Course overview

175days since
We begin 724e, Spring 2014

Welcome to 724e, Spring 2014


Course description

This course addresses two broad areas of media psychology inquiry: media literacy and the social impacts of technology.

The course begins with a broad consideration of the social impacts of technology by looking at how major technologies - including the plow, steam engine and printing press - have historically shaped society. This provides the foundation for a more detailed examination of the impacts of digital technologies. We then consider ways to assess technological impact, using approaches developed by McLuhan and myself. We then consider media literacy - which is defined simply as “understanding how to identify, evaluate, and apply the techniques of media persuasion” - as a response to some of these impacts, most notably the persuasive nature of media. Within this area of inquiry we consider the psychology of advertising.

YouTube Video



Questions addressed in this course include:
  1. How does technological evolution impact social evolution?
  2. How can we assess the impact of technology, proactively and reactively?
  3. What are Marshall McLuhan's theories of media, and how can they be used in such an assessment?
  4. How is “the medium the message” and how does the nature of a medium impact the nature of the message it transmits?
  5. How do networks and digital tools affect the nature of citizenship, creativity, narrative and literacy?
  6. What is media literacy, and how can it be used to help us understand the media messages we send and receive?
  7. What are the particular techniques used by professional mediasts, advertisers and marketers to present persuasive media content?
Students may be involved in creating media, as well using social media as part of the class structure. 

Contact the instructor:
Feel free to contact the instructor Jason Ohler, for more information at: jasonohler@gmail.com

Course objectives:

Students will:
  • Explore the history of narrative media and apply their understanding to discussion, ePortfolio presentations, and considering the future of narrative media evolution.
  • Explore the evolution of media literacy as a response to narrative evolution, and apply their understanding to discussion, ePortfolio presentations, and considering the future of media literacy as a set of skills intended to help us understand how media impacts, distorts, enhances and/or modifies our understanding of the world.
  • Explore the major concepts involved in digital citizenship and living in a networked society, and apply these to their professional area of practice.
  • Explore a number of McLuhan's theories, in particular McLuhan's "Tetrad" and "Laws of Media," and apply these to technology assessment, and understanding current and future trends in technology evolution.
  • Explore and apply Ohler's methodology for determining technological impact, both proactively and reactively, and apply this to existing and emerging technologies.
  • Explore advertising theory and consumer psychology, and and apply these to discussion, ePortfolio presentations, and a final project.
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Work required for the course

At the beginning of the course

Create an ePortfolio
. Those of you who have taken courses with me know that I require you to create an e-Portfolio to maintain a record of your work.

You may have used Blogger.com when you took another course with me. Blogger is fine, and very easy to use, as are a number of other services, like Mahara.org, Wordpress and others. These days I recommend Google Sites (the page you are reading is a Google site) rather than a blog for a number of reasons, many of which boil down to this: pages created with Google Sites are more professional looking, and easier to manage than are Blogger sites. Email me if you want to know more about this. Like Blogger, Google Sites is free.

To get started, you will need a Google ID to create a Google site (or a Blogger site). You probably have one. If you have set up a Blogger blog, then you do. If you use Gmail, then you do. 

Videos about starting and maintaining a Google Site ePortfolio. After you have a Google ID, I recommend you watch the following two screencast videos I have created about setting up and managing a Google Site:

  1. Getting started with Google sites. Includes finding and using a template.
  2. Managing Google sites. Includes managing your template, getting rid of the last user's material, creating new pages, adding pages to your menu.

The rest is fairly self-explanatory. If you are having problems, please let me know as I have developed some proficiency with Sites.

