Adjunct Professor Hong Qu, Spring, 1.5 Credits.


All news ventures today are, in some form or another, technology-based ventures. Whether you are running a content site on WordPress or developing a novel way to disaggregate and recombine news articles, it is critical that you have a basic understanding of technology.

The goal of this class is to provide you with a customized set of resources that you can use as you launch your venture. We recognize that there are differences in the technical requirements of your various ventures, but believe that there is a base level of knowledge that you will need to successfully lead your company in the long-run and aim to provide you with this knowledge. To that end, we will cover a range of topics that will help you understand the underlying technological needs for your venture; design and build a prototype; launch a beta product; and/or work more effectively with designers and developers. In addition, we will discuss ways that business and technology decisions are integrated.



Students will…

• Gain an understanding of the current trends in technology presenting opportunities to journalistic businesses.
• Understand the business impact of these technologies on disruption of the industry, revenue, marketing, product, and product creation.
• Understand key questions to consider in applying new technologies to startup businesses.
• Develop a sense of some of the key considerations that play a role in decision-making about technology adoption.
• Develop an understanding of the underlying technologies that they will use in their ventures and practical knowledge in either executing or managing the development of these technologies.


Course Structure

The Technology Immersion program features a combination of a) in-person workshops b) a customized set of courses tailored to each student’s goals for the semester and c) online self-paced coursework. Workshops will cover such topics as ideation/concept development; product development; the integration of your business model and technology stack; wireframes and prototyping; UX/UI; design and development; and launching a product. In addition to the weekly workshops held at CUNY, we will also offer you access to online resources, as well as a menu of options available to you via organizations throughout New York City such as General Assembly and New Work City.

In addition to workshops at CUNY, we will require that you attend a minimum number of workshops from the menu that we provide (see “Additional Courses” below). If there are additional resources that you need, we will work with each of you individually to make sure that these are provided.

Week 1: Introduction to HTML/CSS Workshop
This intensive workshop will provide an introduction to the key elements of HTML and CSS that are needed to build static websites. Topics to be covered include styling HTML text; creating paragraphs, lists, and tables; working with tags, attributes and elements; inserting and manipulating links and images; creating forms; working with selectors, properties, and values; developing internal and external stylesheets; and understanding margins, padding and the box method.

A working knowledge of HTML/CSS is critical for students who are looking to customize the look and feel of a standard WordPress blog, as well as those who are planning on developing additional skills and moving up the web development technology stack. HTML/CSS are the foundation upon which students can build additional technical skills such as Javascript, PhP, or Ruby on Rails.

We understand that there are varying levels of technical understanding in the group. Therefore, we are making this class optional for students whose technical skills exceed HTML/CSS. If you have already mastered HTML/CSS, you may choose to either explore some of the alternatives listed in the “Additional Courses” section below or attend the HTML/CSS workshop and serve as a resource for your fellow students.

We also understand that there may be students who have never been exposed to web development. For these students, we will provide access to two additional online resources that you can choose from to explore the subject in advance of the workshop. We are providing these resources so that you can familiarize yourself with some of the aspects of HTML/CSS in advance and, therefore, have the opportunity to maximize your time in the workshop. This is optional, not required.


Online Resources

1. TeamTreehouse
TeamTreehouse provides introductory HTML/CSS courses. Users are taught basic HTML/CSS via instructional videos, quizzes, and challenges. These are chunked into manageable modules to ensure that the user is mastering skills as they move along. In addition to classes on HTML/CSS, Treehouse offers CSS3, HTML5, and videos on project management.

When you sign up for TeamTreehouse, they provide a suggested order for the courses. It is advisable to proceed in the order that the courses are laid out, as the knowledge is cumulative. Make sure that you take the time to not only do the exercises and quizzes, but to play around with the code as well. As with anything else, the more you practice, the easier it will get. If you have questions or get stuck, you can email their support team or reach out to the Tow-Knight course instructors. At the end of each section, you will take a quiz. This is done in-browser. Once you have completed the lesson and passed the quiz, you will be given a badge that will show up in your profile.

In addition to the web development courses, Treehouse also offers instruction on project management. These videos are displayed under the Projects topic and are separated into sprints. In these videos, the instructors provide information on how a web developer and designer can work together to build a product—including cresting wireframes, setting up a Git Repository, and working through meetings. If you are new to web design, it is probably best to finish the HTML/CSS sequence before trying to tackle the Project videos.

If you are interested in taking classes via Treehouse, please let me know and I will make sure that you get registered.

