The purpose of the Session Long Project in the classes is to give you the opportunity to explore the applicability of the module to your own life, work, and place in space and time, and to experiment with the module to see how the otherwise academically rigorous presentation of a topic may, with more or less work and/or trauma, become “up close and personal”. This is done in a number of different ways—sometimes cumulative papers, sometimes practical hands-on experimentation with a tool of some sort, sometimes reflections on a place of work or life. The common thread is personal application, aimed at demonstrating a cumulative knowledge and understanding of the course’s material. The main purpose of the written parts of the assignments is to show that you have had some experiences doing the project, that you have thought carefully about what they mean for your own education, and that you can make some personal applications of this meaning to your own professional and/or personal understanding. Demonstrating this understanding is actually considerably more important than carrying out any specific step in the project instructions.
For this course, the SLP will take the form of working through a tutorial in information architectures, toward the purpose of creating a design document for a new website (see below).
The Term Project
Webmonkey is a Web development portal site operated by Wired.com. Among other resources (which you are welcome to peruse), it has a series of tutorials, including a very interesting hands-on Internet-based tutorial on the creation of information architectures (IA) for websites, that ought to work nicely as an SLP for this class. It is organized in five parts, which fits well into our structure. You can access the tutorial at the following site: http://www.webmonkey.com/2010/02/information_architecture_tutorial/ or http://www.webmonkey.com/tutorials/
Your overall assignment for the term is to follow the steps in this tutorial to develop a design document for a website to support students in the ITM programs as they move through it from the first courses to the last.
The goal of your project is to use the “information architectures” process to put together the best design you can. You are encouraged to be creative and imaginative; obviously, there is not any one “correct” design. The purpose of the SLP process is to give you some structure as you create your design.
The assignment is in three parts, one for each module 1-3.
For Module 1, you are to read through the Overview and Lesson 1, and carry out the first steps: goals definition for the website. The lesson outlines a series of questions to structure your goals. It suggests asking a range of respondents about the questions; clearly, this may be outside your present scope, although you may want to discuss them with friends and/or family and/or colleagues who have been with you through the program – who might have suggestions based on their interactions with you as you progressed – to get their take on the possible goals. You may also wish to seek informal thoughts from your instructor if you wish, with a well-structured inquiry.
At the least, you need to iterate the questions a couple of times for yourself. Write down your answers, then set them aside for a couple of days and come back to them. If you can do this a couple of times, you’ll find that your formulation will be better each time.
This part of the tutorial concludes:
“Once you have agreement from everyone involved, document the goals of the site and draft them where everyone in both your client’s organization and your own can see them… summarize the list and write a few paragraphs about the goals. A simple summary will do.”
Your “publication” consists of submitting your “list and paragraphs” in report form as your SLP 1 assignment.