Assignments

Assignment 1: Social Media/Tech Map: 20% due Jan. 27
Submit in person, via email (if link), or via Blackboard (if doc/file format)
What does your social network look like? How would you describe it? What would it include? In this assignment, you will grapple with the problem of how to define and delineate a "social network." The object here is for you to find a way to articulate, express, describe and/or visually represent your own relationships, interests, definitions, participation in and ideas about social networking. Draw a diagram or map, create a visualization, write a story (metaphorical, allegorical, academic essay style, etc.), engage in digital production...it's totally up to you. You can come up with your own original definition, or base it on an existing definition (e.g. boyd & Ellison (2007), Week2 lecture, or another published definition of your choosing). You can include online and/or offline relationships, you can focus on people and/or technologies, interactions and/or contributions...just indicate the theme and focus somewhere in the title or description. Your map (or story, or illustration) should ultimately fit on one "page" (again, loosely defined). It should be concise, clear and provide a snapshot into how you currently experience, think about and define your own "social networking."

This is a creative assignment, and there are hundreds of different ways that you can approach this successfully. A key thing to remember, however, is that whatever you choose to do, I ultimately need to be able to read and assess it. SO...if you draw a map using symbols, make sure to include a "legend" telling me what the symbols mean. If the size of each object drawn is supposed to represent the number of people you interact with on a particular site, make sure you indicate that "size matters" somewhere so that I understand what you're trying to express. You can use software, academic sources, popular references, multi-media, photos, crayons...whatever you need to articulate your thoughts. Just make sure that you reference EVERYTHING used!!! (inspirational sources and tools included, e.g. http://visual.ly/). If this threatens to ruin the aesthetic, you can attach a separate sheet containing your list of tools used, sources consulted and, of course, all sources cited (or list them on the back of the page, etc.).

Assignment 2. Social Networking for Class (Weeks 2-11): 30% 
Due Feb. 24 (for Weeks 2-6, inclusive) and Mar. 30  (for Weeks 7-11, inclusive).
Each log is worth 15%.
Logs must be submitted electronically via Blackboard.
You will be expected to contribute to one of the online (social network) forums associated with this class at least once per week, during most of the semester (starting Week 2, ending Week 11 inclusive). Contributions must be relevant to the course and course readings, and should build on your classmates' posts. The idea here is to keep the discussion going outside of lecture, to create a space for further inquiry, questions, and to make connections to your other courses, experiences, knowledge, etc. News items, multi media, ideas, brainstorming, comments, questions about the readings, etc., etc., are all welcome fodder for weekly contributions. But if you post a link (or video or picture), be sure to include an explanation of why, what the context or relevance is.

Twice over the course of the semester you will create a "log" that details your contributions to date, which you will submit via Blackboard. This log should consist of a compilation of screenshots of each of your contributions, indicating the date, where it was made, etc. These can be saved in a word doc, in a pdf, or in any other format that a) you are able to upload to Blackboard and b) enables a chronological overview of your contributions (with contents, date and forum all clearly displayed). The first log should cover weeks 2-6 (inclusive) and the second log should cover weeks 7-11 (inclusive). The logs will be crosschecked with the forums themselves. Points will be accorded based on consistency (i.e. posting every week) and relevance (i.e. posting content relevant to the course, weekly readings, lecture, etc.


Assignment 3: Term Paper: 25% due April 6
Submit electronically via Blackboard
Write a 1,600-2,200 words (magazine article length) paper about a topic of direct relevance to the course. In writing this paper, you must incorporate/draw upon 8 academic sources minimum, including at least 4 SMC316 course readings and at least 2 original (i.e. academic articles that you found in your own searches, reading, etc.). You are also encouraged to draw on your experiences engaging in course-based social networking. For this assignment, I am looking for QUALITY over quantity - so be sure to make EVERY WORD COUNT. Ideas for paper topics (also free to come up with your own, original topic!!):

  • A discussion of the presence (or absence) of personal data within the class Facebook group, that engages with Raynes-Goldie's proposal that younger users prioritize a different type of privacy.
  • An examination of type of data posted to the class Pinterest group, and what this says about current popular perceptions of curation and consumption. 
  • A critical engagement with existing definitions of online "social networking" (can include expansion and modification to create a new definition), that uses one of our class forums as a case study/illustration. 
  • A meditation on the role of "creativity" in social networking forums, drawing on the contributions made by yourself and your classmates to one (or more) of the class SNF groups. 
  • A critical discussion about the effectiveness of using a social networking forum for a university course (pros and cons).