2. Lynda
You will be given access to the full library of classes during orientation. Lynda has a wide range of HTML/CSS courses that provide instructional videos, as well as live examples that you work through to build sample sites.

If you are new to HTML/CSS, you will want to start with the course “XHTML and HTML Essential Training.” This course provides you with an overview of the development of HTML/XHTML, as well as in-depth instruction on how to use the programs. Before you begin this class, we suggest downloading a copy of Aptana Studio. Aptana is an open source integrated development environment (IDE) that will make it easier to create and alter your code.

Once you have completed the basic HTML class, you can move onto the CSS Fundamentals course. This can be followed up by the CSS: Core Concepts class and then the CSS Positioning Best Practices class.

As with Team Treehouse, we recommend that you do all of the exercises completely. Do not skip sections, as the information is cumulative. Also, as get your hands dirty and try to build something, it will become more and more intuitive. Like any language, the best way to learn is by doing.

If you already know how to use HTML/CSS, you can move onto other courses within the Lynda platform. There are some very useful classes on the Adobe Creative Suite, as well as HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, and Ruby on Rails.

As you are navigating through the courses, feel free to email the course instructors with questions.

3. Other Online Resources
HTML Dog and W3 Schools provide in-browser training on the basics of HTML/CSS. These are free and designed to provide users with a familiarity of the basic concepts of HTML/CSS.


Weekly Workshops

We will provide a schedule of workshops during the first week of class. These workshops will cover such topics as ideation/concept development; product development; the integration of your business model and technology stack; wireframes and prototyping; UX/UI; design and development; and launching a product.


Additional Courses

Additional courses will be provided to students throughout the semester to supplement the workshops that will be provided at CUNY. We will require you to attend a minimum number of these courses, but will allow you the flexibility to attend more if there is a particular set of topics that interest you. We have also included in this list a series of courses that are business oriented, but are relevant for launching a technology venture. Full descriptions of these classes are provided in the Appendix. Further details will be provided on the first day of class.

• Introduction to Managing Software Development
• An Introduction to Mobile Web App Development
• Essentials of Startup Law
• Essentials of Startup Tax and Accounting
• How to Get Your First Million Users
• Community Management
• Intro to CSS3
• Mobile Cross-Platform Development: An Overview
• The Online Advertising Ecosystem
• Link Building for Startups
• Building Your Brand Through Great User Experience and Design
• Design for Entrepreneurs and Hackers
• Design for Entrepreneurs and Hackers
• Online Credit Card Processing
• Intro to Content Management with Rails and Refinery CMS
• Startup Sales Strategy
• The Marketer’s Guide to Facebook
• Introduction to Startup PR
• Trends in SEO: An Interactive Tutorial
• Introduction to AdWords
• Introduction to Adobe Suite



During the first week of class, students should provide the course instructors with a brief summary of their technical and project management skills to be used to customize learning modules throughout the semester.

As the course proceeds, students will draft and re-write a preliminary technology plan for their businesses, examining a number of technologies and explaining a) how they affect their enterprise, b) how they present opportunities or threats, c) why they decided to accept or reject each technology, d) what they would need to implement the technology, and e) how they will implement it.



Students will maintain a technology journal throughout the immersion course. You will be expected to submit one blog post per week. Post topics could include an analysis of issues raised in the presentation of technology tools and applications. You might also post written responses to links and readings assigned for the class or use the space to develop your thinking around the core technologies introduced in the class. When you take an optional tech course outside of CUNY as part of your course curriculum, you will be expected to summarize key takeaways for the benefits of your colleagues.



Students will be expected to stay current on new technologies affecting journalism both before they come to the program and as the classes progress. They will read, among other online publications:

• TechCrunch
• Paid Content
• Mashable
• ReadWriteWeb
• NiemanLab
• Techmeme
• A List Apart

Additional reading or podcasts may be provided over the course of the semester, as necessary.



The grade will be based 30% on the quality of the digital journal maintained as a key component of the course. Customization of each student’s CUNY Graduate School of Journalism WordPress blog will account for 10% of the final grade. Class participation in discussions and presentations will constitute another 10% of the final grade. A draft of the technology plan will be due mid-semester and will constitute 20% of the grade. The final technology plan will be valued at 30% of the course grade.

Digital Journal: 30%
Blog Customization: 10%
Class Participation: 10%
First Technology Plan Draft: 20%
Final Technology Plan: 30%


Syllabi for Entrepreneurial Journalism Courses

New Business Models for News

Fundamentals of Business

New Business Incubation

Technology Immersion

New Media Apprenticeship