Interactive Media Design: Creating (2012/2013, Semester 1) 

 MODULE OUTLINE Created: 18-Jun-2012, Updated: 02-Dec-2012
Module Code NM2217
Module Title Interactive Media Design: Creating
Semester Semester 1, 2012/2013
Modular Credits 4
Faculty Arts & Social Sciences
Department Communications And New Media
Timetable Timetable/Teaching Staff
Module Facilitators
DR Alex Mitchell Lecturer
MR Ong Eng Hwa, Christopher Teaching Assistant
Tags --

Aims & Objectives | Teaching Modes | Syllabus | Schedule | Lectures | Readings | Practical Work | Participation | Workload | Assessment | Academic Integrity | Copyright

This module introduces students to interactive media design through the process of creation and reflecting on what has been created.  Through hands-on design work, the study of related readings and works, and the writing of critical reflections, students will learn about relevant design issues that arise for different domains, platforms, and interface modalities. Topics covered include interactive characters, art, games, stories, visualizations, simulations, and exhibits. The module will also touch on current design innovations in interactive media, such as mobile and tablet-based computing, the use of real-time data, robotic toys, as well as voice, touch, and gesture-based interaction.

SPECIAL NOTE: This module is offered every semester as part of a complementary set of foundational Interactive Media Design modules, the other two being NM2210 and NM2216. All three modules are offered every semester. You may also want to look at the "suggested study plan" on the CNM IMD blog http://blog.nus.edu.sg/cnmimd/curriculum/study-plan/, in particular the part that talks about prerequisites for higher-level IMD modules.

LECTURE: 2 hours/week, Tuesdays 2-4pm
Focus: Presentation of major concepts to be explored for each topic.

TUTORIAL: 2 hours/week, Wednesday 12-2pm, Thursday 12-2pm, or Friday 12-2pm
Focus: Hands-on exercises, project support, and presentations/critique of on-going work.

The module consists of weekly lectures and tutorials. The lectures will introduce new concepts – and the tutorials will introduce practical techniques, an opportunity to apply those techniques, and feedback/help with ongoing student projects.

The first two weeks introduce issues related to designing and creating interactive media. The remainder of the module is divided into 2 small projects. In the first half, student teams work towards completing a PC-based interactive game; in the second half, teams work towards completing an interactive art piece for a gallery/exhibition. 
Please note in the lesson plan: starting week 2 there is usually some preparation work that is required before coming to the module lectures and tutorials.

The module starts with a 2-week introduction to the creation of interactive media. The first half of the module concentrates on interactive entertainment, and the second half concentrates on interactive art.

Part I: Fundamentals
1. Introduction: designing to support interactivity
2. Visualizing and modelling interactivity

Part II: Interactive Entertainment
3. Goals and feedback (Tutorial sessions begin)
4. Narrative and branching interaction
. Conversational interaction
6. Adaptive interactions
6.5 (term break). Project 1 draft implementation
7. From goal-directed to walk-up interaction; project 01 concept presentations and final implementation

Part III: Interactive Art
8. Walk-up interaction
9. Interactive typography
10. Interactive visualizations
11. Interactivity that is creative/surprising
12. Gestures and multimodal interaction; project 02 concept presentations and draft implementation
13. Project 02 final implementation

Lectures will introduce theoretical ideas relevant to the design of interactive media. During each lecture, students will also be asked to form small groups to work on a brief design problem. At the end of the exercise, each team will quickly present their work to the rest of the class for discussion.

See the module Lesson plan for week-by-week topics.

There is no reading package for this module. All module readings are available online, either as web links or pdf files within the module IVLE site. Please check the module Lesson Plan for details.

Note: readings will not be “summarized” during the weekly lectures. Rather, the lectures (and in-lecture exercises) will assume that student have already read the week’s paper before the week’s lecture.

In addition to attending module lectures, all students are expected to attend and actively participate during the tutorials – and in online discussions in the IVLE module forum. Furthermore, there are a number of specific, regular activities expected of students in the module: reading, learning/using digital design tools, writing short “design reflection” essays, and, of course, creating, presenting, and discussing projects.

Assignments and Projects
Most weeks there will be a short assignment, designed to give you some experience with creating interactive media. There will also be two projects, which are slightly larger assignments spanning across two weeks, and which involve a presentation in tutorial. For the assignments, tutorials and projects we will be using Snap/BYOB. This tool will be introduced during lecture, and you will learn how to use it by completing the assignments and tutorial exercises.

Assignments are individual. The projects are team-based. In this module students do not self-select the members of their groups -- students will be assigned to teams by the instructor.

Warning: students may not use a project they have created (or are creating) for another module as a project submission for this module. If students want to build upon a project they have created earlier, they need to:
  • seek approval from the module instructor before starting to work on the project
  • provide information about other modules where the project has been submitted, and
  • clearly describe what is new about the project for this  module (note that "what is new'' must be significant and must be equivalent in scope to other module projects that are not based on pre-existing projects)
Readings and reflections:
Each week there will be a short reading. Starting from week 3, each week you will write a short reflection, using the IVLE assessment tool. The reflection involves making a connection between the weekly reading and the weekly assignment.

