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COM 441 | Social Media and Community Engagement | Fall 2018 | Aimée Knight, PhD  

 Merion 150 | T, TH, F 3:30 – 4:45| Office hours: 12:30 – 2: 00 T, TH | Bronstein Annex 203 |

Course Description

Not-for-profit and community-based organizations rely on strategic digital communication to
create social change. Students in this course gain in-depth knowledge of communication theories
and practices while conducting research projects with local organizations through the Beautiful
Social Research Collaborative. Students in the course actively participate as a member of a project
team to complete projects with a community partner.

Course objectives

Objective 1: Collaboration

Students will develop their ability to work collaboratively in a variety of activities and settings both in and outside of the
Objective 2: Effective Communication

Students will be able to identify and employ a range of effective communication strategies to navigate
audience, purpose, and context.
Objective 3: Community Engagement

Students will expand their understanding and appreciation of the importance of being an actively engaged
community member, especially in terms of the role of non-profit organizations and society.
Objective 4: Reflection

Students will develop their understanding of the important role of reflection during the investigation, design, and
communication process.
Objective 5: Risk-taking

Students will know what it feels like to step out of their comfort zones and take risks with their approaches to and
understanding of digital media and non-profit communications.
Course Readings - PDF Excerpts on Canvas

Aaker, Jennifer Lynn, et al. The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social
Change. 1st ed, Jossey-Bass, 2010.
Duarte, Nancy. Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences. Wiley, 2010.
Handley, Ann. Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. Wiley, 2014.
IDEO, editor. The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design: Design Kit. 1st. ed, IDEO, 2015.
Kanter, Beth, et al. Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World. First edition, Jossey-Bass, a
Wiley Imprint, 2012.
Kanter, Beth, and Allison H. Fine. The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change. 1st ed, Jossey-
Bass, 2010.
Lambert, Joe, and H.Brooke Hessler. Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. Fifth edition, Revised and
updated, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2018.
Meehan, William F., and Kim Starkey Jonker. Engine of Impact: Essentials of Strategic Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector.
Stanford Business Books, an imprint of Stanford University Press, 2018.
Sinek, Simon. Find Your Why: A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You or Your Team. Portfolio/Penguin, an imprint
of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2017.
---. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Paperback ed. with a new preface and new
afterword, Portfolio, Penguin, 2011.
Vaynerchuk, Gary. Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too. First
Edition, HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.
---. The Thank You Economy. 1st ed, Harper Business, 2011.

Course Materials

•  Adobe Creative Cloud Our classroom computers have this installed already, but you may wish to purchase a CC license). In
this course, we will primarily be using Photoshop. The library computers also have Adobe software. In a pinch, you can use
this open source method editor or this one for some of the more simple design activities.

• Headphones Bring headphones class, as we will sometimes be watching videos and self-directed tutorials.


Weekly Readings Tuesday Thursday Friday

Week 1 Beth Kanter: The Networked 8/28 8/30
Nonprofit (Pages 1-20)
Introduction Introduction Teams and
to the Course to the course roles

Week 2 9/4 9/6 9/7
Gary Vaynerchuck:
Analysis of The Thank You Economy Reading Activity 1 Activity 1 Due
Current response due
Digital Media Gary Vaynerchuck: Crushing in class.
Practices It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Discussion.
Build Their Business and
Influence-and How You Can,
Too - Instagram Facebook
Twitter Youtube

Week 3 Jennifer Aker, et al: The 9/11 9/13 9/14
Dragonfly Effect: Quick,
Comparative Effective, and Powerful Ways Reading Media Activity 2 Due
Media To Use Social Media to Drive response due Activity 2
Analysis Social Change online.

Groups meet Ann Handley: Everybody
with Writes: Your Go-To Guide to
community Creating Ridiculously Good
partners this Content

Weekly Readings Tuesday Thursday Friday

Week 4 Ideo Field Guide To Human 9/18 9/20 9/21
Centered Design (Pages 1-
Research 37) Reading Activity 3 Activity 3
Questions response 3 Due
and The Literature Review due in class.
Literature Discussion.
Reviews How to Write a Literature

Week 5 Creating a Project Roadmap 9/25 9/27 9/28

Project Reading Activity 4 Activity 4
Roadmaps response 4 Due
due in class.

Week 6 Meehan: Engine of Impact: 10/2 10/4 10/5
Essentials of Strategic
Why, Mission Leadership in the Nonprofit Reading Fellows lead Activity 5
& Vision Sector response 5 Media Due
Statements due in class. Activity 5

Simon Sinek: Start with Why;
Golden Circle; Find Your Why

Week 7 Joe Lambert: 7 Stages - Story 10/9 10/11
and the Human Experience
Visual Melissa Kelly: Reflections,
Storytelling Rahul Bhargava: Finding A Photography Project Time
Workshop Story workshop

Weekly Readings Tuesday Thursday Friday

Week 8 10/16 10/18

Fall Break on Fall Break Project Time
Project Time

Week 9 Jyri Engstrom: Why some 10/23 10/25 10/26
social network services work
Social and others don’t — Or: the Reading Activity 6 Activity 6
Objects, case for object-centered response 6 Due
Mapping sociality due in class.
Relational Discussion.
Practices GapingVoid: Social Objects
for Beginners.

