I. Course Introduction

Class session 1: January 24, 1994


Possibly the most important technological innovation of the latter half of the 20th century, "computer-mediated communication" (CMC) is revolutionizing interaction in the global village. This course provides an in-depth consideration of the nature of CMC by examining its use and effects in interpersonal, work, educational, and societal contexts and an introduction to the technologies and skills required for navigating wide-area networks, specifically the Internet. The course focuses on the social aspects of CMC, rather than specific software or hardware technologies.

Required texts:

Course Activities

During the semester all seminar members will complete a set of common readings. Members are responsible for completing the readings prior to the class session for which they are scheduled and bringing to class questions about, comments on, and critiques of the readings for class discussion. In addition, members will from time to time (but especially at the beginning of the semester) be responsible for completing short homework assignments. Class participation and homework assignments will contribute 20% of the total grade.

Seminar members are responsible for writing three short (3 - 5 page) position papers that will form the basis for class discussion during the course sessions identified in the outline below. Each paper will contribute 15% toward the final grade.

Finally, each seminar member will be responsible for producing a research paper on some aspect of CMC for a final project. The final project will contribute 35% toward the final grade. This paper can take any of several forms: (1) it can present results of a pilot study that tests an hypothesis you form regarding CMC; (2) it can be a comprehensive review of the literature that leads to a proposal for a research project (in this case you would not actually conduct the research); or (3) it can be a critical/analytic investigation of the CMC environment (e.g., a rhetorical analysis of CMC). You should have a fairly good idea of your project by week 7, at which time you will be asked to turn in a brief description of the research you plan to undertake.

You will be asked to present a brief (10 minutes) summary of your research paper during the last class of the semester. The written version of your paper will be due one week later -- May 9, 1994.

Academic Integrity:

Student-teacher relationships are built on trust. Students must trust that teachers have made appropriate decisions about the structure and content of the courses they teach; teachers must trust that the assignments students turn in are theirs. Acts that violate this trust undermine the educational process.

The Rensselaer Handbook defines various forms of academic dishonesty and the procedures for responding to them. All forms are violations of the trust between students and teachers. Please familiarize yourselves with this portion of the Rensselaer Handbook and note that the penalties for plagiarism and other forms of cheating can be quite harsh.

In this course, "cheating" consists of passing off the papers, published articles, or research of others as one's own work.

What is CMC?

In-class discussion exploring the definition of CMC.

Next Course Section: Nature of the Medium