#caps24 semester-long individual capstone project

About the Capstone Project Assignment

The Semester-Long Capstone Project Assignment has five primary goals:

  • to showcase a mastery of the theories, discourses, practices, technologies, and skills necessary to create professional-level media
  • to showcase an ability to learn, experiment, and apply the fruits of research
  • to make connections among your learning experiences Communication Studies and other department courses and so they inform your chosen project
  • to adopt professional-level approaches to all your work, processes, and collaborations
  • to adhere to accepted accessibility practices and ethics standards
  • to create something you are proud of and can showcase in your portfolio

The assignment is informed by six Course Learning Objectives:

Objective 1. Effective Communication
Students will demonstrate a mastery of effective communication strategies in crafting an individual project and presentation for public audiences using appropriate technologies and techniques to plan, organize, and manage a semester-long project.

Objective 2. Ethics, Diversity, and Inclusive Design
Students will apply professional ethics, accessibility, and communication skills and practices in the preparation, realization, and publication of your individual project.

Objective 3. Professionalization
Students will engage in professional workplace practices, including but not limited to: taking care and having pride in the presentation and formatting of all work completed; creating and adhering to deadlines; employing meaningful workflow, file naming, and file organization practices; adopting proper terminology and vocabulary associated with your chosen media; and meaningful collaboration.

Objective 4. Research
Students will conduct and apply the fruits of research to support and enhance individual project goals, preparation, realization, and publication.

Objective 5: Reflection
Students will build on their understanding of the important role of reflection during the preparation, realization, and publication of their project.

Objective 6: Experimentation
Students will know what it feels like to experiment with their approaches to and understanding of creating a semester-long project.

The project will be completed in 8 stages:

  1. Project Pitches (three short pitches), due 1/22
  2. Formal Proposal, due 1/29
  3. Background Research
  4. Project Consideration Blog Posts (3)
  5. Progress Reports at midterm, weekly from week 9, and final
  6. Project Drafts
  7. Public Presentation (3:30 – 4:00 minutes)
  8. Final Post

Capstone Project Assignment Specifics

The project you ultimately create should showcase a mastery of the theories, discourses, practices, technologies, and skills necessary to create professional-level media. Because we are looking for mastery, you must have prior experience with the technologies and genres associated with your chosen project. (This is not the time to try something new because you’ve always wanted to try it.)

However, mastery does not just mean technical or aesthetic proficiency. Rather, it also means having a comfort level that allows you to strive to do something new so you are not merely replicating the same work you completed in the past—the same kind of or approaches to a podcast, graphic design, social media campaign, videos, etc. In other words, mastery implies learning, experimentation, and application.

Whatever you choose for your project, it will:

  • be created individually and not collaboratively or as part of a team
  • be informed by associated theories
  • employ accepted inclusive design practices
  • consider necessary diversity and inclusion
  • meet accepted ethics standards

Your project may:

  • reflect future interests
  • expand significantly on a previous project
  • add to an area of your portfolio that you feel is lacking

Your project must

  • keep your interest for the entire semester;
  • contain a high level of sophistication in its approach, scope, application, and presentation expected of a senior Communication and Media Studies student about to leave college;
  • challenge you in ways you have yet to be challenged in your prior courses. If you find yourself just doing what you always have done, you are not approaching this properly.

Because each project is unique, each project’s ultimate deliverable numbers (total photos in a photo essay, total podcast episodes, etc.) will be unique.

Examples of potential projects include (but are not limited to):

Creative projects typically classified as “fine arts” (such as zines, photo exhibitions, works of creative expression such as a digital memoir) must include an artist’s statement that adds theoretical grounding for the project and discusses how the student has developed their project in the relation to the work and ideas of other relevant artists, etc. The artist’s statement should be listed as a project deliverable in your formal proposal.

