Course Description

Examines innovations in communication techniques and applications. Topics include satellite and terrestrial based technology, conferencing, decision support systems, computer mediated communication and the impact of technology on the communication process and communicators. Prerequisites: C or better in CMAT 297. Three hours per week with enhancement.

Learning Objectives

Communication and Technology is an interrogation of emerging and existing information and communication technologies (ICTs) as they shape organizational, social, political, and individual communication processes. Through a rigorous and in-depth reflection on technology development, theory, application, and critique, students cultivate the knowledge essential to be critical consumers of technology. Students will be able to engage in its strategic application in a range of contexts. Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  1. Articulate the issues and challenges shaping development of information and computing in a democratic system including net neutrality, privacy, freedom of speech, and control.
  2. Critique development of ICTs with their impact on communication processes in social, organizational, and individual contexts.
  • Apply theoretical frameworks of technology including diffusion of innovations, social shaping of technology, and media richness theory among others to achieve strategic communication goals.
  1. Successfully complete in-class activities and assignments to demonstrate proficiency with:
    1. Application of select ICTs in individual, social, and organizational contexts through successfully completing class activities involving Microsoft Publisher, immersive game environments, app use/design or web-based collaborative tools.
    2. Deliberation of social and individual consequences of ICT design and implementation through the lens of theoretical frameworks to recommend innovative strategies that address gaps identified.
    3. Assessment and evaluation of implications of technology design and use, particularly with respect to achieving strategic communication goals, embodying ideals of a democratic society, and/or defining personal relationships and individual identity.

Required Text and Readings

  • Browning, L.D., Saetre, A.S., Stephens, K.K., & Sornes, J-O. (2008). Information and Communication Technologies in Action: Linking Theory and Narratives of Practice. New York:     Routledge (Abbreviated: BS3)

Additional readings are made available through four technologically mediated and physical venues:

  • E-Books: Online access to e-books on Blackwell Library website & via open access on web (links provided on syllabus)
  • Online articles: Available online via open source [link on syllabus / course WordPress website].
  • Multimedia and print cultural resources (e.g., movies and books): I will place my personal copy on reserve in the library in AC or these might be available via YouTube (see syllabus).


The primary readings come from the required textbook and from a range of scholarly sources. Discussions of selected pages of journal articles provide proficiency with the key arguments and a theoretical framework for conceptualizing technology. Readings from contemporary sources (policy documents, international regulatory body documents, media critiques, and thought leaders) will provide a current, constantly evolving backdrop for sparking discussions on contemporary debates and an anchor for applying theoretical perspectives. Readings are completed beforehand (i.e., before you come to class that day) so class time can be utilized in a discussion of the reading material.


Recommended web sites are provided on My Classes. Bookmark these and add them to your daily reading for class discussion. You are encouraged to add to this list.

Brief Assignment Description [Detailed handouts for each at appropriate times during the semester]

Course assignments are structured to promote consistent, in-depth, and critical engagement with the technologies that animate our world (daily, weekly, and once-a-semester assignments). Detailed handouts will be provided during the semester.

  • A Tweet A Day (20%): Based on your technological persona, make your new Twitter profile (e.g., gadgetgirl, gamerdude, nerdgroove). You daily Tweets offer commentary on developments in your area. They’re informative and engaging and include credible sources (e.g., Wired, Techcrunch, ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, GigaOm, Techmeme, ArsTechnica, other tech bloggers of your choice).
  • Spaces, Places (25%). Culminating final project and community event. Construct a critical portfolio of images, voices, videos, and self-reflections that capture the spirit of a public space of your choosing through the eyes of a particular community. To utilize the WP platform to present the portfolio as a critique of that space in a way that highlights how it privileges or creates spaces of acceptance for particular groups and (wittingly or unwittingly) excludes or creates boundaries that disadvantage/ discourage certain other groups.
  • Technology Critique (20%): Research paper. Integrates knowledge of how technology functions in personal, social, and organizational contexts through reflecting upon developments in hardware, policy regulations, standards, and current trends governing the form and function of technology.
  • Readings and Lab (30%): Due per instructions
    • Reading Reflection: Will be completed before class.
      • Thoughtful engagement with readings.
      • Class discussions, exercises, and lectures will build upon these critiques.
    • Lab work: Comprises the following (tentative):
      • Field visits–Maker Lab, Electronic Gallery, Social Work distance learning
      • Direct engagement–Slack, Social movement online community (environment, women’s rights, social justice activism)
      • Flashmobs—application of a social critique to a public/community space to make a comment and its dissemination online via YouTube and social networks
      • Ethnography—experiencing digital divide first-hand in a community

Assignment                                                                          Total % Points

Ø  A Tweet A Day                                                                      20%

Ø  Spaces, Places                                                                         25%

Ø  Technology Critique                                                               20%

Ø  Reading and Lab                                                                      35%


Grade Breakdown

A= 90.0% & above; B= 80.0%-89.0%; C= 70.0%-79.0%; D= 60.0%-69.0%; F= 59.0% & below

  • Important Semester Dates: Jan 299h –May 15th: Session dates | Jan 29th: First day of classes| Jan 29th –Feb 2nd: Add/drop| Mar 19th – Mar 23rd: Spring Break | Apr 6th: Last day to Withdraw with a grade of (W)| May 15th: Last day of classes| May 16th: Reading day| May 17th –May 23rd: Finals week| May 23 & 24: Commencement
  1. Books available Online:
    1. Stephen L. Talbott. (1995). The future does not compute—Transcending the machines in our midst. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly & Associates. [Accessible online at: ]
    2. Lawrence Lessig. (2006). Code: Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books [Available online:]

  1. Accessing Articles on SU’s Library Website: Go to: SU Libraryà Find Databases à Communication and Mass MediaàSearchà Click on “Communication and Mass Media Complete”à Searching “Communication and Mass Media Complete”àCopy and Paste article title in first field “Select a field (optional)àPDF Full Textà à”Download PDF” on Top Blue Menu


Week 1 Communication and Technology: Jan 30, Feb 1

Intro to





§  Intro to syllabus, learning goals, class structure, expectations


§  MyClasses and course WordPress site—Overview

§  A Tweet A Day




Tim Berners Lee: Future of the WWW [Access online at: ]



§  WordPress: How-To and Getting Started.

§  Discuss A Tweet A Day (Start Feb 6)

§  Discuss Spaces, Places (Start Feb 13)

Week 2 Tech Determinism and Complexification: Feb 6, Feb 8


Satellite and terrestrial based technology









Digital TV/Video

Interactive TV



§  Ch. 2. (BS3). Credibility and trust in communication technology

Global VSAT Forum [Available online at: ]

FCC, National Broadband Map [Online at: ]

Satellite Today [Available online at: ]


§  Discuss Tech Critique

§  Spaces, Places project proposal approval




§  Ch. 3. (BS3). Innovations. Must. Mutate. Grow. Or not.

FCC 14th Video Competition Report, July 20, 2012. [Read points # 1 to 10. Available online at:]

Screen Digest []


§  WordPress site architecture, set-up, and class review

Week 3 Critical Perspectives, History, and Semantics: Feb 13, Feb 15


Mobile broadband












The Mobile Web:

The Semantic Web Revisited

Scientific American: “The Scientific Flaws of Online Dating Sites”

Kelly, L., Keaton, J. A., Becker, B., Cole, C., Littleford, L., & Rothe, B. (2012). “It’s the American lifestyle!”: An investigation of text messaging by college students. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 13, 1-9.


§  Spaces, Places project feedback and start




§  Ch. 1. (BS3). To Tweet or to text? That is the question.

Tim Berners Lee, A Brief History of the Internet. [Access online at: ]


·       Maker Lab field visit

Week 4 Theoretical Frameworks: Feb 20, Feb 22


Social Shaping of Technology









Media Richness Theory



MacKenzie, D., & Wajcman, J. (1999). Introductory essay: The social shaping of technology. In D. MacKenzie and J. Wajcman (Eds.), The social shaping of technology, 2nd ed. (pp. 3—27). Buckingham, UK: Open University Press. [Available online at:


§  New Media & Electronic art guest portfolio demo (electronic gallery visit)




Daft, R. L., & Lengel, R. H. (1986). Organizational information requirements, media richness, and structural design. Management Science, 32, 554-571. [Read pages 556—559, Available online at:

Lawrence Lessig. (2006). Code: Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books [Read Ch. 1, “Code is Law,” pp. 1—8, Ch. 2, “Architectures of Control,” pgs. 38-45;]


§  Distance learning—Social Work distance learning set-up demo

Week 5 Technologies of Collaboration: Feb 27, Mar 1


Conferencing & Decision Support Systems
















§  Ch. 5. (BS3). Humans: The perpetual impression-making machine?