Learning Objectives:

  • To demonstrate thoughtful, informed engagement with the course online participation exercise, and clear ability to connect it to the concepts, theories and issues explored in the readings, lectures, and class discussions.
  • To demonstrate a working knowledge of your term paper topic, which includes a clearly articulated familiarity with the relevant issues (+debates where applicable).
  • To engage critically with the relevant theories, and establish your own stance or position on a specific topic—one that is firmly grounded in the existing literature, and supported through the construction of logical and balanced arguments.


Final Exam: 25% DATE TBA (during official exam period)
Covers content from weeks 1-12. Mix of short answer (1-2 phrases) and short essay answer (2-3 pages of the exam booklet).


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General Guidelines for Assignments
All assignments should be written as clearly and cleanly as possible (i.e. thoroughly proof read for typos, spelling and grammar, hanging sentences, etc.), in a formal but accessible academic language. The overall “look and feel” should be professional (i.e. no crumpled papers or faded printing). The required format for written assignments is as follows:

  • Typed, 1.5 space, 11 or 12 point font, one-inch margins, page numbers in the upper or lower right hand corner. 
  • Align paragraphs in a standard way and avoid superfluous indentation. 
  • Online submission – via Blackboard – only, unless special arrangements are made ahead of time.
  • No cover page required, but be sure to include your name & student number on page 1. 
  • Total word count should be indicated at the end of the essay.
  • Use of footnotes/endnotes is permitted, but these should be used sparingly.

NOTE: Assignments that do not meet a minimum standard (in terms of legibility, formatting and proof reading) will be returned for re-submission, with late penalties in full effect.

All assignments should be submitted by midnight (11:59pm) on the day they are due.

Referencing
The American Psychological Association (APA) citation style is the most commonly used in academic writing in the social sciences. I recommend that you use APA for this course, as it's good to get used to the style that you will likely be using over the course of your graduate career (and beyond). That said, if you think you have a valid professional reason for using another style, you are invited to talk to the instructor at least two weeks before the assignment is due and request that an exception be made. Permission to use referencing styles other than APA will be granted on a case-by-case basis, but only to students who make arrangements in advance. The key here is that quotes and sources must be properly and consistently cited, using:
(a) in-text citation (including author name(s), year and page number); and
(b) a full list of references or bibliography at the end of your paper.

This is a necessary component of academic writing, as well as a good safeguard against inadvertent forms of plagiarism. It is particularly crucial in this course, as attribution, author rights, copyright, moral rights and plagiarism are among the dominant themes and a key learning objective is demonstration of understanding and engagement with these very concepts (both in class and in your assignments).

Images and Multimedia Content
Students can (and probably should!) include mixed and multi media content in their assignments as long as they follow the Canadian Copyright Act’s current exceptions for fair dealing, in that the images must only be used for the purposes of criticism or review, and each work used must be accompanied by: (a) the source; and (b) the name of the author(s) (if given in the source)

Acceptable Secondary Sources
In this course, students are expected to use a majority of academic (i.e. peer reviewed) sources, especially when writing the term paper, but also in their more creative projects and course-related online participation. Students are very much allowed, but not at all limited, to use course readings and other sources referenced in lectures in their own papers and online comments. However, students are also strongly encouraged to track down the resources that are best suited to their specific area of interest or inquiry, rather than rely too heavily on those provided in class. Media texts (books, comics, television episodes, films, videogames, etc.) should be used and referenced as needed, but must always be treated as artifacts of study and analyzed accordingly.

[Note: The only exception to this is the final exam, which should draw solely on course readings and lectures.]

Late Papers
Unless a formal extension has been negotiated with the instructor in advance of the due date, late assignments (defined here as an assignment submitted after the deadline) will be penalized by one full letter grade per week (e.g. from A to A-), for a maximum of two weeks. After that point, late assignments will no longer be accepted. Furthermore, late papers will not receive detailed feedback or comments.


Extensions 
Extensions on assignments within the term must be negotiated in advance, and may require supporting documentation (e.g. doctor’s note). Students must email requests for extensions to the instructor at least 24 hours prior to the due date. Exceptions will only be made in extenuating circumstances.

Grading
The grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. Students in this course are required to conform to university policies regarding Intellectual Honesty and Academic Integrity as outlined in the University’s Code of Behavior on Academic Matters. Assignments will be graded and returned within 2-3 weeks of submission.