Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Katy E. Pearce
COM 495
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Communication

Lecture, seminar, and/or team study. Topics vary.

Class description

This course examines the impact of information and communication technology and social media on individuals and society. We will use a variety of theoretical, empirical, and popular understandings.

Student learning goals

Expose students to main issues and concepts regarding technology and society

Provide students with opportunities to discover the complex relationships between technology and social issues

Learn techniques and methods to gain new knowledge regarding technology and society issues

Train students to become critical consumers of information

Help students learn how to perform research

Help students learn how to communicate information

General method of instruction

The class will be organized around topics. Each week on Monday, the instructor will lead an interactive lecture on the topic and students will be expected to have completed assigned readings or videos on the topic. On Wednesdays the class will meet for an active learning activity. Learning about Communication is not simply the acquisition of correct information. Learning requires integrating new information into your own knowledge and experiences and merely obtaining new information from the instructor or the reading is not going to develop your own understanding of the material. Thus, instead of a transmission model (instructor or reading transmits information to you), you will take an active role in the learning process. The active learning style of instruction, at its best, will reinforce important concepts, provide students with more feedback, allow for different learning styles, provide students with new ways to engage with material, and create a sense of classroom community.

Addressing this idea of classroom community, this course relies on interactions of various kinds. We will engage in regular class discussions, online, one-to-one, in small groups and as a whole class. Much of the work in this class challenges you to work individually and with classmates to achieve objectives we establish together. Much of the work you do--formally and informally--will be done in small groups. Many of you may have had negative experiences with "group work," but I can assure you your experiences in this class will be different. You will learn to work effectively in small groups, and you may be part of several different small groups, formed for different purposes. Participating in group activities will not be optional. Learning to work productively as a community member is one of your goals for this quarter. I'm convinced that you will find the group environment to be one of the most useful and meaningful features of this course. Although I understand that effective group work requires that group members become comfortable with one another, and that a certain amount of sociability is required to maintain positive group dynamics, I also assume that when you work in groups, you are responsible for fulfilling the goals of that particular activity and that behavior in small group settings will be as respectful and professional as it is in our whole class settings.

Things to consider before enrolling: Because of this style of instruction, first, it is incredibly important that you attend class. If you do not attend on Mondays, you will not be able to fully perform as a group member on Wednesdays. If you do not attend on Wednesdays, you will not be able to perform as a group member at all. Weekly writing assignments will require that you attended both sessions in order to complete the assignment. Second, this course will require active participation, even at 9:30am. Working with other students, contributing to group products (as well as being evaluated on your contribution), and writing about your experience will be constant occurrences in this course. Third, this is a 400 level course and your responsibilities reflect this. Twenty minutes of class have been dropped each week in exchange for out-of-class writing assignments. Beyond this, there is a strong expectation that you will be engaging in course material outside of the formal class structure. But this hopefully will be a very fun and enriching class for you.

Recommended preparation

Wellman, B., & Rainie, L. (2012). Networked: The new social operating system. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

boyd, d. (2014). Itís complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Katy E. Pearce
Date: 03/12/2014