Project #96459 - Digital Literacy


This assignment calls for you to research and analyze a topic related to digital information. It is a major investigation that should provide a full and detailed examination of its subject. It also calls for you to present your research and analysis in a format that includes at least one digital medium in addition to text (such an audio recording or  images, etc.).

The main stages of the project are:

  1. Identify a topic to research.
  2. Submit a project description and research questions.
  3. Read feedback and submit revised description and questions.
  4. Submit outline and at least three sources for research.
  5. Read feedback and submit revised outline and sources.
  6. Receive approval for the proposal (descriptions, questions, outline and feedback). Approval is required for full credit.
  7. Research! Find information. Read it, think about it, write about it. Repeat.
  8. Report on your research so far.
  9. Final project completed.

You have the option of working alone, or with a partner.

This assignment accounts for 24% of your final grade.

Instructions on how to accomplish these stages are below. Do not fail to read them all with care before you begin, and refer to them again often as you work.


November 11-16: Submit a description of your proposed research project, including 2-3 research questions, according to the specifications below, under “The Proposal.”  Make sure it has all the necessary components, and is in accordance with the guidelines given. After posting a project description, you will receive feedback from me. One or more rounds of revisions may be required before your project is approved.

November 14-20: After your description is approved, submit an outline of the project, and at least three research sources that relate to your topic.  These must conform to the specifications under “The Proposal”. Your sources also have to be approved, and may require revision before they are.

December 1st: Post a research update. Tell us, informally, what answers have you found to your research questions, and what new questions have emerged.

December 11: Submit completed digital media research project.


Your first step will be to identify a topic. Taking into consideration the reading, writing, and discussion that have occurred in the course, find a subject that is of particular interest to you. It will probably be helpful to look at past assignments and ReadMe! entries to generate ideas.

Your subject does not have to be one we’ve addressed in the course, but it does need to relate to digital literacy. It also should be a subject of importance in the sense that it affects the lives of individuals, groups, or communities, and has implications for how our culture and society are developing.

You have the option of working with a partner, and obviously if two people are working together, they will have to consult very closely on what their topic will be.

In order to be able to successfully research and write about your topic, you need to be very specific about what aspects of your subject you are addressing. You will see that the amount of information you find can quickly become overwhelming, so it’s important to develop a narrow focus so that your investigation can be detailed, rather than generalized and superficial.  A narrow topic allows you to determine easily what books or articles will not be relevant for you.  And importantly, a narrow topic will allow you to delve deeply into your subject to create a final project that is well-thought out and informative, not superficial, boring, or cliched.

Creating a formal proposal will help you focus your topic. A formal proposal that is approved is required. Details are below.

The Proposal

Your proposal will describe the specific topic you want to investigate, including research questions, an outline, and some of the sources your will use for your research.

After you have submitted each part of  your proposal (the description and questions, and then the outline and sources), they must be approved. You will know your submission has been approved when I respond with the words, “This is APPROVED.” If you have not seen those words in response to your proposal, that means it has not been approved yet.

The approval process will probably involve some revisions, and may require a few rounds of feedback and revisions before it is complete.

The first part of each proposal must include:

  • A general description of your topic (about a paragraph).
  • Specific question(s) your research will address (between 1 and 2, most likely).

I will read them and offer feedback for revision. Each revision should be posted as a complete proposal. That is, if my feedback on your proposal is that you need to use different research questions, or revise your description, you should  not post only what you’ve changed. You should post the description and questions again, all together.

The second part of your proposal should include:

  • The approved description and questions (part 1)
  • An outline of your project
  • At least 3 sources that relate to your research questions, 1 of which must be a scholarly source (include full citations)

Here are some suggestions that will help your proposal to be approved:

  • Make your questions as concrete as possible. “What is good and bad about Facebook” isn’t a good research question. “What are some of the uses grandparents have made of blogs?” is a much better question.
  • The sources also need to be specific. An entire website isn’t a source for the purpose of this proposal. A particular journal article is a source you could include. The scholarly source can come from a peer-reviewed journal, or an essay or chapter from a book published by a university press, for example. If you’re not sure what a scholarly source is, please raise that question.
  • Provide full citations for your sources using either MLA or APA style.

