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Web in web

  Digital Media Literacy
  & Civic Engagement

      Fall 2017 • 12:30-1:45 T, TH • Tehama 108

 Syllabus – Course Basics

Introduction Course Objectives / GE SLOs
Course Plan Course Materials
Course Requirements Honor Code
Grading Percentages Grading Policy

Please note: JOUR 255 fulfills GE Area E, "Learning for Life."
JOUR 255i fulfills GE Area E and one writing intensive course requirement.

Either will fulfill the core journalism major or minor requirement for JOUR 255, but you must take a class with the suffix "i" for it to count as a writing intensive.

Journalism & PR majors are strongly encouraged to take JOUR 255, rather than 255i.


The mass media are changing more rapidly now than at any time in the past century, and this course gives context to those changes and provides an overview of citizens need to know for understanding the role of the mass media and technology in their public and private lives.

In J255 we will explore the structure of media organizations; evolution of digital information technologies; the professional and ethical values of journalists; the needs, desires and influences of culture on media consumers; and the impact of changing technologies on public relations and traditional newsgathering.

This will include critical analysis of the relationship between new technologies and you, who will gain hands-on experience in this class as both media producers and users.

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C0urse Objectives

Upon completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Explain how changes in media and technology
    - influence daily life.
    - are influenced and shaped by a society or culture.
    - may exclude some members of society from the cultural conversation due
    - to demographic factors, such as age, income, education and location.
    - may enhance the ability of diverse groups to communicate with each other and
    - span cultural boundaries through use of social media.
    - develop in relation to a society’s needs and interests.
    - impact uses of traditional media and approaches to journalism.

  2. Discuss digital media's ability to transmit information farther and faster, and evaluate and predict the possible consequences of this communication on diverse groups of people, democracy, and civic engagement.

  3. Better understand the relationship between digital information technologies and journalism and be able to evaluate digital information in a critical manner.

  4. Address ethical challenges and questions of ownership that changes in media bring.

  5. Appreciate how interactive digital media gives voice to a greater diversity of people, allowing many more viewpoints, cultural contexts and personal stories in the news.

  6. Evaluate Web content in terms of aesthetics, accessibility, usability and developing Web standards.

  7. Construct a basic website and post it on the internet.

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GE Student Learning Outcomes

"Media Literacy & Civic Values" is part of the Science, Technology & Values Pathway and fulfills the General Education Area E requirement for "Learning for Life." The principal charge to this area of GE is to encourage your understanding of, and stimulate curiosity about, the self as an integrated and complex being.

Thus a variety of media-related issues will be addressed, including historical roles of the media in society, changes to human interaction through technological advances in mediated communication, the changing definition of community, and challenges to legal, copyright and privacy issues posed by new technologies.

This course will provide students with media, communication and cultural theories to guide investigation and will meet three General Education Student Learning Outcomes:

Active Inquiry

Demonstrates knowledge of and applies research techniques and information technology appropriate to the intellectual and disciplinary context.

You will learn the differences in interaction in "meatspace" (the physical world in which our bodies reside) and "cyberspace" (the online lives our minds can engage in). We will explore issues such as the impact of extended technology use on the body and brain.

Personal and Social Responsibility

Demonstrates knowledge and skills necessary to take responsibility for one's own life and actions, and to recognize opportunities and responsibilities to become engaged in our various local, regional, national, and international communities.

We will focus on what it means to be part of a physical community and a global communication network and how these things sometimes are at odds. This will include extensive discussion of issues such as the digital divide and the dual forces of topic specialization and audience fragmentation.

Critical Thinking

Identifies issues and problems raised in written texts, visual media and other forms of discourse, and assesses the relevance, adequacy and credibility of arguments and evidence used in reaching conclusions.

We will look closely at challenges to legal, copyright and privacy issues posed by technological advances in mediated communication, as well as how pursuit of your liberties and happiness online can affect your life in the physical world.

Please note: JOUR 255 fulfills GE Area E, "Learning for Life."
JOUR 255i fulfills GE Area E and one writing intensive course requirement.

Either will fulfill the core journalism major or minor requirement for JOUR 255.

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The Course Plan

Topics covered in this course will fall into five basic areas:

- Media trends and economics

- Digital information engagement

- Digital information and community

- Ethics, legal issues and privacy

- Website design and basic information architecture

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Course Materials

Required Texts 

–  Digital Literacy: A Primer on Media, Identity, & the Evolution of Technology,
    Wiesinger (2016)

–  Online readings, provided on course website and BlackBoard Learn

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Course Policies & Requirements

1.  Attendance

Your regular attendance is not only encouraged, but is required to pass this course.

There will be no make-ups for assignments or quizzes missed due to unexcused absence. An excused absence is one for which arrangements have been made with me prior to the absence. Assignments will not be accepted beyond their due date. If you know you will be gone the day an assignment is due, please make arrangements to get the work to me in advance.

Perpetual tardiness is not only annoying to this instructor and disruptive for your classmates, it can also be detrimental to your grade. Reading quizzes are given in the first five minutes of class; if you come in during or after a quiz, you will not receive credit.

2. Use of electronic devices

Please leave ALL digital devices in your backpack, including your laptop and cell phone (with the sound/vibration turned off).

Take notes on paper during lecture. A wide range of studies have demonstrated that hand writing notes leads to better retention and comprehension. If you must use a laptop, please check with me and plan to sit in the front row every class.

Whatever you're doing on your phone during lecture is distracting to other students, disrespectful to your instructor, and prevents you from fully engaging in class. Don't.

