spatial media. You will construct, but also deconstruct immersive and augmented experiences with respect to the cultural, socio-emotional, and embodied aspects of human experience through a process of play, exploration, and experimentation. You will author original narratives and prototype spatially mediated experiences while attending to the aesthetic considerations, humanistic concerns, and design conventions defining this emerging mode of cultural production.

You will explore the affordances of Immersive and Spatial Media, and identify opportunities for narrative representation of language, culture, and the arts. You will author short exploratory works, through which you will construct and deconstruct immersive and spatial experiences, focusing on questions of social, cultural, and artistic impact. This introductory course aims to prepare you for further exploration of immersive and spatial media, and will be the first steps towards a specialization in immersive experience design, for games, documentary, interactive installation, and uses in science, media, and the arts.

You will complete a series of short immersive storytelling assignments, capturing self-authored, developed, and designed work in an online portfolio. A final project will include written research and a presentation of your online portfolio.

We will provide you with a personal VR headset and equipment for developing, recording, editing, and creating your own immersive experiences. You will need a smartphone with the capacity to record video and audio, however, if you need support with this aspect, please ask and equipment will be provided. Assignments will be posted in canvas and you should be prepared to publish, share and discuss your work.

Apply today via The Hub.

82.288 Everyday Learning: Designing learning experiences in times of unrest and uncertainty

In these times of Covid-19, it is perhaps unsurprising how many of us have used learning to stay connected with our friends and communities, stay engaged and enjoy our interests and passions. From book groups, YouTube yoga classes, Instagram drawing tutorials, virtual tours of museums and galleries, language learning apps, nature diaries, activity sheets or learning packs; there has been a groundswell in teaching, instruction and the sharing of skills and knowledge.

We use learning to better ourselves, engage with the world around us and shape our futures.

Could you share your knowledge, and use what you know to teach and educate? Can you make complex ideas accessible and engaging to learners everywhere? Could you use what you know to make society better, and can teachers be active agents of social change? 

In this six-week mini (F2), you will develop learning experiences using a variety of instructional media formats from social media tools, to zines and workshops for a range of contexts including smartphones, home setups, and informal learning settings.  There are many ways to teach and share learning with your community, and see how learning can flourish both online and offline, non-traditional and non-classroom- based environments, even outdoors  We will explore the tools for production, from small home teaching studios, virtual learning platforms, social media, with tips and tricks to share, market and monetise your content.

We will underpin our work with ideas from philosophers and educators such as John Dewey and Paulo Friere, we will explore the democratization of education in a post-covid world and consider a shifting educational landscape inspired by the Black lives matter protests. We will look at the response from museums, libraries, cinemas, civic spaces to better meet the diverse needs of learners in their communities.

At the end of this course you will have an appreciation of the diversity and complexity of designing learning media for everyday settings. You will gain the technical knowhow to create digital and analogue formats. Based on your selected topic and learning situation, you may design and produce instructional videos, audio content, animation paired with worksheets, talks, paper-based instructional materials.  We will test and evaluate our content with learners, invite feedback and develop a strategy for sharing and consider ways to sustainably fund your learning products.

We will work collaboratively on projects, through a series of short tasks and capture our process work in a learning journal or portfolio. Together we will create a supportive environment for sharing ideas, employ interdisciplinary skills and enjoy making. For a final project we will agree on an individual teaching project, on a subject agreed with the instructor using one or more of the methods outlined above.

There will be modules on the following topics:

  • Effectively engaging subject matter experts in content creation
  • Producing media content – video/ curated and crowdsourced courses/ slow TV/ podcasts/live-streamed/online broadcasts
  • Creating community learning – social media, video, books, posters, talks, group activities and more
  • Learning design theory and supporting frameworks , including social constructivist learning and active pedagogies
  • Understanding Online Funding models – certification/upgrades/freemium 
  • Using data analytics to refine course content and ensure effective learning.
  • Supporting personal development through micro-credentials and digital badges
  • Looking after learners – maintaining engagement, facilitating and tutoring our students.

There are no prerequisites, coding and design skills are not required, only an open-minded approach to learning and a desire to share, teach and engage with learners. This course would be useful to METALS students and students in HCI exploring the design of teaching and learning, and all students with an interest in sharing their knowledge and expertise with young people, community groups and learners everywhere.

So do you have what it takes to teach, create and share?

Register Now via SIO (The Hub)

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82-284 Multicultural Pittsburgh: Exploring Language and Culture through Digital Storytelling

Exploring Language, culture and Identity through Digital Storytelling

Summer One – MW 10.30 -11.50am Tepper 1024

We can all learn something about other people’s cultures by first considering our own and thinking about the ways cultures and identities often intersect, relate and contradict one another. This is a course which will explore language and culture through creative Digital Storytelling.

Through active learning, students will write, research and create. Digital Storytelling takes many forms, leveraging the affordances of smart phone technology, games, map-making, immersion, coding, art and design. This course will develop your research and fieldwork skills, media creation skills and multicultural literacy. There are no pre-requisites and may suit those who wish to enhance their digital skills and explore language and culture through creativity.

This is a 6-unit course focusing on multiculturalism, language and identity. Students will produce and publish their projects in a series of online exhibition spaces.

For an additional 3-units, students will explore and analyze the use of 360 Immersive Virtual Reality in language and cultural documentary, writing an appreciation of this form of storytelling using examples from news and VR documentary producers.

Schedule: Mondays and Wednesdays – 10.30am – 11.50am
Dates: May 19 – June 25

Taught online through a series of synchronous virtual workshops and asynchronous tasks and activities. This course will meet two days a week for four weeks, followed by one week self-directed study and Instructor support,and digital projects due one week later.

Instructor: Stephan Caspar – Assistant Teaching Professor in Media Creation and Multicultural Studies.

Stephan Caspar’s courses at CMU include Multicultural Pittsburgh, exploring language and culture through Virtual Reality, and Podcasting: Language and Culture. These course have introduced students to digital storytelling concepts and skills, taught as active workshop sessions supported by theory and practice. Stephan brings experience in broadcast bedia, learning design and technology, with previous roles at the University of Southampton leading the Digital Learning Team and BBC Informal Learning. You can follow Stephan on twitter @dotsandspaces.

CMU Students visit the Hub to find out more.