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					               INF215: The Written Word and the Internet
                           Course Syllabus
1) Instructor:
Michelle Thuma
Skype: Michelle.Thuma
Google Chat, Twitter: Mthuma

2) Course Description:
This course examines the current uses of text-based communication on the Internet, with
a primary focus on how online text-based interaction changes communication in general
and written communication in particular.

3) Course Goals and Objectives:
       a. Goals
       Students who successfully complete this course will gain an understanding of the
       various types of text-based communications on the Internet, the unique aspects of
       and conventions for each application, and their cultural and social impact, both
       collectively and individually.

       b. Objectives
       At the end of this course each student will:
               i. be knowledgeable in and comfortable with several different types of
               text-based Internet communications
               ii. be aware of the writing conventions and generally accepted practices
               unique to online communications
               iii. understand the social and cultural impact of online communications in
               general and text-based Internet communications in particular

4) Evaluation and Grading:
Each student will be evaluated based on the following categories:
       Class Discussions             25%
       Personal Blog                 25%
       Writing Assignments
               Social Interactions   10%
               Pros and Cons         10%
               Product Review        10%
               Group Wiki            20%

Class Discussions will be held via the online discussion board. Discussion posts will be
graded based on assignment requirements, content quality and relevance to the subject
matter. Posts should always be written with academic standards in mind, citing sources
where appropriate. When posting, always be respectful and considerate of others.
A blog will be created for each student at the start of the class. It is expected that each
student will use this blog regularly, posting their thoughts or reflections on class topics at
least once per unit. It is also expected that each student will regularly visit and comment
on other classmates’ blogs.

5) Course Requirements
       a. Attendance
       Since this is an online course, attendance is measured in terms of participation.
       Students are expected to participate in every class discussion in meaningful,
       original ways, both initiating discussion threads and responding to the threads of
       others. Participation is a critical component of this course, and as such is given
       significant weight in your final grade.
       b. Materials
       All reading materials for this course will be online; no textbooks are required.
       Links to the required reading are listed in the “Reading Materials” section of each
       c. Prerequisites
       At a very minimum, a student intending to take this course should be comfortable
       with using the Internet. This is an online course that focuses on online
       technologies; it is therefore in the student’s best interest to own the skills required
       to navigate the Internet prior to taking this class.
       d. Plagiarism
       There is a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism in this course. Any work that is
       copied in whole or part will earn an automatic zero for the assignment.
       Furthermore, the student will be subject to disciplinary action as outlined in the
       university’s policy on plagiarism.
                                Lesson Plan
            Unit Topic and Readings               Deliverables (due by unit end)
Unit 1   Introduction:                    Discussion Board: Introduce yourself; link to
              Syllabus                   your personal blog

                                          Blog: Explore your personal blog; post a
                                          welcome message; comment on at least one
                                          other blog
Unit 2   Common text-based                Discussion Board: Find an article about one
         communications: email, instant   of these technologies and their impact on our
         messaging, texting.              society or culture. Post it, along with your
             Readings as outlined in     thoughts, to the discussion board. Read an
               unit 2 materials.          article from and comment on at least one
                                          other student’s thread.

                                          Blog: How has text-based communication
                                          changed your personal life? What are the
                                          positive and negative aspects of this change?
                                          Post your thoughts to your blog; comment
                                          on at least one other blog
Unit 3   Conventions and norms for        Discussion Board: Post at least three
         online communications:           examples of emoticons and/or acronyms,
         emoticons, acronyms, “L33t”,     what they mean, and an example of when it
         flaming, etc.                    would not be appropriate to use them.
              Readings as outlined in
                 unit 3 materials.        Blog: Post a link to an article related to text-
                                          based communications to your blog, along
                                          with your thoughts on the article. Comment
                                          on at least one other student’s blog.

                                          Writing Assignment: Write a 1-2 page paper
                                          exploring how online text-based
                                          communications has changed our social
                                          interactions. Back up your thoughts with at
                                          least one reference.
Unit 4   Online reviews: vendor sites,    Discussion Board: Select your topic from the
         review sites; credibility.       list of topics (TBA) for your group Wiki,
              Readings as outlined in    and post your idea on the discussion board.
                unit 4 materials.         Begin to form groups based on common
                                          interests. Use the discussion board to work
                                          out the details.

                                          Blog: Post the link to your product review,
                                          along with your thoughts about online
                                         reviewing: how much weight do you give to
                                         reviews before purchasing a product? Does it
                                         depend on the reviewing site? Does the
                                         quality of the writing change your opinion of
                                         the review?

                                         Writing Assignment: Write a Product
                                         Review for a product you own on either a
                                         review site or the review area of a vendor’s

Unit 5   Blogs and micro-blogs:
             Readings as outlined in    Discussion Board: Post your thoughts
                Unit 5 materials         regarding the Twitter exercise we did in this
             Experiment with Twitter    unit. What are the pros and cons of Twitter?
                (TBA)                    Does it have value in education? Why or
                                         why not?

                                         Blog: Find a blog that deals with education
                                         and online interaction; post a link to it in
                                         your blog, along with your thoughts about a
                                         recent post from that blog. Comment on at
                                         least one other student’s blog.

                                         Writing Assignment: Continue to work in
                                         your wiki groups. During this unit you
                                         should be starting to build your group wiki
                                         in your assigned wiki spaces.

Unit 6   Wikis, discussion boards and    Discussion Board: Designate a group
         online forums                   member to post a link to your group wiki so
              Readings as outlined in   your classmates can see what you’re doing.
                 Unit 6 materials        Post your comments about another group’s
                                         wiki on their discussion thread. Monitor
                                         your own discussion thread and answer any
                                         questions your classmates have regarding
                                         your wiki.

                                         Blog: Post your thoughts on using a
                                         discussion board or online forum. What are
                                         the advantages and disadvantages of using
                                         this method of communication? Post a
                                         comment on at least one other student’s
                                         Writing Assignment: Post your wiki to the
                                         assigned wiki area.
Unit 7   Personal vs. professional       Discussion Board: Find an article about the
         writing:                        reliability of online news and post it to the
         social networking (Facebook,    discussion board. Include a link to a news
         MySpace), news sites (CNN,      site you feel is reliable, along with your
         MSN), RSS feeds (i.e.           comments as to why. Comment on at least
         “breaking news”), determining   one other student’s thread.
              Readings as outlined in   Blog: Do you have a social networking
                 Unit 7 materials        account? Why or why not? In your opinion,
                                         what are the strengths and/or weaknesses of
                                         social networking? Post your thoughts to
                                         your blog; comment on at least one other
                                         student’s blog.

                                         Writing Assignment: Write a 1 page paper
                                         describing your experiences with one of the
                                         text-based communications we have covered
                                         so far. How is this method of communication
                                         better or worse than other more traditional
                                         ways of communicating? How is it different?
                                         Use at least one reference in your paper.

Unit 8   The new normal: How online      Discussion Board: What is one thing you
         writing is changing             learned during this class? Will it change the
         communication                   way you communicate in the future? Post
              Readings as outlined in   your thoughts to the discussion board.
                Unit 8 materials         Comment on at least one other student’s

                                         Blog: Post your thoughts about using a blog.
                                         What are the advantages and disadvantages
                                         to using this medium, in your opinion? Will
                                         you continue to use blogs in the future? Why
                                         or why not?

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