Mass Communication & Society (MMC 3602)
Professor Mark J. Walters (MJW@stpt.usf.edu)
Office: #225 Florida Center for Teachers
199 2nd St. South
St. Petersburg, FL 33704
Required text: Media & culture by Campbell, Martin and Fabos (2006 or later edition)
This general education course offers a broad overview of the history and plausible impacts of various mass media upon individuals and society. It looks at how emerging technologies have given rise to new and exciting forms of mass media, how older forms have invariably adapted to the modern interlopers and how the mass media have rapidly evolved toward commercial purposes that claim larger and larger pieces of "mind share." We will learn this not just for learning's sake but in order to become savvy enough to know when we are being manipulated and to employ intellectual countermeasures that will ensure our place in society as creative, critically thinking individuals rather than malleable consumers. The course is built upon extensive readings, a rich collection of multimedia materials and a personal data-collecting project called the iMediaAudit.
Our main goal in this course is to become more informed and discriminating consumers of mass media, be it radio, television, movies, the Internet or other forms. This means becoming “media literate,” or acquiring the knowledge and skills to push back when you are being duped, propagandized or otherwise having your critical thinking skills seized by the allure of captivating images and words. We will achieve this goal by systematically studying different forms of mass media (historically and presently), examining theories about how mass media may affect consumers like you and me, and undertaking a personal media audit (the iMediaAudit), in which we collect and analyze data about how each of us uses mass media.
You will have achieved this goal if by the end of the course you are able to demonstrate the following outcomes: first, a knowledge of the history of mass media and an awareness of their past and present impacts on society and their relevance to the contemporary world (E1); second, a knowledge of the methods that social scientists use to investigate these impacts and to formulate basic questions about the nature of mass media and related institutions such as newspapers, advertisers, television stations, Hollywood and the Internet (D1); and third, an awareness of the ethical dimensions of human behavior and the role of social, cultural or religious values in relationship to various mass media (D3).
The major assignments in this course have been crafted in part to help you achieve the desired outcomes. So how well you do on the assignments should reflect to what degree you've mastered the outcomes. We will assume you've achieved outcomes E1 and D1 if you have gotten at least a B average on the exams and that you have achieved outcome D3 if you have gotten at least a B+ on the iMediaAudit.
Modular Exams (50 percent)
You will have an exam on each of the modules that make up this course. The modules consist of readings (mostly from your text book) as well as additional readings and multimedia material, including vi does, narrated outlines of the required reading, and audio. The required assignments for each module are listed in the modular view. (These assignments are intended to help you meet outcomes E1 and D3.)
Each of these modular exams is worth about 3 percent of your final grade, for a total of 25 percent. In addition, you will have a comprehensive final exam on all the material in the modules. The final is also worth 25 percent. All the exams can be taken online and at any time, although suggested completion dates are included in the modular view. You will find these exams under the Assignments section of Blackboard. Please let me know if you need special accommodations.
iMediaAudit (50 percent)
The iMediaAudit is an inquiry-based research project into how you use various forms of mass media each day. Unlike the book learning part of this course, the iMediaAudit will give you the opportunity to collect, analyze and draw conclusions from data you collect about your use of mass media. This will involve keeping a detailed log of how you use the media over the course of one week. The spreadsheet will include your interactions with mass media, including time, type, purpose and other factors. An Excel template is provided on the iMediaAudit Web site. The assignment must be uploaded at the link in the Assignments section by the assigned date and time. (This assignment is intended to help you meet outcome D1.)