COMM 225: Web Workshop

Morgan Schwartz

office: Nugent 560, Room A
tel: 1-212-774-4865
email: mschwartz AT mmm DOT edu

Spring 2011

Section 02 Tuesday, 7:15pm - 9:50 pm

Nugent 556


Course Description

Digital and interactive media permeate virtually every aspect of our society—from information delivery and product marketing to education and entertainment. In this course you will learn practical and critical skills necessary to become a technically proficient and cognitive digital media maker. Literacy in any medium is the ability to both access (read) materials created by others and to generate (write) materials for others. In this course you will learn to “speak” the language of digital media and to become conversant with the computer as an expressive medium. Through hands-on exercises and projects, you will be introduced to creative approaches to media production and to a range of software. The format of this class is designed to bridge theory and practice. We will explore contemporary issues including: digital imaging, the computer as a medium, typography, copyright, sound and moving image, and web design. We will concern ourselves with “how” and “why” the digital world is constructed the way it is. Students will be challenged to deconstruct this world and to develop an ability to analyze and critique the cultural implications of digital media in our lives.

Learning Goals

A successful student will develop the following skills by the end of the semester:

  • Use a Macintosh computer, Photoshop (digital imaging) and Dreamweaver (for web design) to generate media.
  • Understand the function and relationship of computer hardware, operating systems, input/output devices and the Internet.
  • Generate media that is critical and cognizant of a larger context (social, political, historical, and/or economical).
  • Develop an appreciation and understanding of the production process.
  • Successfully find solutions to technical problems.
  • Give and receive constructive feedback in a group setting.
  • Use feedback given to others in the generation of new work.
  • Develop, present and articulate creative ideas in both written and verbal formats.
  • Analyze your relationship with digital technology, the role it plays in your life, in your work, in our society, and in the world.

Textbooks and Materials

USB Flash Drive (4-8 GB) - OR - portable Hard Drive

all required readings will be available online or handed out in class

Your enthusiasm, curiosity and willingness to learn.

optional technical texts:
Technical books become out of date quickly; I recommend finding an appropriate online resource. Many tutorials (of varying quality) are available without cost online. Good video tutorials are available from Adobe. More advanced and complete tutorials specifically selected for this course are available at for $35. w3Schools offers great resources for coding (HTML, CSS, XML, PHP, etc.).

optional history/theory texts:

  • The Reconfigured Eye by William J. Mitchell
  • Multimedia - From Wagner to Virtual Reality edited by Randall Packer & Ken Jordan
  • The New Media Reader edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin & Nick Montfort

Grade Weights

Participation: 20%

A large amount of class time will be dedicated to group critiques, team projects and class discussion. I encourage you to take an active role in contributing to make our class a fun and dynamic place to be.

Weekly Assignments: 55%

This is where its at - you can't learn web development by osmosis or wait until the end of the semester to cram for an exam. Digital Media production involves a complex spectrum of techniques and software. If you do the assignments each week you will do well. If not, you will fall behind rapidly. Weekly exercises are due at the beginning of class the week after they are assigned unless noted otherwise.

Final Project: 25%

This group project integrates many of the skills you will learn this semester. Each team will be assigned a "client". You will perform an analysis of the client's existing website. Using this information, the clients goals and requirements and other research, you will design and build a new website using HTML and CSS.


  • Warning - this course demands substantial work outside of class time to complete the projects. Unless you already own an Apple computer with the relevant software, you should plan on coming into the Digital Media lab for an additional 3 hours every week.
  • Attendance is essential to succeed in this class. The skills and techniques taught are cumulative - they build upon previous ones. Missing just one week can make it very difficult to catch up. You will also note that class participation makes up a sizable percentage of your final grade - if you are absent you cannot participate and your grade will suffer.
  • Save different versions of your projects and save often. Make back-ups of your files.
  • Work in the lab with a friend - when learning new technology, 2 brains are usually better than one. You are welcome to work on your assignments at home but many students use the Multimedia Lab in room 556. Lab hours will be posted after the first week of classes. Students may not use the lab when another class is in session. If the lab is locked during regular lab hours you may get a key from the Security Desk.
  • Ask for help!!!


