INFO 281-14
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Storytelling
Fall 2015 Greensheet

Elizabeth (Beth) Wrenn-Estes, Lecturer
Other contact information:510-410-1959 (Cell)
Office location:
Office Hours: By Appointment

Greensheet Links
Weekly Outlines
Collaborate Sessions
Discussion Threads
Points Allocation
iSchool eBookstore


Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 20, 6 am PDT unless you are taking an intensive or a one unit or two unit class that starts on a different day. In that case the class will open on the first day that the class meets. Course sites will close on February 28, 2016.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

The instructor expects each student to check into the Canvas course site at least once, if not twice, per day to see course updates, resources, announcements, and other relevant information.

Students are responsible to read both the Greensheet and the course site and understand the information contained in both. It is also the student’s responsibility to ask questions and express concerns quickly so that the instructor can provide an answer/response immediately.

Course Description

This course is designed to teach students the skills, techniques, and procedures for developing and implementing a storytelling program for children, adolescents, or adults.  The history vstorytelling, its place in the school or public library, and in our culture as a whole will be included.  Students will read a wide variety of stories, learn techniques to adapt them for various settings and groups, demonstrate their ability to tell stories and to develop storytelling programs for different age groups. 

Course Requirements

  • All students must have access to a video camera and the ability and software to load recordings to the Blackboard Collaborate course site.
  • Students are expected to attend all scheduled Blackboard Collaborate sessions (3), actively participate in class discussion threads, complete reading assignments, watch all assigned video presentations, and submit written assignments on due dates. 
  • Assignments must be submitted via the Canvas course website.

The instructor makes every effort to proofread the Greensheet/Syllabus and the Canvas Course Site but human errors can occur. Please contact the instructor with any errors you see or any questions or may have. Be as specific as you can about the location so that the instructor can quickly find and correct or clarify.

Instructor’s Instructional Philosophy
The instructor wants each student in the course to succeed and will do everything to help students do so but it is a partnership. Please make sure that communication stays a top priority during the semester. Ask questions when you have them, seek clarifications when you need them, take responsibility for understanding all expectations, content and assignments for the course.

The instructor encourages students to work hard and to come away with a love of storytelling and it’s place in our society and library and non-library environments. Students are ultimately responsible for their learning experience during the class.

Students are ultimately responsible for their learning experience and work ethic during the class.

The Importance of SOTES
Students evaluate the course and instructor at the end of each term.  This evaluation is known as the SOTES. An announcement will go out from the administration letting students/faculty know when the SOTES are available to complete. The importance of SOTES is very easy to describe – it is the student voice to the administration and the instructor giving feedback on the positives and negatives of the student’s experience in the class. Completing the SOTES is so very important to improving courses and instruction.

Questions, Comments, Concerns- Discussion Thread
Please post all questions, concerns, and general comments on the discussion thread under Content/Discussion Threads on the Canvas class site. If the question or concern is of a personal nature send directly to the instructor’s email address (

All lectures are posted with each Weekly Outline on the Canvas site. Lectures may have been recorded during an earlier semester but are still relevant for the present semester.

E-mail Subject Lines/Naming of Assignment Files - Mandatory

  • Format for subject line for all email correspondence:
    • INFO 281_14_YOUR LAST NAME
  • Format the file name for all of your assignments:

E-mail Response Time
Instructor answers email on a regular basis throughout the day and evenings.

Policy-Instructor will respond to student emails within 24-hours of receipt. The instructor will inform the class if a longer response time is needed (instructor out of town, illness, etc.)

Students are expected to promptly answer emails from the instructor and fellow students.

Students MUST sign up for this free, IM service from the University. iSchool will send out information on how to obtain the software. Blackboard IM is an  excellent way for the class to stay in touch with one another and with the Instructor.

Crisis or Emergency
Please call the instructor (in advance if possible) if a situation will prevent you from doing assignments or other class activities. You will receive a zero for any course work missed unless you have received permission from the instructor for an extension. The instructor reserves the right to deduct points (the number of points is determined by the instructor) for any work not submitted on time or lack of participation in any class activities or assignment.