Stephen Talbott (1995). The Future Does not Compute—Transcending the Machines in our Midst. [Read Ch. 10, “Thoughts on a Group Support System” online at:]

Conferencing Systems:

A Brief History of DSS


§  Compare and evaluate: Slack with either Asana, Podio, or Ryver (best team collaboration apps of 2017, Techradar)




Walther, J. B., & Jang, J-W. (2012). Communication processes of participatory websites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 18, 2-15. [Read All]

Richardson, K., & Hessey, S. (2009). Archiving the self? Facebook as biography of social and relational memory. Journal of Information, Communication, and Ethics in Society, 7, 25-38. [All Pages]


§  Group presentation and review as a class: comparison of Slack with another team collaboration app. Lessons learned and Recommendations.

Week 6 Emerging Technologies: Mar 6, Mar 8


Cyberspaces, Virtual, and Augmented Reality









Diffusion of Innovations




J.C.R Licklider, “Man-Computer Symbiosis” (pg. 1—10). [In Memoriam: J. C. R. Licklider, 1915—1990. Available online from:

Lawrence Lessig. (2006). Code: Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books [Read Ch. 6, “Cyberspaces,” pp. 83—100; Available online at:]


§  Identify and engage with a social cause movement online: Environment, Women’s rights, Social justice, or Political advocacy




§  Haider, M., & Kreps, G. L. (2004). Forty years of diffusion of innovations: Utility and value in public health. Journal of Health Communication, 9, 3-11. [Read All Pages]

§  Wei, R. (2006). Wi-Fi powered WLAN: When built, who will use it? Exploring predictors of wireless Internet adoption in the workplace. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 155-175. [Read Pages 155—162]


§  Group meetings with instructor

Week 7 Review: Mar 13, Mar 15






Social Movements



§  Work on group presentation!



§  Group presentation and review as a class: engagement in a social cause movement community—how discourse and participation affects real-life advocacy and action—class discussion and critique of experiences.

Week 8 Spring Break : Mar 20, Mar 22
No Class. Spring break J
Week 9 Technology and Policy: Mar 27, Mar 29


Net Neutrality
















Freedom of Expression




Harold Feld, “What does network neutrality look like today?”

Who Killed Network Neutrality?: Closing time for the open internet”


FCC, “The Open Internet”

American Library Association, “Network Neutrality”


§  Flashmobs: what are they—concept description




Kembrew McLeod. (2005). Freedom of expression: Overzealous copyright bozos and other enemies of creativity. New York: Doubleday. [Read Chapter Four, “Culture, Inc.: Our hyper-referential, branded culture,” pg. 171—181. Available online

Freedom on the Internet [Available online. Read United States,


§  Flashmobs concept preview and discussion

Week 10 Technology and Policy: Apr 3, Apr 5














Culture: Lens on Society



Lawrence Lessig. (2006). Code: Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books [Read Ch. 11, “Privacy,” pgs. 200-210; Available online at:]

Lawrence Lessig. (2006). Code: Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books [Read Ch. 12, “Free Speech,” pp. 233—245]

Wireless Policy: “Best Practices and Guidelines for Location Based Services”


§  Flashmobs–group practice and dry runs




§  Flashmobs! (Out of class)

Week 11 Technology, Property, and Identity: Apr 10, Apr 12


Intellectual Property









Digital Divide



§  Readings: Lawrence Lessig. (2006). Code: Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books [Read Ch. 10, “Intellectual Property,” pp. 169-179; Available online at:]

§  Copyright basics:

§  What is Copyright? :


§  Class presentations of Flashmobs videos!

§  Ethnography–concept description and site brainstorming




§  Ch. 9. (BS3). ICT and Culture

§  Lisa Nakamura. (1999). Chapter 5: Interrogating the digital divide: Political economy of race in new media. In P. N. Howard & S. Jones (Eds.), Society online: The Internet in context. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [Read pages: 71-82]

§  Ling, R. (2008). Should we be concerned that the elderly don’t text? The Information Society, 24, 334-340.


§  Ethnography–group proposals preview and discussion

Week 12 The Future is Equal: Apr 17, Apr 19



Global Village?










Stephen L. Talbott. (1995). The future does not compute—Transcending the machines in our midst. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly & Associates. [Read Ch. 9, “Do We Really Want a Global Village?” ]


§  Ethnography site work


(TR) This is what digital divide looks like


§  Ethnography class presentations and discussion

§  Finish Spaces, Places

Week 13 Civic Networks: Apr 24, Apr 26


Democracy and Dissent





Howard Frederick, “Computer Networks and the Emergence of Global Civil Society”


Mobile Media and Political Collective Action [Available online at: ]

Coopman, T. M. (2011). Networks of dissent: Emergent forms in media based collective action. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 28, 153-163. [Read pages: 153—160]



·       Finish Tweet a Day



§  Research paper feedback and review (individual with instructor)

Week 14 Collaborative Critique: May 1, May 3

Peer Critique


§  Technology Critique Research Paper



§  Technology Critique Research Paper

Week 15 Collaborative Critique: May 8, May 10

Peer Critique


§  Technology Critique Research Paper



§  Technology Critique Research Paper

Week 16 Feedback: May 15



§  Individual meetings with instructor

Finals Week! Dates: May 17—May 23
Presentations (TBA location & time)

Tuesday, May 22, 10:45AM–1:15PM (portfolio due to instructor)

Course Policies

Equipment Policy

Having a smartphone (Android or iOS) is strongly recommended. Your participation in the course indicates your openness to participate in (and thus critique your participation in) various online, technological, mediated forms.

Copyright Statement

The content (lectures, assignments, handouts) are the property of the instructor and protected under copyright law. You may not publicly distribute or display or share my course materials or lecture notes without my written permission.

 Attendance and Participation

Attendance is mandatory. Participation takes various forms: some forms are out-of-class (Tweets, Spaces, Places, and some class mediated and unmediated lab assignments) while others are assigned to be completed in-class. Please do not request make-ups for missed in-class participation. Participation is an important part of our learning weighted accordingly.

Course Ethos

As an advanced elective, I will expect responsible engagement from every student in class. I will strive to provide each of you with the resources and guidance necessary to achieve the course objectives. I am available to provide feedback, resources, and guidance during class and office-hours and will expect you to be an equal partner in your learning. As an intensive, immersive course involving deliberation, practice, application, and critique of technology in organizational, social, individual, and relational contexts, the course is designed to promote your consistent engagement with course content through the semester. Any personal accommodations made during the semester will be at my discretion weighing individual circumstances against the principle of fairness to other class members.

Deadlines, Late Policy, and Make-Ups

All assignments are due promptly at the beginning of class. Any assignment turned in after attendance has been taken will count as tardy and will be penalized by a 50% off full credit if turned in one calendar day late and will receive no credit if more than one day late. General guidelines include:

  • Monitor your grades regularly on MyClasses. You have one week from the time grades are posted to bring any grade to my notice for review. After one week, the grade will be taken as final. Returned materials may be discarded if not collected from my office within a week.
  • Do not discuss grade-related matters at end of class or via email. Please stop by during office hours.
  • You are responsible for making up any missed work or content when permitted.
  • Tardiness is unprofessional and habitual tardiness will result in loss of class participation points (tardy more than 4 times in a semester). Tardiness is defined as arriving after attendance has been taken or missing your attendance and falls under disruptive class behaviors.

Grading Policy

I strive to enter your grades within a week of their submission. You are responsible for monitoring your grade on My Classes. All grades are considered final after one week of being returned to class. You have up to one week from the day grades are returned to you to bring any concern to my notice. Requests that bring up grade-related concerns more than a week old will not be reviewed. The review process assumes you accept the possibility the grades can be revised upward/ or downward upon review. I do not keep records of class assignments more than a week after grades are returned.

In general, my grading is based on the following broad rule-of-thumb: “C” work meets the basic outlined criteria, “B” work does an excellent job of meeting the outlined criteria, and “A” work not only does an excellent job of meeting the outlined criteria, but also surpasses expectations to demonstrate innovative applications of the content that go beyond the outlined criteria. “D” work does not meet one of the basic criteria outlined for the assignment at an acceptable level, and “F” work is substandard and does not meet basic expectations on two or more of the outlined criteria.

Support Services

For trouble with your connection, access to the course website or the materials therein please contact IT at 410-677-5454, at TETC Room 113 or via email at

Emergency Policy

In the event of an emergency, announcements and information will be communicated via instructor email, My Classes course website, and SU’s home page. Course-related information will be updated by the instructor on My Classes and course website and via university email.

Office of Student Disability Support Services (OSDSS)

The OSDSS provides guidance, access to resources, and accommodations for students with documented disabilities including: medical, psychiatric, and/or learning disabilities, and/or mobility, visual, and/or hearing impairments. They can be reached at 410-677-6536.

Academic Integrity

The CMAT department expects you have read and understand the University’s policy as described in the Student Policy on Academic Integrity in your SU Student Handbook ( and thereby agree to honor these standards. Academic dishonesty as a serious offense and ALL incidences are subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, separation from the university.




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