electrical safety

Water/liquids are a excellent conductors. You can be shocked if you are touching water that touches electricity. Be careful with drinks around the computers!

carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal Tunnel
Computer keyboarding, typing and use of the mouse are among many common activities that have been identified as contributing to repetitive stress induced [w:Carpal_tunnel_syndrome|carpal tunnel syndrome].

eye strain

Eye Strain
Staring at a glowing monitor for extended periods of time can cause headaches, eyestrain and problems with your eyesight. Remember to take frequent short breaks by looking away from the monitor and focusing on something in the distance, or close your eyes for a moment. Your eyes need a break!

Attendance Policy

Attendance and participation are essential for success in this course. Remember that if you miss one class, you miss an entire week’s worth of material. You are allowed one unexcused absence (for the entire course) without penalty. You are responsible for the material (including exercises and projects) you missed during your absence. Additional unexcused absences will result in a penalty to your final grade in the course: your second absence means your final grade drops one notch (e.g. B+ to B); your third absence drops your grade an additional two notches. Your fourth absence results in a failing grade for the course.

Lateness is also damaging to the class dynamic and chronic lateness will adversely affect your final grade. Three late arrivals to class (or early departures) during the course of the 14 week sessions results in a loss of a full letter grade of your final grade in the course. A lateness is arrival to the classroom 10 minutes past the starting time or departure more than 10 minutes before class ends.

Any late assignments, written or media based, will result in a deduction of points from the grade for the assignment.


Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments for this course must either enroll in the Program for Academic Access or register with the Office of Student Support Services. For any accommodation, the instructor must be presented with either a letter from the Assistant Director of the Program for Academic Access or an Accommodations Card from the Office of Student Support Services during the first week of classes.

Academic Honesty Policy

MMC fosters an academic community where students and faculty work together to create a learning experience that imparts knowledge and forms character. To achieve this, the College requires all members of the community to adhere to the policy of Academic Honesty that can be found in the Student Handbook, the College Catalogue and on the College website.


Week 1: February 1

In class:

  • Course Overview - Focus on experiential and active learning, problem solving and life skills
  • Introduction to Computers & Mac OS - Dock, Desktop, Server, RAM, ROM, Hard Drive, Processor, Ergonomics
  • Layout Basics - Composition, Focal Point, Focus, Scale, Color, Contrast, Rhythm, Dynamic
  • Photoshop: Layers & Transformation - Layers, Duplicate Layer, Transform (Scale, stretch, squash, rotate, translate), Alpha/Transparency, Blend Modes, Saving, File Types

Week 2: February 8

In class:

  • Review Reading - Labels/Captions, Assemblage, Insertions, Deletion, Substitution, Cropping/Framing, Composites, Record/Document, Communication, Identification
  • View “Retouched Photos” - Ethics, Responsibility, Representation
  • Digital Imaging Concepts - Resolution, Pixels, Color Wheel, Inputs/Outputs, Analog vs. Digital
  • Photoshop: Digital Imaging - Variations, Levels, Clone Stamp, Airbrushing, Dodge & Burn
  • Scanning

Read for today:


  1. Find an image in the world (magazine, Internet, on the street) that makes use of one of the techniques discussed in the chapter.
  2. Write a 1-page response that explains this technique and how it was used (or misused) to convey a specific meaning to the viewer.
  3. Turn in your typed response and a printout of the image (with your name and date)


  • Collect 1 physical (analog) image of your favorite celebrity that is scratched/damaged [you can provide the scratches]

Week 3: February 15

In class:

