Yes, that’s a buzzword-y title. (Also: uh, hi. It’s been a while. I’ve been busy.) It’s the official name of a course I’m offering this Fall, on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. Unlike my classes at the Cronkite School, it’s open to all majors. It’s also capped at 129 students, so there’s plenty of room.
In the course catalogue, the description reads simply, “Covers topics of immediate or special interest to a faculty member and students,” which doesn’t really say much. So I thought I’d post some more details about what I have planned. Not a syllabus (yet), just a statement of intent, so to speak. If you’re an ASU student looking for an elective, think about MCO494! I’m very excited to have the opportunity to really explore the world of social media from a variety of perspectives.
The short and snappy description, if you’re in a hurry, is this:
This class will explore and critically analyze the social, cultural, legal, ethical, economic, and technological dimensions of social media tools from Facebook to FourSquare, Twitter to Flickr, and beyond.
More detail after the cut.
This is still in the drafting stages, but I wanted to be able to give people an idea of what the course will be about. So here’s the summary:
In the early days of the Internet, it was seen as a repository of data, a “giant library” to be consulted by information seekers, or a “shop window” where individuals and organizations could put themselves on display for “browsing.” The online world has since undergone a massive transformation, metamorphosing into an interactive environment where people engage in dynamic, ongoing conversations and actively produce as well as consume content in every imaginable form. Today’s tumultuous media environment requires both media professionals and ordinary users to not only know how to use the various tools available, but also to understand and critically reflect on the roles these tools play in shaping public discourse.
This course will introduce students to the contexts and forms of social media. What are social media, who uses them, who gains from them, and how are they transforming the social landscape? Students will become familiar with a range of social media tools, analyze and discuss their uses and implications, and develop what media scholar Trebor Scholz calls “participation literacy.”
The course will tentatively address the following topics:
What are social media?
A brief history of social media
Cultures and community in social media
Taking it mobile: Social media and technological convergence
The economics of social media
Social media, ethics, and the law
Measuring, monitoring, and analyzing social media trends and impact
Folksonomy, feedback, and the semantic web: tagging, social bookmarking and rating tools
Part soapbox, part community: exploring the blogosphere
Visually interacting: Flickr, YouTube, iMeem, Vimeo, &c.
The social dimensions of maps and location-based apps
Meta and micro: Discussion boards and online forums
From Friendster to MySpace to Facebook to LinkedIn: Social networking sites
Twitter and streaming microinteraction
Wikis, or crowdsourced information and creation
Fandoms, or communities of multimedia producer-consumers
Social media and the news
Social media and organizations
Social media and government/public affairs
Social media, identity, and society
The global dimensions of social media
Most of the readings will be from articles, many will be online sources, and I’m still deciding on the books. In any case, this isn’t really a “textbook” course; I fully expect the readings to change radically throughout the semester, since the world of social media is constantly shifting. That makes planning ahead a tad difficult… but it’s the exciting kind of challenge.
I’m really looking forward to exploring these topics with students.
Do you know if the Cronkite School has ever considered making this a requirement for journalism majors with a PR emphasis? This sure seems a lot more useful than reporting on international issues or editing!
Hi Danielle! This class can’t be made a requirement because it’s not going to be regularly offered: it’s classified as a Special Topics course. I think that social media literacy is important for everyone, but it’s hard to make room in an already crowded course schedule for another requirement. The Cronkite School is working to integrate social media into the entire curriculum rather than as standalone courses, which I think is the best long-term strategy. In a few years–maybe sooner–it will seem outdated to have a special course set aside for social media, since they will be considered part of the general mediasphere.
As an example, the last time this particular MCO494 Special Topics class was offered, it was about cable television. Now, it seems silly to distinguish between cable and network TV, at least to the point of dedicating a whole semester to the subject.
So I’m looking forward to really exploring all the various aspects of the subject in the fall, and then I expect those same aspects to make their way into syllabi and class discussions all over campus.