FNIS 401W: New Media Practices and Applications in Indigenous Studies

 Course Description:

 In an interview with Liza Yeager, Anishinaabe comedian, writer, and media maker, Ryan McMahon talks about why he thinks podcasting is specifically useful medium for Indigenous storytellers: “I just think the medium is so exciting. It’s relatively inexpensive to produce; it’s a flexible creative medium that allows us to be publishers, you know? At the end of the day, legacy media does not belong to Indigenous people or people of color. We don’t own these places.” Podcasting is just one form in which Indigenous media makers are claiming space and pushing back against legacy media. Interactive websites, blogs, digital exhibitions, and virtual reality installations are all currently being mobilized in unique and exciting ways by Indigenous storytellers. FNIS 401F is designed to provide students with the skills and confidence to share stories and ideas from and with Indigenous communities in digital forums and to address the specific needs and realities of those communities in engaging digital technologies.

Designed as a compliment to FNIS 454, which is based in the theory of Indigenous new media, FNIS 401F provides students with hands on training in the Digital Humanities(DH) and new media technologies, including social media, digital exhibition, podcasting, digital storytelling, sound editing, Wikipedia editing, and geographical information systems (GIS). At stake in all of our work in this class will be the impacts (both positive and negative) that new media can make towards decolonization and Indigenous resurgence. Students in 401F will receive basic training in the use of new media hardware and software, learn from experts in the field, and produce digital work with and for Indigenous communities. This term we will be working with X̱wi7x̱wa Libraryto create a digital exhibition using data from the Indigitizationinitiative. The goal throughout this course is not only to proliferate and empower Indigenous voices, but to thoughtfully consider and practice the Digital Humanities from within the specific contexts of Indigenous studies.

Learning Objectives:

 In FNIS 401W you will:

  • Learn the basic vocabularies and tools in the Digital Humanities and Indigenous new media, including podcasting, digital exhibition, and geographic information systems as well as creative commons and traditional knowledge licenses
  • Become familiar with important projects and resources in digital humanities and Indigenous new media, including resources available online and on UBC campus
  • Get hands-on experience with resource and repository production
  • Disseminate knowledge to public audiences using digital tools
  • Research social media trends in Indigenous studies
  • Become thoughtful and critical users of DH
  • Study the spaces in which DH and Indigenous new media overlap and diverge
  • Learn and practice collaborative scholarship and knowledge dissemination
  • Practice DH and new media in Indigenous contexts

Required Reading:

  • Unless listed otherwise in the course schedule, all other readings are #openaccessand available free online

 Recommended Reading:

 Other Requirements:


Late Policy:

  • Late work for FNIS courses will not generally be accepted except in extraordinary circumstances (such as unavoidable illness, injury, or bereavement), and only at the instructor’s discretion. Students planning in advance to miss class mustreceive prior instructor permission to submit late coursework for credit, and a penalty may apply. Retroactive permission is not permitted. Supporting documentation through formal academic concession processes may be required.


All assignments are due on the date and times indicated below. Late assignments without a documented reason will be penalized 1/3 of a letter grade for every day they are late. (For example, an A+ paper that is two days late without a documented excuse will drop to an A-).


Participation (10%):

Participation will be assessed based on the quality of your active engagement in the class, large and small-group discussions, in-class workshops, Twitter contributions, and your dedication to the course’s ethos of respectful engagement. Students uncomfortable with public participation can arrange for alternative participation opportunities, such as office hour meetings, response writings, etc. Excessive absences, tardiness, disruptions, and other disrespectful behaviour will seriously impact your participation grade. Please Bring your laptops to class. We will be using them.

 Twitter Engagement (10%):

Twitter has become an active site for academic discourse and debate and figures prominently as in conferences and workshops. Knowing how to use Twitter strategically and responsibly provides up-to-date insights into your field(s) of interest and provides unique opportunities to share your work.

Tweets relative to FNIS 401Wallow me to gauge student interaction with the material and provide blended support targeted at student needs. Twitter also provides a secondary environment for classroom discourse—where we can continue conversations, expand on ideas, and share resources.

Tweets for FNIS 401W should address projects and key concepts from the course. For instance, you may choose to write on your experience of the Twine workshop. Or you might tweet a response to one of the course readings. You should also be reading and engaging with the individuals listed above in the required readings. The use of photos and images, and memes, as long as they respect copyright,is encouraged. Twitter is about conversation, so engage with posts from other Twitter users and, students in the class, tag each other, build hashtags, etc.

Please tweet as much and as often as you like. You are ultimately responsible for submitting six tweetsat the end of the class. Curate the tweets you best think represent your engagement using snapbirdor storifyor take screenshots of the 6 you want to submit and email them to me as a single pdf. Threads count as a single tweet.