Week 10 Beth Kanter: The Networked 10/30 11/1 11/2
Nonprofit : Listening,
Creating Engaging, and Building Reading Activity 7 Activity 7
Effective Relationships (Pages 59-71) response 7 Due
Strategies due in class.
Beth Kirby: Instagram Secret Discussion.
Weapons and Ultimate Guide
to Growth and Engagement

Week 11 Beth Kanter: Measuring the 11/6 11/8 11/9
Networked Nonprofits: Using
Measuring Data to Change the World Reading Activity 8 Activity 8
What response 8 Due
Matters: Data due in class.
Analysis Discussion.

Week 12 Steven Shulz: How to Write A 11/13 11/15 11/16
Case Study Report:
Deliverables: Knowledge For Action Discussion, Group Work
Answering begin case
the Research Case Study Examples from study docs
Question Digital Kitchen

Weekly Readings Tuesday Thursday Friday

Week 13 11/20 11/22

Case Studies No class Thanksgiving
Meet with

Week 14 11/27 11/29
Nancy Duarte: Resonate:
Final Present Visual Stories that Work on Group work Due: Activity
Meetings Transform Audiences group case and case 10: Final
with study study review Case Study
Community Nancy Duarte: Slidedocs - with fellows
Partners Spread Ideas with Effective
Visual Documents

Steve Krug: Omit Needless

Week 15 12/4 12/6

Final Case Discuss Case Study
Study Reflective Presentations
Presentations Essay in Merion
/Group work 150

Week 16 Reflective 12/13 @3:30
Finals Week Essay due at Final Exam
Final Exam

Course Assignments and Evaluations

Assignments Due Date Evaluation

Reading Responses Weeks 2 - 13 20%

Media Activities Week 2 - 14 20%

Participation and Social Media Posts Week 2 - 15 10%

Community Partner Project Week 14 40%

Final Reflection Week 16 10%

Reading Responses  Individual evaluation. Reading responses are in-class writing activities which demonstrate your engagement
with the ideas in the assigned weekly course material. Your papers will contain observable signs of notable effort, thinking, and
involvement with the texts. An effective response demonstrates that you have thoroughly read and understood the material (or that
you ask and attempt to answer compelling questions that reveal careful reading). The responses will develop connections between the
material and the themes of the course and demonstrate that you have considered the implications of the materials. Although these are
not formal academic papers, they should be carefully written and cited nevertheless. Include direct quotes from the readings that
support your integration of the material. Be specific about the works you’re discussing, give details to back up any assertions you may
make, include references, page numbers, and in-text MLA citations when appropriate. Finally, pay attention to grammar and
mechanics. Reading responses are short answers (typically 500 words of less). The responses entail a focused response within a limited
scope. The grading system (A, B, C, D, F) is designed to evaluate responses based on a narrow range of criteria:1) How thoroughly did
you address the question/s in your response? 2) Did you provide concrete and substantive evidence from the reading material to make
your claims? 3) Is the writing clear and concise? 4) Did you use appropriate citations using MLA guidelines? *In the case of tardiness,
you will have less time to complete the work.*In the case of an absence, you may submit the work on Canvas before you return to class.

Media Activities  Group evaluation. To promote the integration of theory and practice,  groups will work together to complete a
media activity each week. Use vocabulary, concepts, and ideas from the week’s reading material and any additional course material
to link theory with practice. Make it a habit to thoroughly relate your work with the readings. Assessment of the media activities is
ongoing throughout the semester. Late work is deducted 20% per day. Only one submission per group is necessary.

Participation  Individual evaluation. This class requires engaged listening and engaged speaking. Each member of our learning
community needs to be actively engaged in the learning process. Each student is here to contribute to the exchange of ideas. Ask
questions. Be curious. As a student in this course, you will create your own communal context for learning by engaging in
conversations with others. As such, being prepared to participate in discussions and activities is paramount. This entails having read,
annotated, and thought about the required materials carefully before class starts.  

• Do the readings ahead of time

• Have the readings accessible during discussion

• Highlight passages that you believe are worthy of discussion

• Think of the major points or problems in the text

• What questions do you have about the readings?

• Use relevant examples/cases in the text to illustrate your points

• Make a list of questions you think would be interesting discussion prompts

In this class, students help one another understand the ideas, issues, and values reflected in a text through a group discussion format.
Students are responsible for facilitating group discussion around the ideas in the text; they shouldn’t use the discussion to assert their
opinions or prove an argument. Through this method, students talk with each other, not just to the discussion leader. Through this type
of discussion, students practice how to listen to one another, make meaning, and find common ground while participating in a
conversation. During discussions, each student aims for one to one- two substantive comments or questions for every five minutes of

Community Partner Project

Group evaluation. Throughout the semester, groups will work on a digital media research project with a community partner. Each
project may differ in its goals and outcomes and will be evaluated on an individual basis. Mentoring by both fellows and professor will
lead each groups through a series of revisions, resulting in a completed project which is acceptable to all.