Here are 3 ways to guarantee that your proposal will NOT be approved:

  • Any description or research question that compares the “benefits and risks,” “positive and negative,” “pros and cons,” “good and bad,” and so on of any subject, technology, or activity will need to be revised. A proposal that contains anything similar will not be approved.
  • A description or research question that involves the future of any subject, technology, activity, people, or organization. The future hasn’t happened yet. It is possible to speculate about it, but it is not possible to research it. A proposal with questions about the future will not be approved.
  • A research question that is capable of being answered with a single word will not be approved. “Can Facebook be harmful to teenagers?”  “Can Facebook help teenagers study?” It’s possible to respond Yes, No, or even Maybe. However, there is no single-word answer to the question, “In what ways can teenagers use Facebook to help them learn?”

I’m telling you now to save you time and heartache. It’s the way it is.

When you are ready with each part of your proposal, post to the Proposal forum. Each of you should start your own thread, and use that to post your proposal and all revisions.

You will know it is approved when I include the word APPROVED in response to your proposal.It must be approved in order to get full credit for the assignment.

Complete Project

Your final project is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have mastered the content, tools, and skills necessary to be digitally literate. It should be detailed enough and large/long enough so that you discuss your topic in depth, and are able to showcase the research you’ve done.

There are many elements of this project which could be like a traditional research paper, but there is a requirement that you make use of at least one digital medium, such as video, or more simply, images. These cannot be merely “window-dressing.” All the material you include should be in the service of a point you are trying to make, a phenomenon you are illustrating or analyzing, or a counter-example to someone’s argument. This applies equally to quotations of text or embedded multi-media. Everything in your project needs to have a reason, and you need to explain to your reader (and/or viewer, auditor, etc.) what that reason is.

To that end, make sure you that you carefully select what part of an article, video, news report, etc. you will include. Just as  you wouldn’t dump an entire scientific study in your own work, don’t put an entire 3-minute recording in when the part that is important to you is only 90 seconds long. If you aren’t able to edit your source, then provide directions for where the relevant portions are. For example, you could tell  people to watch from 12:06 (twelve minutes, six seconds) to 14:32 (2 minutes and 24 seconds later) to see what you are about to discuss.

Because of alternative media being used, there isn’t a specific page count required for the project.   As a reference point, I consider this equivalent to an 6- to 8-page research paper, or approximately 2,500 words.

The project should be written in Standard Academic English. All sources should be properly cited, using either MLA or APA style. Also make sure you that along with your full citation on the Works Cited or References page, include a web address in brackets even if MLA or APA does not specify one.  Obviously you need to identify the source of any quotations and paraphrases, but also make sure you clearly show the source of all images, charts, videos, etc.

In general, your project should be professional-looking and polished.

Media formats

A good old reliable word processing document can be a powerful means of getting your message across, and allows the incorporation of lots of other media.  (Notice that I don’t assume you will be using Microsoft Word. There are alternatives for PCs, Macs and Linux, including lots of interesting free and open-source options! The best known (and most MS-like) is probably Open Office.)

Another option you have as SPS students is a project-dedicated e-Portfolio. I know that many of you are still working on mastering the form, but it can offer an interesting and varied structure for your work, combining a variety of module styles.

A wiki can be a great way to present research. For a project like this, a wiki’s greatest strength is probably the use of multiple pages, each of which more or less stands on its own. You aren’t limited to a Blackboard wiki, although of course you’re welcome to use one. Wikispaces is an example of a free wiki you can try, but there are lots or others.

A “screencast” is a great way to combine visual and verbal information. It combines a moving image capture of whatever is on your screen, together with a voice-over that  you record at the same time.  You can experiment with this using Jing(again… just one example of what’s available).

All-audio is another way to go. You would probably want to supply at least one supplementary document for citations, but depending on your topic, the use of sound-effects, or live recording, or simply the force of your voice could be a fantastic way to present your work.

Audio/video is probably the most demanding method you could use. I don’t imagine that for the kinds of topics you’re working with, video would offer enough benefits to outweigh the challenges, but then, you could surprise me!

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Due By (Pacific Time) 12/11/2015 12:00 am
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