Several years ago students were asked to create Case Studies that highlight the processes prior students used to create their projects. Though you are no longer required to create Case Stidies, you can learn quite a bit about the process by seeing these:

Deadlines and Final Presentation

Your project will be completed in stages and will adhere to the following deadlines:

  • Project Topic Finalized: During Week Three
  • 50% Complete: By Week 8 (this includes all background research and project planning)
  • 60% Complete: By Week 10
  • 80% Complete: By Week 12
  • 90% Complete: By Week 14
  • 95+% Complete: Week 15
  • Final Completed Project Due: TBD during Finals Week

These are hard deadlines and except for truly exceptional reasons will not be extended.

Final Project Presentations will be Thursday, May 2, between 4:00pm and 7:30pm in the Teletorium in Mandeville. If you have a known conflict, clear your calendar immediately as there will be no make-up times.

For the presentation, you are expected to dress in professional attire. You are encouraged to invite friends and family.

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Project Pitches Post, due 1/22 by Start of Class

Each student is to compose ONE blog post on the Cap Stones course blog in which they pitch THREE possible semester-long topic ideas from these four potential topic areas:

  • one that re-envisions in significant ways a previous COM or COM-adjacent class project; or
  • one that looks toward your possible future career and/or graduate educational journey that will showcase skills and approaches necessary for a job or graduate school admissions; or
  • one that engages your personal/creative life in some way; or
  • one that is just so out there that you could never imagine that it would be approved in any possible way but who cares you’re only in school for a few more months and this would just be so much fun you want to propose it anyway so you’re gonna go for it and see what happens.

Each individual pitch must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • no more than 250 words
  • explains the project, why you’d be interested in completing it, and how it would challenge you in new ways
  • mentions which hardware and/or software you’d need to complete it
  • quantifies the scope — that is, how many podcast episodes for how many minutes, how many photos, length of videos, etc.
  • embeds or links to an example that is similar to the kind of thing you are thinking about

Remember, you must have prior experience with the technologies and genres associated with your chosen project.

Required Elements for Blog Posts
Each pitch post must contain each of the following elements of effective blogging (modeled on the exceptional posts over at A List Apart and The Marginalian):

  • a meaningful title
  • clear and concise lead (that is, first sentence or two or quote) with larger font than the rest of the body text or bolded font
  • appropriate placement of headings and subheadings
  • appropriate use of concise and well-written sentences that make up concise paragraphs
  • appropriate use of bolded text to highlight key ideas
  • appropriate use of links
  • appropriate use of block quotes for any extended quotations
  • appropriate use of any author names
  • appropriate Categories and Tags
    • choose the category Pitches 2024
  • accessibility features, such as ALT text, title, and captions

Blog posts are designs that communicate important information. They should not appear as uninterrupted single-paragraph text. Take care with them. Check your grammar and spelling. Place links and multimedia wisely.

Assessment

Your pitch post will be assessed in this manner:

  • Content: 70%
    • adheres to the above guidelines
    • how well composed, thought-out, creative, and interesting the pitches are
  • Professionalism: 30%
    • the presentation and care in all visual components of the post, from spelling to spacing to the use of headings to linked or embedded media; that is, make it a nice looking blog post that feels like blog post; follow the Capstones Design Blog Checklist (.pdf)

Due: Monday, 1/22 on the Cap Stones course blog by the start of class.

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Formal Proposal

Your formal proposal will be for ONE topic that was narrowed down from your three pitches and informed by exemplars you have found. It is due Monday 1/29 on the Cap Stones course blog by 11:00pm.

The proposal should be nuanced and thorough. It should be as long as it requires. Think of this as the most important project proposal you have ever written and write it better than you have ever written one. Use multiple paragraphs. Use subheaders.

It should be written for a global audience. That is, I do not want to read something that appears to be written in response to a course assignment. Do not assume anything about the reader other than that they are interested in reading your work. Do not assume they know about this class, about any of the issues you are discussing, or any of the technologies you mention. In other words, elaborate and illuminate.

Your proposal should include the below topics, addressed in an order you feel appropriate for your proposed project. You don’t need to address the items in the order listed below, and your proposal shouldn’t read like a bulleted list. Rather, the ideas and topics should appear seamlessly in your discussion. Compose well thought-out sentences and paragraphs that lead a reader through your discussion. Use headings and bolded text as appropriate.

