COM 200: Communication Theory & Practice

COM 200
Communication Theory & Practice
Fall 2017

Instructor Information

Dr. Steven Hammer
301 Bronstein Hall
office hours: 12-3pm, Tuesday, or by appointment
for appointments:

Catalog Description

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.

Learning Objectives

In this course, students will:

Required Materials


COM Gear Room Policies & Procedures


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.

Collaborative Work
This course is highly collaborative in order to simulate professional production situations you may encounter after the semester. Sometimes, part of that experience is frustration, conflict, and/or unequal workloads. If you experience conflicts you are unable to resolve by communicating with one another directly, please contact me.

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 for the semester without penalty, so use them wisely. If you miss four to five classes, your final grade will be lowered by 10%. If you miss six to eight classes, 15%. If you miss nine, you will automatically fail the course. 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). If you miss days in which your group requires you, your grade for that project will likely suffer.

Assignments & Evaluation

There are 100 points available to earn this semester. You will have an opportunity to revise all of your assignments once.

Final grades will be determined using the following scale:

A: 94-100; A-: 90-93
B+: 87-89; B: 84-86; B-: 80-83
C+: 77-79; C: 74-76; C-: 70-73
D+: 67-69; D: 64-66; D-: 60-63
F: 0-59

Theory Reading Responses/Discussion Participation: 25%

For each day a reading is required and has an asterisk* on the schedule (below), you will complete an entry in a GoogleDoc for that reading that includes:

You will complete a total of 8 responses, each of which should be around 200 words. You will be evaluated on completion of the three criteria above, thoughtfulness, depth, and participation in class discussion (aloud in class and/or on Twitter during class using the hashtag #sjucom200). Each entry will be worth 3 points:

Hawk cHill: 40%

The major project in this course involves producing and publishing content for Hawk cHill, an online publication maintained by all sections of COM 200. This project is not only collaborative across five sections of the course, but also within our class. Each week, you will work in teams to produce a story for a given section of the site (which is available in our schedule below). On Mondays, you will bring story ideas for critique/development. Throughout the week, your team (comprised of a writer, editor, social media manager, and supporting content producer, roles that will revolve each week) will work on the approved story. Friday, you will bring completed drafts for critique, editing, and revisions. You will publish your stories by Saturday at 5:00pm Eastern time. Deadlines are non-negotiable; late posts will result in an automatic grade reduction of one point or more. You will post ten times throughout the semester, and each post is worth 4 points. Each group will receive the same grade each week.

Team Roles/Responsibilities:

Evaluation Criteria:

*all content must be original work, including supporting media

On Fridays, I will provide feedback to you based on these evaluative criteria so that you will have an opportunity to revise your work.

Taste (Instagram) – music, food, art, theatre etc. What we like.
School (Twitter)– Classes, studying, exams, departments, programs and other stuff related to the academic part of college.
People (Instagram) – Humans of St. Joe’s
Self (SnapChat) – Health etc. Emotional, physical, nutrition, etc.
Study Break (FaceBook) – Non-academic stuff of college life, including stuff off-campus.

Website/Portfolio: 25%

This project 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.


Evaluation Criteria

Design Philosophy: clear, specific, illustrative, explicit description of your choices, process, intentions, and justifications. Attention to audience, purpose.

Final Exam: 10%

Your final exam will cover the same readings required for your responses (marked with an asterisk* in the schedule). I will ask you to apply those readings to a contemporary issue in an essay. I will provide more specific direction during our final exam review session.


(Tentative) Schedule

WeekOne: Intro to Production

Introductions, what makes a good story?

Read: Story Ideas, Writing for the Web
Writing for the Web: Stories, Ideas, Audience

Read: How to Write Short, 5 Principles of Web Writing
Writing for the Web: Tone, Style


WeekTwo: Intro to Production, cont.

LaborDay Break, no class.

Read: Photo Guide, Finding Images
Writing with Images: Framing, Editing

Read: Yale Film Analysis Guide, Section 3: Cinematography, Beginner’s Guide to DSLR Video
Writing with Video: Hardware/Techniques


WeekThree: Intro to Production, cont.

Writing with Video: Editing in Adobe Premiere Pro
Download these files: Audio, Video, Image

Read: Write How You Talk 1
Writing with Sound: Recording Hardware/Techniques

Read: Audacity Basics, Edit with your Ears
Writing with Sound: Editing


WeekFour: HawkcHill Production Begins

Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: People/Instagram
1:25: Self/Snapchat

*Read: Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message

Production Day



Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: Self (Snapchat)
1:25: Study Break (Facebook)

*Read: N. Katherine Hayles, “Hyper and Deep Attention: The Generational Divide in Cognitive Modes

Production Day



Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: Study Break (Facebook)
1:25: Taste (Instagram)

*Read:  Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail

Production Day



FallBreak, no class

Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: Taste (Instagram)
1:25: School (Twitter)

Production Day



Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: School (Twitter)
1:25: People (Instagram)

*Read: Fake Media, Fake News, #PostTruth

Production Day



Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: People (Instagram)
1:25: Self (Snapchat)

*Read/Watch: Zuckerman, Pariser

Production Day



*Read: Tedesco, Unit One of this course, GoogleaDay Puzzles daily Sat, Sun, Mon before class

Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: Self (Snapchat)
1:25: Study Break (Facebook)

Production Day



Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: Study Break (Facebook)
1:25: Taste (Instagram)

*Read: Hawisher and Selfe, “The Rhetoric of Technology and the Electronic Writing Class

Production Day



Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: Taste (Instagram)
1:25: School (Twitter)

*Read: Rosa Menkman, “Glitch Studies Manifesto

Production Day


WeekThirteen-Final Week of HawkcHill Production

Production Meeting Day: Group Story Pitches, Planning
11:15: School (Twitter)
1:25: People (Instagram)




WeekFourteen-Portfolio Work Begins

Read/Refer: WordPress/Reclaim Resources
Wordpress, Reclaim. Naming, intro to design.

Read: Choosing Themes
Website Design

Advanced WordPress features: widgets, tools, analytics, etc.



Portfolio Studio/Workshop/Critique

Portfolio Studio/Workshop/Critique

Portfolio Studio/Workshop/Critique



Final Exam Review Session

DEC13-19 final exams (see schedule here)