Introduction to Interactive Media


    The basics of collecting, digitizing and manipulating sound and video/still images while engaging in a theoretical exploration of the developing field of interactive media. Students produce a final project that involves scripting, integrating and constructing one larger interactive piece using elements already prepared in the smaller projects. Prerequisites: instructor's permission.  4.000 Credit Hours


Catalog Description

   Interaction has been heralded as the next phase in information and entertainment consumption.  Technophiles claim that no longer will print, radio and television pipe one way flows of information to us; instead we will have control over what we see, hear and learn.  The Web2.0 revolution has provided more opportunities than ever to participate and create online. But to what extent is an end user really able to have any control?  Does a proliferation of choices mean increased knowledge and power?  As critical creators of this content, do you give up control so the user may also become the author, or do you use the myth of interaction to subversively imbed your message into their headspace?

    During this quarter we will be looking at two different tools commonly used as means of interaction and expression. Processing is an open source programming language for image creation, animation, and interaction.  Developed at MIT and still in beta testing it represents one alternative/ cutting edge in digital content development.  Numerous artists/creators formerly working with Flash have converted to the open environment of Processing as their medium of choice.  Although it is a programming environment and even the simplest action requires lines of code, the knowledge gained using this language will serve you well whether you continue to create with it, work with Flash’s Actionscript, or even program in C++. The second tool we will explore is Adobe Flash. It is eleven years old and currently in it’s 9th version and has grown from a simple vector based animation tool to a multimedia web distribution mega-tool.  The web is only now recovering from “flash intro” and “giant unsearchable slow-loading flash site” syndromes.  We will look at how Flash enables quick building of interactive content and animation and the constraints of such “ease of use.”   

Course Overview

By the end of this course you will:

      1. think critically about interaction and interactivity

      2. have knowledge of the history and future of interaction

      3. consider all facets of HCI in developing your work

      4. have working knowledge of mainstream and alternative tools for interactive media creation

      5. understand the process of planning and executing interactive work

      6. understand working with multiple and embedded timelines

      7. understand basic programming structures

      8. create meaningful content laden interactive experiences

Course Objectives

      1. You will need at least 1GB of portable storage (flash or thumb drives, ipod, portable hard drive, etc.) 

      2. You must have or purchase a sketchbook approx. 8.5”x11”

      3. email address and web space through the school or other server


    This class will combine individual work in the lab with individual and group  instruction.  Students must come to class prepared to work.  Showing up without necessary files or equipment is the same as not attending.  Although students may also use their home computers to work on projects, this is not a valid reason to not attend.  It will be necessary to work outside of class to complete all projects and assignments.  A minimum of eight hours per week of work outside of class is suggested to get an average grade of a C.  Computer failure, equipment malfunction, and file corruption are not accepted as excuses for late or unfinished work so BACK UP YOUR WORK.  The computer labs are used by many students, so the labs are in high demand.  Budget time accordingly as “unavailable computer time” will also not be accepted as an excuse.  Participation in all class discussions and critiques as well as constructive use of lab time is considered in the final grade for each project.  At any time in the creation process students should be able to produce notes, drawings,charts etc from their sketchbooks, as well as discuss and articulate the nature of their work to their peers as well as to the instructor. 

    Attendance is mandatory. Attending class is the responsibility of the student.  Lectures and demonstrations may be given or changed without notice and every class will start with professional examples of relevant work so punctuality is essential.  An individual who is absent, late or sleeps during class will be responsible for getting the information missed.  Students will be allowed two (2) absences without penalty.  Any absence in excess of two will result in a 10% grade reduction of the final grade for the course per absence.  All absences will be counted.  A student who misses 15 minutes or more of a class (late or leave early) is considered absent.  A student who sleeps will be considered absent.  A student who will acquire absences due to a University sponsored activities must provide necessary documentation from the appropriate office prior to the absence to make any special arrangements for missed work.

