USC School of Architecture 1 ARCH 599 Visual Literacy in Media

USC School of Architecture
ARCH 599_Visual Literacy in Media for Architecture and Design
Spring 2015
2 Units
Class Sessions
This is a 100% online (distance learning) course with synchronous
and asynchronous components (see below for specifics)
Lee Schneider, Creative Director, Red Cup Agency
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
Rachel Berney, PhD, Assistant Professor, USC School of Architecture
Email: [email protected]
Office Hours
Lee: Fridays 12p-2p, available via Webex (The Webex link and call
in number will be posted to Blackboard Announcements.)
Rachel: Wednesdays 1p-2p, in Watt #331 and by appointment
Instructor Background: Lee Schneider is creative director of Red Cup Agency, a communications agency
based in Santa Monica and known for its work with startups, entrepreneurs and social activists. He is the
founder of Digital Fundraising School, an online school that helps media-makers, designers and tech
visionaries become better crowdfunders. He is the author of "Be More Popular: Culture-Building for
Startups." He has guest-lectured and taught workshops and classes at USC, University of Minnesota College
of Design, Architecture for Humanity, and Public Architecture. Before his work with Red Cup, he was executive
producer and founder of DocuCinema, a media production company that made documentaries and series
television for The History Channel, Discovery Health, The Learning Channel, ReelzChannel, Food Network and
Bravo. Early in his career, Mr. Schneider was a writer for Good Morning America and a producer for Dateline
Rachel Berney, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern
California. Dr. Berney teaches across disciplinary boundaries, linking design and urbanism issues. Her
research interests include sustainable design and development in an international context; design history and
theory with an emphasis on social and environmental factors; and qualitative and quantitative research
methods for evaluating peoples’ experience of everyday environments, including challenges of cross-cultural
research. Dr. Berney focuses on the history and contemporary conditions of urbanism and development in the
Americas, with a specific emphasis on public space and the public realm. In particular, she examines narrative
roles that landscapes play in the following areas: politics and society, ecology, and human health and
wellbeing. She received her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Washington, and her
Master of City Planning with an emphasis in Urban Design and her PhD in Landscape Architecture and
Environmental Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.
Introduction and Purpose
Designers are storytellers. Each line we draw or model we build expresses intent. Historically, drawing
has been the primary medium of expression in the communication of design ideas. In this course we
will combine traditional methods of expression with current online technology to create unique and
compelling visual stories. Anyone can tell a story, but learning to tell an engaging, poignant story that
generates real interest, enthusiasm, support and excitement is a vital tool in today’s fast-moving digital
culture. This course helps the student understand how visual stories can serve as an active tool to
critically explore, evaluate, and express design ideas. This course specifically stresses the
instrumentality of online videos for communicating and thinking graphically, and as a foundation for
creative action.
This master class in media making, distribution and promotion will benefit architecture and design
students who want deeper and more practical uses for visual storytelling. In the first half of the course,
the emphasis is on telling a visual story effectively. The second half is devoted to presentation and
promotion, including crowdfunding. The emphasis throughout is always on the deep structure that is
critical to creating an effective visual story.
USC School of Architecture
ARCH 599 Visual Literacy in Media
Part I (Sessions 1-9)
Designing a Story: narrative, interview, direction, production,
post-production, and promotion
Part II (Sessions 10-15)
Crowdfunding Campaigns: a roadmap to creating a
crowdfunding campaign for architecture and design projects.
Learning Outcomes
1. To explore new media frontiers for fresh ways to communicate and disseminate design USC
2. To identify and analyze successful visual storytelling models for online use
3. To sharpen visual literacy and strengthen visual communication skills in video format
4. To design and execute successful lean, low-cost production plans for short form video
5. To develop the ability to execute a narrative vision
6. To develop primal video storytelling skills that will successfully generate a human connection in the
online world
7. To create visual media for various applications (meeting course or thesis requirements, presenting
design work, creating crowdfunding campaigns)
Course Format
This is an online (distance learning course) which is offered both synchronously (realtime) (40%) and
asynchronously (60%). The course consists of weekly asynchronous faculty lectures and weekly
synchronous faculty-facilitated discussions. This is a 2-unit course, which means that we require 30
hours of class time (lectures and discussions) and 60 hours of homework (weekly assignments, video
project) over the course of the 15 sessions. Student should expect a total of 18 hours of faculty
lectures and 12 hours of faculty-facilitated discussions.
Online files (including new materials, assignments, completed assignments) will be updated every
Tuesday. Student will be notified of new content in two ways: via email to his/her USC account and via
a Blackboard announcement. All class work (journals, videos, etc) is due every Tuesday by 12:30pm
Regular participation is required for a successful learning experience. Login to the course and
participate on a regular basis (at least 3 times per week). Check your course email EVERY DAY for
messages. If you are experiencing technical difficulties that prevent electronic communication, contact
Lee immediately by phone at 424-265-6047. We reserve the right to drop any student who does not
participate in online activities for more than one week without contacting faculty.
Course Schedule
Lectures will be presented live on Tuesdays beginning at 12:30p. They will end at 1:30p. You may log
in and listen live and participate via chat or watch the recording later if you want (all lectures MUST be
watched by 12:30p each Thursday).
All lectures will be recorded and available on Webex. Just log in to your account there.
