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George Mason University Department of Communication Fairfax, Virginia

Course: Instructor: Semester: Office: Office Hours: Office Telephone: Email:

Comm302: Foundations of Mass Communication N. H. Chaaban, Ph.D. FALL, 2012 ROBINSON 339B By Appointment 703-993-1106

ONLINE Course Description

How have the mass media transformed American society? What influence do media forms wield in shaping our identities, our politics, our understanding of the social world? Should we worry when control of the media is concentrated in the hands of government agencies or industrial conglomerates? From the end of the 19 th Century, questions like these have provided much fodder for theoretical and political debate. In this course, we will examine the historical development of a variety of theories addressing the complex relationships between media, culture, and society. We will explore how each theoretical perspective emerged in response to particular historical circumstances. We will also explore how each perspective made important choices regarding what questions were important to ask (and which were not) and how such questions should be investigated. Finally, in our discussions, we will attempt to assess (1) the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective, and (2) the continuing relevance of the perspective in helping us understand the contemporary media environment.

Course Objectives
(1) A basic command of the history of mass communication theory To understand a variety of theories which explore the nexus between media, culture, and society. To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these perspectives. To understand the historical conditions underlying the emergence of each perspective. To develop an ability to think through and discuss some of the social applications and political implications of each perspective. Students will meet these objectives through class discussions, class workshops, short writing assignments, and two exams. (2) Develop skills that are fundamental to a liberal education, to effective citizenship, and to professional success. To enhance students ability to discuss complex issues in public. To continue to develop critical thinking and writing skills skills that will help in any professional or public context. In our investigations of media and mass communication theory, we will primarily be engaged in two kinds of activities, (1) lecture/discussions and (2) seminar/workshops----all will be done online.

Stanley Baran & Dennis Davis, Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future, (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2009.

NATURE OF COURSE DELIVERY The course will be delivered online using an asynchronous (not real time) format via the Blackboard course management system. There are no face-to-face meetings. The course will utilize a combination of readings, instructor lectures, research activities, discussions, peer

reviews, and group projects to help participants understand and apply the principles of instructional design. To participate in this course, students will need the following resources: 1 Internet access with a standard browser (Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer are the preferred browsers) 2 GMU e-mail account 3 MS Office or OpenOffice 4 Up-to-date laptop or desktop computer capable of running audio and video files .To access the course, follow these directions:
Courses 9.1 can be accessed by using the following instructions:

Open a browser, type in the web address:

Click in the Username field and enter your Mason NetID (the first portion of your e-mail address, before the @). Click in the Password field and use your Strong Password (PatriotPass credentials). Click on the Login button or press Enter. Click on the Courses Tab, located across the top of the myMason Portal. Locate the Bb 9.1 Course List Module. Click on the title of your course to access course materials.

Prior to logging in, review the system requirements for running Blackboard (Bb) from your home and workplace. After confirming that your computer satisfies Bb system requirements, log in to Bb. Your GMU e-mail user name is also your Bb ID and your GMU e-mail password is your Bb password. Once logged in, you will see a listing of all the courses for which you have registered. Select COMM 302 read the Welcome page carefully, AND START WORKING ON THE ASSIGNMENTS. When necessary, we will use elluminate for office hours, study sessions, to work on the group project, to clarify assignments and other class related issues. If you miss a session, the sessions will always be recorded. Please see the following about Elluminate:

Introduction to the Blackboard Collaborate Product

Blackboard Collaborate Blackboard Collaborate, formerly Elluminate Live!, is a Course Tool now available in all myMason Courses and Organizations. Collaborate is an interactive virtual classroom environment designed for teaching and learning, and real-time collaboration. Features include an interactive whiteboard that allows you to write and display content/PowerPoint slides, multi-person audio and video, screen sharing, chat, and more. All sessions can be recorded. Potential uses include: - Teach classes synchronously online - Hold virtual office hours - Record lectures - Collaborate in groups - Invite guest speakers - Connect with internship or abroad students - Emergency proof courses In this course, we can use Collaborate for a variety of purposes including: teaching class sessions online hosting guest speakers holding virtual office hours leading test review sessions

Elluminate Live! sessions can also be created for students to:

work in study groups complete peer review activities collaborate on group projects

If you cannot log in to myMason please contact the ITU Support Center, 703.993.8870, or email them at The Support Center is able to advise you of network problems, including if access to the authentication server, is the source of any disruption to your ability to use Blackboard on or offcampus.
If you have other questions regarding your Course, please email, please include your Course CRN, G number and your Mason email address in all correspondence. Allow 24 hours for a response.

Netiquette Our discussion goal is to be collaborative, not combative. Experience shows that even an innocent remark in the online environment can be easily misconstrued. I suggest that you always re-read your responses carefully before you post them to encourage others not to take them as personal attacks. Be positive in your approach to others and diplomatic with your words. Your instructor will do his best to do the same. Remember, youre not competing with each other for grades, but sharing information and learning from one another.