Instructor’s cell phone number is 510-410-1959 (pacific time zone).

Course Calendar
Subject to change with fair notice.

Technology Requirements
You will need a high-speed connection (DSL, cable, etc.) to successfully participate in this class. Please see the Technology Requirements and Instructions for Success handout.

See Grading Scale below.

Grades not rounded up to the next grade level. For example if at semester’s end you have a 90.7%/100 you will get a B (90%) in the class.

Grading Rubric/Individual Assignment Evaluation Forms

The instructor will provide a rubric through the Canvas system when appropriate and also uses a custom evaluation form created by the instructor for most assignments.

The instructor grades assignments as quickly as possible but it may take up to three weeks to get an assignment completely graded and returned to the class if class size is large and the instructor has additional classes to teach during the semester. The instructor will post grading updates on the announcements page to let students know where in the grading of a certain assignment the instructor is.



(100 Total)

Storytelling Performances (3) 45
(15 points each)
Blackboard Collaborate Sessions 9/24, 10/22, 12/3
Written Performance Papers (3)


9/23, 10/21, 12/2
Discussion Threads/Participation 7 See schedule
Storytelling Genre Study (Blog) 18 November 19th
Philosophy Paper 6 December 8th
Total 100  

NOTE: The instructor reserves the right to deduct points for any work not done on time, missed Collaborate sessions or non-participation in discussion threads.


Please make sure that you have read both textbooks (Greene and Haven) by September 20th if at all possible. The majority of the semester you will be locating, editing, and learning stories getting the texts read as soon as possible gives you the have foundational theories and concepts that you will need to successfully complete your assignments.

Weekly Outlines (under Modules)

NOTE: Weekly outlines will have more content than indicated in the Greensheet. More articles, websites and readings along with additional details as needed on assignments, etc when the Canvas Course website opens. Remember that the Greensheet and the Course Site must be used in tandem with each other so that expectations, assignments and all readings and videos you are required to watch are known to you. The Greensheet comes out quite awhile in advance of the first day of class while the Canvas site is more current and created closer to the opening day of the semester. Once the semester starts please check the website for the most up-to-date information.


The Instructor reserves the right to add readings/videos with adequate notice. Please check the Canvas site for the latest in assignments.

It is critical that you follow the weekly outlines under Modules on the Canvas sites.  The Weekly Outlines will walk you through what assignments, readings, etc. are there week by week.  Pay attention to deadlines.

Course Activities and Assignments
Each of these assignments and activities is designed to support the others.  You need to read your texts and watch the videos in order to get enough information to participate in the class discussions and prepare for your performances. You will be asking for feedback from others about your stories, selecting, adapting and practicing them, and giving feedback on the same things.  Your informal papers on each presentation will allow you to share your process and purpose for each presentation.  The big study you will do a particular type of story and those individuals who excel at it will bring you closer to understanding one type of story to its very core. The final informal paper will allow you to go back over the semester and look at how far you have come, and how you will be using in the future what you have learned this semester.

Class Participation
Class participation activities include being active in the Collaborate sessions, the discussion threads (please refer to those areas for explanation and points allocation) and in general being engaged with fellow classmates and the instructor throughout the semester.

Blackboard Collaborate Sessions
You are required to have a good reliable microphone and speaker. Purchase a headset with a microphone attached, since that will give the best sound quality and also leave your hands free for typing and using mouse. Log into class AT LEAST 15 minutes ahead of time, so our Collaborate assistant can check to see that you can speak and hear.  When this has been confirmed, he/she will tell you how to indicate that you’ve stepped away from your computer, and you don’t have to come back till 6:30 p.m. PST.  BTW, I have to do this too, to make sure my hardware is working properly as well. There is a Blackboard Collaborate handbook and tutorials available to help you familiarize yourselves with Collaborate.

