Projects Underway

DCrit: Digital Critiquing Platform

Steven Schneider

Project Team

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

2012

Tier One

Project Abstract:

The SUNYIT Communication and Information Design (CID) program, an undergraduate program emphasizing studio-based projects produced in various digital media, will be adopting a program-wide critique model during the next academic year. In this model, critiques will be provided by program faculty (both full-time and adjunct), professionals in the field, and student peers. Projects to be critiqued will include graphics, animations, applications, Web sites, videos and presentations. The “Group Critique,” a long- standing aspect of design classes in which students present and defend their design work, is intended to improve design skills, develop presentation skills, and teach students how to professionally receive and process as well as to constructively provide feedback. Critiques provide opportunities for students to have their work reviewed by a wider variety of individuals than the traditional course grading and review method provides, as well as to develop relationships with faculty, professionals and peers. For students, the critique process increases engagement and provides a rich feedback environment. For faculty, the critique process contributes to program assessment, and increases faculty interaction with both students and professionals in the field.

The project proposes the development and demonstration of a “Digital Critique Platform” (DCrit). DCrit innovates the traditional critique process in two significant ways:
• Traditionally, critiques are offered during synchronous, face-to-face sessions, thus restricting them to those able to attend (usually, faculty and students associated with specific classes), and limiting the student’s exposure to a wider range of viewpoints. This project proposes to provide critiques of student work both synchronously and asychronously, and both online and in-person.
• Traditionally, the input (student work) and output (critical assessments) of the critique process is not captured for future review and consideration, and the potential value of aggregated critiques is rarely tapped for program assessment purposes. This project proposes to capture and archive both student work and critical assessments in a single database, thus enabling students, faculty and others to review and assess both individual-level and aggregate-level progress towards specific educational objectives.

This project proposes the demonstration of an DCritique Platform (DCrit) that allows students to submit projects for critique; assigns participating faculty, professionals and peers to critique specific student projects; accepts rubric-based critiques from faculty, professionals and peers; and distributes completed critiques to participating students. In addition, the platform will facilitate the development of a comprehensive, program-wide portfolio of student projects that will serve program assessment purposes.

The demonstration platform will develop four primary elements, built mostly on the Google Apps for Education platform.
• DCrit Collector: Project Submission, Capture and Archiving
• DCrit Scheduler: Scheduling critiques: online synchronous, online asynchronous, and in-person
• DCrit Critiquer: Rubric-based critique management and submission
• DCrit Reviewer: Review, examine, and report on critiques at individual, class and program level

The DCrit Collector will use Google Forms to accept student submissions of projects to be critiqued (graphics, animations, applications, Web sites, videos, presentations, etc.) along with supporting documentation such as process notes. The form will provide an opportunity to associate projects with specific classes and other characteristics such as medium and format. The DCrit Collector will license the project archiving technology (the “WebArchivist Toolkit”) under a non-exclusive, royalty free license from WebArchivist.org, a research group founded by the Primary Investigator of this project, in an agreement to be concluded with the Research Foundation of SUNY.

The DCrit Scheduler will use Google Calendar to provide the opportunity for faculty, professional and peers to indicate their availability to provide synchronous online and synchronous in-person critiques at specific times (in 10-minute increments) matching a pre-determined schedule. The Scheduler will provide an opportunity for students who have submitted projects to register for specific synchronous critiques. The Scheduler will also provide location data for the in-person critiques. In addition, the Scheduler will create a master critique schedule which can be used by program participants to facilitate attendance at in-person critiques.

The DCrit Critiquer will use Google Calendar to request specific individuals to complete critiques, both synchronously and asynchronously. The Critiquer will use Google Forms to support the development and deployment of rubrics for critiques. Existing open-source scripts working within Google Spreadsheets will be utilized to facilitate the distribution of critiques to students via email, with copies as appropriate to faculty.

The Dcrit Reviewer will use the WebArchivist Toolkit to export archived student submissions in a standard format accessible on existing program Web servers, and will integrate critiques with submitted projects. Projects and associated critiques will be maintained in a single archive, which will facilitate review at an individual, class, and program level. The Reviewer will ideally support data export in a standard format that can be imported by commercial programs such as Blackboard e-portfolio.

Project Outcome:

A complete set of tools including the rubric and processes is available on the project website.