You are on page 1of 6

CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY GROUP PROJECT GUIDELINES Description Each student is required to work in a group to complete a social media

project related to sociological theory. This project requires you to illustrate your knowledge of a certain sociological theory (or set of theories) that you will critically analyze and put together in a social media document to live online to share and inform the public about your topic. You will be required deliver a professional presentation and a detailed memo outlining your project’s objectives, responses, and successes. To help ensure an equal distribution of labor, group members will evaluate each other’s contributions to the group and you will be evaluated individually. Group projects will count toward 40 points of your final grade. Objectives To meet the course objectives of building a solid knowledge of social theory, critically analyzing ideas through a sociologically informed lens, and communicating your thinking on social theory and social life, you will be required to build a social media project that you will share with the public online and with your peers and me in class. The group project provides students the opportunity to think critically and creatively about answering the questions: How will I take responsibility for informing people about social theory? How can I personally or collectively create social change and illustrate the usefulness of social theory in addressing social problems? Specifically, the two primary objectives of the group project include: 1) Informing people of social theory’s usefulness to understanding social life and social problems 2) Working today social change using social theory Each group will complete a social media project, share that project online and gauge/track responses, give a presentation to the class documenting their group project, and submit a memo outlining the group’s work to the instructor. I have outlined the guidelines for this project below. Guidelines What are the steps we need to follow to meet these objectives? Each group is required to complete these steps:

1) Meet with your group to decide on a project topic 2) Submit “Status Update Forms” after each formal meeting at http://tinyurl.com/iheartsoc-status
3) 4) 5) 6) 7) Create a social media project Share this project broadly online to inform the public about your topic Document and gauge responses to your project from the public Present your project and the responses it received in class to your peers and me Evaluate your contributions, those of your group members, and your peers’ group projects

Source: Danielle Dirks, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Sociology, Occidental College, 1600 Campus Road, M-26 Los Angeles, CA 90041 // danielledirks.com // dirks@oxy.edu // @danielledirks

What are the requirements of this project? The group project is intended to give students the opportunity to be active in informing people about the usefulness of social theory to understanding social life and/or addressing social problems. Projects will require you to be creative and work collaboratively in developing a project that is informative, meaningful, and should reflect that you have given careful consideration of the topics in the course. It also requires that you learn and challenge yourselves. The list below should only be used as a guide: Some Dos: Think outside of the box! Be creative! Document your work! Be active! Make people think! Become involved! Think critically! Ask good questions! Be informative! What do you mean by “social media”? Using a popular definition provided by Kaplan and Haenlein (2010), I view social media as a “group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow that creation and exchange of user-generated content” (p. 6). You are likely familiar with and use social media every day. Some examples: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc. Sound familiar? These are platforms that allow for the sharing of ideas and platforms that allow for social networking and/or online/virtual communities. We are using social media for your projects as it allows you to cast your ideas forth more broadly, and informing individuals of social theory beyond the walls of our classroom. Rather than solely consuming social media, the project allows for you to become a producer of ideas and knowledge online. I also urge you to use the course website as a platform to share your project in any way you see fit. What are some examples of social media tools and platforms you recommend we use? These will likely become dated as soon as I finish typing this sentence, but some programs that may of interest: Voicethread Haystack Projeqt Text the Mob YouTube Google Documents Google Public Data Many Eyes Flickr Twitter Wordle Tableau Gapminder Hohli Wordpress Storify Dipity Visually Stat Planet Tumblr Prezi Vuvox Creately Xtranormal Flickr Some Ideas: Mini-documentaries Letter writing campaigns or petitions Digital story telling Infographics Photo essays or digital art shows Pedagogical tools (Prezi/Vuvox) Slidecasts/podcasts Profile and compare social justice organizations Analyze social policies and impacts

What have students in the past done for their group projects? Students have created powerful, meaningful, and creative projects that have been viewed by thousands of people online. This list is by no means comprehensive, but these are some exemplary projects: Mini Documentaries/Videos

• • •

Death by Accomplice: A Documentary on the Law of Parties (YouTube) Save Jeff Wood: Innocent Man on Texas’ Death Row (YouTube) Guess Who: Governor Perry and the Death Penalty (YouTube)

Information Campaigns/Pedagogical Tools

• • • • •
Events

Conditions on Texas’ Death Row (Prezi) Cameron Todd Willingham–Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man? (Prezi) US Public Opinion on the Death Penalty: 1950-Today (Prezi) Lethal Injection in America (Blog) Race and the Death Penalty (Blog Series)

• • •

Capital Punishment Flash Mob 2009 (Campus Flash Mob) Facebook Group Students for Capital Punishment Awareness (Campus Awareness) Facebook Class Project: Capital Punishment in America (Class Project)

Specifically, what should we include in our presentation? The group’s presentation provides the opportunity for the group to illustrate to the class what you have been working on this semester. Each group will give a professional presentation to the class on their project followed by a brief question and answer session. Depending on how many groups are presenting, the presentation will be anywhere from 7-15 minutes (please check with me). It should include, at the very least, the following information: • • • • • What were the objectives of the project? Why was the group interested in this topic/project? What did you do to meet the objectives of the project? Were you successful in meeting your objectives? How effective was this project in using social media? How effective was this project in informing the public? What type of response did you receive from the project? How did the project challenge your thinking about social theory and/or social problems?