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3.  Disability Accommodation

Any student who may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability or injury should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. Please also contact the Accessibility Resource Center to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

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4. Respect

Students in this class are encouraged to speak up and participate during class meetings. Because the class will represent a diversity of individual beliefs, backgrounds and experiences, every member of this class must show respect for every other member of this class. 

JOUR 255 is a relatively large class, so please raise your hand at any point in lecture when you have a question or comment. Let's build a classroom community that actively encourages participation by all.

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5. Safe Zone

I am part of the Safe Zone Ally community network of trained Chico State faculty/staff/students who are available to listen and support you in a safe and confidential manner. As a Safe Zone Ally, I can help you connect with resources on campus to address problems that interfere with your academic and social success on campus with regard to issues surrounding sexual orientation/gender identity.

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6. Confidentiality & Mandatory Reporting

I have a mandatory reporting responsibility under Title IX. It is my goal that you feel able to share information related to your life experiences in classroom discussions, in your written work and in our one-on-one meetings. I will seek to keep information you share private to the greatest extent possible. However, I am required to share information regarding sex discrimination and/or sexual misconduct (such as harassment or violence) with the university. Students may speak to someone confidentially by contacting the Counseling and Wellness Center, Safe Place or Student Health Center.

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7.  Assignments

Reading – You should complete reading assignments before the appropriate class session for which they are assigned. Your preparation for class and participation in discussions and activities will make class lively and interesting. These readings will familiarize you with the topic to be explored that day, lessen the time needed for lecture and allow you time to formulate any questions or insights you might have about the topic.

As added incentive to complete your reading AND come to class, a reading quiz will be conducted at the beginning of nearly every class. These are low stakes, learning quizzes that are worth 5 percent of your final grade.

Out-of-class assignments –  Including a media use diary, evaluation of the changing nature of community, and more.

Web rez – You will create a basic website to host your résumé. This site will be simple, professional and a nice reflection of you. The assignment's learning objectives include file management, use of free Web resources, digital processes and multitasking.


Computer problems are NOT a valid reason for being late or missing assignments. It doesn’t matter whether you have a virus, hard drive failure, service provider issues, or can’t save a file in a readable format. If the file is not available when I pick it up for grading, or if a submitted file cannot be opened and read by me, then it is the same as not submitting it at all. The only exception is a regional or campus-wide issue that affects all students.

Ditto for printing issues. Your assignment is due when it is due. If it is to be handed in on paper, then a lack of printing funds, printer malfunction, running out of ink or paper, etc. are not valid reasons for not handing work in on time.

8. Office hours and email

Office hours are your time. Please feel free to stop by with questions about lecture or assignments, advising or other help relating to your academic success.

Email is a great way to ask me questions and I enjoy the flexibility of answering at my convenience wherever I may be. But please keep in mind that I do have set office hours and that your 2:45 a.m. Saturday email may not be answered until my office hours Monday. Then again, if I’m having insomnia, you may hear from me at 3 a.m.

Even if you never come to my office because we’re solving your issues via email, please remember that you’re actually getting the benefit of office hours.

Please remember that emailing me is an exercise in professional communication. All emails to faculty and staff should include a subject line, a greeting (Hi, Dr. Wiesinger), a clear request, a closing (Thank you for your time.) and your name at the end.

9. Course enrollment

Students may add or drop courses without signatures until Friday, Feb. 3.

After the university census date (Feb. 17), students must be able to document in writing a “serious and compelling reason to add or drop classes” and obtain signature from the instructor, chair and dean. The documentation must be attached to the add/drop form.

Please note that you will not automatically be dropped from a course if you stop attending. You are responsible for monitoring your course enrollment. If you attend the start of the course, then stop coming, you will be given either an F or a WU (which is the GPA equivalent of an F), depending on how much course work you completed.

10. Recording class lectures / discussions

Please do not record, shoot video or take photos during lectures or class discussions without prior consultation with your instructor.

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Honor Code

Academic integrity is expected.

All work submitted by you should be your original effort for this class only.

Plagiarism of any kind will result in an automatic fail. 

Some things that will be considered cheating in this class:

     • Copying photos or information from the Web – or any other published source –
        without permission and proper sourcing.

     • Using the work of others and claiming it as your own. Attribute, attribute, attribute.

     • Making up quotes, interviews, sources, details or stories.

     • Having someone else design and/or work on your personal Web page. If someone else
       does your Web page, you haven't learned anything. Basic digital technology skills are
       necessary for survival in today's job market and they can't be faked.

Please use care to keep track of websites you consult and what you take from them – even if what you are seeking is ideas. This will help demonstrate your engagement with digital media, which is a key function of this course.

If you violate the policies of this class or the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities for this university, particularly those relating to academic integrity, you will face consequences ranging from an "F" on the offending assignment, an "F" in the course, an appointment with Student Judicial Affairs, and/or expulsion from the university.

Yes, it's that important.

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Grading Percentages

Your course grade will be determined as follows:

10 percent: All homework assignments
5 percent: Daily quizzes
25 percent: Exam 1
25 percent: Exam 2
10 percent: Personal Web site
25 percent: Final exam

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Grading Policy

I will consider each assignment for how well you followed guidelines and what each step contributed to the goal project. Specific grading information will be included with each assignment.

When faced with a grade on the bubble, I will consider attendance, promptness and class participation.

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    Susan Wiesinger    Department of Journalism & Public Relations   California State University, Chico

Photos courtesy of stock.xchng