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COM 250-01 (31526) / COM 250D-02I (31544) Mass Communication and Society
JOUR C200-02 (32122) / JOUR C200-03I (31543) Mass Communications
 Steven Alan Carr, Ph.D.
Summer II 2007

Course Syllabus

Course Content and Goals
This course surveys the rise of American mass media in its various formats, including electronic, recorded, broadcast, film, broadcast, and print.  It has two goals: one content-driven, and the other process-driven.  The content goal of this course is to show how "the media" 1) refers to the plural of "medium"; 2) are complex, diverse, even contradictory, and hardly monolithic; 3) exist as a part of society, not in opposition to it; and 4) can operate as a business, as a conduit through which other social forces operate, and as a significant and influential cultural force in its own right.  Our goal is not to imitate, worship, or condemn the media, but to think critically about it – as a cultural anthropologist might do when encountering a civilization other than ones own.  Of course, our object of study is a familiar part of society that actively engages us, a circumstance arguably more challenging than studying a culture different from ones own.

The process goal of this course is to use existing communication technology in a way that extends public thinking and deliberation across time and space.  To that end, the class follows a model of deliberative public discussion.  According to the National Issues Forum, deliberation is not a debate, but a public way of thinking, making hard choices, and weighing consequences and trade-offs (  Rather than being structured around lecture or discussion, this course requires students enrolled across face-to-face and Internet sections to collaborate through different means on a series of daily deliberative discussion modules.  Some of these deliberations will take place “asynchronously,” or in a way that allows students to leave messages for one another without having to meet in real time.  Other deliberations will take place “synchronously” using real-time videoconferencing software over the Internet.

Prerequisites and Intended Audience
There are no course prerequisites.  Please note that COM 250 is cross-listed with JOUR C200 Mass Communications, not JOUR J200 Writing for Mass Media.  The intended audience consists of freshmen and sophomores.  The course fulfills Communication major requirements, Journalism minor requirements, as well as IPFW General Education requirements for both majors and non-majors in Area III Culture and Society.  There are five (4) different sections of this course.  Two of these sections, COM 250-01 and JOUR C200-02, will meet face to face on campus in the same classroom at a scheduled time.  All sections ending with an ‘I’ are for students enrolled in an Internet section through Continuing Studies.  These sections attend class asynchronously and via synchronous video, and they must meet a series of ongoing deadlines to facilitate collaboration with face-to-face students.  Internet students also will be expected to make their own arrangements for a computer with reliable Internet access, a working web camera, and speakers and/or a headset.  If you sign up for the Internet section of this class, you are expected to be literate as well as resourceful in using the technology.  Due to the variety and complexity of hardware and software configurations, the instructor cannot guarantee technical assistance for off-campus computers.  Alternatively, Internet students are welcome to attend class in person.  However, keep in mind that each section of the class has different requirements.  If you wish to be assessed based on the requirements of a different section, you will need to go through drop-add and register for the appropriate section.

Course Requirements
Because this is a summer class that packs a 16-week course into 6 weeks, the assigned workload is extremely demanding.  The process followed generally will take the form of preparation; informed discussion; reports of significant choices and decisions made, and evaluation.  Each of these activities is dependent on one another, though at any given time, multiple streams of activity might take place simultaneously by students in different sections of the class.

Computers, web cameras, speakers, and headsets will be provided for face-to-face student teams in NF B88 for synchronous video teleconference meetings with Internet students.  Internet students are required to make their own reliable arrangements for using a computer with Internet access (broadband recommended), a web camera, a microphone, and a headset, and be prepared to begin all live meetings at the scheduled time.  Outside of class, all students are required to make reliable arrangements for using a computer with Internet access.