I will be grading your twitter engagement based on the following criteria:

  • Do the tweets provide new resources or ideas that add value to class conversations?
  • Are the tweets clear and grammatically correct?
  • Do the tweets include images, links, or ideas that enhance the topic?
  • Do the tweets represent a breadth of engagement across the course?
  • Does the user demonstrate engagement in a community? I.e. do the tweets engage with posts from other students from the class, or from the “required reading” users, or from users interested in similar ideas?

If you don’t already have a twitter account, sign up for one here: http://www.twitter.com/You may sign up with a pseudonym, but please email me your twitter handle so I can keep track of who is who.

Hashtag Research[*](15%)

Hashtags are currently the primary mechanism through which online material is archived, searched, and disseminated. For this assignment, you are responsible for observing, tracking, and collecting the associated content of one hashtag related to Indigenous studies (e.g. #idlenomore; #NODAPL, #culturalappropriation, etc). After monitoring your hashtag (for at least a week), write up a 5 page, double-spaced analysis of what you’ve learned.

Each of you will likely be studying a different hash tag and using different methods, so these projects will be unique in approach and in outcome. That being said, you will all be following similar steps:

  • Select a hashtag.Before you get started, look at through the varied hashtags on Indigenous issues and choose one reflects your own interests, but is also being actively engaged by users. It is possible to do research on a stagnant hashtag, but this assignment is about conversations happening in the moment. If you’re unsure where to begin, you might try researching #IndigenousTwitter or #NativeTwitter. I also recommend following some of the Indigenous Twitter “influencers” out there, as listed in the “required reading” section of this syllabus.
  • Collect your data: once you’ve decided on a hashtag, start monitoring the conversation happening around it. This means checking in several times a day and taking notes about what you observe. You should also be saving artifacts to use as evidence in your paper: take screen shots and add content to storify, evernote, or similar software. You may also use a twitter archiving system too, such as TAGS. Depending on the hashtag and methods you chose, the amount of time spent collecting data will vary. Aim for having at least a week’s worth of material.
  • Determine your method of analysis: Once you feel that you have a strong archive of data, you’ll need to decide how you want to analyze and interpret it. If you have a background in quantitative methods, you may want to apply simple statistical analysis to make sense of your data. You may also use a visualization tool, such as mentionmap,twitonomy, or keyhole. You might also plug your data into a word cloud generator to track usage of specific words. You may also use qualitative approach, using close reading or ethnographic methodologies for interpretation. We will be reading several published pieces on social media analysis in class, so there will be time to discuss and consider different approaches. You can find more tools here.
  • Write it up: Your deliverable for this assignment is a short essay that a) introduces your hashtag; b) describes your methods for collecting and analyzing your data; c) interprets the data; and d) draws conclusions about what you’ve observed. There is no strict word or page count for this assignment, but you should aim for 1200 words. Include screenshots or other images if you think it will benefit your analysis.

Learning Outcomes: The goal of this assignment is to engage students with critical discussion around Indigenous issues on social media and to provide them with tools to critically analyze trends and discourse.

Twine Remediation (15%):

For this assignment, you will be responsible for remediating Jason Lewis’poem, “no choice about the terminology”using the interactive storytelling software, Twine. Twine tutorials and instructions will be given in class.

Online Twine tutorials can be found here. You can find examples of Twinehere.

Submit your twine remediation via twitter with the hashtag #fnis401w and email me the URL with the subject line: FNIS 401W Twine.

Twine Reflection: For this assignment, you must also submit a 250-500-word reflection on your project. Consider some of the following questions in your response (you do not have to answer them all):

  • What are digital and interactive poetics and how do they function?
  • How does Twine compel you (and your audiences) to engage differently with Lewis’ poem?
  • Did the meaning of the poem change in your remediation? If so, how? Was it intentional?
  • If your remediation didn’t quite make it to the place you’d hoped, you may also write here about what you had originally hoped for your project.
  • What problems did you run up against? What were the limitations of the platform? What would you do differently if you were to start over?

Assessment: The assignment will be graded on a) legibility and design, b) creativity, c) interactivity, and c) your ability to interpret and parse Lewis’ text using HTML and CSS as close reading tools (we will be discussing close reading). These criteria will be considered across both your Twine remediation and your reflection paper.

Learning Outcomes: This assignment introduces students to non-linear, interactive storytelling software andprovides them with basic training in HTML and CSS. It also provides hands-on experience with digital poetry and remediation.

 Digital Exhibition Review (5%):

For this assignment, write a 500-word summary/review of the Colored Conventionsdigital exhibition, “a collaborative DH project that brings nineteenth-century Black organizing to digital life.” What does this Omeka site do well? How is it organized? What design features stand out? What plugins does it employ? What would you like to see more of? The purpose of this review is to get you thinking about your own Omeka site. What can you learn from Colored Conventions that you can use in the design of your Indigitization exhibition?

This assignment will be graded on your demonstrated knowledge of Colored Conventions, the detail and accuracy of your summary/review, and the quality of your writing.

Digital Exhibition (15%):

For this assignment, using Omeka.net, we will be working with UBC’s Xwi7xwa library to generate a digital exhibition featuring previously uncatalogued photos from their collections. Students will work in groups of five to upload, catalogue, and display photos from the Xwi7xwa collection, using Dublin Core metadata standards.

The Indigitization program provides funding, training, and a growing network to support analog media format digitization in partnership with Indigenous and Aboriginal communities across British Columbia.

Colonial mechanisms threatened Indigenous oral traditions that handed the next generations their knowledge, languages, and cultures. As a result, precious fragments of this knowledge were embedded in magnetic media as a means to preserve it. As decades passed, these open reels, audio cassettes, and other formats became increasingly inaccessible as their physical format became obsolete and at risk for degradation. By transferring content from physical media to digitized files, the voices from the past can again be accessed by current and future generations.

Now, as communities strive to integrate their knowledge into living language and culture, the Indigitization program strives to provide resources for communities to create digital access in ways that are meaningful and appropriate.

Indigitization’s freely available, online Digitization Toolkit has step-by-step digitization processes, digital preservation strategies, and project management worksheet templates. Access the Toolkit and more at Indigitization.ca.

FNIS 401W will be working with the Indigitization team to tag and catalogue a large collection of digital photos, videos, posters, and consent forms. The final product will be a searchable archive an exhibition space for use by Indigitaztion, as well as researchers and community members.

For this project each group will be responsible for:

  • Uploading their assigned photographs.
  • Integrating the metadata standards developed in class for all of the photos in your collection. This includes, standardization of titles and keyword items.
  • Incorporating at least one Omeka plugin.
  • Writing a short introduction to your digital exhibition (500-750 words). Your introduction should include a brief description of the photos in your collection, noting any exciting discoveries or omissions. It should also include an explanation of the plugin(s) you have used. You should conclude with suggestions for further development of the collection and how the collection might be used by researchers and community members.
  • Professionalization of the exhibit. You must ensure that the design of your site is coherent and easy to follow and that your introduction is informative and error-free.

Reflection Paper: For this assignment, each individual group member is also responsible for submitting a 250-500-word reflection on the project. What went well? What didn’t go so well? What are you most proud of in your digital exhibition? What would you have liked to have been stronger? The reflection is also a place where you can share the work flow of your group. Did someone put extra effort into this assignment? Did someone not put in enough effort? These reflections are private and will not be shared with the group. I will be considering them when I determine your grades for the project.

Assignment Objectives

Provide students with hands-on training in digital exhibition using metadata. Give students unique opportunity to work with a previously uncataloged Indigenous collection and to contribute to the preservation and circulation of Indigenous history.

Indigenous Media Wiki-a-thon (15%):

For this assignment, students will be working with UBC’s Centre for Teaching and Learning Technology to edit and develop Wikipedia articles on Indigenous media. Students will be responsible for selecting and editing at least one Wikipedia entry on an Indigenous media maker (i.e. Skawennati or Jeneen Frei Njootli), a piece of Indigenous media (i.e. Ashes on the Water, Invaders), or an Indigenous media collective or school (i.e. AbTec, Postcommodity). The edit-a-thon will take place, in class. In pairs, you must create a list of at least 3 possible entries to edit and submit them to me, with justifications, 24 hours before the event.

Email me a word document with your edits and additions and the URL of your entry. Also include a screenshot of the original entry.

Reflection Paper: For this assignment, each individual group member is also responsible for submitting a 250-500-word reflection on the project. What went well? What didn’t go so well? What are you most proud of in your edit? What would you have liked to have been stronger? The reflection is also a place where you can share the work flow of your group. Did someone put extra effort into this assignment? Did someone not put in enough effort? These reflections are private and will not be shared with the group. I will be considering them when I determine your grades for the project.

CiTR PSA (5%):

For this assignment, with a partner, you will create a short public service announcement (PSA) for CiTR using the skills and tools they provide during your training session. Ad copy for the PSA will be provided by CiTR. PSAs should layer music and copy, easy to listen to and understand, with balanced levels and no dead air. More detail will be provided during your training session.

Submit your PSA to me by emailing me an mp3 with the subject line: FNIS 401W PSA

Learning Outcomes: The goal of this project is to familiarize students with recording and editing principles in preparation for the audio storytelling assignment.

Audio Storytelling (10%):

Based on Siobhan McHugh’s Emotional History (EH) Model for audio storytelling, this assignment requires students to interview a 401W classmate. Interviewees are asked to share a story about themselves that conveys a certain emotion (anger, sadness, happiness, surprise, etc.). Having recorded the interview, the interviewer must combine the story a non-verbal secondary sources (creative commons musicor ambient sound) to create maximum narrative and affective impact. In order to simplify narrative coherence, the maximum length for the story is a hard two minutes. Some editing of the recorded interview may also be required.