MANDATORY Blackboard Collaborate Sessions

  • THURSDAY , September 24th – 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST
    Storytelling Performances and Evaluation Discussion (Session 1)
  • THURSDAY , October 22nd – 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST
    Storytelling Performances and Evaluation Discussion (Session 2)
  • THURSDAY , December 3rd – 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST
    Storytelling Performances and Evaluation Discussion (Session 3)

Note: 15 pts. for each session 


"The Water Cooler" - This is a discussion thread where you can share ideas, resources and anything else relevant to the class with each other.

Discussion Threads - Mandatory

See each thread for number of posts and submission dates/times that are required. Additional posts are always welcomed and more posts create a much richer exchange of ideas and insights between classmates.

NOTE: Depending on the number of students enrolled int he class there may be a second discussion thread added for each Week 6 and Week 13th. The instructor would divide the class and let you know which discussion you would participate in. 

Discussion Thread Schedule

  • Week 1 (1 pt) August 20 to August 23
    Tell the class about your background, occupation, where you are in the program and any other family or personal information you would like to share with the class.  Post/Deadlines: 1 post by Sunday, August 23rd by 11:59 p.m. PST  
  • Week 6 (3 pts) September 21 to September 27
    I'd like to have some of your ideas on the importance and place of story in our lives, and in your own life.  Use the textbooks for the class plus any other reading you have done to support your ideas and insights. Please cite at least three times during the week in your significant posts from these sources.  Post/Deadlines: Post/Deadlines: You must post two substantial posts and one response to another classmate.  One substantial post on Tuesday, September 22 by 11:59 p.m. PST; one substantial post on Thursday, September 24th at 11:59 p.m. PST plus one response to a classmate by Sunday, September 27th at 5 p.m. Pacific.  
  • Week 13 (3 pts) November 9 to November 15
    Share in detail what you believe to be your storytelling style and how you have come to the conclusion. The thread is concentrating on your physical and audio presence more than the type of stories you are telling.  Use the textbooks for the class plus any other reading you have done to support your ideas and insights. Please cite at least three times during the week in your significant posts from these sources.  Post/Deadlines: You must post two substantial posts and one response to another classmate.  One substantial post on Tuesday, November 10thth by 11:59 p.m. PST, one substantial post on Thursday, November 12th plus one response to a classmate by Sunday, November 15 at 5 p.m. Pacific.

iSchool Competencies: M, N
Learning Objectives: 1 , 2 , 4

Detailed Descriptions of Assignments

STORYTELLING PRESENTATIONS (45 points – 15 points per session)
DUE DATES: September 24th, October 22nd and December 3rd
(Blackboard Collaborate Sessions - MANDATORY)

3 Performances

Each student will create three performances using video.  One performance must be focused on children, one for teens and one for adults.
One of these performances must be from a story you edit. See below for details about story edit.

Videos cannot be over 15 minutes in length (total). We will watch video(s) of your performance each of the session dates indicated above.

You may choose to tell one long story to fill the 15 minutes or up to 3 stories to fill the allotted time.

Students will be required to tell a different type of story each performance, including but not limited to, folktales, fairy tales, morality tales, tall tales, myths, legends, and chapters from children’s books.

Students may choose to perform before a live audience or tape without audience.

NOTE: Depending on class size the format of the Collaborate sessions may need to change. Any changes due to class size will be announced on the 1st day of class – August 20th.

Story Edit

One of the three performances must be done from a story you have edited. This means you'll find a long story and edit it down to perform for the class. In the presentation paper for that performance you'll describe the process. See the assignment details for the performance papers.

The Videos

It is the responsibility of the student to have the necessary technology to meet the video requirement. Students will videotape themselves, or get a friend or family member to do the recording. Instructor has no preference about this, but it may be easier if you twist someone’s arm (or use some gentler persuasive techniques) and persuade someone to handle the camera for you.

It is important that the video you provide be of quality - you will lose points if the audio or visual aspects of the video are not up to standard.

