4002-590-04 & 0535-525-01
Social Media Theory and Practice
Spring 20073 Course Syllabus

The information presented in this syllabus is subject to expansion, change, or adjustment during the quarter.


Names: Christopher A. Egert, 70-2515, caeics (at) rit.edu
Susan B. Barnes, 01-3971, sbbgpt (at) rit.edu
Stephen Jacobs, 70-2557, sj (at) mail.rit.edu

Office Hours:

and by appointment

Teaching Assistant

Kim Nguyen, Michelle Cui

Course Text and Materials

Required Books
• Text: Computer-Mediated Communication: Human-to-Human Communication Across the Internet, Susan B. Barnes, Allyn and Bacon, ISBN: 978-0205321452.
Additional Materials
• Additional readings will be provided as handouts or web URLS.

Important RIT Deadlines

Last day of add/drop is Monday, March 17, 2008. Last day to withdraw with a grade of "W" is Friday, May 2, 2008. he deadline for withdrawing from a course with a W grade is the end of the 8th week of the quarter. The withdraw process must be completed online before the deadline.

NOTE: IT department policy states that a student has one quarter to challenge any grade. After that, grades cannot be challenged

Course Description

This seminar course examines the evolving forms and functions of social media, including social networks, blogs, instant messaging, collaborative worksites, workflow management systems, content management systems, as well as desktop replacements like the Google suite of tools. This interdisciplinary course will examine the technical, social, and usability dimensions of such systems. Special emphasis will be placed on the features that allow for social network creation and social capital as applied to social media. The course will expose students to a variety of different social media systems and provide students the opportunity to analyze the capabilities of such systems.

Course Goals and Objectives

General Course Goals
By the end of the course you will understand the theoretical and applied design underpinnings of successful social media platforms and applications. You will also be able to assess your own representation in such systems and the implications and repercussions your choices in using these tools will have on your communication within them.

Course Tasks
During the course students will...

Take entrance and exit surveys on their overall understanding and use of social media and on-line social networks.

Take weekly surveys on questions related to the weekly lecture topics, the results of which will be available as an anonymous snapshot of the aggregate class experience that will be made available as sources of data for assignments

Participate in weekly on-line discussions on topics related to lectures and readings

Post weekly homework assignments to individual or group on-line community blogs

Conduct a long-term assessment/evaluation of an on-line community or social media tool of the students' choice, subject to approval of the professor(s).

Make a final presentation on the long-term assessment

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, students should be able to:

analyze and assess social media technology and use cases. Assessed through class projects and testing.

conduct ethnographic observation of behaviors in virtual worlds and/or online communities. Assessed through completion of project assignments.

describe and document the positive and negative aspects of social media. Assessed through class discussions and projects.

identify and explain key concepts and applications of social media in personal, educational and workplace uses. Assessed through class discussions and projects.

Course Organization

Class Meetings
This course will make extensive use of social media and on-line community tools. In general class will meet on Fridays from 10-12 and additional class participation will occur primarily on-line, though rooms and times have been scheduled for Friday afternoons should it arise that there are given assignments, lectures or guest speakers we determine will require additional face-to-face time.

Participation & Creativity
Portions of your grade in this course are based upon class participation ( both face-to-face and on-line) and creativity in your assignments. Creativity in this case is addresses unique and novel assessments and evaluations of tools and insightful comments and discussions and writings on-line.

For each day late, the maximum obtainable grade for a project or homework will be reduced by a score equivalent to one letter grade. Due dates and times will be clearly marked on each assignment.


The grading scale used along with the grading criteria is as follows:

Component Weight
Weekly Surveys 15
Weekly Discussions 15
Homework 20
Community/Tool Evaluation Report 35
Community/Tool Evaluation 15
Range Grade
>= 90.0% A
>= 80.0% & < 90% B
>= 70.0 % & < 80.0% C
>= 65.0 % & < 70.0% D
< 65.0% F

Course Schedule (Approximate - will change throughout the quarter!)
Week 1: Lecture: What are Social Media?

Reading:(The Chapters refer to the textbook: Computer-Mediated Communication by Susan B. Barnes and published by Allyn & Bacon)

Boyd, D. M & Ellison, N. B. (2008). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13, 210-230
Chapters 1 & 2: Computer-Mediated Communication, Characteristics of CMC


1. Survey: Which social media apps/social networks do you already use?
2. On-Line Discussion: Why you use the social media you do use.
3. Homework: Students present themselves to each other and possibly their groups.

Week 2: Lecture: Self Identity & Awareness


GIT's Turing Game Online Article
Antunes, S.(N.D.) Gender Role Play: Leaping into Cross-Gender Role Play [Online article]
Chapter 6: Presenting Oneself Online


1. Survey: reply to two other people's Introductions. Tracked in given system.
2. Discussion Question: What do you want in your on-line identity? (Machine identity versus a person choice in selecting identity cues.)
3. Homework: Why did you pick the two you did? What can you do to make a more accurate presentation of self online?

Week 3: Space Versus Place


Sacred Place vs. Recreational Space (2003) [Online Article]
Weinberger on the Web Page
Strate, L. (1995). Experiencing Cybertime: Computing as Activity and Event. Interpersonal Computing and Technology, 3:2, pp. 78-91.


1. Survey: What apps that you use create a sense of place for you? Same or updated list from week 1
2. Discussion Question: How do you create a sense of place or space in a virtual world?
3. Homework: Reflection paper on space and place in computer networks

Week 4: Lecture: Structure of Networking Communities


Morningstar, C. & Farmer, F.R. (1991). The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat. In M. Benedikt (ed..) Cyberspace: First Steps. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Williams, D. Ducheneaut, N., Xiog, L. Yee, N. & Nickell, E. (2006). From Tree House to Barracks. Games and Culture, 1:4, 338-361.
Chapter 11: Virtual Communities


1. Survey: Do you, would you use networking space add-ons (full profile, games, points and gifts, recommendations, etc)
2. Discussion Question: How does the software your class is using shape the way people communicate with each other?
3. Homework: Team Analysis of Online Community (We should pick some) Just observe.

Week 5: Lecture: Awareness & Notification


Brush, A. J. B., Bargeron, D. Grudin, J. & Gupta, A. (2002) Notification for Shared Annotation of Digital Documents. Paper presented at CHI 2002, April 20-25, 2002 Minneapolis, Minnesota
Chapter 3: Human-Computer Interaction


1. Survey: Which types of notification do you find acceptable/unacceptable? Which do you use yourself?
2. Discussion Online: (Why did or didn't you respond? When would you?).
3. Homework: Design a set of guidelines for when it is and isn't appropriate

Week 6: Lecture: Ethics


Bruckman, A. Curtis, P. Figallo, C. & Laurel, B. (N.D.) Approaches to Managing Deviant Behavior in Virtual Communities.
Dibbel, J. (1993) A Rape in Cyberspace. The Village Voice, December 23.
Chapter 13: Anonymity, Privacy and Copyright


1. Survey: Have you been harassed on-line? (Range from unwanted e-mail to cyberstalking, etc)
2. Discussion: Was or wasn't it a rape? Series of Questions relating to the rape
3. Homework: Place the rape on the Gattiker` Model

Week 7: Lecture: Social Norms


Lynn, R. (2007). Virtual Rape is Traumatic, But Is It a Crime? Wired, May 2007.
Chapter 12: Disruptive Online Behavior


1. Survey: Does the on-line community you've been monitoring have the following social norm...?
2. Discussion: How do online groups form social norms?
3. Homework Online: (How did you react to grad student's unacceptable behavior? How would the on-line community you are observing react to it?)

Week 8: Lecture: Trust Online


Grohol, J.M. (N.D). Anonymity and Online Community: Identity Matters [Online Article].
Henderson, S. Gilding, M. (2004). "I've Never Clicked this Much with Anyone in My Life": Trust and Hypersonal Communication in Online Friendships. New Media & Society, 6:4 487-506.
Barnes, S.B. (1999). Ethical Issues for a Virtual Self. In S.J. Drucker & G. Gumpert (eds.) Real Law @ Virtual Space, pp. 371-398. Cresskill: NJ, Hampton Press.


1. Survey: What technologies/fail safes does social SW need to instill your trust?
2. Discussion: What levels of trust does one type of social media need vs. another?
3. Assignment Online: What are the repercussions of plant an idea that is not true to your identity and within the larger community as a whole?

Week 9: Lecture: Communities that Help People & Report on Research to Date


Rai-Dupree, J. (2008). Pixelanthropy: Charities Tap into Second Life. MSNBC, Thurs. Jan. 10.
Goldfarb, Z. A. (2007) Social Networking for the Socially Minded. Washington Post [Online], December 17.


1. Survey: Would you ever consider joining these kinds of on-line support communities, religious, health, 12 step, etc)
2. Discussion: Why or why not.
3. Homework: Work on final analysis

Week 10: Lecture: Remix Culture


Music Remix History [Online Article]
Koman, R. (2005). Remixing Culture: An Interview with Lawrence Lessig. [Online Article]
Barnes, S.B. (2006). A Privacy Paradox: Social Networking in the United States. First Monday, 11:9.


1. Survey: How much of the media on your hard drive have you purchased or do you legally have the rights to?
2. On-Line Discussion: copyrights and wrongs/creative commons
3. Homework: Work on final analysis

Week 11: present final analysis.


Academic dishonesty is misrepresenting someone else's work as your own. Academic dishonesty is a serious matter, and can result in an automatic F for the course. Please review the IT department's policy on cheating, located online at http://www.it.rit.edu/policies/dishonesty.html. If, during the quarter, you ever have any questions about what does or does not constitute academic dishonesty, please come and talk to me.


Any or all of the previous information is subject to change or adjustment during the quarter.

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