LMW1 Syllabus

Living in a Media World 1: Developing & Presenting Media

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Living in a Media World 1 is part one of a two-part introduction to nonfiction media production. In LMW, you will use a website as the anchor to create and develop a non-fiction media project. You will choose a topic, then learn all the software and hardware tools to bring your ideas to a professional level. The skills you will learn will involve photography, video, audio, interviewing, all computer software necessary to create your media, then present the work at midterm and final using your website as evidence of your work. You will need to reach out to your community to complete the project. At the end of the class students pitch an idea for a non-fiction short video, then vote on each others projects, and the winning projects move up to become video shorts in LMW part 2.

COURSE LENGTH: 7-8 weeks (varies based on how credit units map to term schedule).

LMW operates online
LMW uses the same online tools for the syllabus that students use to manage class work. The tool we currently use for this is WordPress, an industry standard CMS. Each student creates a project website for the class. Students use their website to manage content for the class — to develop and organize a non-fiction project, turn in class assignments, and drive presentations for the midterm and final. All student websites for the class are viewable online from any internet browser.

Lab assignments are due at the end of each lab. Lab assignments require you to explore various software and digital tools to develop your project. The software we use includes WordPress, the Adobe Creative Suite, Final Cut Pro and all other tools appropriate for media production. The classroom is a networked Mac lab, and we address basic computer skills to manage and organize a professional media project. During the labs we promote self-guided learning and creative problem solving. Guidance is available from instructors and teaching assistants during class. As well, teaching assistants are available by appointment for tutoring outside of class time.

Midterm & Final
The midterm and final critiques are important presentations in the class. The midterm is a concise presentation of the project website. The final uses the site to pitch a nonfiction video for LMW 2. Critiques are a vital part of the learning process, as students put themselves before their peers and instructors and learn to critically assess their own work and others, and articulate their thoughts in a public forum.

TOPICS: Core concept development, nonfiction media development, using a content management system (CMS, in our case this is WordPress), graphic design (visual organization, basic typography,  image + type, basic design principles, composition, tools, etc.), basic digital photography, audio recording techniques, interview techniques, sound design, video production, editing and exporting, pitching an idea.


  • Learn basic computer skills on the mac OSX platform, including file management, media management, and project management across multiple computers, storage devices and networks.
  • Learn basic photography skills using the Canon SX40 and Photoshop.
  • Learn basic audio recording skills using the Zoom H4n audio recorder and various industry standard microphones.
  • Learn audio post-production and editing using GarageBand and Final Cut Pro.
  • Research, develop and present a topic using online tools, including WordPress, Soundcloud, Youtube and Vimeo.
  • Use library research tools such as LIRN and Ebrary.
  • Learn media creation tools for basic graphic design and audio/video production, including the Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Bridge) and Final Cut Pro.
  • Present and discuss project work in critiques, one-on-one discussions with instructors and group-based discussions.
  • Learn professional media workflow and processes using the Adobe Suite and Final Cut Pro.
  • Pitch a concept for a documentary short using online media tools and a variety of related media (WordPress, writing, audio recording, photography and video).
  • Become familiar with digital art concepts and contemporary art and design concepts through keynote lectures and discussions.

FEDERAL GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT GUIDELINES: As part of the Gainful Employment federal program, each class you take at Ex’pression requires 2 hours of homework for every hour class. This breaks down as follows for the eight week term:

Semester Credit Units:  03
Class Contact Hours: 30
Lab Contact Hours: 30
Hours Outside of Class: 60

LIBRARY RESOURCES: The Wintzen Library and Learning Resource Center is open Monday – Friday, 9AM – 10 PM, Saturday, 12PM – 5 PM. Aside from being a great resource, the library also distributes all textbooks.

Useful library links:
Library catalog – http://library.expression.edu/
LIRN – http://www.lirn.net/         Handout: LIRN 2013.pdf
Ebrary – http://site.ebrary.com/lib/wintzen

GRADING: You can find information in the Student Handbook on school grading policy. In LMW 1, assignments add up to 50% of your grade, midterm 20%, final 25% and participation 5%.