  • Review Reading - Who is involved in the re-touching process? What are the responsibilities/ethics associated with the profession? What are the similarities/differences to cosmetic surgery? What role does digital technology play in our understanding of body and body manipulation?
  • View Example Composite Images
  • Copyright - Copyright vs. Plaigarism, Fair Use, Creative Commons, copies & distribution, derivative works, “tangible form of expression”, Protection, Purpose/Origins
  • Photoshop: Compositing Basics - Selections, Masks, Copy & Paste, Replace Color, Patch

Read for today:


  • Image Repair

Week 4: February 22

In class:

  • View & Discuss Digital Cosmetic Surgery Assignments - Believability/Lack of Evidence of Tampering, Process/Choices, Composition, Focal point
  • Exercise: Finding & Matching Perspective
  • Photoshop: Faking It - Distort, Creating Shadows


  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Bring Materials for Self-Portrait

Week 5: March 1

In class:

  • View & Discus Self-Portrait Composite Images - Believability/Lack of Evidence of Tampering, Process/Choices, Composition, Concept
  • Photoshop Tennis
  • Introduce HTML


  • Self-Portrait

Week 6: March 8

In class:

  • Continue with HTML - Tags, Attributes, File Structure, HTML Grammar, Naming Conventions
  • Write HTML Page: body, head, title, img, a, p, br

link to HTML cheat sheet

Read for today:

Week 7: March 15

In class:

  • Introduction to Dreamweaver - Setting up site/Managing Site; Images & Links; Tables (cell, column, row, padding, spacing, border); Save for Web
  • Discuss Website Project and Process
  • Planning: Purpose/Mission, Content, Audience, Client, Writing, Editing, Information Architecture
  • Design: Research-Mockup-Revision cycle
  • Implementation: Templates, Testing, Make “live”
  • Design Research - What is the website's mission and purpose? What goals would you like a website to help you reach? Who is your target audience? What do you know about the audience? What are their aesthetic and informational needs/desires? How can we find out more details? Who are your competitors and partners?
  • Establish Teams


Week 8: March 22

In class:

  • Mockup Basics - Resolution, Color Scheme Choices/Options, Integration of Logo, Maintaining Identity, Navigation
  • Site Maps
  • View Web Design Examples

Read for today:


  • 1-2 Creative Brief for Niche, your final project

Week 9: April 5

In class:

  • Introduction to Cascading Stylesheets (CSS): Styling Text - Why Style?, Internal Vs. External Styles, Syntax, Selector, Property, Value
  • View & Discuss Mockups - Composition/Layout; Focal Point; Color; Compliments organization and mission; Clear Structure; Fulfills recommendations
  • Typography Basics - Serif, Sans-Serif, Concord, Contrast, Conflict, Size, Color, Cases, Style, Weight, Alignment, Readability, Legibility, Fonts, lorem ipsum
  • Information Architecture and Information Hierarchy - Strategies to guide your audience through information
  • Meet with Design Teams: Work on Revised Design

Read for today:


  • Usability Study
  • Sitemap
  • Mockup - 1st Draft

April 12 - NO CLASS - Advising

Week 10: April 19

In class:

  • Review Styling Text Exercise
  • From HTML Pages to HTML Sites - Best Practices, Linking Pages, Organization
  • Digging Into CSS - Cascading Rules, Box Model (Height, Width, Margin, Border, Padding), Float, Class, ID, Styling HTML Tags, background, Starting from templates

Read for today:


  • Collect Materials for client Site (edit text, photos, etc.; create necessary graphics)
  • CSS Styling Text Exercise #1
  • CSS Exercise #2 (done in class)

Week 11: April 26

In class:

  • HTML Implementation - Creating Templates; Comments; Making a Site Live; Testing In Multiple Browsers on Multiple Platforms
  • Meet with Design Teams
  • Continue Developing CSS Mockup


  •  * Final Website - 1st draft

Week 12: May 3

  • Refining your templates
  • Adding media - video, sound

Week 13: May 10

In class:

  • Meet with Design Teams
  • Site Testing


  • Final Website - 2nd draft

Week 14: May 17 NOTE: LAST CLASS

In class:

  • Final Presentation of Sites