Course Syllabus

What: DGST 101: Introduction to Digital Studies

When: MWF, 12:00 - 12:50

Who: Zach Whalen,, @zachwhalen

This course introduces the Minor in Digital Studies and is also a requirement for the Major in Communication and Digital Studies. In this class, you will participate a broad approach to digital inquiry, digital creativity and critical practice as they may manifest in different disciplines. 

In other words, this class will help you develop the ideas, practices, and skills that continue to pursue in elective coursework, should you choose to proceed with the minor or major. Even if you decide not to pursue any further Digital Studies coursework, what you take from this class will be useful in whatever else you pursue including, hopefully, whatever you do for the rest of your life.

While some coursework will involve working closely with computer software and code, no prior experience with programming is required or expected, and this is not a Computer Science class. With regard to digital tools, there's a good deal of "how" in this class, but a greater emphasis on "why".

Course Objectives

By successfully completing this semester, students will

●  Develop skills in designing, building and sharing ideas that can be expressed through the uniquely multimodal, procedural, and networked capabilities of digital tools.

●  Explore processes of knowledge production by using digital technology in researching, analyzing, and executing critical inquiry.

●  Build knowledge in contemporary and historical digital cultures, including social, ethical and philosophical issues related to technological development.

●  Build, promote and sustain an active and engaged digital identity.




Digital Archaeology

Working with a team, disassemble some digital media device, and research the origins of its various components. Share those findings through a website.

Digital Scholarship

Use some digital tools to analyze a text, and present those insights on a web page.

Digital Portfolio

Consider your digital identity and how it evolved throughout the semester by sharing your work on your own website.



Choose from one of several modules and work with an ad hoc cohort of your peers to explore a topic or meet a challenge. Present your findings at the conclusion of each of three two-week cycles of module work.



Contribute to our class’s community of learning.



Two Grading Scales

For this class, I’ll be making use of two grading scales. The first, a standard letter grading scale, will be used for your final portfolio and for the overall final grade for the semester. All other assignments, unless otherwise noted, will be graded using a minimalist grading scale with just four values: Excellent, Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, and No Credit.

Standard Letter Grading Scale:

A = 100% to 94%; A- = < 94% to 90%; B+ = < 90% to 87%; B = < 87% to 84%; B- = < 84% to 80%; C+ = < 80% to 77%; C = < 77% to 74%; C- = < 74% to 70%; D+ = < 70% to 67%; D = < 67% to 64%; D- = < 64% to 61%; F < 61% to 0%

Minimal Grading Scale:

Excellent 88% - 100%; Satisfactory 74% - 87%; Unsatisfactory 60% - 73% ; No Credit 0%.

Assignment Feedback

Feedback is a conversation where we try to come to a better understanding of your work in relation to the goals of the assignment and overarching outcomes of the course. I employ a variety of methods for providing feedback on assignments, but the best, most efficient method is a conversation where we look at your work together and discuss its strengths and areas for

improvement. The best time for this conversation is before you turn in your work. The next best time is immediately after you’ve received you grade.



This class will ask you to think about your digital identity, which may include your participation in social media. If you choose to tweet, tumblr, facebook or instagram anything related to this class, use the hashtag #dgst101 to identify your post as part of our distributed conversation.


You should create a Slack account at our class’s domain at your earliest convenience. I also recommend using the Slack app and desktop client. Make sure you configure your Slack settings so that you see notifications of new messages. 


I will use Canvas announcements as well as Slack to communicate important information about this class, including assigned readings and changes of venue. Those messages will go to your email, which you should check at least once a day. You may also find it convenient to configure your Canvas account so that it sends announcements via text message. Whatever works best for you, it is very important that you routinely check these announcements.

Attendance and Participation

This class will depend heavily on in-class and online discussion, and for both of those to be successful, we need a critical mass of engaged participants. Therefore, you should plan be present in class every day we meet, ready to contribute something to a discussion about the assigned reading or homework. And in addition, you should be regularly contributing to our distributed conversation online via your website, Slack, Twitter, or other means.

I will keep track of attendance every day, and an excessive amount of absences -- four or more -- will seriously impact your Participation grade, which is worth 30% of your overall grade. Five absences will reduce your participation grade by half. Eight will result in a 0 for Participation. 10 or more absences will result in your failing this course.

Other Policies and Expectations

For other policies and expectations related to my class, check the standard explanation on my website.

Course Summary:

Date Details