PARTICIPATION: The school’s participation policy can be found in your Student Handbook. LMW follows this policy.

TEACHING METHOD/CLASS FORMAT: LMW1 uses a variety of teaching methods during classes and labs including keynote lecture/discussions, break out sessions, group activities, student presentations, hands-on computer training, independent and collaborative projects, class critiques, and online interaction.

CLASS MATERIALS: Each student receives a sketchbook for the class. This sketchbook, a pair of headphones, and a pen are required for all classes.

TEXTS & REQUIRED READING: There is no textbook for LMW1. All resources are available or listed on the LMW syllabus. Students are expected to use the syllabus and all handouts to participate in the class.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & POLICIES: It is highly recommended that you take notes in this course. If you miss a lecture you are responsible for any make-up work and communicating with the instructor. Teaching Assistants are provided for tutoring outside of class time. All information about assignments and deadlines are available on the class website.

LEC 1 –Introduction to the class, Presentation: Media Concepts for LMW, Demo: Creating a WordPress Blog.

LAB 1:

Set up WordPress, explore the types of media you will be using for the class and learn how to post them to WordPress.

How to Join LMW Groups

  • Set up your WordPress blog.
  • Set up a Soundcloud account.
  • Set up a Youtube or Vimeo account.
  • Create a post on your blog.
  • Create and post photos.
  • Create and post audio.
  • Create an About Me page.
  • Comment on other people’s blogs.
  1. WordPress: Sign in to a computer using your username and password. If you cannot do this, you must go to I.T. Once you can log in, your instructor will invite you to the class blog. Set up your account in WordPress. Pick a theme and name your blog. Create a Soundcloud account and make sure you have a Youtube or Vimeo account.
  2. Create a post on your blog stating the following:
    • Who are you?
    • What brings you to Ex’pression College?
    • What drives you creatively?
    • What would you like to be doing ten years from now?
    • What are your biggest influences?
    • What do you create?
  3. Use a still camera to take some photos. Post at least 5 photographs that express points you wrote in your post in #2. Include an image that represents you to use on your About Me page. Include a close up shot of something. Describe how/where/why you made them.
    Note: Depending on the camera you use, you may need to use Image Capture to download your pics from your camera. You can find this program in Macintosh HD/Applications.
  4. Using a Zoom audio recorder to create some audio files that express points from #2 above. Upload the audio files to your computer using the USB cable. Post your best audio recording. Describe how/where/why you made it.
    Note: if the Zoom doesn’t mount as a USB drive on your desktop, on the recorder go to the System menu and select “Connect to PC”, OR turn off power, reconnect USB to computer and turn recorder back on.
  5. Now refine your ideas: create an About Me page based on what you wrote in #2 and the pics and audio you gathered. Make it clear and professional in tone.
  6. Version 1 is due today at the end of lab. (You will continue to revise the pages you create throughout the class.)
  7. Look around at your classmates’ blogs. Comment on at least two other blogs in the class.

HW-  Come up with three ideas for topics to explore and research for your project blog. Make a post and talk about how you are connected to these topics.

LMW1 Proposal Guide

For your LMW 1 project, you must create an “About the Project” page. This is the most important written document in the class. Follow these guidelines: LMW1 Proposal Guide


  • How to select and develop an idea for your project
  • Writing a proposal
  • Methods for research and development

Your Project website must:

  • communicate your core concept clearly.
  • be well-designed and organized.
  • showcase strong supporting media.

What’s a good topic for LMW?

  • Something you have physical access to, that you can get close to.
  • Something with a story.
  • Something you really like, something unique you know, or something you want to learn about.
  • Something you can research.
  • Something with a local aspect.
  • Something that is not too broad in scope.
  • Something that you can:
    • take photos and shoot video of
    • record as audio: interview(s), field recordings
    • write about
    • research
    • find multiple perspectives on

LAB 2: Topic Development Group Workshop & Writing a Proposal

From the keynote: Chosing a Topic

LMW1 Proposal Guide

Part 1: Peer group discussion (30 minutes, 3 to 4 person groups).

