office hours: M/T/W/TH 11:30-12:30 or by appointment
lab hour: 4:10-5:10 T/TH

classroom: hill hall 101
class time: T/TH 2:40-4:10

What the heck is Social Media: Rhetoric & Design?

In this class we are gonna explore the social and cultural role of information in electronic environments as well as the shifting expectations for writers in these environments. We are gonna analyze and produce web-based writing designed for real audiences, and, in the process, address various cultural and ethical issues involved in digital communication. You’ll investigate how self and society are shaped by the ways information is presented, collected, vetted, and shared.

In FUNNER words, we are gonna search, tweet, blog, and comment. We’ll vlog, RSS, and curate too! We’re gonna see just how cool Web 2.000ey is and examine its cool with a critical eye, eyes, and our own digital savvy.

course objectives
To become savvy social mediators by:

  • demonstrating a critical awareness of the cultural effects of new media writing.
  • learning the modes, consequences, some of the responsibilities and dangers of different kinds of digital participation.
  • assessing the accuracy of the answers you find online.
  • understanding the need for critical consumption of information.
  • understanding and practicing appropriate online behavior.
  • becoming familiar with competing perspectives on social media practices and their effects; learn how to make analytic arguments regarding key debates around the use of social media.
  • demonstrating skills (e.g., interpretation, creation, practice, performance) relevant to the creative process (creative expression).
  • demonstrating an awareness of the value of the creative process in the human experience (creative expression).

required texts

  • Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction. By Rodney H. Jones and Christoph A. Hafner.
  • Writing and Editing for Digital Media. By Brian Carroll


All non-digital readings (books) should come with you to class when there are readings from them due. ***You should have read the assigned readings before coming to class.***


Since we will be working collaboratively on many assignments, and since learning is a communal effort, your regular attendance is vital. If you miss more than four classes, you will receive an “F” for the course. And since some things come up unexpectedly, please remember you have four absences to account for these unexpected happenings.

late work
Here is the deal: late work is not accepted. HOWEVER, you can turn in one task or homework or whatever one week late. Just let me know beforehand. And, if it’s a partner project, only one of you needs to use the extension. **Quizzes can be made up if you have an excused absence on the day of the quiz.**

Class computers, personal laptops, smartphones, and iPads are for taking notes and class discussion related searches. They are not for random surfing, texting, skyping, or tweeting no matter how uninterested you might be. So if you aren’t using digital tech for class, it’ll result in an absence. MCU EXCEPTION – if a digital distraction occurs and it is a notification about something happening in the next phase of the MCU, you are exempt from the above rule for one happening. You must allow me to read the article immediately.

academic honesty
Plagiarism is not tolerated in any form. You will fail the course if you commit plagiarism knowingly or unknowingly. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another’s words or ideas. In short, it’s the theft of someone else’s intellectual property and a serious violation of college policy and academic ethics. The easy availability of materials on the Internet makes it tempting to use other people’s work (or incorporate it into your own) without asking permission or citing sources. However, you are responsible to give credit where credit is due. Please come to my office if you have any questions about citing sources.

As a member of the McDaniel College community, you are expected to abide by the Honor Code on all of your assignments.The McDaniel Honor Code encourages academic integrity among individuals and fosters accountability within the community as a whole. What does this mean? It means: a) the work you submit must be your own, and, b) if others are damaging the values of the community, you have a responsibility to speak up about it.

copyright and readings
All readings posted on our class website are password protected and are intended for use in this class only. Copying, e-mailing, or posting these materials online for any other purpose without the copyright holder’s express written consent may be prohibited by law. For more information about copyright, including information about how to obtain permission to use a copyrighted work, please see the U.S. Copyright Office’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

request for accommodation
McDaniel College, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973/ Section 504, will provide reasonable accommodations for eligible students with disabilities. If you require special assistance, please see me privately and/or seek assistance directly from the Student Academic Support Services Office (SASS). You are responsible for initiating arrangements for accommodations for tests and other assignments in collaboration with the SASS Office and me.

non-discrimination policy
McDaniel College does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, military status, genetic information, marital status, veteran’s status, or any other legally protected status. To report an incident occurring within an academic context, contact the Office of Academic Affairs. To report other on-campus incidences, contact the Division of Student Affairs.

resources for students who may witness or experience gender-based discrimination, harassment, or violence (title ix)
McDaniel College is committed to preserving an educational environment that is free from gender-based discrimination, gender-based harassment, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and relationship violence and stalking. To report an incident and/or to obtain an academic accommodation, contact any member of the Division of Student Affairs,Department of Campus Safety, any Dean, the Provost or the Title IX Coordinator. Faculty members are not considered confidential resources and therefore incidents shared with them must be reported to the Title IX Coordinator. If you wish to speak confidentially about an incident, please contact the Wellness Center.

credit hours
As defined by McDaniel College, “4-credit courses are based on the expectation of a minimum total of 10 hours per week of student academic work in a regular semester.”  To succeed in this course, you may reasonably expect to spend more than 10 hours per week on projects.

Grading criteria will come in the form of a variety of rubrics for evaluating your work. I round up and round down to the whole number. For instance, if you have an 89.50, I’ll read it as a 90% (A-). If you have an 89.49, I’ll read it as an 89% (B+).

A          93-100%
A-        90-92%
B+        87-89%
B          83-86%
B-         80-82%
C+        77-79%
C          73-76%
C-        70-72%
D+       67-69%
D         60-66%
F           0-59%

***Unless otherwise noted (e.g., rubrics or in assignment descriptions), we distinguish grades accordingly:

A – Superior: the text meets or exceeds all the objectives of the assignment. The content is mature, thorough, and ideally suited for the audience; the style is clear, accurate, and forceful; the mechanics and grammar are correct throughout. The grade of an A is reserved for excellent documents that demonstrate mastery of the relevant skills.

B – Very Good: the text generally meets the objectives of the assignment, but it needs improvement in style, or it contains a number of easily correctable errors in grammar, format, or content, or its content is at times superficial.

C – Satisfactory: the text needs significant improvement in concept, details, development, organization, grammar, or format.

D – Marginally acceptable: the text meets some of the objectives but ignores others; the content is inadequately developed; or it contains numerous or major errors. Documents that receive this grade often exhibit an utter disregard for the supplied instructions.

F – Unacceptable: the text does not have enough information, does something other than the assignment required, or it contains major errors or excessive errors.