We would like to propose a prototype play-testing session for the project, "Spark Deck: A Design Tool for Scholarly Multimedia." Inspired by Mary Flanagan’s Grow A Game, Ideo’s Method Cards, Susana Ruiz’s inCharacter project, the USC Reality Game ARG, and the experience of teaching in the division of USC School of Cinematic Arts Division of Media Arts + Practice (MA+P), "Spark Deck" is a card game platform to help undergraduate students quickly brainstorm and conceptualize ideas for scholarly multimedia projects, consider the relationship between form and content, and incorporate technology in meaningful, strategic and thoughtful ways. The pedagogical goal of "Spark Deck" is to inspire critical thinking, problem solving, design thinking, creativity and different avenues of scholarly inquiry in the ideation and research phase of the scholarly-multimedia design process. Ultimately, Spark Deck is designed to assist undergraduate students simultaneously contemplate how media and technological platform are constitutive parts of digital scholarship as they produce research questions and theoretical methodologies for a scholarly multimedia project.
The concept for this project emerged out of the undergraduate MA+P multimedia thesis prep course, in which undergraduate students from a diverse range of disciplinary majors (many from the humanities) develop an idea for a large-scale scholarly multimedia thesis project and create multiple prototypes of their design. MA+P courses are structured around a theory/practice model that asks students to investigate the expressive and analytical potentials that the tools of technology bring to their work. The thesis prep class is an opportunity for students to generate their own academic research within a digital platform of their choice. While undergraduate students are well-versed in process of writing a research paper, a challenge for all students is the daunting task of formulating an engaging topic (both to an imagined audience and themselves) with an academically sound argument and research method, while envisioning the digital infrastructure, design, and multimedia rhetorical strategy of a large-scale multimedia project for scholarly gain.
The basic version of the “game” uses the structure of a 51-card deck with four categories/suits to be combined to generate fun, engaging, and rigorous academic design challenges to inspire students in the development of their own multimedia scholarship. Advanced categories are also being developed to deepen and further student design process and thinking.
We would like to have a hands-on experience and play-test "Spark Deck" with the HASTAC community. We imagine participants developing their own prototypes during the session and resulting in an active, fruitful and engaging dialogue on the pedagogical methodologies of digital humanities, digital scholarship and the critical design process.