    For any absence due to religious beliefs, written notification should be provided in the first two weeks of the quarter; the student is responsible for any missed work.  Any special medical or personal problems that occur, where absenteeism will exceed the allowed two, will require verification by a physician or emergency medical association (a letter from Student Affairs merely explains an absence, and will not qualify as an excuse).  These situations may require course withdrawal or “Incomplete” status on the final grade.  Six absences mandate an automatic grade of “F.”  Three late arrivals (less than 15 min.) will equal one absence.


Grades will consist of the following:

      1. Assignments  @ 30%

      2. Reading Responses  @ 10%

      3. Project 1  @ 15%

      4. Project 2  @ 15%

      5. Project 3  @ 20%

      6. Participation  @ 10%

  1. Projects and assignments will be graded on the following basis, listed in order of importance.

      1. Development, creativity and originality of concept or problem solution

      2. Technical development and demonstration of skills

      3. Craftsmanship and presentation of work

      4. Participation in classroom discussions and critiques in connection with the work

  2. Your grade will be calculated according to the following standards:

      1. A = Excellent (100-90%)- work pushes far beyond the project stipulations and shows clear evidence of extreme time, dedication, care and thought about the project as evidenced in effective execution of original/thoughtful ideas. 

      2. B = Good (80-89%)- work exceeds the basic criteria, provides creative solutions to the problems and shows technical proficiency.  Student has made the project “theirs” in that they do not need to explain project stipulations before showing the work.

      3. C = Average (70-79%)- work fulfills all requirements, does not expand on techniques shown in class, ideas are close derivations of popular culture.

      4. D = Unsatisfactory (60-69%)- work might meet basic criteria but in a careless and/or thoughtless way.  Technical proficiency is rudimentary and no chances were taken.

      5. F = Failure (0-59%)- the work does not meet the basic criteria.

  3. Late projects will be penalized a letter grade for every class period they are late. 

Turning a project in after the beginning of the critique counts as one class day late.


    It is your responsibility to adhere to all rules regarding the use of the DMS labs and equipment. You will be given a sheet stating all rules. Please see Kate Burns in the DMS office before class if you need a form to access the DMS lab.

Lab Rules

    Solutions to assignments you submit will be your own work. A student who is discovered to have plagiarized another's work will immediately receive a grade of F for the course, and a recommendation for disciplinary action will be forwarded to the Dean of Students.


While you are not required to purchase the software that we are using, not having the software is no excuse for failing to complete your projects. It is your responsibility to work out times when you can use the DMS labs or to make other arrangements for doing your work. Please do not download and/or install trial

versions of this software or any other onto campus computers.  Flash can be purchased at academic pricing from online outlets and the University bookstore.  Processing is free open source software and available for all three major operating systems. 


(The following schedule is open to revision at any point in the quarter.)

    01/03 - Introduction, history of HCI

    01/08 - Processing Introduction, Drawing with Code, reading 1 assigned, Assignment 1

    01/10 – animating, Interaction, Project 1 description, Assignment 2

    01/15 - Algorithmic Art, Math at work, Project 1 Idea

    01/17 – Work in progress, Reading 1 Discussion

    01/22 - Pre-Crit

    01/24 - Project 1 Due

    01/29 - Interaction discussion, functions, Project 2 description, Assignment 3

    01/31 - reading data from files and web, Assignment 4

    02/05 - Project 2 idea, Images and text, Reading 2 Assigned

    02/07 – Project 2 work in progress

    02/12 – Work Day, Reading 2 Discussion

    02/14 - Project 2 Due

    02/19 - Project 3 description, intro to flash, Assignment 5

    02/21 – Action-script, Assignment 6, Reading 3 Assigned

    02/26 - Interaction in Flash, Project 3 Ideas

    02/28 – Using images, vectors and sound, Assignment 7

    03/04 – Reading 3 Discussion

    03/06 - 03/06 – Work in Progress

    03/11 - Final Critique - Project 3 Due

Project 1 = More than a screensaver

Project 2 = The Data is Alive

Project 3 = Better than a Book

Course Outline