Social Media: Technology and Culture
Instructor: Kathryn Dunlap
Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other
Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (available through e-library)
Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human
Additional course readings (including the introductory unit readings) will be provided as
links of pdf by your instructor.
This course is designed as an intermediate, writing-intensive research and theory course
focused on social media and its cultural impacts. While social media can be widely
defined, for the purpose of this course the emphasis is on Internet-based, highly
accessible systems of social data exchange. Areas covered include social networking and
communication, social media and corporate interests, content communities, and virtual
worlds. Students will read academic articles and books on social media, engage with
peers, write and research in various genres, and practice using social media tools. The
ultimate goal of this course is to ready students of various academic backgrounds to
research social media in a way that furthers academic growth within their chosen fields.
• To introduce students to an academic understanding of social media
• To engage with multiple viewpoints about social media
• To gain both practical and theoretical knowledge about social media
• To define social media and related terms
• To create a positive and social classroom environment through social media
• To work in both small groups (3-5) and on a wide social scale (full class)
• To develop research projects connected to individual student academic interests
Attendance is expected in this and all your courses. By department policy attendance will
be taken and absence exceeding 25% of total class time will result in an automatic failure
of the course. Beyond that there is no additional attendance policy for this class.
• Cell phones and other electronic devices need to be turned off and stowed away
before class begins
• Open laptops are allowed, however, I reserve the right to observe your activities and
require you to turn off your computer if your activities are not in keeping with class
• Please do not come to class if you are sick. Email me before class and we will work
something out. Be considerate of your classmates.
Plagiarism is using someone else’s words or idea intentionally or unintentionally without
giving the source the proper credit. Plagiarism is unacceptable academic behavior at
UCF. If you are caught plagiarizing, depending on the severity, you will fail the
assignment. You also risk failing the course.
UCF is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for all person with
disabilities. This syllabus is available in alternate formats upon request. Student with
disabilities who need accommodation in this course must contact the professor at the
beginning of the semester to discuss needed accommodations. No accommodations will
be provided until the student has met with the professor to request accommodations.
Students who need accommodations must be registered with Student Disability Services,
Student Resource Center Room 132, phone (401) 823-2371.
There are 200 points possible in the course.
Unit One Assignment: 40 pts
Unit Two Assignment: 40 pts
Unit Three Assignment: 40 pts
Unit Four Assignment: 40 pts
Homework/In-Class: 20 pts
Participation: 20 pts
Below 140 F
NC (No Credit)
UCF is on a plus/minus grading scale
I do not accept late work, however, you do have the option of a one-time use, no
questions asked, one-week extension. This can be used on any of the four unit
assignments and will need to be requested via email by the due date. Assignments are
preferred in class but are due by 5:00 p.m. and can be turned into my mailbox in the
If for any reason you have a family emergency or any unforeseen happenings during this
course, contact me immediately. Notifying me of a situation or problem two or three
classes later prevents me form making alternative arrangements.
Unit 1: An Introduction to Social Media (Weeks 1-3)
This unit introduces the course with a variety of readings designed to create a common
vocabulary for the class as well as start a dialogue with the material and each other. Some
of the readings in this unit predate social media, but are included because of their
Readings: The medium is the message (Marshall McLuhan), Wag the Blog
(Thomas J Johnson and Barbara K. Kaye), The Masses: Implosion of the Social
in the Media (Jean Baudrillard), The Right to Play (Edward Castronova), What
is Web 2.0 (Tim O’Reilly)
Assignment: Each student will write a concise research paper defining a
concept within social media, either mentioned in the course readings or not, that
integrates outside several outside sources to support the student’s assessment.
These definitions should be fully descriptive and insightful. The students will
then, as a class, create a course wiki (using wikispaces.com) to create a social
media wiki for the class’s reference.
Unit 2: Social Networking and Communication (Weeks 4-6)
This unit will cover social network and communication and how they have impacted our
Reading: Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less
from Each Other (Sherry Turkle)
Assignment: Students will be asked to use a social networking/communication
platform of their choice to respond with creative prose to a relevant course
theme and connecting to Turkle’s book. Students must also compose a formal
email follow-up making connections from the creative writing to the course
Mini Unit: The Social Network (Week 7)
Students will watch individually or attend a screening of the film The Social Network and
discuss the ways in which the film connects to our course readings and the students’
research interests. The students will also collaboratively write a review of the film from
the perspective of social media students with specific interests in the film and publish it at
Unit 3: Social Media, Corporatism, and Content Communities (Weeks 8-11)
This unit will explore the complex relationship between corporate media properties and
consumers’ social media.
Reading: Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (Henry
Assignment: In small groups (3-5) students will identify a local non-profit
organization, write an evaluation of their current social media strategies,
research alternate social media possibilities and create a formal proposal for a
new social media campaign. The proposed campaign should be carefully
considered and researched and should include very specific plans for execution.
Unit 4: Virtual Worlds (Weeks 12-15)
This unit, like the reading, combines research instructions with a discussion of virtual
worlds and the role they play in social media.
Reading: Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the
Virtually Human (Tom Boellstorff)
Assignment: The research project assignment encourages students to connect
the course content to their field of academics through a research project (either a
more traditional paper or a more experimental research form) or a detailed
research proposal with the intention of completing the project in a subsequent
Throughout the semester you will be asked to complete short in-class or out of class
assignments. These can include reading responses or quizzes and are left to the discretion
of the instructor. Five points out of the total 20, however, will be determined by the
quality of the class’s review of The Social Network.
The participation grade is 50% determined based on preparedness and activity level in
class and during discussions and 50% on the quality of responses to the class tumblr. The
course tumblr is designed to encourage students to share links to various media that
connects to our class discussions and research interests and promote active social
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