Course overview and requirements

Welcome to Psychology 767B: Digital Storytelling and New Media Narrative

...a course offered by Fielding Graduate University's Media Psychology PhD program

Current trimester for this course: Fall, 2017. It will be offered next during Fall, 2018.

Course description

This course examines two primary issues:

Issue #1- Nature of story. First, we consider the overall nature of story as the universal language that transcends and unites the human condition across issues, cultures and media. At the root of any successful story venture - from transmedia campaigns, to movies, to social movements, to personal branding activities, is a story that works. In this course we consider what makes a story work, and the approaches and tools we can use to create stories that work for ourselves. Toward this end, we consider story theory, the neuroscience of story, approaches to story research, and story development tools.

Issue #2- Digital storytelling and the nature of media-based storytelling. Second, we address how new media narrative both observes and adds to

traditional forms of storytelling. Students create reflective media, using planning tools that help them visualize the overall arc and map of a story, as well as describe the media components of their stories in order to integrate and align media and narrative, deliberately and reflectively. The media that students produce is zero budget media in that students are not expected to have or use equipment beyond their own laptop and digital camera. In addition, students read narrative theory, synthesize their own concepts in this area, and present their findings in written work, particularly as it applies to their professional practice. 


You will create an ePortfolio for this class but not use it until Part II, during which you create a media-based story. At that point, you will use your ePortfolio to present your planning documents, story and reflections. I suggest you create your ePortfolio shell now. You may use any web authoring approach you wish (Wordpress, Facebook, Google Sites, Wix, Weebly, etc.)

Three levels of course competencies

This course is driven by three levels of competency: those established by Fielding University for all programs, those created by the Media Psychology program, and the competencies I have established specifically for this course. These are identified for each week's activities. 

You can see the Fielding and Media Psych competencies by going here.

Course competencies/objectives

As mentioned earlier, there are three sets of competencies that drive this course. Course competencies appear below:
  1. Engage in doctoral level group discussion that reflects their understanding of the nature and theory of narrative and story; the neuroscience of story; the nature of story structure; and various approaches to story and narrative research.
  2. Apply their understanding of narrative and story theory by using the media planning tools featured in this course to plan media that they create. These include the story core, various story maps, the story arc, and story tables.
  3. Apply their understanding of the convergence of narrative, story and media by developing original media.
  4. Demonstrate their understanding of media theory and the media development process by documenting and explaining the choices they made in planning and developing original media.
  5. Apply their understanding of story and media theory by developing a paper that explores a particular theoretical perspective and applies it to an area of their current or projected professional practice.
  6. Develop the technical skills necessary to develop "no budget" media and post it on a video server.
  7. Maintain an e-Portfolio using social media which they use to post their work.
The links on the right will take you to the project requirements for the course, as well as resources you will need to complete the course.

Student outcomes

You need to do the following:
  1. Complete your e-Portfolio. You will post and/or link to all the material you create for this course via your e-Portfolio.
  2. Engage in our discussion. You will engage in a conversation with your colleagues about a number of course concepts via Moodle.
  3. Complete a new media narrative project. An autobiographical piece, with accompanying blog entry, story map, script, two-column story table (takes the place of a storyboard) and reflection.
  4. Complete a story paper. An 10-12 page paper that summarizes your understanding of story and how story can be used in your professional practice.
How to schedule completing these projects is explained below.

Getting started

What to do before the course starts:
  1. Create an ePortfolio. You will post your media assignments to your ePortfolio you create for this class. Those of you who have worked with me before know all about this. I have provided links to model ePortfolios in the menu on the left side of this page. You are free to use any service you want, Facebook, Wordpress, Weebly, Google Sites, Wix... whatever you want.
  2. Buy these books. You will need two books for this course: Digital Storytelling in the Classroom, 2nd edition, by Ohler. Also, you will need Haven's Story Proof. Everything else is online.
  3. Sign up for McKee's Story Blog. McKee is the very well known for his book, Story, and his workshops about how create movie scripts and plans for using story in business. His site is fee-based, but you can sign up for his free newsletter here. You need to scroll all the way to the bottom to do so.
  4. Sign up for this The Digital and Media Storytelling Daily. It's free.

Scheduling your time

This course probably flows differently than most other courses you have taken at Fielding. So, please read through the following.

First, much of the work required for this course is not scheduled like other courses. Rather than one big project due at the end of the trimester, you have two projects due throughout the trimester. This makes the end of the trimester easier for both of us. It is, to me, a saner approach to course work. Due dates appear in the "Course Process Schedule" below.

Second, developing media is not just a "turn in your final project" activity. Instead, it is developed in phases. You will go through some pre-production activities (then check in with me before proceeding), production activities (which I will evaluate) and then post-production activities (based on my evaluation of your production activities).

Moral of the story? Schedule your time.

Course Discussion Flow

Part I of the course consists of Moodle discussions. Generally, the flow of preparing for and taking part in the discussions consists of the following:

  1. Read/view the week's materials by Wednesday.
  2. Enter the discussion no later than Thursday (feel free to enter the discussion sooner).
  3. Contribute one main posting- this should be well developed and organized, and observe the elements of doctoral level writing.
  4. Also contribute three responses to colleague's comments; these can be more informal.


The course is broken into four parts in terms of grades: 

 Activity Value Scheduling
 EPorttfolio development 10% throughout the course
 Discussion     20% first third of the course
 Media development     40% second third of the course
 Scholarly paper         30% last third of the course

Course schedule

The dates are for Fall, 2016.

Due dates, Fall 2015
Activity/Project Description  
Fall 2017 begins 9/6
 Sept 6th-10thCreate your ePortfolio. Just a shell will do.  
Exploring Story
Wk 1
Sept 11-17
Story revelations, connections

Wk 2
Sept 18-24
Story theories
Wk 3
Sept 25-Oct 1
Neuroscience of story
Wk 4
Oct 2-8
Approaches to story research

GoTo Meeting with Kristian Aloma
Tuesday Oct. 7, 6PM PST

Wk 5
Oct 9-15
Story structure- prep for digital story development

GoTo Meeting with me to go over media development process
PART IIStory Creation
Wk 6
Oct 16-22
Begin Media Project #1- due on Election Day

This is carried out by following a number of steps, which are explained on the project requirement page. 

Wk 7
Oct 23-29
Working on your digital story
Wk 8
Oct 30-Nov 5
Working on your digital story
Wk 9
Nov 6-12
Finalize your digital story  
Part III
Story Research
Wk 10
Nov 13-19
Begin story paper
Wk 11
Nov 20-26
Working on paper
Wk 12
Nov 27- Dec 3
Working on paper
Wk 13
Dec 4-10
Papers due
Wk 14
Dec 11-17
Trimester is over, grades must be in by 12/20. All work needs to be turned in 2 weeks prior to this.  

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