About this Class
Completing this course provides three hours of credit.
This course satisfies the general education requirement for a UIUC Social Sciences Course.
This course partially satisfies the coursework requirement for the Minor in Science and Technology in Society.
If in a prior semester you completed this course under its previous number (SPCM 199AL), you may not receive credit for this course.
Considering technologies from video games to stone tablets, this course will evaluate how communication technology shapes society and vice versa, providing a general overview of theory and research about communication technology, as well as an introduction to social scientific research methods. The central propositions of the course are that communication technologies...
First, the course reviews the state of research and theory about communication technology. Next, the course surveys the implications of communication technology for such contexts as creativity, community, organizations, childhood, commerce, design, science, and public policy in order to provide a broad introduction to basic concepts, processes, and methods in the study of technology. Finally, the course steps back to consider the ways in which society attempts to envision, shape, and control the development of technology.
The course will emphasize the theoretical perspectives of mass communication research, science and technology studies, and the history of technology. Throughout the course, students will complete assignments that each introduce a new means of collecting data to test theory. This course is intended to be useful to anyone who uses communication technology and anyone interested in the social sciences, defined broadly. It will also prepare students for more advanced courses in this area.
Instructors and Office Hours
Professor Christian Sandvig
Emily Shaw (Head Teaching Assistant)
Jason Rittenberg (Teaching Assistant)
Max Rodriguez (Teaching Assistant)
Stephanie Ho (Teaching Intern)
Josh Hawthorne (Teaching Intern)
The course consists of two lectures and one discussion/lab section each week. These class meetings supplement but do not duplicate the readings; readings supplement but do not duplicate the class meetings. Some of the content of the course is available only from lectures and discussion/lab sections, and students are responsible for learning the detailed content of both of these.
In addition to the textbooks, there will be some electronic readings available on the Web, one or two assigned screenings of DVDs. Even though assigned media are not textbooks, they function as readings and you are responsible for doing them (that is, watching or playing them).
Each week there will be a short assignment due (usually on Wednesdays). Short assignments are about one page long and are submitted electronically. With some exceptions, you can choose which short assignments are graded. As long as you make a legitimate effort to respond to the assignment before the deadline, you can return to the assignment and revise it later in the semester.
There is a multiple-choice midterm and final exam. Both exams may also include 1-2 short-answer questions (about 1 page).
Participation is graded by your discussion/lab section leader on the basis of your performance in section. This includes attendance in section.
There is no term paper. There are no final projects.
1. Careful listening to, close reading of, and critical reflection upon course lectures, discussions, and readings. To derive maximum value from course meetings, finish the day's assigned readings before you arrive.
2. Courteous and informed participation during discussion/lab sections.
3. Timely, thoughtful completion of short writing and technology assignments. This is a course about technology -- technical problems at the last minute are never an excuse for not turning an assignment in on time.
4. Completion of an in-class midterm and a final exam.
Note: Previous experience with technology is not required.
Your final grade for this course will be determined as follows.
Letter grades will be calculated using the following scale.
For more details on how these grades are applied to your writing, see "Grading Rubric for Written Work" on the assignments page.
Class Attendance. You are expected to attend all class meetings and to be on time for class. Attendance is taken at discussion/lab sections and factored into your grade (see "participation" above). As attendance is taken at the beginning of class, if you arrive after roll is taken this is counted as an absence.
Late work and examinations. You are responsible for planning ahead and taking whatever steps are necessary to allow you (1) to be available to take the exams on the scheduled dates and times and to (2) turn in assignments on the specified due dates. Late work will not be accepted except in documented cases of illness or emergency (see below). Computer problems are not acceptable as an excuse for late work: if an assignment requires use of the Internet or unfamiliar software, allow enough time to get help if you have problems. (We want to help you! But it is hard to do so when presented with a problem five minutes before an assignment is due.)
Academic Integrity. All assignments must be your own work. The Student Code has very strict and explicit policies prohibiting plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, and facilitating these acts. Penalties for violations are severe, such as an automatic failing grade in the course. These rules will be strictly enforced.
Extended illness or family emergency. If an extended illness or family emergency makes it impossible for a student to attend to their responsibilities, they must contact the Dean of Students, who will notify the student's instructors. The instructor will then make any necessary accommodations after receiving notice from the Dean.
Students with disabilities. In consultation with Disability Resources and Educational Services, all reasonable and necessary adjustments will be made to accommodate students with disabilities. To insure that disability-related concerns are properly addressed, students with disabilities who require assistance to participate in this class are asked to consult with the instructor as soon as this need is apparent.
Special thanks to Jolene White, Charles Ess, Phil Howard, David Silver, Robert E. McGinn, Gus Hosein, Eszter Hargittai, and Dave Tewksbury for suggestions regarding this class. Technology support thanks to ATLAS and the University Library Gaming Collection.