INFO 281-12
Seminar in Contemporary Issues
Topic: Storytelling
Fall 2017 Syllabus

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

Syllabus Links
Weekly Outlines
Discussion Threads
Points Allocation
iSchool eBookstore


Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 23rd 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.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

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 of storytelling, 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. Built in computer and tablet cameras are acceptable but quality of the video is crucial to this class so make sure that your audio and video quality are of the highest quality.
  • Students should read the Syllabus carefully and then visit the Canvas course website and read through everything that is there too. Compile questions or clarifications that you need to ask and post those comments or questions to "Ask the Professor" discussion thread.
  • These two important information sources (Syllabus and Canvas Course site) work in tandem with each other to give students directions, requirements, and information needed to be successful in Materials for Young Adults.
  • Each student is expected to check the CANVAS site at least once per day for course updates, posting of additional resources, announcements, and other new information posted by the instructor.
  • The instructor makes every effort to proofread the information in both the syllabus and the Canvas course website. However, errors may occur. If you see something that confuses you or doesn’t look correct please let the instructor know by placing the question or comment on the Question and Answer discussion thread. Please be as specific as you can as to where the information is that you are speaking about and what you don’t understand. 


Students complete SOTES to evaluate the course and the instructor at the end of each term. An announcement will go out from the iSchool administration letting students know when the SOTES open. The importance of SOTES is very easy to describe – it is the student’s voice to the administration and the instructor giving them both feedback on the positives and negatives of the student’s experience in each class they take in the program. Completing the SOTES is so very important to improving courses and instruction.

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

  • Format for subject line for all email correspondence:
  • 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. 

Official iSchool Email 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. 

Blackboard IM:
Students MUST sign up for Blackboard IM (BbIM). The iSchool will send out information on how to sign up. 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, TEXT or EMAIL the instructor (in advance if at all possible) if a situation will prevent you from completing an assignment or another class activity. You will receive a zero for any course work missed unless you have received permission from the instructor for an extension. Most extensions are granted for extenuating circumstances only and not for being overwhelmed at work (for example).
  • 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.

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.
  • All students must have access to a video camera. Built in computer and tablet cameras are acceptable but quality of the video is crucial to this class so make sure that your audio and video quality are of the highest quality.

All assignments, overviews and lectures, will be given in written form, audio and video recordings.


  • Please read through the entire site when it opens on August 23rd.
  • Weekly outlines (appear on Canvas Course Site) will have more descriptive content than indicated on the Syllabus including but not limited to links for discussion threads, assignments and overviews/lectures, articles to read, websites to read, URL to readings or links to PDF’s on the course site, detailed descriptions of assignments and lectures and videos to watch.


  • The instructor will act as a facilitator for the discussion threads The instructor may comment from time-to-time but the discussions will be student driven.
  • Students are expected to contribute to each thread to the level described by the instructor but additional participation is always encouraged.


  • Do not post before the opening date of the thread.
  •  Except for the Introduction post (week 1) which is worth 2 points all other posts are worth 3 points.
  • Check the Assignment Chart (above) to see the dates for each discussion thread. All threads begin on Mondays at 12:01 a.m. Pacific and end on Sundays at 5 p.m. Pacific.
  • You must post one substantial post on Tuesday and one substantial post on Thursday of each week and two posts to classmates before Sunday at 11 p.m. Pacific. All students are asked to check the site and read any new posts by 5 p.m. Pacific. Please do not post all of your comments on the same day.
  • Full points will be awarded to students who write in-depth insights and opinions about the weekly topic.
  • If students do not post the required number of posts or do not include the level of detail in the substantial posts points will be deducted. For all the three-point discussion threads the substantial posts are worth 1.25 points each and the responses to classmates are worth .25 each.
  • The instructor will include questions or prompts for each discussion thread to get the conversation going but students are charged with keeping the discussion going throughout the week.
  • Doing more than the minimum number of posts is encouraged and helps keep the conversation going.


Grading: – see scale below

Rounding – The instructor does not round up to the next number. If you receive an 89.6 on an assignment or as your final point total this grade will be compared to the grading scale to determine your grade.

Grading/Grading Rubric

The instructor uses rubrics for assignments inside the Canvas Speedgrader and for storytelling performances an additional set of criteria for evaluators to complete. 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 process of a certain assignment the instructor is.




Storytelling Performances

(5 total)

40 points (5 videos/8 pts each)    

Each student will produce 5 videos (telling 2 stories per video). One of the videos will be watched during a synchronous session – students will sign up for one of the three synchronous Collaborate sessions when class site opens. 1/3rd of the class each session is how the slots break out.

SYNCHRONOUS Blackboard Collaborate Session dates are 10/3, 10/10, 10/24. Students only select one of these sessions to attend. It is first come/first serve so have a second choice ready.

An additional 4 videos will be produced that will be watched by the class and instructor independent of an organized synchronous Collaborate session. Asynchronous.

URL’s are due to the discussion link provided:

November 1st, November 10th, December 1st and December 9th. The Story Edit must be one of the stories told on one of the videos – student choice of which one.

Students will pick out stories to “tell” in each of these videos. Instructor will specify what age to focus on and will expect a minimum of 2 stories each video not to exceed 10 minutes for the video shown in the Collaborate session and then no longer than 15 minutes in the asynchronous videos. Both stories fit into the time frames given>

The students who sign up on a particular synchronous Collaborate session night will remain together throughout the semester as a support and evaluation group for the asynchronous videos. The instructor will describe how this works when class site opens.