We will be working with CiTR, UBC’s campus and community radio station to provide professional training in audio recording, engineering, and editing. One class will be devoted to training under the guidance of CiTR staff. At the end of the training, in groups of three, you will be required to produce a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the station (details on the PSA will be given in class). The PSA assignment is designed to get you comfortable with the equipment and techniques you will need for the interview.

After training, students are then responsible for booking their own studio time at the station and recording, editing, and producing their interviews. A CiTR membership is required for access to the station and the archives. Memberships are $10 for students.

Each student is responsible for:

  • Recording the interview to high technical, ethical and editorial standards, incorporating deep listening, empathy and respect for privacy.
  • Logging the interview, identifying the parts that are most affective (have emotional impact) and effective (supply necessary information and are concise).
  • Locating a second (non-verbal) sound source that will enhance/illustrate the emotional moment.
  • Locating music (non-copyright) if desired.
  • Crafting the elements of voice, sound (and music) together to optimum narrative effect and maximum affect, up to 120 seconds duration.

Reflection Paper: For this assignment, each individual is also responsible for submitting a 250-500-word reflection on the project. What went well? What didn’t go so well? What are you most proud of in your audio piece? What would you have liked to have been stronger? The reflection is also a place where you can share the work flow of your group. Did someone put extra effort into this assignment? Did someone not put in enough effort? These reflections are private and will not be shared with your partner. I will be considering them when I determine your grades for the project.

Assignment Objectives: This assignment is designed to familiarize students with the technologies behind broadcasting/podcasting, particularly recording software and hardware and dissemination methods. Emphasis is on communicating story and connecting to listeners through layered sound and subtle audio design. This assignment also connects students to resources and support communities for producing their own audio content or working with an Indigenous podcasting unit.

Course Schedule

Below is the tentative schedule for FNIS 401W. Readings and DH tools are listed in the left column, guest lectures, workshops, assignment due dates are listed in the right. All dates are subject to change. I will announce any adaptations in class or via email.

Please have all the readings easily accessible (printed out or saved to a laptop, with your notes readily available) so that we can readily refer to them on the assigned day. Due dates for all readings and assignments are yourresponsibility.


Topic, Readings, and Software Assignment
Week One (January 8)
Digital storytelling and remediation



  • Jason Lewis remediation
  • “no choice about the terminology” (text for poem available on course website)


Week Two (January 15)
Open Access, Digital Rights Management, and Creative Commons



·       Creative Commons Workshop
Week Three (January 22)
Audio Storytelling



·       Audio storytelling planning

·      Visit from Autumn Schnell, Coordinator, CiTR Indigenous Radio Collective

·      Twine Remediation due

Week Four (January 29)
Audio Storytelling / Social Media Analysis


·       Group 2 read: Carrie A. Rentschler “Bystander intervention” (Available via UBC Library)


  • Group 1: CiTR training


Week Five (February 5)
Audio Storytelling /Social Media Analysis


·       Group 1 read: Carrie A. Rentschler “Bystander intervention” (Available via UBC Library)


  • Group 2: CiTR training
  • Group 1 PSA due


Week Six (February 12)
  • Provincial Holiday (no class)


  • Group 2 PSA due (Feb. 13)


Week Seven (February 19)
  • Reading Week (no class)



Week Eight (March 5)
Editing Wikipedia


·       Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia

·      Siobhan Senier, “Indigenizing Wikipedia


  • Guest Lecture from Will Engle
  • Prepping for Wiki-edit-a-thon
  • Audio Storytelling Assignment Due
Week Nine (March 12)

·       Email me your edit-a-thon playlists by noon, March 12 (optional)


·       Email possible entries to edit and justifications 24 hours previous to class

·       Wiki-edit-a-thon


Week Ten (March 19)
Digital Exhibition


  • Omeka and Dublin Core Metadata
·       Xwi7xwa photo cataloguing

·       Guest Lecture from Sara Dupont and Rachel Bickel

·       Wiki-edit-a-thon assignment due


Week Eleven (March 26)
Digital Exhibition



·       Omeka workshop

·      Colored Conventions Review Due

Week Twelve (April 2)
Federal Holiday (No class)


Week Thirteen (April 9)
Geographic Information Systems and Digital Mapping


·       Alix Shield, “Rethinking the Paratext: Indigenous Literature & Digital Story-Mapping” (handout)

·      Juxta (collation tool)

·       Alix Shield Guest Lecture

·       Twitter engagement due

·       Hashtag research assignment due


Exam period
April 16
  • Digital Exhibition Assignment Due


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: