Design 3A: Design for the Digital Realm

Design 3A, Section 1
Design for the Digital Realm – Syllabus

Today interaction online focuses on information through living, social platforms. We will go beyond an average user’s perspective to critically examine the web through historical, political, and social lenses. This course encourages students to holistically approach to the web and its constituent code as a living kit of parts waiting to be harnessed in novel and innovative ways. As digital technology industries rapidly alter ways of doing and thinking, design can amplify, shift, comment on, and/or criticize these changes. The role of designers today is not only to style content but to shape it, extracting information from abstract datasets, writing scenarios, and creating systems, all with a critical eye. This course aims to train students to research, analyze, prototype, and develop design concepts for digital media for three distinct social and cultural contexts.

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Nika Fisher

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The semester will be divided into three 4–5 week long projects in order of shrinking scale. This will move from the size of a gallery to a browser and then to a mobile application or even the intangible or invisible. Throughout the course, the history of design will be revisited to see how client-driven design practices have partly evolved into research-driven authorship or entrepreneurial practices.

  1. Exhibition: The first project will be informed by avant-garde artists who made use of interaction design and its technologies online and in space. Theme: Artist as Visionary as Innovator as Architect as Seer
  2. Subcultural Publication: The second project will focus on alternative methods of publishing, concept development for subcultures, and history of publication before and after digital production and distribution.
  3. Social Web: The third project will analyze our existing social networks and reconsider the behaviors we would like to modify, enhance, or remove, especially in relation to smaller networks.

Code of Conduct + Group Agreement

As a class, we will create a group agreement that addresses respect and etiquette in the classroom. Students will be responsible for maintaining this standard throughout the semester. Rutgers is very lucky to have a representative group of students with different backgrounds and cultures. With this comes varying amounts of privilege and awareness, so it is important that we practice patience and empathy in the classroom. We must all continuously learn, be open to criticism, develop a consciousness about these discrepancies, and actively seeking equity and allyship in the classroom and beyond.

Project Critiques

Each project will close in a group critique. All students in class are encouraged to participate in these reviews and discussions. Two student peers will have active roles in each critique: (1) first responder and (2) note taker. The first responder will summarize/reframe the presenter’s project and provide initial feedback. The note taker will write down the group comments and write a digestible overview, to be given to the presenter and instructor by the end of the presentation day. All students should participate in each discussion and provide feedback in the form of a neutral observation or value judgment. Please be respectful—our full attention will be given to the presenter and, excluding the note taker, all laptops and mobile devices should be closed.

Reading Responses

Each project will include a selection of readings and references that will be assigned on a weekly basis. You will be required to write a response and three discussion questions, to be completed by midnight before class. You will also be asked to explore similar works, post them on the weekly doc, and discuss them in class.

Tools + Materials

Most of the hardware and the software which are going to be used in class will be provided and be ready in the classroom in class hours. On the other hand, we strongly recommend that you have your own computer at home equipped with relevant software for practice and execution of the assignments. Some of the assignments will require higher processing speeds, so please prepare yourself to work in the lab at school throughout the semester. You may attend the class with your laptop, but you will be responsible for your own workflow and troubleshooting. You are also be responsible for their own files, making sure to back them up in some way.

Class Sessions

Each meeting will include one or more of the following:

  1. one-on-ones
  2. critique
  3. lecture
  4. reading discussions
  5. workshops
  6. group exercises
  7. in-class studio time
  8. guest lectures Assessment

Students Will Be Assessed On Five Primary Items:

  1. Process: We expect students to engage in research, sketch ideas, pursue multiple ideas, and experiment widely with concept, imagery, type, materials and composition.
  2. Documentation: At the end of the semester, students will publish a video documentary of the work throughout the semester. This video will include screencasts, live action footage and talking heads.
  3. Presentation: Project presentations will be made on the due date of the assignment in the classroom.
  4. Critique: Student contribution to these open panel/critique sessions is required.
  5. Archive: At the end of the term, you are required to send me an archival .zip file to document your projects.

Goals + Learning Outcomes

  • understand the web as its own public space
  • understand design principles unique to dynamic media
  • be familiar with a range of contemporary art and design practices online
  • follow technological advancements and tools
  • design, develop, and build a digital publication project from scratch
  • have complete, well-documented online projects of their very own
  • learn how to give constructive feedback for their peers


Attendance is required. Students are expected to be on time and remain in class for the entire period scheduled. Work missed due to any type of absence is the student’s responsibility. Three or more absences will result in a failing grade. Three late arrivals equals an absence. If you absolutely must miss class, email me in advance.

Late Work

  • Project: Every day a project is late it goes down one letter grade.
  • Reading questions: Late reading questions will not be accepted.


Grading of each project will be made in critique sessions with the participation of the students. Coursework, attendance and reading responses will be tracked and evaluated by the instructor.

  1. 10% : Coursework, attendance, and reading responses
  2. 30% : Project 1
  3. 30% : Project 2
  4. 30% : Project 3
  • A = Outstanding performance throughout the course, work excels consistently in all the areas described above
  • B = Exceeding basic expectations for all projects
  • C = Satisfactory performance, that is, the completion of all assignments on time and at an acceptable level
  • D = Poor work
  • F = Failure. Please note that a C grade means you have attended all classes and met satisfactorily the requirements of the course.

To earn a higher grade, you must show not only more effort but also a higher level of achievement in your work. There is no guarantee that extra effort will yield outstanding work; and yet it is extremely unlikely that without extra effort you will create interesting work or develop as a designer. We cannot rely on inspiration, so we must be diligent.

Project Revision

You will have the option to revise and enhance two projects during the semester, as long as they were turned in on time. To get an upgrade you should keep working on your project after the deadline and presentation. All project revisions are due during the final reading week of the semester. Once you make your changes and you would like me to reassess your project for a new grade, please notify me.

Disability Services

There is a range of services offered through Rutgers Office of Disability Services, including Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), career services, and classroom accessibility. Please visit for more information Rutgers University welcomes students with disabilities into all of the University’s educational programs. In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with a Letter of Accommodations. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. To begin this process, please complete the Registration form on the ODS web site at:

Academic Integrity

Principles of academic integrity require that every Rutgers University student:

  • properly acknowledge and cite all use of the ideas, results, or words of others.
  • properly acknowledge all contributors to a given piece of work.
  • make sure that all work submitted as his or her own in a course or other academic activity is produced without the aid of unsanctioned materials or unsanctioned collaboration.
  • obtain all data or results by ethical means and report them accurately without suppressing any results inconsistent with his or her interpretation or conclusions
  • treat all other students in an ethical manner, respecting their integrity and right to pursue their educational goals without interference. This requires that a student neither facilitate academic dishonesty by others nor obstruct their academic progress.
  • uphold the canons of the ethical or professional code of the profession for which he or she is preparing. Adherence to these principles is necessary in order to insure that:
  • everyone is given proper credit for his or her ideas, words, results, and other scholarly accomplishments.
  • all student work is fairly evaluated and no student has an inappropriate advantage over others.
  • the academic and ethical development of all students is fostered.
  • the reputation of the University for integrity in its teaching, research, and scholarship is maintained and enhanced. Failure to uphold these principles of academic integrity threatens both the reputation of the University and the value of the degrees awarded to its students. Every member of the University community therefore bears a responsibility for ensuring that the highest standards of academic integrity are upheld.