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Course Overview

Online technologies profoundly shape how we learn, work, play, socialize, and use information. Indeed, some have argued we are in the midst of a renaissance stimulated by emerging social media, where youth, especially, are creating more, sharing more, advocating and communicating more in their online everyday lives. The cognitive surplus: the collective mental energies of society once consumed by, for example, passively watching television, are today made apparent in the emergence of hundreds of people excitedly pooling their time, effort, and knowledge into the making of new potentially beneficial online resources (e.g., Wikipedia) (Shirky, 2008).

On the other hand, popular accounts have portrayed youth-initiated online spaces—such as social network sites—as distractions at best and harmful at worst, leading to a loss of intelligence, a decline in literacy, and negative impacts on social and civic life. As Internet access, the nature of media, and the conceptualization of classrooms have transformed over the past decade, so too have desired competencies for students, teachers, and administrators, and such shifts impact our constructs of learning, instruction, and paths for future research (Greenhow, Robelia, Hughes, 2009; Greenhow, Galvin, Brandon & Askari, 2020).

Drawing on an interdisciplinary and emerging base of research and our own experiences, we will take a critical and informed approach to evaluating contemporary social media practices found outside of classrooms in the everyday lives of students, as well as those used in classrooms. We will explore the psychology and sociology of new media; media effects and learning with media; issues of identity, literacy, and culture in technologically mediated environments. We will pay particular attention to synthesizing themes in the research on learning (formal- and informal-) and teaching within social media-enabled environments (and beyond). We will seek to understand the social and technical affordances and challenges of particular spaces for teaching and learning, as well as common themes across them, and generate an agenda for future research. Moreover, we will examine the latest theory and research on how new media are shaping scholars’ contemporary work practices with what advantages and disadvantages for our work.

Like other courses in the EPET doctoral program, in this course you will be exploring the relationship between educational psychology and technology, between learning and digital media, with an eye towards developing your knowledge of the field, including its historical context, interdisciplinary conversations, and current topics. Most importantly, you will be developing your own research interests and beginning to situate yourself in the field.

Course Requirements

  • Class Attendance. Students should attend every synchronous class session, except in cases of illness and/or extenuating circumstances.
  • Participation. This is a graduate seminar emphasizing critical discussion of course concepts and readings. Students will work in groups and take turns leading class discussion. This course is framed on the following assumptions (Brookfield & Preskill, 2005):
  1. That participating in discussion (both in-class and online) brings with it several research-based benefits (e.g., helps students explore a diversity of perspectives; increases students’ awareness of and tolerance for ambiguity or complexity; helps students recognize and investigate their assumptions; encourages attentive, respectful listening; helps students become connected to a topic; affirms students as co-creators of knowledge; develops habits of collaborative learning; helps students develop skills of synthesis and integration; leads to transformation; helps students connect their interests to the field).
  2. That students attending will have experiences that they can reflect on and analyze in discussion. 
  3. That the course will focus on the analysis of students’ experiences and ideas as emerging scholars as much as on the analysis of academic theories or empirical work. 

Source: Brookfield, S. D. & Preskill, S. (2005). Discussion as a way of teaching: Tools and techniques for democratic classrooms (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Readings. Readings will be made available in class and distributed via the course website.

Course Expectations

  • Academic Dishonesty. Academic dishonesty includes obvious offenses, such as copying another student’s work, and less obvious offenses, such as unauthorized collaboration on a paper or copying sections of an article for an essay. Note: it is still plagiarism to change a few words in a sentence that you have otherwise copied from another source. It is assumed that all students understand the consequences of academic dishonesty at MSU.
  • Incompletes. A grade of incomplete will be given only if (1) all completed work is satisfactory (i.e., averages 3.0 or better) and (2) there is a valid reason that you cannot complete the course. Students should contact me as soon as possible if interested in an incomplete.
  • Students with Disabilities. If you are a student with a documented physical or learning disability, please contact one of the instructors by the first week of class so that we can make arrangements for any necessary accommodations.

Weekly Course Assignments

  • Participation (10%) – Active, relevant, and regular participation in class activities is the most important requirement of this class. Completion of weekly base group check-ins and check-outs is an important part of participation.
  • Reading Responses (20%) – You will be asked to respond to questions about the readings in the Discussion section of the course site.  See Discussion Questions for guidelines on composing your initial posts, responses to peers, due dates, and how these questions will be scored.
  • Base Group Discussion Synthesis (5%) – The purpose of the discussion synthesis assignment is to synthesize new insights, highlight different perspectives, note controversies that arose in the discussion questions, and raise new questions. Working with your base group, you will write (a) synthesis of the reading discussion as of Monday noon after initial posts and responses to peers were due, (b) provide a brief (< 5 min) report on your synthesis during our FTF class session, and (c) write 1 follow-up question for the FTF/synchronous class session. Discussion syntheses should be 250-500 words.
    See an example here:
  • Social media participation (15%) – We will be trying out several social media to help you experience some of the scholarly practices about which you will be reading, as well as to facilitate your critical reflection on the integration of this particular socio-technical space into adult learning and professional work.

Research Assignments

  • Reflections (n = 2, 10%) – Throughout the course you will be asked to reflect on and critically evaluate your own experiences of using technology as a learner, as an emerging scholar and in scholarly activities, such as your experiences in tweeting, in creating or completing an online identity, and in social media-enabled experiences.
  • Article for publication (40%) – A 10- to 12-page article to be submitted for publication is required on some aspect of mind, media and society and/or related to your own research interests. Your article should draw on both theory and empirical findings and should identify an important gap and/or promising new directions in knowledge. See Article for Publication – > under About on the course website.
  • Course Grades – Course grades are based on the total number of points you earn:
4.0 = 93-100 2.5 = 78-82 1.0 = 63-67
3.5 = 89-92 2.0 = 73-77 0.5 = 58-62
3.0 = 83-88 1.5 = 68-72 0.0 = >58