Learning objectives: articulate constructive and critical feedback of each others work in a group discussion. Use a group discussion to help develop a topic. Write a proposal for a media project.

  1. Come with 3 topic ideas for your project (the homework assignment from Session 1). Come with notebook and pen for taking notes.
  2. Use the discussion points below to present each of your ideas to your group. Discuss with each other which topics will be best for this project (and which ones will not). Discussion points:
    • ACCESS: Will you have access to resources (people, spaces, events)?
    • STORY: Is there an opportunity to find a story or stories within the topic?
    • PEOPLE: Are there key people associated with the topic? Is there potential for interviews?
    • PHOTO: Can the topic be photographed?
    • AUDIO: Are there audio elements associated with the topic?
    • VIDEO: How well will your idea work as a nonfiction short?
    • AUDIENCE: Who is your audience and how will they connect to your project?
    • Stuck? Mindmap

Part 2: Write your Project Proposal

  1. By yourself, create a Project Proposal page for your website using the LMW Proposal Guide. (approx. 400 to 500 words).
  2. Use active languageWhat is active language?
  3. Get feedback from an instructor on your proposal before you publish it.

Research & Development

  1. You can use LIRN and other online research tools to find articles, etc. to build a strong case for your project.
  2. You can post images or links that relate to your research. You must cite your sources.
  3. Rename your website or start a new one. If you decide to start fresh, make sure to change your Primary Site under Dashboard > My Sites > Primary Site, and make sure you blogroll (link to) your other site or assignments.
  4. Comment on three other proposals in the class that you think are excellent.

Homework – Prepare a one-minute presentation (approx. 110-150 words) for your topic. Everyone will present this during the next class.

  • YOU and your PROJECT: Introduce yourself and tell us the Core Concept (Simply, “what’s this project about?”) of your project.
  • ACCESS: Tell us who, what and/or where you have access to.
  • STORY: Is there a story you think is interesting within your topic?


LEC 3 – Photos for LMW & Photoshop


Photoshop Demo


  1. Use Photoshop to create collage(s) related to your topic.
  2. Create a New document in Photoshop: 1920 x 1080 pixels (RGB Color, 8-bit).
  3. Your collage must use at least three layers. To create front/foreground layers, use the selection tools, eraser, etc. to select/remove parts of images.
    • Adjustment layers allow adjusting color/tone.
    • Layer styles and filters allow adding effects to layers.
    • Masks allow isolating/refining parts of layers, etc.
  4. Required: for at least one layer you must use one of your own photos. You could use it as a background image, you could cut out parts, you could use it for a texture, or something abstract or decorative — it just has to be a photo you took yourself.

Turning in your work requires two steps

  1. Upload your image(s) to a new Post on your webite. From Photoshop, save your image(s) to your computer. Use File > Export > Export As. Use JPG/60% quality. Then create a Post on your website and add your images to the post.
  2. Save your .psd file to the Assignment Drop Box. Save your .psd file (with your images all on separate layers) as Lastname_Firstname.psd. Turn in this file to the Assignment Drop Box on smb://StorageEMY/LMW.
Grading Criteria
  • Three photoshop collages with content related to the topic
  • Good composition, color, texture and type layout (if text is included)
  • Two photoshop collages
  • One photoshop collage
  • No photoshop collage


  • Due for the midterm (Session 7): minimum of 2 photo essays/slideshows of well-prepared photos pertaining to your topic.
  • Photo essays/slideshows must have a minimum of 5 images. There is no maximum.
  • The 2 photo essays/slideshows must be photos that you take during the term. Besides that, feel free to create other photo essays from online images (with properly cited sources).
  • In WordPress, you can use the NextGen Gallery plugin as one option to present your slideshows.

Have you commented on other blogs?


LEC 4 – Logo & Adobe Illustrator
Mini-pitch presentations

LAB 4: Use Illustrator to create a logo

Illustrator Demo

Part 1:

  1. The assignment is to design a logo for yourself as a media producer. What kind of logo would be good for your style of media? You are not making a logo for your topic.
  2. Use your sketchbook to brainstorm ideas. For example:
    • Write lists of words describing your concepts
    • Create simple, quick sketches of your idea
  3. Use one 1280×720 artboard layout in Illustrator for all your work. Create the following logo designs:
    1. Iconic/symbolic (image only).
    2. Logotype/wordmark (type only).
    3. Combination: an all new design using image+type (different image from #1, different font from #2).
    4. best of 1, 2 or 3 with color.

Make a nice final composition of your four designs on the artboard in Illustrator so the exported image will look nice on your site. To turn in your work:

  1. For your website, use File > Export > Export As, JPG/60% quality to save the image of your four logos. Post this image to the About Me page on your project site.
  2. Name your Illustrator file Lastname_Firstname.ai and turn it in to the Assignment Drop Box on StorageEMY/LMW.

Part 2: Create an avatar for WordPress in Illustrator

  1. This assignment is an exercise in designing for a small format. Does your design translate well to a tiny size?
  2. Set up a new document at 64 x 64px.
  3. Use Save for Web and upload it using Change Avatar under your User Profile menu on students.expression.edu.

Part 3: Comment on three other people’s blog progress. Tell them which logo is their best one!


In Session 6 you need to come with photos that you take about your topic. Check out a school camera (Canon SX40) or use your own. You will use these photos for content on your website (for example, slideshows on your website, due at the midterm). Take as many photos as you can, you will end up using 10 minimum. These are photos of your topic, your Core Concept.

  • Priority #1: get photos of the PEOPLE involved in your topic.
  • Priority #2: the photos of the PLACE(S) involved.
  • Get Coverage!


LEC 5  Typography

LAB 5: Make a Typography Moodboard

Photoshop Demo

  1. Assignment: make a typography mood board for your project. Use Photoshop or Illustrator, your choice. Use type fonts, color and texture.
  2. Choose a format:
    • 720×1280 (16:9)
    • 1280×1280 (1:1)
    • 800×1200 (2:3)
  3. Choose 6 (or so) fonts from a site like dafont.com, or from your computer.
  4. Make a list of words that express the theme(s) of your project.
  5. Select 3 or 4 colors for a palette.
  6. Select a couple textures.
  7. Tip: use your journal to make sketches.

When finished, use File > Export > Export As to save a JPG (60% quality). Post your image to your project website. On your WordPress site, assign it to the “assignments” category.

Turn in your .psd file to the Assignment Drop Box on StorageEMY/LMW.


  1. Assignment: consider the overall visual design of your website.
  2. In Photoshop or Illustrator, create an original header and background for your website. Check your theme settings for size guidelines: Dashboard > Appearance > Header & Dashboard > Appearance > Background.
  3. Consider texture, color and typography for your header and background.
  4. Work on your blog for the midterm (guidelines are in Session 7).


Next time in Session 6, you need to come with photos that you take about your topic. Check out a school camera (Canon SX40) or use your own. You will use these photos for content on your website (for example, slideshows on your website, due at the midterm). Take as many photos as you can, you will end up using 10 minimum. These are photos of your topic, your Core Concept.

  • Priority #1: get photos of the PEOPLE involved in your topic.
  • Priority #2: the photos of the PLACE(S) involved.
  • Get Coverage!


LEC 6: Web content workshop

LAB 6: Prepare for your midterm

Comment on at least five other websites

Your midterm presentation will be 5 min. Guidelines: Session 7.



LEC 7: Midterm Presentation and Discussion/Critique
LAB 7: No lab.

Presentation: 4 minutes.

You are being graded on the quality of your PRESENTATION, the design and organization of your WEBSITE, and the depth and quality of your CONTENT.

  • Use any tools you need to prepare your presentation (index cards, etc.). Use your website as the main presentation tool.
  • During your presentation, after introducing yourself you will discuss your CORE CONCEPT and show us what you feel is your best content supporting your project. Show us content with photos to discuss your ACCESS and ideas about STORY.
  • You can show video content if it fits in your 4 minute time limit.

