Interactive Narratives Future Story Forms (Spring 2018)

Course Objective

This course explores digital narratives as they are designed, produced, and consumed in various electronic and “virtual” formats. Given this is a broad and expansive discipline that will continue to spawn new immersive experiences, stories and technologies, the course will lay the foundation for understanding new transmedia environments and explore best practices for creating non-fiction narratives on emerging platforms. We will explore and create narratives in 360, VR, AR, Mobile and use and understand the best use cases for drones.

What are the elements of a persuasive digital story? How do digital spaces function similarly/differently from non-digital spaces when looking at narrative? What are the tools and techniques one can use to produce and visualize narrative in new and emerging digital formats? And finally, what does it mean to "tell stories" when digital forms and technologies are constantly changing? As technologies continue to evolve, how will we create, share, and experience the most fundamental unit of human culture—the story?

Students will have the opportunity to explore various digital technologies, create and produce narratives, and analyze stories in new innovative forms. This course will introduce you to the world of alternative story forms and show you how to add them to your visual journalism repertoire.

*Required for all students who plan on producing a Master’s Project in New Media. The course is open to all, with NM getting a preference.

Course Outcomes

Students will receive focused exposure to the special topic of persuasive authorship within the broad purview of digital cultures and creativity. They will explore the topic of digital storytelling both critically and theoretically through readings, critical thought, and practical, hands-on development of digital tools and technologies. Students will be able to discuss major issues and debates in the area of the digital storytelling, and be conversant with important concepts and terms. Students will synthesize insights from one another as well as the instructor and their readings in order to produce a final project that displays real depth of creativity and insight in the area of digital storytelling and persuasive authorship. Students will conclude the course with a focused base of digital storytelling knowledge that they can use as a foundation for a masters project, as well as the basis for effective and informed ‘newsroom’ discourse and innovation.

    Students will
  • Demonstrate a firm understanding of methods, skills, tools and systems used in the interdisciplinary construction of digital stories and reports.
  • Demonstrate the ability to choose appropriate technologies to communicate about topics and questions and to formulate a project that leverages their understandings of emerging digital platforms and software.
  • Communicate effectively, through visual and oral communication and through other forms as appropriate.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the interconnections of knowledge production within and across disciplines and digital forms.
  • Students will get hands-on experience with 360 cameras, VR and Drones.


Two unexcused absence from class will drop you one letter grade; three unexcused absences will drop you two letter grades; a fourth unexcused absence will result in an F. Excused absences will only be permitted in extraordinary circumstances. Regardless of the reason for an absence, students will be responsible for any assignments due and for learning material covered in class. As quoted by UC Berkeley guidelines on absences:

Students are responsible for material covered during missed classes whether or not they have been formally excused; therefore it is the student’s responsibility to inform him/herself about the material is not the instructor’s or the GSI’s responsibility to tutor students in missed material. For this reason it is recommended that students absent from class for any reason make timely contact with several other students in the class to arrange for thorough briefing on the material they missed.

Assignments/Grading Procedures

There will be two assignments due in class: a mid-term and final project

Midterm Project45%
Final Project45%

Required Reading: (*subject to change, readings will be provided by Professor)

  • Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace (978-0262631877)
  • The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (978-0393339758)
  • The Principles of Multimedia Journalism: Packaging Digital News (978-0415738163)

Weekly Schedule

The course in Three-Acts:

I - Intense Seeing

Our Visual Memory | Deconstructing Story, Structure, Technique and Platform

II - Beyond the Obvious

Emerging and cutting edge story forms

III - Doing the work

Building New Narratives

Week 1
Introduction (Medium is the message) — This session will cover the core concepts underlying most of the class, understanding emerging  media forms and how they communicate.
Week 2
What We Know: Desktop, Mobile, Tablet -We take a critical and in-depth look at the most present and enduring platforms. We will ask: How have narratives evolved and advanced during their short lifespan. Have any definitive, practical or successful practices emerged? What have we learned? What are the success stories? Who are the innovators in this space? Have we seen a storytelling revolution? Or a mere minor evolution?
Week 3
Wearables & Drones- Sure Google Glass was a bust and the jury is still out on the Apple watch, but is there a real future beyond our handheld mobile device. Will stories finally make it to our wrists and eyeballs? If they do, will we be ready?  We will examine storytelling in its most compact form to date. Drones — How, When and Where to fly them.
Week 4
Virtual Reality & 360 Immersive video -  Heralded as the “empathy machine” is virtual reality finally here to stay? We will discuss the promises—and pitfalls—of the emerging technology and discuss its application to non-fiction storytelling, including how to produce content for the platform
Week 5
TV & Future of the Documentary- The 80-year-old TV industry at the precipice of a distribution and content revolution. The widely-anticipated convergence of personal computers, the internet and television is finally happening. What’s the opportunity for journalism? Also, new interactive technologies are making it easier than ever to not only distribute documentaries, but build communities around them. How has the documentary changed?
Week 6
The Bleeding Edge: Artificial Intelligence & The undefined- Computer-generated copy is already used in sports and business reporting – will machines soon master great storytelling?  As technology marches relentlessly on, everything goes into development sooner or later. Just by looking at where we are today, we can already see how powerful technology has been in shaping our world. Through the years,  cutting-edge technologies intended to make life a lot more convenient for humans.  We examine the potential of new technologies for storytelling.
Week 7
The Internet of Things- The Internet of Things revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication; it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection; and they say it’s going to make everything in our lives from streetlights to seaports “smart.” With sensors talking to each other and access to info at our fingertips, how to the dynamics of reporting change? What does this mean for breaking news?
Week 8
Graphic Design across platforms -Designing without understanding what makes people act the way they do is like exploring a new city without a map: results will be haphazard, confusing, and inefficient. We will talk  real science and research with practical examples to deliver actionable items for every design thinker who wants to create intuitive and engaging work across all platforms.
Week 9
Story Design across platforms- We will study the principles of story, structure and design as adapted from cinema, advertising, fiction and journalism, in order to uncover the common and enduring elements of story that will remain intact no matter what technology throws our way.
Week 10
The Storyteller’s Toolbox - For those of us non-coders, we will discover the intuitive and easy to use, but not watered-down tools —to help us code with seeing a line of code, create interactive and  immersive videos and websites.
Week 11
Agile Storytelling- We learn to Build real time/agile storytelling into your project.  New media companies like  Buzzfeed and Vice get it. They are tracking everything and change content accordingly. We explore how to incorporate this into our narrative and user experience.
Week 12
The Visionaries- There is never a medium without its Michelangelo or Frida Kahlo, we study the visionaries of the digital story form.
Week 13
The Business of STORY - No story would be complete without asking the critical questions, Who is supporting  this? And is there anybody willing to pay for story? How much does it cost to produce?
Week 14
Measuring Impact- Impact is a valuable tool for ensuring more good work (important stories) get done better and more frequently. The question is not whether or not to measure impact, but how to do it effectively and efficiently, and how to ensure that it is embedded into your workflow..
Week 15
Where we go from here, The Future of Story- Students present their final projects — Their ideas on the future of story and its forms, technologies and software.

Classroom Decorum Policy

Students must turn off the ringers on their cell phones before class begins. Students may not check e-mail, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or other websites during the lecture portions of the class. Anyone caught visiting these sites will be publicly admonished, and will be given marks against their class participation grade at the discretion of the instructor.

Instructor Contact/Office Hours

Assistant Professor Richard Koci Hernandez
Office Hours: Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. – 1pm.

How to contact me:

The best way to communicate with me is always in person, either immediately before or after class or during office hours. I will do my very best to schedule my office hours during times when every one of you can feasibly make it. If you have a regular scheduling conflict with my office hours, we can set up a separate meeting time; otherwise, I ask that you try to come during my scheduled office hours. While you are encouraged to email me if you have a simple question or notification, please see me in person if you would like to discuss the course readings or assignments. If you can’t find me in the real world, email me koci(at) Response time for e-mails sent to me may be up to 24 hours. It may take longer over weekends. Please make an appointment via email to secure a space and specific time.

Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism

Students will abide by the Student Code of Conduct There is a zero-tolerance policy for work that is submitted without proper attribution and that constitutes plagiarism. If students are unsure about the expectations regarding the Student Code of Conduct, please seek advice from the instructors.