Post Videos

Posting URLs to your video(s) early gives everyone in the class the ability to get a first viewing before the actual evaluation/performance night during the Collaborate session. The video you made will be shown during class – you will not be performing “live”.

The videos must be loaded to one of the following: YouTube, Vimeo or BlipTV. If you want to use anything else please check with Instructor first.

Post your URL’s: 9/22 11:59 p.m. PST, 10/20 11:59 p.m. PST and 12/1 11:59 p.m. PST.

It is strongly suggested that all students watch all video performances twice – once in advance of the session and once during the session(s).

Students will evaluate each other. The instructor will determine the number of evaluations each student will do and will announce prior to each session whom each student will evaluate.

iSchool Competencies: I, M, N
Objectives: 2 , 3 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 11


Informal Writing Style Allowed

(6 points each for 2 of the performance papers and 12 points for the edited story/performance paper *).

: Papers are due on September 23 11:59 p.m. PST, October 21 11:59 p.m. PST and December 2 11:59 p.m. PST. These papers will be turned in via the designated drop box and also posted to a designated discussion thread so that your fellow students can read and make comment. Each student is required to make comment on at least 3 of the papers posted. The instructor will only send graded copies of papers directly to the student. They will not be posted to the discussion thread.

For each performance, write a paper about the process of selecting and learning each of the performances with background information for each individual story, including where you found it, why you chose it, what other stories and activities you would include in the story telling. Include specifics about style, method and your process. *See additional details for the performance that you do from a story you have edited.

*Story Editing Paper/Performance
One of the most important aspects of being a storyteller is the ability to edit/revise stories down from original lengths so that you can perform for different audiences. A story that an adult audience could listen to may be so special that you want to be able to revise it down to a length that 9-10 year old children could enjoy as well.

First pick a story that is of substantial length. Revise the story for another age group.

You must include the following in addition to the requirements for the performance paper indicated above:

  1. Introduction that will enlighten your reader as to why you selected this story over others you could have chosen from.
  2. Describe your revision process in detail. Why did you remove certain parts? Why did you leave in certain parts?
  3. Conclusion. What did you learn about his process? Successes? Frustrations?
  4. As Appendices:
    Revised story
    Original story
    In addition include:
  5. Process of selecting and learning performances with background information for the story, what other stories and activities you would include in the story telling session. Include specifics about style, method and your process.

iSchool Competencies:  M, N
Objectives: 3 , 4 , 5, 6 , 11

DUE DATE: November 19th 11:59 p.m. PST

FORMAT: Blog (URL to discussion thread provided)

Each student will choose their topic from the list below and then post their choice to the Google Doc so the class knows what you have selected (link to Google document will be provided by instructor).


The student will create a blog that researches the topic in detail. 


  • •   Prepare all assignments in MS Word 2003/Word 2007, either single or double-spaced. Blogs do not have this requirement.
  • May not exceed the number of pages specified by the instructor. For a blog think about how many words you'd include in that number of pages and then include a similar amount in your blog.
  • Must have a title page (or blog homepage/banner) with the following information:  Title of assignment, Class number and title, Name of Student, Name of Instructor, University and Date of Assignment. 
  • Papers must be doubled spaced – this does not apply to the Blog formatted assignments.
  • Reference page must be included and meet APA guidelines. References should be included in blog form as well.
  • Citations within the paper/blog itself must be done according to APA guidelines
  • Page numbers and the name of the assignment must appear on all pages except the title page. Does not apply to blogs.
  • All papers and blogs are to be written in formal style unless otherwise noted on the assignment description.
  • Students and faculty are bound by the U.S. copyright regulations and need to cite the sources of the intellectual property of others, including information, images, or ideas that do not belong to us. Follow the regulations located in the Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials policy at ;
  • Because this is an online class, students must pay particular attention to the Distance Learning (iSchool/SJSU), Copyright, and Fair Use, and Plagiarism Guidelines at . Students need to pay special attention to the third bullet item at the website: Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia;
  • If you submit work with words, images, or ideas that are not their original ideas, words, or images, you must cite the sources of those words, images, or ideas. It is important for students in library science courses to develop a respect for the work of others and to be responsible users of the work of others. Although the work of students does have some fair-use protection, you are never safe in using words, images, or ideas of others in a course in which we share our work with one another. Not only will you need to remember this when you are posting to the discussion forums, you must also practice responsible use of resources in your projects that you will be sharing with your colleagues.