What’s due?

  1. You should have a clear Core Concept for your project moving forward, demonstrating access and story potential, clear in your presentation and all parts of your website.
  2. An “About Me” page (a professional bio with a photo) (session 1).
  3. An “About The Project” page (final draft of proposal using these guidelines) (session 2).
  4. Good overall design supporting the Core Concept: title, header, background, color, typography, etc.
  5. Well-organized content and navigation (menus, pages, sidebar widgets/categories, etc.).
  6. At least 10 posts separate from assignments. Posts based on outside sources must be properly cited. You can use link categories, or other Wordpress tools to help organize links.
  7. Library research. At least two posts or pieces of content must be from library reearch. You must go to the library and get reearch help from the librarian or assistants. (minimum: 10 listed sources).
  8. Photos. Posts of at least two slideshow/photo essays/galleries of well-prepared photos pertaining to your project. Photos must be taken by you (minimum 5 images per gallery). In addition, feel free to use properly cited images from the internet. Photos must be well organized and clearly displayed, with writing to accompany the photos about what/where/why.
  9. Photoshop and Illustrator homework assignments posted to your website, properly assigned to an “Assignments” category: collage(s) designed in Photoshop (Session 3), logo designed in Illustrator (Session 4), typography designs in Photoshop (Session 5), infographic designed in Illustrator (and/or Photoshop) (Session 6).
  10. Any additional supporting posts and media content (video, etc.) to support your project.



LEC 8: Audio for LMW

LAB 8: AUDIO Projects for LMW

For your project website

  1. Make a post discussing music for your project. Describe the feel, why it supports your project. Post examples. This could be actual music you wish to use, music that inspires you or film score elements.
  2. Use the advice you received during your midterm presentation to revise your site. Make your site well-organized, change your header/background if necessary, and make your core concept as strong and clear as possible.

Your final pitch piece needs a strong audio track. This must include dialog (voiceover and interview), and overall good sound design (appropriate music, location sound, sound effects, etc.).

For the audio assignments, recording quality of the dialog is a high priority. Make sure to meet with an instructor if you are not sure about mic choice or a game plan.

  1. Voiceover (due by next session – it can be a scratch track). Write and record a voiceover capturing the core concept of your project. Post your voiceover script along with the audio file to your project site. For the script ,consider rewriting excerpts from your “About The Project” page, or a favorite post. Feel free to add music and/or sound design as needed.
  2. Interview. You need at least one interview for the class. Due by the final: post a five minute excerpt/edit, and use a few snippets of the dialog for your final pitch media. To turn in your audio, upload it to Soundcloud and embed in a post or page.



LEC 9: Final Presentation Workshop 1: Gathering and Preparing Media

Demo: Final Cut Pro pt 1

LAB 9:
Make a storyboard for the structure of your final media pitch piece. The guidelines are here.
  1. Use your sketchbook, our scanner, photos, Photoshop, Illustrator, celtx, Keynote, WordPress or any other tool you feel comfortable using.
  2. Post an image of your storyboard to your blog when it’s finished. (Make sure your viewers can read the image).

Work on your final project. The guidelines are here.

  • You need audio for your final project — interview audio (or video), a well-written and recorded voiceover, music and ambient sounds.
  • Visuals can be stills and video, archival footage, etc.
  • Create a project folder for your final project. Keep all your assets inside this folder.
  • In FCPX, create a Library for your project and import all your assets.


  • Make a post with 10-15 interview questions for your project. Pretend your audience knows nothing about your project. If this is the case, what interview questions do you need to ask?
  • Mention a person you might interview, as well as a location for the interview.
  • Clean up your site, make all parts support your core concept.
  • Comment on three people’s “about” pages that you’ve never commented on before.



LEC 10: Final Presentation Workshop 2

Demo: Final Cut Pro pt 2

LAB 10:

  • Work on your final project. Here are the guidelines.
  • Get feedback on your final project from an instructor.
  • clean up your website for your final project.



Work on your final project. Here are the guidelines.



Here are the guidelines.