COM 200: Communication Theory & Practice


fall 2016

// instructor information //

Dr. Steven Hammer
301 Bronstein Hall
office hours: monday 2:30-4pm, tuesday 1-3pm
for appointments:

// course information && policies //

This introduction to communication and digital media studies focuses on various ways people employ language, image, and more cinematic means for communicative purposes. Through a series of hands-on projects students learn to research and analyze contemporary issues and trends in the field of communications, with an emphasis on digital media. In doing so, students examine how communication technologies are impacting the relationship between media audiences, producers, and content. In this course, students will:

Academic Honesty:
Please familiarize yourself with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

Accessibility and Disability Support:

If you have any concerns as we begin–or throughout–the semester in regard to the accessibility of course materials or presentation, please contact me as soon as possible.

In accordance with state and federal laws, the University will make reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. For those who have or think that you may have a disability requiring an accommodation (learning, physical, psychological) should contact Services for Students with Disabilities, Room G10, Bellarmine, 610-660-1774 (voice) or 610-660-1620 (TTY) as early as possible in the semester for additional information and so that an accommodation, if appropriate, can be made in a timely manner. You will be required to provide current (within 3 years) documentation of the disability.

For a more detailed explanation of the University’s accommodation process, as well as the programs and services offered to students with disabilities, please see the Student Resources Page. If you have any difficulty accessing the information on-line, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities at the telephone numbers above.

Revision, in most cases, is vital to both producing quality work and engaging in the process of learning new practices. Expect to revise your work, and know that I am nearly always open to considering multiple drafts of a project prior to assigning your final grade.

Attendance (being in class, on time) and participation (engaging with us while you’re in class) are vital to your success in this course. You are allowed three absences for the semester without penalty, so use them wisely. If you do miss class, you are responsible for the content you’ve missed (please don’t email to ask me if we did anything in class on the day you missed). After three absences, your final grade will be lowered as follows:

0-3 Absences = no points deducted
4-6 Absences =    10% deduction of final grade
7-8 Absences =    15% deduction of final grade
9+  Absences = Automatic F for the course

// required materials //

// course requirements //

Theory in Context: 30% of final grade

In the first unit of this course, we will read some foundational works in the field of digital media and communication to discuss the ways we are changing technologies and the ways that technologies are changing us. Be ready to read challenging material, make connections to current events, and articulate your own ideas about our relationship with emerging media. You will also get a crash course in presentation design and deliver a short presentation in class making connections between theory and our current technoCultural landscape. CLICK HERE for assignment description and rubric.

Website: 20% of final grade

Your second project for this course involves purchasing your own domain and web hosting service and designing a WordPress site. This site will be used for your work this semester and serve as an online portfolio as you continue through your major/minor. You will learn effective principles of web design, hosting and design processes, and ways to frame your digital self in relation to digital communities. You will design your site, populate it with your work and information, and write a design philosophy/artist statement articulating your choices. CLICK HERE for assignment description and rubric.

Digital Community Project: 50% of final grade

The digital community project is the largest project of the semester in terms of both time and points. For this project, you will choose a digital community–it could be anything from a professional interest to your favorite band or sports team. You will study the communication practices of that community: where, how, why, when, modes, media, genres, rhetorical appeals, and so on. After you analyze the group, you will write a proposal and join the conversation. You will produce a lot of content in doing so, and you will log the time and energy you spend, as well as keep track of your progress in becoming a credible voice in the community. Then, you will learn the basics of writing with text, sound, image, and video, and use those skills to continue your work. This project culminates into a portfolio with all of the compositions you produced and published, as well as your final reflections on engaging with digital communities. CLICK HERE for assignment description and rubric.


our schedule (is tentative)


Week 1

8/29: Whatis: media, new media, media ecology?

8/31: Introduction to Media Theory, Introduce Theory Presentation Assignment
Read Manovich, What is New Media? (p. 19-61)

9/2: Manovich, cont.

Week 2

9/5 Labor Day, no class

9/7: Read McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage (see above note on page numbers)

9/9: Read Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, pp.1-29

Week 3

9/12: Read Bolter & Grusin, Remediation, pp.1-15 (Introduction)

9/14: Read Jenkins, Convergence Culture (Introduction)

9/16: Read Menkman, Glitch Studies Manifesto

Week 4

9/19: Review.

9/21: Putting it all together.

9/23: Presentation Design, Studio.

Week 5

9/26: Slide Design Studio, cont.

9/28: Revise and Resubmit: Feedback Form Here

9/30: No class. Rehearse presentations.

Week 6







Week 7

10/10: Fall Break, no class

10/12: Introduction to part two: who you are, who you want to model.

10/14: Reclaim, WordPress Workshop // Read: Studio Session; Tutorials

Week 8

10/17: Principles of Design for Web // 
Read: 5 Key Guidelines… ; 5 Building Blocks

10/19: Principles of Design for Web, cont.
 // Read: How to Create a Site Structure…

10/21: Revise & Resubmit

Week 9

10/24: Revise & Resubmit

10/26: Revise & Resubmit

10/28: No class. Work on revisions!



Week 10

10/31: No class.

11/2: Revise & Resubmit

Unit One Due @ 11:00pm on 11/3. Send an email with 1) your website’s URL, 2) your website design philosophy.

11/4: Part Three introduction: communities, genres, and communicative conventions

Read: A Model for Analyzing Online Communities

Week 11

11/7: Analysis & Proposal Workshop

11/9: Analysis & Proposal Workshop

11/11: Bring Analysis Rough Drafts, Proposal Drafts

Week 12

11/14: Writing with Text
Analysis and Proposal Due in class (hard copy)

11/16: Writing with Images

11/18: Writing with Sound

Week 13

11/21: Writing with Sound

11/23: Thanksgiving Break, no class.

11/25: Thanksgiving Break, no class.

Week 14

11/28: Writing with Video

11/30: Writing with Video

12/2: Media Studio

Week 15

12/5: Revise & Resubmit

12/7: Revise & Resubmit

12/9: Revise & Resubmit

Week 16

12/12: Revise & Resubmit

Final Exam Week

Final Project Due by start of final exam time.

Click Here to access final exam schedule.