  1. Story Types (pick one for your study). Include all of the storytellers that you can find that excel at the type/topic you have chosen to describe (include) in your blog. You must include a very detailed historical overview of what you have chosen including the most famous stories included in this type across time.

    Note: You do not have to limit to the US - you can expand your horizons!
    • Fairy Tales
    • Epics
    • Folktales
    • Fables
    • Myths
    • Legends
    • String Stories
    • Storytelling through Poetry and Song
    • Parables
    • Tall Tales
    If you want to do something that is not listed here please contact instructor.
  2. The Best of the Best - Storytellers to Know and Love - Past or Present
    Chose several storytellers (between2-4) and follow them throughout their careers. You will have to do a critical review of their work and styles. Tell why you chose them, why they are the best. What are their personal philosophies? What makes them stand out? You have to really dig deep –deep -deep if you choose this for your topic.
  3. Digital Storytelling
  4. Genre and Storytelling in Video Games
  5. Transmedia Storytelling (from article in Wired Magazine as a jumping off place. Again if you choose this you will need to do a substantial amount of research to meet the content/length requirements.
  6. Suggest your own topic to the instructor

iSchool Competencies:  I, M, N
Objectives: 1 , 2

DUE DATE December 10th 11:59 p.m. PST

Each student will turn in a brief paper (5 pages) on their philosophy of storytelling, explaining their conceptualization of it, its value and its place in librarianship.

iSchool Competencies:  I, N
Objectives:  1 3 9 10  

Writing-Research Standards
Students will produce assignments that meet writing and research standards appropriate for students in a Master’s program of study. It is critical to proofread your work before turning it in. Graduate level writing standards do not tolerate spelling or grammatical errors of any kind. Students are encouraged to refer to a writing handbook - Strunk and White’s Elements of Style for example. APA is mandated for citations included within the text of the paper and reference/bib page(s). See class rubric under Lessons on the Blackboard Collaborate class site for description of criteria/expectations for each grade level.

Spelling and Grammar Errors
Instructor may not read your entire blog for spelling and grammar mistakes; if, in the instructor's opinion, your blog contains too many errors the instruction will reduce your points substantially and stop grading your blog for mechanics and will go on for content and other elements that are required in the assignment.

Instructor has a zero tolerance policy for any incidences of plagiarism and passes anyone found guilty of plagiarism to the appropriate persons within the University for disciplinary action.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 281 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the history of storytelling and its place in today's society.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the different types of stories, why they developed, and how they can be used effectively.
  3. Develop their own storytelling style and be able to articulate it effectively.
  4. Articulate the rationale for selecting one type of story over another.
  5. Adapt or cut a story to make it appropriate for a specific time frame and audience.
  6. Select stories appropriate for the audience, the setting, and the goal of the storytelling program.
  7. Adapt stories, when necessary, to their own storytelling style or to the audience for the program.
  8. Demonstrate the ability to tell a variety of types of stories effectively.
  9. Develop a group of stories that they have mastered.
  10. Move toward some kind of specialization by type of story or by author.
  11. Develop and implement a storytelling program designed for a specific audience and setting.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 281 supports the following core competencies:

  1. I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.
  2. M Demonstrate oral and written communication skills necessary for professional work including collaboration and presentations.
  3. N Evaluate programs and services using measurable criteria.


Required Textbooks:

  • Greene, E. (2010). Storytelling art and technique (4th ed.). Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591586003arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Haven, K., & Ducey, M. (2006). Crash Course in Storytelling. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591583993. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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