Assignments will be given out on Tuesdays, at the end of the lecture presentation. If you attend
the lecture live, you will be able to ask questions via chat.
Discussion group meets online via Webex on Thursdays at 12:30p. You'll receive the link and meeting
number via email and it will also be posted in Announcements on Blackboard.
Please post all assignments to your Journal on Blackboard. Assignments are due one week after they
are given out. If you have files to post that are larger than 100 MB, please upload the files to Dropbox
and link to them. (You can get a free Dropbox account at If you need to upload videos
larger than 100 mg, please upload them to YouTube and share the link.
Logging in to Webex
Go to Click the "Attend a Meeting" button. If you have never used Webex before you
will need to download a small application. Webex is accessible on your computer or iPad/tablet.
USC School of Architecture
ARCH 599 Visual Literacy in Media
Please log in to Webex and get set up at least 15 minutes before the first lecture presentation, if not
sooner. Create a free Webex account and you'll be notified by email of scheduled sessions. Class
news will be posted on Announcements in Blackboard.
Participating in Audio and Video Discussions
Be sure you have a good internet connection - at least three bars on your WiFi. During the lecture
presentations your audio will be muted. When participating in discussions, a headset is recommended
for best quality.
To connect with online sessions (synchronous or asynchronous) you will log in using the session link
sent to you via email. It is also posted in Announcements on Blackboard. You can listen in using your
computer audio, or by calling in via phone. The meeting number will be provided in the email you
receive before each presentation or discussion. It will also be posted in Announcements. All lecture
presentations will be uploaded to Webex for playback. They will also be uploaded to Blackboard as
Powerpoint and PDF files.
Please post your assignments to a Journal you create on Blackboard.
Announcements and News
Announcements and news about the course will be posted by the instructors in Blackboard. Public
news about the course will be posted on Twitter here:
Video Editing
To work with editing your video during the class you may use several platforms. Final Cut Pro or
Premiere will work well. If you want to use YouTube's free editing and collaboration tools, look here: You can also assemble video slide shows online
using YouTube. Instructors will review videos on YouTube at a link you provide. You can collaborate
with others, including instructors, using a free collaborative editing tool available on WeVideo:
Course Requirements and Grades
50% Class Assignments – (10) assignments each worth 5% of the course grade
20% Online Participation – synchronous discussions, viewing of weekly lectures (you are required
to log in at least 3 times per week)
30% Final Project – a video to promote or present design work or to launch a crowdfunding campaign
(video requirements, details, etc will be outlined in the Final Project handout, the video will be due on
the last day of class).
Course Policies
Required level of technology and technical competence
Successful students will have familiarity with the iPhone or Android camera phone for video recording, or
access to and basic ability using a digital video camera. Basic familiarity with iMovie, Final Cut Pro or Adobe
Premiere is helpful.
Required course software, hardware, infrastructure, and connectivity requirements:
-- Blackboard Learning Management System
-- Windows or Mac OS, latest version preferred.
-- Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome Browser with latest Adobe Flash plugin installed.
-- Computer audio headset with microphone preferred for online discussion but not required
-- Reliable high-speed internet connection
-- Streaming media access such as USC on iTunes U or YouTube
-- Webex for synchronous meeting; a small free download may be required on your computer or tablet
-- Access to collaboration and search tools such as Google, Creative Commons, and Flickr
-- Phone, smartphone or digital camera with upload capability via WiFi, USB or Firewire
USC School of Architecture
ARCH 599 Visual Literacy in Media
-- Video editing software available in any video-capable phone, or Final Cut Pro, iMovie, or Adobe
Standards of Appropriate Online Behavior
Please access and review “Policies Regarding Student Use of Computing Resources at USC.” This document
can be accessed at
The protocols defined by the USC Student Conduct Code will be upheld in this course. For more
information, use this link: (
Technical Support
Help with network connectivity and software is available by contacting the consultants at the ITS
Customer Support Center by emailing [email protected] or calling 213-740-5555. Walk-in support is available
in Leavey Library’s Information Commons, on the lower level. Visit the Customer Support Center page at:
Statement on Academic Conduct and Support Systems
Academic Conduct
Plagarism - presenting someone else’s ideas as your on, either verbatim or recast in your own words - is a
serious academic offense with serious consequences. Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of
plagiarism in SCampus in Section 11, Behavior Violating University Standards: Other forms of academic dishonesty are
equally unacceptable. See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct,
Discrimination, sexual assualt, and harassment are not tolerated by the university. You are encouraged to
report any incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversity or to the Department of Public
Safety This is important
for the safety of the whole USC community. Another member of the university community - such as a friend,
classmate, advisor or faculty member - can help initiate the report, or can initiate the report on behalf of another
person. The Center for Women and Men provides 24/7 confidential
support, and the sexual assault resource center webpage [email protected] describes reporting options and other
Support Systems
A number of USC’s schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing. Check with your
advisor or program staff to find out more. Students whose primary language is not English should check with
the American Language Institute, which sponsors courses and workshops specifically
for international graduate students. The Office of Disability Services and programs provides certification for students
with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accomodations. If an officially declared emergency makes travel
to campus infeasible, USC Emergency Information will provide safety and other
updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of Blackboard, teleconferencing, and
other technology.
USC School of Architecture
ARCH 599 Visual Literacy in Media