Topic: What is the specific question/issue/area you are focusing on? What is the context? Why does this subject matter? Is there a demand? Why is it interesting to you? Does this project connect with your professional goals and interests? If so, how? If not, why are you pursuing it?

Form: What form will your project take and why? What is the scope? Provide details. As you envision the project right now, what will a reader/viewer/user hear, see, experience through your project?

  • You must link to and/or embed TWO PROFESSIONAL examples of the form your project will take and discuss how yours will be similar and different. Please do not embed prior student examples or examples of your prior work as examples of the form, as you’ll be showing prior work below.

Technology and Materials: What technology will your project require? That includes, but is not limited to: software, hardware, and print materials. Will you need to purchase and technology or materials for your project, such as software, print materials, or other items? If so, how much will it cost?

Audience and Impact: Who are the primary and secondary audiences for this project? Why will they be interested in it and what what impact do you think it will have on them? In other words, why does this project matter? Is it needed at all?

Prior Experience: What prior experience with the form of the project do you have? Be honest and specific.

  • You must link to and/or embed your prior work as evidence and discuss how your current project will be similar and different. How will the current project challenge you in new ways?

Educational Experience: How does this project help reflect your educational experience in the COM department and the university? How will you incorporate prior coursework into the project? Be specific and include not only software and hardware you’ve used, but ideas discussed, methods introduced, readings read, etc.

Research: What research do you think you will need to do in order to complete your project–interviews, surveys, historical research, user testing, learning new camera functions, etc.? What experience do you have doing that kind of research? Provide links to or embed evidence of that research.

Obstacles and Resources: Identify potential obstacles that you foresee in completing the project and any resources you will need (gear, software, analog technology, etc.).

Timeline: Create a timeline that accounts for each week of the semester and what you hope to work on when. This is where you lay out your workflow. What will you work on first? Then what? And so on. This can be general for now.

Required Elements for Blog Posts
Each pitch post must contain each of the following elements of effective blogging (modeled on the exceptional posts over at A List Apart and The Marginalian):

  • a meaningful title
  • clear and concise lead (that is, first sentence or two or quote) with larger font than the rest of the body text or bolded font
  • appropriate placement of headings and subheadings
  • appropriate use of concise and well-written sentences that make up concise paragraphs
  • appropriate use of bolded text to highlight key ideas
  • appropriate use of links
  • appropriate use of block quotes for any extended quotations
  • appropriate use of any author names
  • appropriate Categories and Tags
    • choose the category Proposals 2024
  • accessibility features, such as ALT text, title, and captions

Blog posts are designs that communicate important information. They should not appear as uninterrupted single-paragraph text. Take care with them. Check your grammar and spelling. Place links and multimedia wisely.

Assessment

Your pitch post will be assessed in this manner:

  • Content: 70%
    • adheres to the above guidelines
    • how well composed, thought-out, creative, and interesting the pitches are
  • Professionalism: 30%
    • the presentation and care in all visual components of the post, from spelling to spacing to the use of headings to linked or embedded media; that is, make it a nice looking blog post that feels like blog post; follow the Capstones Design Blog Checklist (.pdf)

Due: Monday, 1/29 on the Cap Stones course blog by 11:00pm.

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Project Consideration Blog Posts

The goal of the Consideration posts are to help you consider important social, technical, and access issues relating to your chosen semester-long project. These posts will directly inform the work you so, so by putting in time and extended thought now, you will be helping yourself when you get to creating your work. You will share your Considerations on the Cap Stones web site.

Each student will be responsible for individually composing and posting THREE listening posts during the semester.

Each consideration post will be in response to a set prompt, which will be provided beforehand, and will connect with the theme for the week they are due.

