COMMS 301: Digital Communication and Practice
COMMS 301: Digital Communication and Practice
Office Hours: Wed. 2-3pm (and by appointment)
GTA: Benjamin Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Office Hours: HSB room 528, Tuesdays 10am-11am, Ground floor of SocSci (HSB, 201E level 4) 11am-12pm (and by appointment)
Office Hours: ground floor of SocSci (Bldg. 201E level 4)
Mon. 1-2pm & Tues. 1-2pm (and by appointment)
Format: 2 hours of lectures + 1 hour of lab / tutorial per week
COMMS 301 combines creative work of making digital objects (e.g., Twitter bots, animated GIFs, data visualizations, slideshow presentations) with critical discussion of online platforms as well as conceptual frameworks for understanding the roles digital media play in society. At the level of “digital logic & computational thinking” students will learn basic programming skills for the web (no prior experience necessary). At the level of “digital media & configurable culture” students will leverage more user-friendly tools to create, remix, and present multimedia work.
Topics & Structure:
This course is divided into two large units of six weeks each.
The second unit, “digital media & configurable culture,” emphasizes more user-friendly tools to create, remix, and present multimedia work including animated GIFs, data visualizations, slideshow presentations, and more.
Six assignments of 10-15 points each = 70%
Three in-class quizzes of 10 points each = 30%
No final exams or papers.
To succeed on assignments and quizzes, students are expected to attend and actively participate in ALL lectures and tutorials.
Assignments will each be very different (please consult the Canvas "Assignments" tab for further details) but will typically include a "digital media object" of some kind plus a paragraph of accompanying text. Assignments will usually be due at 5pm on Tuesday nights. This deadline is chosen to encourage students to take the time to do assigned readings before Wednesday lectures.
10-point assignments will be graded on this basis:
- 5 or 6 points = reasonable but flawed attempt
- 7 points = satisfactory work in line with expectations for the assignment
- 8 points = great job!
- 9 points = above and beyond expectations
- 10 points = so amazing it brought tears to your grader's eyes
Submissions with major problems may receive from 0-4 points. Unless noted otherwise in the assignment, assume late submissions are penalized two points per day. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension by providing supporting information to the GTA before the assignment is due.
The two larger assignments worth 15 points each will be scored in a proportionally similar way (e.g., satisfactory work will receive approx. 11/15 points, etc.)
Because this class has a large number of small assignments, each one receives a limited amount of feedback. Students are therefore strongly encouraged to come to office hours to discuss their work in more depth with Ben, Thomas, and Ethan.
Quizzes will be held during lecture and may cover any and all readings, lectures and other materials addressed in the course up to and including the day of the quiz.
How To Communicate With Us & Each Other:
Even if you don't have any questions to ask, please come to both Ethan's and the GTAs' office hours. Talking to students is the loveliest part of academia, but for those conversations to happen, you have to show up! Feel free to bring a random friend or a long list of questions or a sandwich, whatever makes you comfortable, just be sure you come.
Ben Hall will be with us as GTA all semester and will lead most tutorials / labs in weeks 7-12.
For the first six weeks while we're learning to code, Ethan will lead Thursday labs, and Thomas Suselo from CS will give extra GTA help with your code. Thomas's office hours will be in an open space (probably the big lounge area of the social science building) so you can just show up, work on your own, and ask questions as they arise.
Although talking face to face is our favorite way to communicate with students, you can also ask questions on our Piazza site. Two ways to find that:
- Within Canvas find "Piazza" in the navigation bar
- Skip Canvas and go straight to Piazza here:
Of course you can also email us, especially for personal matters or if the question seems inappropriate to share with the larger group. This guide to emailing your teachers is full of good advice.
Also: Just be kind. University can be wondrous, especially if we all support each other, but students also struggle in silence with all kinds of things we don't know about each other. (Even your teachers are human, too). Respect each other's cultures and identities to build a little community in which we can make mistakes and laugh together. Also, when things get complicated, you can always talk to Ethan about anything at all, and of course the university provides support for both personal and academic issues.
Other Important Stuff:
We expect your best original work, held to the high standards laid out in the Student Charter, university policy on academic integrity and copyright, etc. If you are unfamiliar with any of these policies, please look here. The standards for plagiarism and citation when submitting code may be especially unfamiliar, and when creating digital media projects, copyright concerns are often complex, so please ask us questions about these things. (Word of advice: err to the side of caution by citing everything that might be construed as a source in your student work).
Accessibility and Inclusion: Everyone should be able to succeed in the class. If some form of accommodation is needed for you to thrive in here and do your best work, please let me know. Folks with non-visible disabilities are especially encouraged to reach out so we know to consider your needs.
Personal Needs: Students' performance can be compromised when they have trouble securing housing, food, and other basic needs. The Faculty of Arts Student Development and Engagement team is available to help with these issues and otherwise provide support when personal issues overwhelm academic responsibilities. If you are comfortable in telling Ethan about these issues, he will also try to find ways to help.
P.S. - Syllabi are strange documents. I agree with almost everything Sonya Huber says here in her "Shadow Syllabus" (even if I might say it a bit differently).
image credits: H Alberto Gongora (hand) Vectors Market (woman speaking) Oksana Latysheva (chatbots) via https://thenounproject.com/
The syllabus page shows a table-oriented view of course schedule and basics of course grading. You can add any other comments, notes or thoughts you have about the course structure, course policies or anything else.
To add some comments, click the 'Edit' link at the top.