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IML 300: Reading and Writing the Web 💻

University of Southern California

Media Arts and Practice

Spring 2018
2 units
Professor: Lee Tusman
Email: tusman {at} usc {dot} edu
Office Hours: Monday afternoons and by appointment
Student Assistant: Sylvie Howtown howton {at} usc {dot} edu


Reading and Writing The Web explores the creative, technical, and critical tools to creating and understanding projects and sites on the Internet. This course is designed for students to gain a deeper understanding of the technical concepts in web design while learning its social, political, and philosophical implications. Students will be exposed to an array of ideas, concepts and approaches to working with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create interactive creative web projects. Each student will conceptualize, propose, and execute projects based on concepts established in class, using the web, apps, and other digital tools.


At the end of this course you will:

  • Know modern web authoring technologies and concepts (HTML5, CSS3, DOM and Javascript)
  • Understand the web as a medium for different types of discourse and creative expression
  • Be able to effectively critique works created for the web
  • Be able to discuss current topics in the news relating to the Internet


You will accomplish these goals through seminars and workshops in:

  • Creating web projects with knowledge of basic and advanced design and programming skills
  • Critiquing a collection of Internet media projects
  • Learning and discussing a history of online art projects
  • Conceptualizing, planning and building creative web-based projects
  • Presenting seminars on current political, social or cultural topics in relation to the Internet



Attendance & Participation (15%)

Attendance in the class is mandatory. If you are unable to attend class please notify me in advance and we can make alternative arrangements if necessary. This is an interactive class, not a lecture and it is important you be present. Please come to class prepared. Students are expected to be in charge of their own learning, to contribute to a vibrant learning community, and to respect each other. A diversity of backgrounds and perspectives are encouraged. Cooperation and mutual learning are a priority.

Workshops (40%)

There will be small workshop assignments throughout the semester. Typically these assignments will begin in class during the hands-on tutorial session. You will have to complete these assignments outside of class. The purpose of the in class session is to get you started and to address any initial questions that you have. Workshops are intended to combine technical knowledge with creative expression.

Projects (45%)

There will be 3 projects for this class, each due at the end of a module, and each progressively more involved. The first project is to build a website for your class assignments and projects with HTML and CSS. The second project is to build a branching narrative ("Choose Your Own Adventure"-style) game or story. Alternatively, you may create an Internet Yama-ichi style project by selecting something not presently online (an object, a concept, a place, etc) and presenting it online on its own website. For the final project you will work in a team to conceptualize, design and build a website for a creative interactive web project of your choice. 


Late Handins

Late assignments are not acceptable without prior consent from the instructor. Late assignments will be docked one letter grade per day. Assignments that are more than 3 days late will not be accepted and will not receive credit.

Fair Use and Citation Guidelines

We will discuss contemporary issues relating to software, rights, sharing culture and related issues in class.

We assert that work produced in MA+P classes is covered under the Doctrine of Fair Use. In order to make this claim, however, all projects must include academically appropriate citations in the form of a References section, which covers all sources, in order to receive a passing grade. The References section is either included in the project itself or as a separate document, as appropriate. We follow the Kairos Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy style guidefor citation purposes; Kairos uses a modified APA format, whose general guidelines and specific examples may be found here

Statement on Fair Use: Fair use is a legal principle that defines certain limitations on the exclusive rights of copyright holders. MA+P projects are produced with fair use doctrines in mind using its four pillars: (1) the purpose and character of use, (2) the nature of the copyrighted work, (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Generally speaking, this means you must only use as much of a copyrighted work as is necessary to make your point, and you must cite your sources accordingly.

Code use: Writing code is similar to academic writing in that when you use or adapt code developed by someone else as part of your project, you must cite your source. However, instead of quoting or paraphrasing a source, you include an inline comment in the code. These comments not only ensure you are giving proper credit, but help with code understanding and debugging. Additional info can be found here.

Statement on Academic Integrity

USC seeks to maintain an optimal learning environment. General principles of academic honesty include the concept of respect for the intellectual property of others, the expectation that individual work will be submitted unless otherwise allowed by an instructor, and the obligations both to protect one’s own academic work from misuse by others as well as to avoid using another’s work as one’s own. All students are expected to understand and abide by these principles. SCampus, the Student Guidebook, contains the Student Conduct Code in Section 11.00, while the recommended sanctions are located in Appendix A: Student Conduct Code. Students will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for further review, should there be any suspicion of academic dishonesty. The Review process can be found at: Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards

Note from Professor: Students in my classes are encouraged to share knowledge and teach each other. Discussing and sharing projects inside and outside of class is welcome but students may not code for each other. Students must always present their own work and projects in class and hand in their own work. Should students wish to collaborate on one of the course assignments they should check in with the professor.

Statement for Students with Disabilities

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me (or to TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Emergency Plan

In the event that classes cannot convene at the university, all IML courses will continue via distance education. Specifically, the IML portal and course wikis will be deployed to enable faculty-student interaction (asynchronously and also via virtual office hours), complete syllabi, course readings and assignments, software tutorials, project assets, parameters and upload instructions, peer review processes and open source alternatives to professional-level software used in the IML curriculum. Further details are available on the course wiki.



The beginning of the course will feature an introduction to HTML and CSS in order to create basic websites and to learn how to structure and design them. As the semester progresses we will work on interactivity and using the web as a medium of expression.

Most classes will consist of a lecture and a workshop. Lectures will typically discuss the previous reading assignment (when applicable) and introduce new theory and techniques. The workshop will typically give you hands-on experience with the new ideas presented in the lecture. Typically the workshops will either directly dove-tail into the homework assignment or provide you with basic skills that will be expanded through the homework assignment. Giventhe limited amount of class face-time you will be required to spend time outside of class supplementing your in class training.

Weekly Schedule

Note I may make changes to the content of the class during the semester to improve your learning experience. Therefore, you should always reference the most recent schedule details on the always-update online syllabus.


Week 1 (1/7): Course Intro, What is the web?

  • Review course
  • What is the Web?
  • What exactly is a URL?
  • Web page dissection

Week 2: (1/15) NO CLASS - MLK Day

Week 3: (1/22) HTML 101

  • Effective design principles of HTML
  • How are documents modeled in HTML
  • Introduction to HTML Tags

Week 4: (1/29) HTML 102; CSS 101

  • HTML attributes
  • Introduction to CSS
  • CSS and the DOM (CSS Selectors part 1)
  • Intro to FTP

Week 5: (2/5) HTML 102; CSS 10

*Semantic HTML

  • CSS Selectors part 2
  • Organizing information
  • Introduction to wireframes

Week 6: (2/12) HTML 103; CSS 103

Project 1 due

  • Semantic HTML continued
  • Advanced CSS (CSS3 animation, CSS shapes)


Week 7: (2/19) Introduction to Design

  • Design Document
  • Sitemap / Flowcharting
  • Wireframing
  • Mockup
  • Layout

Week 8: (2/26) Procedural Thinking; Javascript 101

  • Logic and Flow Charts part 2
  • Introduction to interaction
  • Javascript variables and functions

Week 9: (3/5) Javascript 101; Introduction to jQuery

  • Arrays
  • jQuery + DOM vs. CSS/HTML + DOM


Week 11: (3/19) Javascript 101; Introduction to jQuery

*Javascript objects

  • Javascript events
  • jQuery continued Project 2 due

Week 12: (3/26) jQuery

  • jQuery animation
  • Introducing the final project


Week 13: (4/2) Project Brief; Introduction to Project management

  • Introduction to design research
  • Semester flashback and review

Week 14: (4/9) Design Project Management

DUE: Design Doc for final project

  • In-class workshopping

Week 15: (4/16) Project planning, design, and implementation

  • Final project work and 1-on-1 meetings

Week 16: (4/30) Final Project classwork

  • WIP Review

Finals Week

  • Presentations


IML300 Spring 2018 course at USC






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