Bruce Wolcott

| Digital Media and Communications



media diagram


Faculty eTeaching workshops
Writing for the World Wide Web
Game Culture & Interactive Worlds
History of Animation
Visual Storytelling
Interactive Entertainment Fundamentals
Web 2.0 - Next-Gen Communication
Exploring the Digital Future
Media and Messages
Computer Essentials for Digital Media


Teaching Philosophy
Cartoonist and author Scott McCloud summarizes media communications as follows:
"Media converts thoughts into forms that can traverse the physical world and be RE-converted by one or more senses BACK into thoughts." (See adjacent diagram)

McCloud's statement distills my own commercial and academic interests. My specialty is media theory, which explores methods for shaping and conveying ideas using communications technologies. Voice, graphics, gesture, music, narrative, perspective, motion, lighting, color, text, style, and interactivity all play a role in orchestrating multisensory ideas. These technologies also powerfully shape our values, perspectives, and sense of place in the world - so it's important to closely examine these manufactured perceptual experiences. Consequently, one of my teaching goals is to make students aware of the impact of media in their own lives.

The Web revolution is coming into full maturity. In this new arena, everyone is both a producer and receiver of information. My goal is not only to teach media production tools, but how to design ideas that are informative and entertaining. I expect students to become active participants, information skeptics, and creators, not passive "consumers" of content.

Listed on this page are media theory classes that I currently teach or have taught at Bellevue College, and the University of Tasmania (via online delivery) - as well as a sampling of syllabi for these courses.

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Faculty eTeaching Workshops
Bellevue College Faculty Commons      
(Ongoing from Spring 2013)

These Faculty Commons workshops are designed to acquaint intstructors with new technologies to augment and enhance their online teaching methods.

As digital communications technologies proliferate, it's important to make intelligent decisions about which of them make the most sense for online and in-class use. So far, this workshop series has introduced the Canvas Course Management System, Prezi screencasting, visual communications, Office 365, and video teleconferencing for the classroom. More workshops are planned for the future.

For workshop examples read: Visual Explanations & Teaching with Prezi syllabi (PDF)

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Writing for the World Wide Web
CMST 136

WRITING FOR THE WEB provides an overview and study of writing techniques utilized for the World Wide Web and how these techniques can be utilized for narrative, marketing, information design, public relations, and advertising. This is accomplished through a series of lectures, discussions, hands-on blogging, and a variety of video clips and demonstrations. Web writing strategies as described by Web writing authors Jakob Nielsen, Steve Krug, and others are discussed.

Syllabus: Writing for the World Wide Web

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Game Culture & Interactive Worlds
DMA 111

This course provides an overview of gaming and real time interactive simulations, to familiarize students with a "big picture" of interactive entertainment, technology enhanced communication, as well as the social implications of these experiences.

In Game Culture and Interactive Worlds, students are introduced to the history, design, technology, business, cultural, and psychological aspects of digital gaming. Also included are featured modules on genres, artificial intelligence, and practical applications for "serious" games and simulations. This course advocates media literacy - the importance of understanding how interactive digital technologies communicate ideas in the media rich environments of the 21st century.

Syllabus: Game Culture & Interactive Worlds

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The History of Animation
CMST 119

This course provides an overview and study of the history of American animation. This history extends from the early magic lantern shows of the late nineteenth century to current and emerging digital animation technologies. This overview is accomplished through a series of discussions, lectures, assignments, as well as viewing and evaluating milestone animation examples on DVDs and videos.

1. From analog to digital - Animation innovations.
2. Animators and animation studios of significance.
3. Issues of copyright pertaining to film and media.
4. Social impact of animations.
5. Animation corporations
6. Propaganda and racism.
7. Censorship of film and animations.

Read: History of Animation syllabus

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Visual Storytelling
CMST 115

In the 20th Century major discoveries were made in how to tell stories with pictures and sounds. New expressive forms emerged - from comics, radio, animated cartoons, and cinema, to multi-media shows, virtual worlds, and video games. While written or printed text was the primary means to convey and store knowledge in the past, digital media tools now greatly expand our ability to interact with information and each other.

VISUAL STORYTELLING examines this transition from traditional to collaborative digital media, and the media design and visual storytelling skills necessary to effectively use these technologies in the interactive web era.

Read: Visual Storytelling Syllabus

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Fundamentals of
Interactive Entertainment

University of Tasmania, HITLab
Online Team Hybrid Course

Drawing on a wide variety of examples and disciplines, this class explores the real-time interactive entertainment industry. Topics include: historical overview of video games and virtual worlds, game genres, aesthetics and environmental design, narrative and character development, video game theory and design, as well as sociological and psychological dimensions of games.

We also look at other types of real time interactive simulations being developed today for information visualizations, entertainment, health, education, and other specialties. The course includes guest speakers, lectures, readings, case studies, online demos, exploration of game genres, and time applied to both creating, analyzing and playing games. This course is delivered by live videocasts from Seattle, augmented by Web 2.0 communications technologies.

Syllabus: Fundamentals of Interactive Entertainment

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Web 2.0 Component:
Administrative Office Management
BTS 250

This is a co-facilitated course curriculum that introduces new next-generation Web 2.0 social networking skills into the business office management environment. These skills include use of current Web 2.0 applications, managing personal knowledge, locating credible online resources, producing Web content, creating an online identity, and participating in team projects. Collaborative groups explore the use of blogs, wikis, screencasts, web conferencing and applying other social networking skills in preparation for 21st century careers. (New course curriculum: introduced Spring, 2010).

Read: The Next-Gen syllabus provided source curriculum used in the BTS 250 class.

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Exploring the Digital Future
CMST 131

EXPLORING THE DIGITAL FUTURE provides an overview and study of the current and emerging media technologies and what impact these technologies will have on students and their future. This will be accomplished through a series of lectures, discussions, as well as a variety of film and video clips and demonstrations. This course connects social, historical, and technology perspectives on diverse topics including worlds fairs, science fiction, multi-media, video games, virtual simulations, cinema, wikinomics, Web 2.0, artificial intelligence, addictions, social networking and other related subjects.

Read: Exploring the Digital Future syllabus

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Media and Messages
CMST 103

MEDIA AND MESSAGES presents the mechanics and aesthetics of media production including lighting, editing, color, and audio. Through a series of lectures which include clips from a variety of videos, films, and digital media as well as guest speakers, the student will gain insight into the aesthetics of media production and how production skills can make a presentation more powerful and impactful and the effect of the that impact on the viewer. This course will also include discussion of how these messages influence us, our sense of history, as well as our sense of being and ethics.

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Computer Essentials for Digital Media
Media 109

In 1945, pioneer computer scientist Vannevar Bush described his idea for a personal knowledge storage console called the memex.
"Consider a future device for individual use in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and... may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility."

Fifty years later the memex emerged in its fully developed form as the personal computer connected to a vast library of stored human knowledge known today as the World Wide Web. Preparing and publishing information for the Web have become important media literacy skills for emerging 21st century careers. This course provides students an understanding of how the Internet and World Wide Web work, along with methods for creating Web-compliant documents, video, sound, and images.