Almost all activities related to preparation will be due before 12 PM Noon on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  By this time, all students will be expected to prepare assigned readings and complete comprehension quizzes.  Keep in mind that the normal schedule for reading assignments often will be in excess of 100 pages per week.  To show that you have prepared the reading, you also will take fifteen (15) quizzes worth ten (10) points each, due 12 PM Noon before class begins.  If you are in an Internet section, you also will contribute to the preparation phase on most days by examining your personal stake in a media-related issue via a set of brief 250-500 word response papers.  These initial responses are worth ten (10) points each for an individual grade.  Each response paper will select one question from the "Questioning the Media" section at the end of the assigned reading for that day. In addressing one of these questions, each response paper will address these additional questions: 1) What is valuable to us in this issue? 2) What are the various options available, and what are the costs or consequences associated with these options? 3) Where are the conflicts in this issue that we have to work through? and 4) can we detect any shared sense of direction or common ground for action ( Face-to-face students will use these responses as part of their in-class deliberation.  If you are in a face-to-face section, you will be expected to read, print off, and bring this material to each class meeting so you can incorporate it into the discussion phase during classtime.

In the discussion phase, daily meetings will synthesize the responses of these papers, noting particular trends and patterns across Internet student submissions.  The purpose of these discussions will be to rephrase, identify, and articulate a new discussion question based on how the response papers submitted for that week answer questions from the "Questioning the Media" section. This new question should be based upon a substantive issue relevant to the week's reading, to which there is no simple answer or solution, and where there are legitimate differing perspectives. These meetings will take place on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 5:30 PM – 7:50 PM.  For most of the semester, face-to-face students in NF B88 will work in teams of 5-7 at this stage.  For face-to-face students, in-class contributions to all meetings during regularly-scheduled class time will form the basis of an individual, cumulative participation grade worth fifty (50) points assessed at the end of the session.  For five (5) class meetings, however, all students will collaborate via video-conferencing software over the Internet in real time as the deliberation takes place.  The contributions of Internet students during these meetings will form the basis of an individual, cumulative participation grade worth forty (40) points assessed at the end of the session. The participation grade for Internet students is less than the participation grade for face-to-face students because there are fewer opportunities during the session to evaluate the contributions that Internet students make.

Also during class time, one (1) team will volunteer to pose a new question for class discussion, based on the smaller team discussion that has taken place. FTF teams will be expected to present twice throughout the session for a total of 10 (ten) points per presentation. In addition, all students will be expected to present once during one of five collabortive sessions for a total of 10 (ten) points per presentation. Each presentation will begin by having each member of the lead team briefly respond to the question posed. The class will then open for a general discussion.

In the reports phase, teams collaboratevely will author a 250-500 word report that states the group's new discussion. The report then will explain 1) what is valuable about the issue behind the question; 2) what various options get raised by the question, and what the costs or consequences associated with these options; 3) what are the potential conflicts that arise from the issue behind the question; and 4) if there are possible directions or common ground for action that can be taken in response to the issue. This report will be due once classtime has ended and before 12 PM on the day of the following regularly scheduled face-to-face class meeting.  The reports will be team-authored and will earn one grade for all team members, worth ten (10) points. All team members are asked to uphold the Honors Code in truthfully maintaining the highest standards of academic and personal integrity in earning this grade.  At the very least, each report must prominently and correctly display only the names of students who contributed to this report.  Significant contributions by individual team members should be noted within appropriate sections.  Each report will be assessed on the following basis: how well it draws upon input from all students involved in the collaboration; how resourceful the report is in going beyond the text by incorporating new ideas and sources, but nonetheless remaining relevant to significant concepts from the assigned reading; and on the substance of its idea or ideas raised.  Reports are expected to go beyond simple rote learning, repetition of factual data, and purely personal observation.  Face-to-face students will develop ten (10) of these throughout the semester, worth ten (10) possible point each for a group grade, for a total of 100 possible points.  Additionally, both face-to-face and Internet students will work on five (5) of these reports as a result of their real-time collaboration using video-conferencing software over the Internet.  These reports will be worth 10 possible points each for a group grade, for a total of 50 possible points.

Finally, students individually will evaluate posted reports.  These evaluations are due within a specified 24 hour window as marked on the schedule below.  For example, once a face-to-face group report is posted at 12 PM noon, evaluations from Internet students are due beginning 8 PM on the same day, and will be accepted for full credit until 8 PM on the following day.  For evaluations of reports completed through a video teleconference meeting, reports are due 12 PM on the following regularly-scheduled class meeting day, and will be accepted for full credit until 12 PM on the following day.  Evaluations by Internet students of face-to-face reports are worth ten (10) points each for an individual grade, with a maximum possible 30 points total toward your final grade.  Internet students will have multiple opportunities throughout the semester to complete these evaluations.  If more than three (3) are completed, only the three (3) highest scores will count toward the final grade.

All students must evaluate all reports conducted via a video teleconference meeting.  These evaluations are worth ten (10) possible point each for an individual grade, for a total of 20 possible points.  You may evaluate any report other than the one on which you contributed.  Your evaluation should address these types of questions: 1) How has your thinking about the issue changed? 2) How has your thinking about other people’s views on this issue changed? 3) What didn’t get worked through in this report? 4) What still needs to be talked about that wasn’t addressed? 5) How can we use what was learned from this report? 6) What, if anything, should we do next about the issue the ? 7) What does this report say that is different from the usual debate on this issue (  Evaluations will be assessed according to the criteria outlined in the previous section.

All students may revise and resubmit an assignment for an individual grade, including any team assignments, if the following conditions are met: the report initially earned a grade of 60% or better; all initial due dates were met; the individual participated fully in the original stream of activity; and that all work is resubmitted in an appropriate area of the course, as instructed.  Because of the tight time frame of the course, feedback for all assignments will be limited to a numeric grade.  Students may request written feedback from the instructor in writing (email preferred) no later than the fourth (4th) week of the session.  After that date, you still may revise and resubmit assignments up until the last regularly scheduled class meeting of the session.  However, I cannot guarantee providing written feedback for any requests after the fourth (4th) weekbut in time for revisions to be made before the final class meeting.

Fifteen quizzes worth 100 points each for a total of 150 points will be available no later than 24 hours before it is due, which typically will be 12 PM noon on the date of an assigned reading.  Quizzes will consist of ten (10) multiple-choice questions.  You will take these quizzes online.  You may retake a quiz for a higher grade only if you score 60% or better on that quiz.

Face-to-face students will collaborate in face-to-face teams on ten (10) reports.  Internet students will evaluate any three (3) of these reports.  On days when face-to-face students develop reports, Internet students individually will provide ten (10) response papers to be used by face-to-face students for in-class discussion.  Additionally, all students will work collaboratively on five (5) reports.  All students will evaluate a report on which they did not contribute.  You will not receive feedback on course reports (other than a grade) unless you specifically request it.

All students will be evaluated on participation during class meeting times.  For face-to-face students, participation is worth 50 points toward your final grade.  For Internet students, participation is worth 40 points.  For both sections, participation will be assessed on the basis of being excellent, satisfactory, or poor.  Because participation is assessed on an ongoing basis, you may not revise, make up, or conduct extra credit activities for your participation.  You are encouraged to initiate a discussion regarding the quality of your feedback.  The earlier in the semester you initiate this conversation, the more likely you will be able to tailor your participation to meet the requirements for this course – and the more seriously I will consider the request.  You will not receive feedback on your participation unless you specifically request it.

Grading Scale




FTF Total

IS Total

15 Quizzes (Q)





10 Face-to-Face (FTF) In-Class Team Reports (FR)





2 FTF Team In-Class Presentations (FP) FTF 10
1 Collaborative FTF-IS Team Presentation (CP) ALL 10

3 Individual Internet Student (IS) Evals of FTF Team Reports (IE)





10 IS Response Papers to Readings (RP)





5 Collaborative FTF-IS Team Reports (CR)





2 Individual Evaluations of FTF-IS Reports (CE)














Breakdown of Points for Individual and Group Assignments


FTF Individual

FTF Group

IS Individual

IS Group

Quizzes (Q)





FTF Team Reports (FR)





FTF Team Presentations (FP)
Collaborative FTF-IS Team Presentation (CP)

IS Evals of FTF Team Reports (IE)





IS Response Papers (RP)





Collaborative Reports (CR)





Evals of Collaborative Reports (CE)
















Grading Scale







Ind. Assignment
9 - 10
0 - 5
FTF Part.
45 - 50
40 - 44
35 - 39
30 - 34
0 - 29
IS Part.
36 - 40
32 - 35
28 - 31
24 - 27
0 - 23
Total Poss. Pts.