Chapter assignments throughout the semester will be devoted on the various theoretical perspectives. After reading the chapters, students are always invited to ask questions and to comment on the issues raised in the readings. From time to time, I will also assign additional readings. When reading the chapters, try to apply the theories to documentaries, examples of media, and other media-related materials. Assignments in this course will be devoted to discussion board items, group project, and exams, research paper, chapter summary, and other related assignments, in order to increasing our understanding of media theory and the relationship between media industries, culture, and society. For the most part, some assignments will be devoted to discussing the issues raised by the readings. To facilitate discussion, students will be asked to divide themselves into seminar groups of 4-6 students each. These seminar groups will allow us to conduct workshops and will help ensure that everyone has a chance to have their views heard on the discussion board. Seminar groups will also be asked to post the results of their discussions up on our Blackboard discussion board.

These are the sections on Blackboard you should use to look for assignments, work on the assignments, communicate with your instructor and classmates, take exams, and work on the group project. 1. Discussions Board. Please go to this section every week to see what is due. Make sure you answer the questions for each week.

2. Email Section. Send emails to your instructor or classmates. For sending email, go to Tools,
then click on email.

3. Assignments
This is where you will find the group project paper, the group project PowerPoint presentation, the book review, chapter summaries, and other class related assignments. Please read them carefully before you begin the assignment. You will also find the evaluation forms for the assignment under this section.

4. Exams
You will find the two timed exams in this section. You must come to campus to take the exams. Please take a look at the schedule and record down the date for each exam. Information about where to take the exam and the specific time will be sent out by the second week of school. Please make sure you take the exams on the dates specified. All efforts will be made to accommodate students' requests.

5. Groups
I will assign you to a group by the end of the second week. Once I assign you to a group, you will receive an email from me and you will then need to look up your group members under the Group section.

6. Weekly Dates
Please take a look at the weekly due dates make sure you meet the deadline for each assignment under each week. This is one of the most important sections on Blackboard. It is best to be ahead of yourself at least one week in the event that you get sick.

Course Philosophy
1. All facts and theory necessary are in your text: READ THEM. 2. 2. Experience: *class assignments involve communicating, then reflecting on what happened. *active participation on all discussion board assignment is essential 3. Text Reading: *students are required to do the reading when assigned *essential to accomplish the goals of the class *students are expected to read materials when assigned *students should raise questions when something is not clear by sending the instructor an email on Blackboard. When necessary, the student can come see the professor during his office hours or a live session will be set up on Elluminate to discuss the problem or concern.

REQUIREMENTS: 1. Assignments:
*Discussion board Topics and Chapter Summaries *THREE examinations (all multiple choice, 40 questions each) * one research paper * one group discussion paper * one group project presentation slides *Related assignments

2. Class Participation:
*Students are expected answer all discussion board questions, comment on at least three of their classmates answers on the discussion board, and working diligently with his/her group members on the group project. *In order to make sure that students assignments are grade on time, no LATE assignment will be accepted. This is a student-centered course, which depends on you for quality discussion on the discussion


DISABILITY STATEMENT: If you have a learning or physical difference that may affect your academic work, you will need to furnish appropriate documentation to the Office for Disability Services. If you qualify for accommodation, the ODS staff will give you a form detailing appropriate accommodations for your instructor. In addition to providing your professor with the appropriate form, please take the initiative to discuss accommodation with your instructor at the beginning of the semester and as needed during the term. Because of the range of learning differences, your instructor need to learn from you the most effective ways to assist you. If you have contacted the Center for Disability Services and are waiting to hear from a counselor, please tell me

The grades in this course will be based on the percentage of point totals accumulated. For the assignments and activities, a maximum of the following may be earned: 1. Discussion Board and Chapter Summaries Completing assignments on the Discussion Board and Assignments sections, asking and answering questions via email, and commenting on your classmates answers on the Discussion Board, especially on the PowerPoint Presentations = 15%

2. Exams, Paper, and Group Presentation

Exams (2 multiple choice exams) = 60% The exam questions will come from the textbook. Do your best to take each exam on the date that it is scheduled. If you have any problems with this, please let your instructor know right away. Research Paper = 10% Group Project Paper = 10% Group Presentation (PowerPoint Slides) = 5% TOTAL = 100%

3. Grading Scale
93 100 = A 90 92 = A87 89 = B+ 83 86 = B 80 82 = B77 79 = C+ 73-76 = C 70-72 = C60 69 = D 59 or below = F .


There will be THREE multiple -choice exams. Each exam must be completed when it is due. No late exam will be given. Evaluation Forms: For the Group Project Paper, the Group Project Presentation, the Discussion Board Questions, and Research Paper, go the Course Document Section on Blackboard for the evaluation forms.

Group Project:
The group discussion requires students to identity a MASS MEDIA problem, to define and analyze the problem, to establish criteria for solution options, to generate/brainstorm possible solutions to the problem, to evaluate the solution option, to select at least three justifiable possible solutions, and to discuss how to implement the selected solutions. The final group paper and presentation should reflect the six major steps of problem solving discussed in class. Following your group meetings, the group members will prepare two assignments: 1. The group members will prepare a 12-15 page paper applying the problem-solving steps explained under the Group Project. The paper must be typed, double-spaced, and contain a bibliography of at least fifteen research materials. Note: this is a group paper. 2. Group members will jointly report to the class on their solutions to the problem, their definition of the problem, their criteria, what they have learned from the project, and most important, how they worked with each other. This presentation is a PowerPoint presentation, not an actual class presentation. This is done by designing 18-30 slide show that is centered on what members learned from the assignment and not just reporting on what is on the paper. At the beginning of the presentation, each member should introduce him/herself and the section he/she completed. Class members are allowed to ask questions or comment on the slides once they have seen them on Blackboard.

ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL PAPER This paper requires you to identify mass communication theory and do the following: 1. Give a brief background of the theory. Who coined the theory? In what year what it coined? 2. 3. What are some of the strengths of the theory? What are some of the weaknesses of theory?

4. Use at least three situations where you can apply the theory and explain how the theory works. 5. 6. 7. What are some of your suggestions for future research for the theory? Is this theory helping in understanding mass communication? Explain! What is your overall evaluation of the theory?

8. This paper should be 6-8 pages, typed, double-spaced, with at least six authoritative sources cited. Please make sure you have a cover page with all necessary information.

Written Assignments:
Because your work in the professional world will be judged on neatness and format, your assignments will also be judged in part on their professional appearance. Produce writing that

demonstrates proficiency in standard edited American English, including correct grammar/syntax, sentence structure, word choice, and punctuation.

Late Work:
All assignments must be submitted on the day they are due. Late work, if accepted, will be lowered by 20% for each day it is late. No papers will be accepted more that 5 days after the deadline. If you become sick or have an emergency situation, contact your instructor for alternate arrangements. If you do turn in a late paper, no additional late work will be accepted. Please plan ahead or make necessary arrangements with a fellow student whom you trust. You can explain your problems to your instructor, but they do not excuse late work.

Any written work with your name on it signifies that you are the author--that the wording and the major ideas are yours, with exceptions indicated by quotation marks and citations. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of others materials. Evidence of plagiarism will result in one or more of the following: a failing grade for the assignment, and F in the course, a report filed with the dean. Resources: Fenwick Library and The Johnson Center Library. Tutors are available to help students with papers at any stage of the writing process in the Writing Center. Everyone is encouraged to take advantage of this free service. In addition, you should already be familiar with both libraries. Reasonable Accommodation: Please discuss with the instructor at the beginning of the semester or within two weeks of the diagnosis. Those seeking accommodations based on disabilities should provide a Faculty Contact Sheet obtained through Disability Support Services (DSS).

Reminders: 1. Do not expect to pass the course if you do not complete all assignments on time, especially the exams, group project paper, group project presentation slides, book review, discussion board items, and weekly summaries. 2. Do not turn-in assignments late. Make sure all written assignments have a cover page with the following information: . Your name . Course title and number . Day and time section meets. . Title of the assignment. . You instructors name . Date of submission 3. Make sure you participate in your group project. Failure to do so will lead to an F for the assignment. 4. Please make sure you read the chapters before coming to class. .. You must participate in all Blackboard assignments. Remember, you must comment on three classmates answers on each of the discussion board assignments. 5. Show tolerance to different ideas. 6. Always use our courses Blackboard. Blackboard has useful information to help you succeed in the course. 7. Always consult with your instructor if you are experiencing difficulties with assignments or the course. I am here to help you. Do not suffer while trying to figure out an assignment. Ask for

clarifications, samples, or just for help. 8. Students will select a responsibility partner. You can send an email to any of your classmate and ask that person to be your responsibility partner. That person, once selected, should be asked to REVIEW your paper before submitting it. You can also discuss assignments with that person to make sure you understand the questions raised in the assignment. You can also study together with this person for all three exams. I is best if you ask someone from your group. 9. You will be assigned a group for the duration of the class. 10. Stay with the group. You will work on the group project paper and group project presentation with the group members. 11. The GMU Honor Code is an expectation of conduct for this class. 12. The Communication Department expects use of a style sheetmost students use the APA Manual. For additional help, go to 13. This 3 credit, ONLINE COURSE assumes that you have 2-3 hours for studying for each credit hour, which means about 6-9 hours of studying each week. Students should try to balance outside demandsathletics, work, home life, avocations, community service with their academic load. 14. Any concern about a grade of an assignment must not be discussed in the Discussions section. Please do not ask your instructor about grades via Discussions section. Please email me or come to my office. 15. The GMU Honor Code applies to all exams, papers, group project, and group presentation slides that you complete e in this class.