During the weekly tutorials, you will work together with your teammate on a short design and implementation exercise using Snap. These exercises are designed to help you work towards your project. At the end of each tutorial, groups will share their work with the rest of the class.

Note that tutorial attendance is important. We are required to warn you for the first 2 absences from tutorial. Any subsequent absences will be reported to the department and the Dean’s office.

All students are expected to actively participate in lectures, tutorial sessions, and in online forum discussions during the module.

Warning! All students are expected to read and respond to email sent to their NUS email accounts.

This module makes heavy use of IVLE forums to answer questions, support discussions, and make important update announcements. Postings to the module forum are forwarded to NUS email accounts – and those are the accounts we will use if we need to contact students directly.

If students do not check/read mail sent to their NUS email accounts, the consequences may result in lower marks. In particular, students are like to be penalized if they do not respond promptly if we send them email (to their NUS email address). We cannot make exceptions and use other email accounts to contact students.

Note: it is possible to have your NUS email “forwarded” to another email account. To do this, go to https://exchange.nus.edu.sg/ and click on the link for Email Redirection (bottom, left-hand side of the page). Then, follow the instructions.

Please be aware: students need to be responsible for their NUS email accounts. If a student does not read/delete mail from an NUS account (or have it forwarded to another account), the account may “fill up” and mail to the account may bounce. This means: even though a student may be able to send mails from the account, our replies to that account will not get through.

To be very clear: “I don’t read emails sent to my NUS account” will not be an acceptable reason for missing important module announcements, updates, etc.

The official NUS policy is that student should expect to work an average of 10 hours/week in a 4MC module. For this module, students should expect to do roughly the following every week:
  • 1.5 hrs/wk: Lectures
  • 1.5 hrs/wk: Tutorial sessions
  • 4.0 hrs/wk: Assignments / Project work
  • 1.0 hrs/wk: Reading(s)
  • 2.0 hrs/wk: Reflections (writing)
Note: this module is designed so that the work-load is about the same each week

   • If a student spends much less time on this module, it is almost certainly a sign the student will not do well.
   • If a student spends much more time on this module each week, talk to your tutor: either you are doing more than we expect – or we have made the activities too time-consuming.

SPECIAL WARNING about team-work and module-load

In the past, we have had frequent complaints from students who had partners who were “too busy with other modules/activities” to contribute a fair share to the project work. In our experience, there is a strong correlation between a) students taking too many (more than 5) modules simultaneously, and b) poor contributions to team work in this particular module.
So, fair warning to everyone: students who are taking too many modules will be grouped together. (This means: if you are taking more than 5 modules this term, then you should expect to be on a team with someone taking more than 5 modules this term.)
We are not trying to discourage students from taking this module; and of course it is possible to successfully participate in this module while doing other things. However, every student should expect to contribute an equal/fair share to the group work.


This module is 100% CA (“continuous assessment”); there is no exam.

Breakdown of marks:

  • Assignments (10): 20% (2 points each)
  • Reflections (9): 36% (4 points each)
  • Reading quiz (10): 10% (1 point each)
  • Tutorial session (attendance): 10% (1 point each)
  • Projects (2): 12% (6 points each)
  • Project presentations (2): 6% (3 points each)
  • Other participation (IVLE forum and lectures): 6%


  • Everything due in this module has a deadline. Unless there are truly exceptional circumstances, late delivery of a particular deliverable is marked down 10% for each hour it is late. See the Lesson Plan for a week-by-week snapshot of deliverables.
  • Tutorial sessions are short, so arrive on time! students who are more than 15 minutes late will lose half an attendance mark for that session; students who are more than 30 minutes late will lose the entire attendance mark for that session.
  • If individual Reflection Essay submissions from two or more students are substantially the same, all the students involved risk getting zero points for that submission.
  • Student teams will receive a "group grade" for their projects. However, if a student does not contribute a fair share to final project or presentatiion, we reserve the right to reduce that student's grade.

Academic Integrity is a critical value of the university community and integrity violations destroy the fabric of a learning community and the spirit of inquiry that is vital to the effectiveness of the University. Please find more information on Academic Integrity of FASS at http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/docs/undergrad/plagiarism_warning.htm

Students are expected to know that using the work of others without proper attribution (e.g. without citing the work properly) constitutes plagiarism. Even when a student paraphrases another person’s work, proper citations are necessary to avoid plagiarism.

FASS offers a small e-course in plagiarism. See http://emodule.nus.edu.sg/ac/ Students caught plagiarising will receive a zero in their assignments and will be referred to the Deans office. Second offenders can face a fine and other disciplinary actions. So students should be sure to acknowledge any sources or material they use in their assignments!

A project should not include assets – art, music, or video – that are violations of copyright. The safest way to avoid this problem is to create your own assets, but students may also use copyright-free assets. Some sites with open-source materials:

    • Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/
    • Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org
    • PDSounds Open Library: http://www.pdsounds.org/
    • Freesound Project: http://freesound.iua.upf.edu/

WARNING! Just because something is “on the Internet” does not mean it is automatically legal to use it in a project. If students use assets that they did not create, they must be able to show an explicit statement from the copyright owner that grants them the right to use those assets. (Teams will be required to provide this information as part of their project documentation.)