360 – 400

320 – 359

280 – 319

240 – 279

0 - 239



Tentative Course Workflow


Due 12 PM for All Students

Face-to-Face Students (NF B88)

Internet Students

M 25 June


Introduction and Overview 5:30 - 7:50 PM via

T 26 June

  Read Ch 1 Media and Culture

Media and Culture 5:30 - 7:50 PM via

W 27 June

Last Day to Drop Course for Full Refund

R 28 June

Read Course Policies

Read Course Syllabus

Sign Course Agreement

Read Ch 2 Internet and New Technologies

Quiz Q1

Develop Internet and New Technologies Report CR1 5:30 - 7:50 PM via

M 2 July

Post Internet and New Technologies Report CR1

Read Ch 3 Sound Recording

Quiz Q2

Develop Sound Recording Report FR1 in class

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Sound Recording Response RP1

T 3 July

Post Internet and New Technologies Evaluation CE1 (optional)

Read Ch 4 Radio

Quiz Q3

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Sound Recording FR1

Due 8 PM: Post Sound Recording Evaluation IE1 (optional)

Develop Radio Report CR2 via 5:30 - 7:50 PM

R 5 July

Post Radio Report CR2

Read Ch 5 Television

Quiz Q4

Develop Television Report FR2 in class Due 12 PM Noon: Post Television Response RP2

M 9 July

Post Radio Evaluation CE2 (optional)

Read Ch 6 Cable

Quiz Q5

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Television Report FR2

Due 8 PM: Post Television Evaluation IE2 (optional)

Develop Cable Report CR3 via 5:30 - 7:50 PM

T 10 July

Post Cable Report CR3

Read Ch 7 Movies

Quiz Q6


Develop Movies Report FR3 in class

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Movies Response RP3

R 12 July

Post Cable Evaluation CE3 (optional)

Read Ch 8 Newspapers

Quiz Q7

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Movies Report FR3

Develop Newspapers module in class

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Newspaper Response RP4


Due 8 PM: Post Movies Evaluation IE3 (optional)

M 16 July

Read Ch 9 Magazines

Quiz Q8

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Newspaper Report FR4

Develop Magazines Report FR5 in class

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Magazine Response RP5

Due 8 PM: Post Newspaper Evaluation IE4 (optional)

T 17 July

Read Ch 10 Books

Quiz Q9

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Magazines Report FR5

Develop Books Report FR6 in class

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Books Response RP6

Due 8 PM: Post Magazines Evaluation IE5 (optional)

R 19 July

Read Chs 11 Advertising

Quiz Q10

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Books Report FR6

Due 8 PM: Post Books Evaluation IE6 (optional)

Develop Advertising Report CR4 5:30 - 7:50 PM via

F 20 July

Last Day to Withdraw from Course

Last Day to Submit Work for Feedback from Instructor

M 23 July

Post Advertising Report CR4

Read Ch 12 Public Relations

Quiz Q11

Develop Public Relations Report FR7 in class

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Public Relations Response RP7

T 24 July

Post Advertising Evaluation CE4 (optional)

Read Ch 13 Media Economics

Quiz Q12

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Public Relations Report FR7

Develop Economics and Globalization Report FR8 in class

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Economics and Globalization Response RP8


Due 8 PM: Post Public Relations Evaluation IE7 (optional)

R 26 July

Read Ch 14 Media Ethics

Quiz Q13

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Economics and Globalization Report FR8

Due 8 PM: Post Economics and Globalization Evaluation IE8 (optional)

Develop Media Ethics Report CR5 via 5:30 - 7:50 PM

M 30 July

Post Media Ethics Report CR5

Read Ch 15 Media Effects

Quiz Q14

Develop Media Effects Report FR9 in class

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Media Effects Response RP9

T 31 July

Evaluate Media Ethics Report CE5 (optional)

Read Ch 16

Quiz Q15

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Media Effects Report FR9

Develop Media Regulation module

Due 12 PM Noon: Post Media Regulation Response RP10


Due 8 PM: Post Media Effects Evaluation IE9 (optional)

R 2 Aug


Due 12 PM Noon: Post Media Regulation Report FR10

Due 8 PM: Post Media Regulation Evaluation (optional)


Due 8 PM: Online Course Evaluations and all Revise and Resubmits


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