• • •

If the group chose a specific topic or focus, you will want to begin with that issue very briefly. Provide some background to why the group chose the topic. For example:

1) “We learned in class that older political theories of revolutions did not account for the Internet
age and the explosion of social media, so we set out to understand Occupy Wall Street as a social movement by attending protests downtown and using Twitter to talk with protesters to understand the role of social media in their movement”

2) “We realized that we had a difficult time understanding structuralism, post-structuralism, and structuration, so we created and curated a YouTube channel that allows for sociology students to learn these topics through modern examples…” 3) “We were interested in panoptical surveillance so we took photos of all of the surveillance cameras in Little Tokyo and mapped them out using Google Maps, creating an interactive map where others could add their photos of surveillance cameras too…” Documenting your group work visually (i.e., with pictures, text, or other media) will significantly enhance your project and presentation. Please remember that presentations should be practiced for timing and the order of speakers. If your presentation goes over on time, the group’s presentation grade will be cut in half. I will give you several warnings for timing during your presentation as well. Please also check all of your materials for spelling and grammar mistakes before posting online. Specifically, what should we include in our memo? In addition to the presentation, the group will also submit a single-spaced memo that will document and elaborate on each of the questions addressed in the presentation. The purpose of the memo is to clearly organize and present the group’s work so that I can see everything that you created and shared online with the public. I must be able to see everything you have completed for the project (i.e., it is not enough to report, “we posted on a lot of blogs”). You will need to include links for EVERYTHING in the memo. All of your work must be documented in the memo, particularly in the case you are unable to cover it in your presentation. Your memo should follow the organization below: 1) Group Information a. Names of all group members b. Statement on the group’s permission to have materials shared with the instructor’s use, on a course blog, in future courses, etc. (of course with credit given to the group members for all content) 2) Links—MOST IMPORTANT—How can I find your projects online? a. Please post all links with descriptions to each of your project pieces so that I can easily find them, upload them, share, etc. for the day of your presentations and beyond. 3) Abstract—Brief synopsis of the project (<200 words, please) 4) Index—What materials did you collect, create, and/or present that will you be turning in? a. Examples: i. We made this… ii. Our survey/blog/website/Facebook/YouTube can be found at these links… iii. Wikipedia pages we edited 5) Objectives of the Project—What were your goals? a. Examples: i. Inform the campus/community about… ii. Understand how people think about… iii. Explore how organizations talk about…

6) Method—What did you do for the project? How did you achieve your objectives? a. Examples: i. We created… ii. We interviewed X number of people… iii. We attended… (please include as much information as possible, including dates) 7) Success—Do you feel the group successfully achieved your objectives? a. Answer two questions: i. How effective was your project in using social media? ii. How effective was your project in informing the public? b. Examples: i. Yes, because we received these types of responses… ii. No, because we ran out of time and no one viewed our project… 8) Responses—What was the public’s response to your project? a. Examples: i. We received X many views on YouTube ii. X number of people responded to our discussion thread iii. A group contacted us about going on the radio to discuss project… iv. Our project was retweeted five times and posted to four more blogs… 9) Impacts a. How successful was the project in the group’s eyes? b. What have you learned from completing this project? c. How did the project challenge the group’s thinking about social theory and/or social problems? Please be sure to follow these important guidelines: 1) To protect your anonymity, please only use your usernames or first names in your online project materials. Please strip your project (except for the memo) of any personally identifiable information. 2) If you have used references or citations for your project, please include a reference list in your mom (e.g., course texts, online sources, image sources, etc.) 3) It is better to err on the side of providing too much information than not enough in the memo. How do we submit our projects? Before the deadline, please be sure that all links for your project materials are working and that your work is posted publicly (i.e., you do not need a password to access the materials). As you will have already posted your project materials online, you will send me your memo via email. Please copy and paste the memo directly into the body of your email to me and attach it as a document (Word or PDF, as long as links are working correctly). Please copy each one of your group members on the email. If there is any part of your presentation that is too big to email (it should be available online already), please make arrangements with me prior to deadline so that we ensure that we have all of your materials ready for your presentation.

When are our project deadlines? Due dates can be found on the Coursekit Calendar. You will need to turn in status update forms after each formal group meeting. All materials will be due via email prior to your presentations. How will our project be evaluated? Your presentation will be evaluated by your peers and by me using the following guidelines: • • • • • • Was the information presented clearly? Was the project and presentation well organized with clear objectives? Was the project successful and/or effective in meeting its objectives? How creative, clever, and interesting was the project and presentation? How well documented was the project? (e.g., pictures, text, or other media?) Did the project meet the course objectives in informing the campus/community/class?

You will also be evaluated as a group member. I will ask you to evaluate the contributions, strengths, and/or weaknesses of the work completed by you and your group members. After your presentation, please submit your self-evaluation and group members’ evaluations at http://tinyurl.com/iheartsoc-evals What if we have a problem with a group member? This is unfortunate and happens occasionally. The purpose of the status update form is to keep me apprised of your project’s progress, but also to let me know if there are individuals who are missing meetings, not keeping deadlines, not participating, etc. Please feel free to tell me about problems among group members in your status update forms or in private. Please also know that you are graded individually and that this individual’s lack of collaboration will not go unnoted and should not formally impact your individual evaluation. What if we have questions or need guidance? I am more than happy to discuss project ideas and any other related questions. In each status update form, you will be asked if you would like to set up a time during office hours to chat. I have set aside special office hours for your projects just for this purpose. Students in the past have said that the group project was their favorite part of the course, and at times, a transformational experience for them. I hope you enjoy working together and I look forward to seeing your projects come to fruition! 