Final Case Study & Presentation

Group evaluation. During the last weeks of the semester fellows and the instructor will review each group’s portfolio of work from this
course. Each group will create a Case Study to be posted online on the B:Social website. During the last weeks of class, groups will
present their final case study and research outcomes to their community partners and to the class.


Come to class fully prepared to engage in the exchange of ideas. It is your responsibility to bring the necessary materials to class each
week. You will also need to access (and use) Canvas, Asana, and email. Save and backup all work at all times. It is also a good idea to
bring headphones to class, as we will sometimes be interacting with media-rich content.


Be here, on time. You are expected to attend class each week and be well prepared. We will often work on projects, watch videos,
conduct group work, and other activities during class time. There is no substitute for your presence during class. Significant absences
will hurt your grade because you will not be in class to participate and collaborate. I take attendance. You are allowed two absences (for
T, TH schedule classes). If you are absent more than two times you will automatically lose 10% of your final grade. If you miss 5 or more
classes, you will not pass the course. Lateness or leaving early is considered unprofessional and will affect your daily participation
grade by 10%.

Late Work

Late work is deducted 20% for each late day. If an assignment or project is posted after a deadline, it will be deducted 20%.

Office Hours and After Hours

I hope you will take advantage of my office hours. I am available to offer extended feedback on your projects (beyond the written
feedback you formally receive). You don’t need to have a problem to come visit, but if you do find yourself having some difficulty or
questions, then I certainly want to see you sooner rather than later. If you cannot make scheduled office hours, arrange to see me at
another time.

Equipment to check out

The COM Studies department has most of the equipment what you will need to complete course assignments. Everyone in the
department, including faculty, use the gear for their work, so it’s important that we all treat it kindly and return it on time. More details

Writing Center

The Saint Joseph’s University Writing Center is free to all members of the SJU community. The undergraduate and graduate student
writers who make up the staff can assist you in any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to organizing and developing your
ideas, to citing sources to proofreading. They work with students from across the university on a variety of assignments and projects:
lab reports, business policy papers, poems, essays, research papers, dissertations, resumes, and personal statements for graduate
school applications, among many others. You name it; they’ve helped writers write it. Both appointments and drop-in sessions are
available. The main Writing Center is located in 162 Merion Hall. The Center also has a satellite location in the Post Learning Commons
(room 128). For more information, including hours of operation and instructions on how to make an appointment, please visit the SJU
Writing Center website at

Academic honesty

If you use ideas or information that are not common knowledge, you must cite a source. This rule applies to all the course activities and
projects including reading responses, multimedia projects, and essays. How to cite a source will be discussed in class. St. Joseph’s
University’s academic honesty policy can be found here.

The penalty for plagiarism is an automatic Fail for this class and a letter of notification to the Committee on Discipline. If you are
suspected of plagiarism or an act of dishonesty, action will be taken. In all courses, each student has the responsibility to submit work
that is uniquely his or her own. All of this work must be done in accordance with established principles of academic integrity. Specific
violations of this responsibility include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Cheating, copying, or the offering or receiving of unauthorized assistance or information in examinations, tests, quizzes, reports,
assigned papers, or special assignments, as in computer programming, studio work, and the like.

• The fabrication or falsification of data, results, or sources for papers or reports

• Any action which destroys or alters the work of another student;The multiple submission of the same paper or report for
assignments more than one course without the prior written permission of each instructor;

• Plagiarism, the appropriation of information, ideas, or the language of other persons or writers and the submission of them as one’s
own to satisfy the requirements of a course.

Plagiarism thus constitutes both theft and deceit. Compositions, term papers, or computer programs acquired, either in part or in
whole, from commercial sources or from other students and submitted as one’s own original work shall be considered plagiarism. All
students are directed to the standard manuals of style or reference guides for discussions of plagiarism and the means by which
sources are legitimately acknowledged, cited, quoted, paraphrased, and footnoted—whether presented in an oral report or in writing.

Rules regarding the use of information in this course

1) If you use the language of your source, you must quote it exactly, enclose it in quotation marks, and cite the source. If you use the
language of your source, quote the wording exactly. This is called a direct quotation. A direct quotation is either enclosed in quotation
marks or indented on the page. If you omit part of the wording, use an ellipsis (three periods, four if necessary for punctuation to
indicate the omission).

2) A paraphrase employs source material by restating an idea in an entirely new form that is original in both sentence structure and
word choice. Taking the basic structure from a source and substituting a few words is an unacceptable paraphrase and may be
construed as plagiarism. Creating a new sentence by merging the wording of two or more sources is also plagiarism.

Services for students with disabilities

Reasonable academic accommodations may be provided to students who submit appropriate documentation of their disability.
Students are encouraged to contact Dr. Christine Mecke in the Office of Student Disability Services, Bellarmine, B-10, at; or at 610.660.1774 for assistance with this issue. The university also provides an appeal/grievance procedure
regarding requested or offered reasonable accommodations through Dr. Mecke's office. More information can be found at: