Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Class Description

This class covers the analysis, design, implementation and testing of various forms of digital communication based on group collaboration. Students are encouraged to think about the Web and other new digital interactive media not just in terms of technology but also broader issues such as language (verbal and visual), design, information architecture, communication and community. Students work in small groups on a semester-long project of their choice. Various written and oral presentations document project development.

Message to Participants

This class gives you the chance to experiment with any form of digital technology to communicate with others in a workshop setting. Small collaborative groups develop projects throughout the semester. As your projects progress, you study the rhetoric of digital communication, the visual language of design and appropriate technical implementation, and your project groups report on these topics in a variety of written and oral presentations. Guest speakers visit frequently, and classes are largely devoted to informal discussion.

List of Objectives

At the end of this class, we hope students will have developed their skills at:

  • Collaborating with a team of peers on large-scale digital projects
  • Planning a group project
  • Graphic design
  • Writing for the Web
  • Programming for the Web
  • Team management
  • Usability testing

In addition, students will also gain experience in the art of writing successful proposals, making formal and informal presentations, participating in discussions and analyzing the work of their peers.

Grade Breakdown

Class Participation

Includes attendance, questions and responses for speakers, and participation in discussions.
Proposals and Presentations

Includes oral presentations, and initial written proposal.
Final Presentation and Assessment of Project

Includes final project presentation, final written report, and final project exhibition.


Students will be organized into groups of four or five, with each student adopting one or more roles. Roles can include the following, in no particular order:

  • Editor
  • Writer
  • Programmer
  • Producer
  • Technical architect
  • Multimedia designer (graphics, sound, video)
  • Project manager
  • Designer
  • Information architect
  • Storyboarder
  • Liaison
  • Content gatherer


The primary focus of the class is the development of the group projects. Projects definitely do not have to be Web sites, but they must make use of some kind of interactive, electronic communication medium. All project proposals must be approved by the instructors. Groups may choose a project of their own design or from a list of several suggested project ideas (below). Successful projects blend an interesting idea, rich content, thoughtful use of technology, and strong audience interaction.

  • Choose-your-own-adventure online books, other games
  • Online residential communities
  • Web site for an elementary school, with a focus on how teachers could use it to lighten their workload
  • Student/faculty portal
  • New innovative online services targeting the MIT community
  • Site for prospective and/or incoming frosh to communicate with current students
  • Site to facilitate mentoring between frosh and upperclassmen
  • Redesign of MIT's top-level home page

Student Tasks Checklist

  • Project group formed & team roles chosen
  • Project idea consolidated
  • Elevator speech
  • Project proposal presentation
  • Individual student conference
  • Project review
  • Usability test profiles written
  • Usability test carried out
  • Site/application redesigned as appropriate
  • Project developed to completion
  • Final presentation
  • Final written report submitted