COM3332: New Communication Technology & Contemporary Society

Welcome to COM3332: New Communication Technology and Contemporary Society. This course provides an historical perspective on new communication and information technologies. COM 3332 describes how these technologies have influenced, and been influenced by, culture, economics, and politics, while simultaneously examining theories that help to explain these influences.

This course requires you to do research in and to construct messages about new communication technologies. Resources available to you as you participate in this course include your instructor and/or mentor and classmates, the course materials and website, and the Florida State University library's electronic databases. This is a reading and writing intensive course, and because it is conducted online without regular face-to-face meetings, it is imperative that you manage your time carefully.

At the end of this course you will be able to:

This course is taught exclusively online via the Blackboard course system and has no face-to-face meeting times.

To access the course web site:

After the Drop/Add period ends, each student will be assigned to and contacted by a Course Mentor. The Course Mentor is your primary source of contact throughout the semester. Course Mentors run the discussion forums, grade certain assignments, and answer questions related to course content and procedures. Mentor assignments will be made during the second week of class.


  1. Bucy, E. P. (2005). Living in the Information Age: A new media reader (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. ISBN: 0534633404

  2. Straubhaar, J., & LaRose, R. (2007). Media now: Understanding media, culture, and technology (5th ed., "2008 Update"). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. ISBN: 0495100471

Recommended but not required: Fidler, R. (1997). Mediamorphosis: Understanding the new media. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. ISBN: 0803990863

Note on obtaining textbooks: The course textbooks should be available through the FSU bookstore and other traditional outlets, including online vendors. You may find the textbook price-comparison service a useful resource for finding the best price, but choose your textbook vendor with care, and be mindful of delivery times lest you get behind in your reading.

Readings, mini-projects, tests, and discussion participation are the components critical for the successful completion of this course. Completing the assigned readings before their corresponding mini-projects, tests, and discussions will enable you to raise relevant questions and to improve your learning experience and your class participation grade. It is each student's responsibility to keep track of all assignments and their due dates (see the
Calendar section of the course site). At a minimum, you must check your email and the course web site twice a week for course updates posted by the instructor and/or course mentors. The primary vehicle for communication of course updates will take place on the course site's Announcements page. Be sure to check this regularly!

Important note regarding email: If you have your FSU email account forwarded to another address it is your responsibility to make sure that the forwarding is working correctly. Missed emails due to forwarding of accounts are the student's problem, not the instructor's.

Discussion Assignments
Active participation in the online discussions helps create a learning community and gives you opportunities to work with and get to know other students. Your contributions to the class will enrich your own experience and those of your classmates. Discussion questions and instructions are located in the
Assignments section of the course site. Unless otherwise stated, all discussion posts are to be submitted by Noon on Thursday in the week in which they are due. Credit will be given for participation in discussion sessions as described below.

You will complete three mini-projects during the term. At least one must be an
essay as described below; the other two can be "new technology essays" using mediums other than text. You must clear your mini-project selections with your mentor before starting work on them. All told, the mini-projects constitute 55 per cent of the final grade. A mini-project may demonstrate a distinct level of performance, such as unacceptable to poor (F/D or < 70), adequate (C-/C/C+ or 70-79), strong (B-/B/B+ or 80-89), very strong (A- or 90-92), or exceptional (A or 93-100).

All written assignments will be submitted via the text-matching service to reduce the likelihood of plagiarized work.

Unless otherwise noted, mini-project assignments are to be submitted by Noon on the day that the assignments are due (see the Calendar for dates). Late assignments -- this applies to all course assignments -- lose one letter grade per day (or ten percent of the numerical grade). Acceptance of late assignments is at the instructor's discretion and extensions are rarely granted.

For each of the mini-project options, a list of possible topics will be provided. In addition, a grading rubric will be provided to give you a detailed description of the criteria to be applied, along with their corresponding weights. A brief description of the options is provided below:

Write an Essay
1,200-1,500 words in length (this is approximately 5-6 pages, if double-spaced). Papers must use the style delineated in the 5th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (also known as the APA style). For more information about APA 5th edition style, please refer to the links in the More Stuff section of the course website.
Contribute to the Blogosphere
Create a blog ( or any free blogging service) and make at least three entries of 4-500 words. Post a link to discussion board so others can find it. Respond to comments, and separately turn in a one-page summary reflecting on the experience.
Contribute to Wikipedia
Find a Wikipedia article on a topic with which you are familiar or would like to research, and modify the article by adding or revising content. Your modifications should be substantial (at least 1,000 words) and you will be required to follow up to observe the way your contributions are accepted (or rejected) by the Wikipedia community.
Publish a Viral Video
Script, create, and publish on YouTube a short (4-6 minutes) video clip about one of the project topics found in the Assignments area of the course site. Share the clip address on the class discussion board.
Become a Podcaster
Create three podcasts of 1-2 minutes each, addressing a different facet of a mini-project topic. Publish the feed to iTunes and share the address with your classmates via the Blackboard discussion forum.
Direct an Animated Classic
Create and publish on YouTube a short (4-6 minutes) machinima illustrating the impact of a new communication technology. Not sure what a machinima is? Google it!
Shine on Facebook
With 4-5 other students, set up a Facebook group relating to a technology and collect relevant photos, links, wall posts. Invite lots of friends to comment.
Make Something Delicious
Using the social bookmarking service, work with 2-3 other students to create an annotated bibliography of 50 web resources under a common tag.
Photostream your Ideas
Create a Flickr photo collection (using your own photos or illustrations) illustrating new technologies, specifically showing people interacting with them. The collection should include at least 50 tagged and described photos.
Get a MUVE On
Interact with other users of a Multi-User Virtual Environment to accomplish a task that demonstrates one or more course concepts and share the experience via discussion board and/or machinima. You may use a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) such as World of Warcraft or a non-gaming MUVE such as Second Life or There.

You will take six quizzes composed of multiple-choice and short-answer sections that are drawn from material listed in each section of the course (and will not be cumulative, although certain general concepts that run throughout the course may be tested more than once). The list of short-answer questions for each quiz will be made available in advance in the
Assignments section of the course site. Quizzes typically contain 20 multiple choice questions and two short answer questions (you answer one of the two) and are weighted as described below.

Information about arrangements for testing online--testing windows usually open Sunday at Noon and close on Thursday at Noon--is included in the Assignments section of the course site. Unless otherwise noted, all tests are to be submitted by Noon [EST] on the day that they are due.

Evaluation Criteria
The criteria for grading include the following: demonstration of student's command of course materials; research; organization; style and presentation; analysis and insight. Spelling, punctuation, grammar, and clear writing will influence your grade as part of the "style and presentation" criteria. Specific assignment instructions, rubrics, and questions are available on the course website in the
Assignments section. If you have not read it, Strunk & White's The Elements of Style is a great writing primer and costs less than five dollars. You can also access the manual on the Web by following the link located in the More Stuff section of the course site.

The following elements and weights determine your final course grade:

Discussion Assignments


Mini-Project Assignment One


Mini-Project Assignment Two


Mini-Project Assignment Three


Quizzes 1-6 (3% each)


Grading Scale
93-100 = A (4.0)
90-92 = A- (3.75)
87-89 = B+ (3.25)
83-86 = B (3.0)
80-82 = B- (2.75)
77-79 = C+ (2.25)
73-76 = C (2.0)
70-72 = C- (1.75)
and so on...

Grade Inflation
The Department of Communication is committed to reducing grade inflation in its courses. To that end, a department-wide grading standard has been adopted to insure that an "A" is reserved for outstanding performance. The following letter grades are assigned both to undergraduate and graduate credit students. These grades reflect the quality and quantity of work submitted throughout the term according to the instructor's grading standards.

A and A- grades represent work whose superior quality indicates a full mastery of the subject. An A represents work of extraordinary distinction.
B+, B, and B- grades represent work of good to very good quality but that does not merit special distinction.
C+, C, and C- grades designate an adequate command of the course material. These grades are satisfactory for undergraduate students, but unsatisfactory for graduate students.
D+, D, and D- grades indicate work that shows a deficiency in knowledge of the material. They are unsatisfactory for undergraduate and graduate students.
F is a failing grade representing work that deserves no credit.

The weekly listing of readings, activities, assignments and due dates is available in the
Calendar section of this site.

The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy outlines the University’s expectations for the integrity of students' academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members throughout the process. Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for living up to their pledge to ". . . be honest and truthful and . . . [to] strive for personal and institutional integrity at Florida State University." (Florida State University Academic Honor Policy, found at

Plagiarism Statement
Plagiarism is "representing another's work or any part thereof, be it published or unpublished, as one's own. . . . For example, plagiarism includes failure to use quotation marks or other conventional markings around material quoted from any source" (Florida State University General Bulletin : 1998-1999, p. 69). Failure to document material properly, that is, failure to indicate that the material came from another source, is also considered a form of plagiarism. Additionally, it is expected in this course that unless otherwise specified, all test and essays assignments and the research efforts required in these assignments be conducted
independently. Evidence of collaborative work (except as required) will result in a grade of "F" for the assignment for all individuals involved and possibly failure of the entire course.

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should:

  1. Register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC); and

  2. Bring a letter to the instructor from the SDRC indicating the need for accommodation and what type. This should be done within the first week of class.

This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request.

For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities, contact the

Student Disability Resource Center
Dean of Students Department
97 Woodward Avenue, South
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice)
(850) 644-8504 (TDD)

Note: The instructor reserves the right to make slight modifications to this syllabus during the course of the semester in response to unexpected events. All modifications will be announced.

End of syllabus.