Each post should:

  • be informed, insightful, curious, authoritative, and in-depth, and very well written;
  • be at least 450 words long;
  • have at least 5 meaningful tags and placed in the proper category
  • features that are important to blogs and blog readers: links whenever having one would make a meaningful connection, images, embedded video and/or audio, and so on;

Required Elements
Each post must contain each of the following elements of effective blogging (modeled on the exceptional posts over at A List Apart and The Marginalian):

  • a meaningful title
  • clear and concise lead (that is, first sentence or two or quote) with larger font than the rest of the body text or bolded font
  • appropriate placement of headings and subheadings
  • appropriate use of concise and well-written sentences that make up concise paragraphs
  • appropriate use of bolded text to highlight key ideas
  • appropriate use of links
  • appropriate use of block quotes for any extended quotations
  • appropriate use of any author names
  • appropriate Categories and Tags
  • accessibility features, such as ALT text, title, and captions

Blog posts are designs that communicate important information. They should not appear as uninterrupted single-paragraph text. Take care with them. Check your grammar and spelling. Place links and multimedia wisely.

due dates

Each student is required to complete THREE listening posts. They are due by 11:00pm on the following days (click on the links below for the prompts):

Please see the Course Calendar for any changes to these due dates.

assessment

Your consideration posts will be assessed in this manner:

  • Content: 70%
    • adheres to the above guidelines
    • how well composed, thought-out, reflective, and interesting the posts are
  • Professionalism: 30%
      • the presentation and care in all visual components of the post, from spelling to spacing to the use of headings to linked or embedded media; that is, make it a nice looking blog post that feels like blog post; follow the Capstones Design Blog Checklist (.pdf)

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Public Presentation on Thursday, May 2 between 4:00pm and 7:30pm

Each student will present a 3:30 – 4:00 minute public presentation on Thursday, May 2, between 4:00pm and 7:30pm, in the Teletorium in Mendeville.

Here is the grading criteria I’ll use to assess your presentations: final-presentation-rubric-s24.pdf

For the presentation, you are expected to dress in professional attire. You are encouraged to invite friends and family.

Rough drafts are due starting Monday, 4/25, so we can start practice presentations.

The goal of the presentations is for each student to share the journey of their Capstone project, from initial ideas through through final edits, revealing along the way the complex, nuanced, and importance decisions you have made along the way–including pitfalls, hiccups, and challenges along with your successes (no design process is ever free of problems). These work best when they provide insight into your process that we won’t see looking at your final deliverables.

Your presentations should cover:

  • Introduction to yourself and your personal goals as way to lead into your project
  • Project Overview, including thanking anyone who was especially helpful or valuable to your success along the way
    • be sure to mention your primary and secondary audiences
  • Prior Experience Related to the Project
  • Prep Work and Background Research
  • Primary Technologies and/or Software and what they afforded you
  • Project Considerations
    • A discussion of the decisions you made and practices you integrated regarding Ethics, Diversity, and Inclusive Design
  • Creation Process
  • Final Deliverables, including when applicable
    • online posting location(s)
    • any distribution plans, if you have any

Too often presentations are stale and dry events where people read bullet points that are on the screen. We’re not doing that. We’re going to borrow from model of presentation that encourages storytelling and the narrative form: a modified version of a Pecha Kucha (pronunciation). On the Pecha Kucha website you can watch sample presentations, including an excellent one by Emma Carlow describing the process behind one of her designs.

A Pecha Kucha is comprised of two parts:

  1. a narrative, which is read aloud
  2. a slide presentation, which advances while the narrative is read

Your narrative should be 3:30 or 3:45 in length when read aloud and be informed by all the work you have completed in class and your own design process.

Each presentation will have:

  • 14 or 15 slides
  • slides that last 15 seconds
    • 14 slides at 15 seconds is 3:30
    • 15 slides at 15 seconds is 3:45
  • slides containing only images, video, and/or audio (including images that have text on them, such as screenshots) but no bullet points, titles, or other written content
    • if including video or audio, make sure the clip is edited to fit the 15 second time frame and will play when clicked on it or automatically
    • these should be unique clips, not part of the larger video or audio piece that forces you to have to find the exact spot

To prepare your narrative, you must you write out exactly what you are going to say, so you can read it aloud. (A 4 minute presentation is about 2 double-spaced pages read aloud.) You cannot present this off-the-cuff. The challenge will be for you to time your narrative so topics change in synch with the slides.

You are required to use GoogleSlides for the presentation. Here’s a short video on how to set your slides to advance automatically GoogleSlides:

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Final Post

This will include an embedded screencast of your presentation as well as a brief summary of the project.

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