The instructor will give more details, tips, expectations on the Canvas class site in written and lecture formats.

Competencies: M
CLO’s: 2,3,6,8,9,10,11

Evaluations – Storytelling Performances

15 pts

(3 points each)

How evaluation works and due dates for evaluations will be explained when Canvas course opens. 

Evaluation is an extremely important part of storytelling so there will be an evaluation component for all 5 of the videos created.

Competencies: M, N
CLO’s: 2,3,6,8,9,10,11

Story Edit - Written 6

Details will be given when course site opens but this will be the grade for the story edit itself. Students will perform story edits during the last two asynchronous videos due dates.

Due Date = Friday, November 3rd

Competencies: I, M
CLO’s: 5,7

Discussion Threads

17 pts
(6 total

Intro = 2 pts; all others = 3 pts)


DT #1 Week 1 - Introductions (video)

August 23 to August 27
DT #2 Week 3

September 4 to September 10  

DT #3 Week 5

September 18 to September 24

DT #4 Week 8

October 9 to October 15 

DT #5 Week 11

October 30 to November 5

DT #6 Week 15 -  Reflections

November 27 to December 3

Competencies:  All
CLO's:  All

Storytelling Study (Blog) 22

Due Date for URL to be turned in for the Blog 
December 10th

Total Points 100




  • Class Size - The class size this semester is large so it is very important to watch/listen to the overviews describing how the storytelling performances both synchronous and asynchronous will work and how you will evaluate your peers.
  • You will have the opportunity to sign up for your mandatory Collaborate session but it is first come/first serve for the spaces for each so sign up as soon as the course opens.
  • The instructor reserves the right to deduct points for any assignments not completed or turned in past the stated due date. Points deducted are up to the instructor to determine.
  • There is an exception to this rule - Instructor does grant extensions for extenuating circumstances and gives students alternate due dates for specific assignments BUT students must contact the instructor immediately should there be extenuating circumstances that cause an assignment to not be turned in on time. Reminder - important to notify the instructor of your situation earlier than later.

General Writing Standards- ALL ASSIGNMENTS

  • Students must produce assignments that meet writing and research standards appropriate for students in a Master’s program of study. Write clearly!
  • It is critical to proofread your work and then proofread it again before turning it in.
  • You will lose points for errors spelling and grammar. All assignments are to be written in a middle ground academic style using a clear voice and tone. Informal writing except in reflection papers is not encouraged.
  • Please refer to a style handbook - suggestion is Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.

Spelling and Grammar Guidelines

Instructor may not read your entire assignment for spelling and grammar mistakes; if, in the instructor’s opinion, assignment contains too many errors the instructor will reduce the points in that section of the rubric and stop grading the assignment for grammar and spelling and will go on to content and research, etc.


Blogs must have a banner on the homepage.

The following information must appear on the homepage of the blog:

  • Name of Student 
  • Title of assignment
  • Class number and title
  • Name of Instructor
  • University Name 
  • Date of Assignment.


  • If you want to make up a name for your blog you can do so but the Assignment Name instructor has given must appear first and then your title next.
  • You may use an existing blog that you have for assignments from other classes but instructor must have a clear path to the blog for this class and not have to do any un-necessary searching.
  • Blogs must look professional and have color themes, font choice, and navigation (live links to all sections of blog for instance from the homepage) picked to enhance the assignment. Use the many features that the blog has and thoroughly review the blog you have chosen so that you know it will accommodate the requirements of the assignment. Remember pictures create visual breaks for the reader and helps clarify points. Books covers are especially important to include when appropriate. Use of illustrations, pictures or embedded video is encouraged.
  • Pictures should enhance text/narrative but images do not replace written content narratives.
  • Blogs do not have a specific page length but must be of sufficient length to adequately cover the assignment.
  • Blogs are written in the same style as written work. Remember this is not a daily journal type of blog but blog style is the vehicle with which you present academic work. Think moderate but friendly academic level writing and focus on creating a blog that peers, colleagues, teens, and caregivers would find useful.
  • References and citations within narratives must be in APA format. References can be done as one blog posting at the end of the blog or you can put the references at the bottom of each section of your blog.
  • All images must have a credit for where you obtained it and that credit can be located under the specific image or at the end of the blog.
  • Any other questions not answered in the points above please contact the instructor for further information or clarification.


  • Prepare all assignments in MS Word.
  • Do not exceed the number of pages specified by the instructor.

 Title Page MUST have:

  • Name of Student
  • Title of Assignment
  • Class number and title
  • Name of Instructor
  • Name of University
  • Date of Assignment

Other points for papers

  • Papers must be doubled spaced and the font to use is 12 point Arial or Cambria
  • Page numbers and the name of the assignment must appear on all pages except the title page
  • Reference page(s) must be included and meet APA guidelines - Single Spaced
  • Citations within the text must be in accordance with APA guidelines
  • All papers are to be written with a clear voice and moderate academic style.
  • Remember pictures within the document add visual breaks for the reader and helps many different learning styles. The blog is not to be all narrative. Be creative!!!
  • Any other questions not answered in the information above please contact the instructor.

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 or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — 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 if you wish to stay in the program. 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.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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