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Assignments every week

For the most part, you will do the following each week:

  1. Complete weekly readings, viewings, interactive assignments. Standard stuff.
  2. Participate. This means being part of weekly conversations in Moodle.
  3. Complete an ePortfolio assignment. Requirements for your assignment postings are described each week. They are also listed below.
  4. Rotating discussion leadership. Each week I will assign someone to take point on the Moodle discussion. This means you will try to make the first or one of the first postings that work, and actively field responses.
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Writing in Moodle Discussions vs. ePortfolio writing

These are two different kinds of writing:

Moodle writing:
  • This takes the place of conversation. As such, it is less formal than ePortfolio writing. 
  • You still need to reference the material, write clearly and so on. But feel free to converse.

ePortfolio writing and format:

  • Your ePortfolio is your formal writing assignment.
  • For your ePortfolio use the following three-part format:
    1. Abstract or thesis- Typically a paragraph. This tells us what you are going to discuss, and provides some of your primary findings.
    2. Body of your argument- This should flow from your abstract or thesis. This is typically a page or so.
    3. Conclusion, call for further study- This wraps up your argument, resonates with your abstract or thesis and identifies areas for further consideration.
Questions? Let me know.

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ePortfolio assignments


Each of these is tied to a particular unit in the course and is described more fully when it appears in the course:
  1. Add a reflection to your portfolio based on your Moodle conversation. This happens throughout the course.
  2. Complete a technology assessment, using McLuhan's Tetrad. This is explained in the McLuhan materials you read and view.
  3. Complete a technology assessment, using Ohler's methodology. How to do this is detailed in Part II of your main text, Digital Community, Digital Citizen.
  4. Complete a mantra tweet that captures your philosophy of living a digital lifestyle. A tweet is a maximum of 140 characters.
  5. Complete a bias inventory with respect to your media consumption. This is explained when we get to that part of the course.
  6. Complete a news or an ad analysis (due week 9). Your analysis will be based on the principles of media persuasion addressed in class.

For your final project complete one of these:

  1. Create a print ad, or 30 second voice or video ad. This will be based on the understanding of media literacy and consumer psychology you develop during the course.

  2. Create a letter from the future. You will predict life in 20 years. The letter will have two foci: 1) setting the stage, in which you show us what everyday life is like), 2) explaining one particular area of social/technical development that is related to your area of professional practice as a media psychologist. The letter will be 8-10 pages in length.
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Materials you will need for this course

These are downloadable for free from this site:
These you will need to purchase, or make arrangements to borrow:
In addition, you will use many, many web-based resources. These include videos, infographics, websites and so on.

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Course schedule

The basic rhythm for each week is as follows:
  • - By Wednesday: Read/view materials
  • - From Wednesday to Saturday: Post comments in our discussion
  • - By Saturda evening: Complete assignment (if there is one)
  • - By Sunday evening: Finish ePortfolio posting
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Weekly activities
Spring 2014, January 20- April 20

 Wk #
 Date  Unit #   Topic
ePortfolio posting
 1 1/20- 1/26  I - Media overview
 Evolution of narrative media
1-2 page ePortfolio posting, drawn from your Moodle discussion
 2 1/27 - 2/2  I - Media overview
 Evolution of digital citizenship
1-2 page ePortfolio posting, drawn from your Moodle discussion
 ------- ------- ------- ------- -------
 3  2/3 - 2/9  II - McLuhan
 Overview of McLuhan's ideas
1-2 page ePortfolio posting, drawn from your Moodle discussion
 4  2/10 - 2/16  II - McLuhan
 Laws of Media- The Tetrad
A technology assessments using McLuhan's Tetrad
 -------  -------  -------  -------  -------
 5  2/17 - 2/24  III - Tech assess
 Assessing technological impact- pt 1
A mantra tweet
 6  2/13 - 3/2  III - Tech assess
 Assessing technological impact- pt 2
A technology assessment using Ohler's methodology from Digital Community, Digital Citizen
 -------  -------  -------  -------  -------
 7 3/3 - 3/9
 IV - Media literacy   
 Overview of media literacy
1-2 page ePortfolio posting, drawn from your Moodle discussion, about your personal media bias inventory
 8 3/10 - 3/16  IV - Media literacy
 Particulars of Media Persuasion
1-2 page ePortfolio posting, drawn from your Moodle discussion about a news or ad analysis
 -------  -------  -------  -------  -------
 9 3/17 - 3/23  V - Advertising    
History of advertising - Guest GoTo Meeting with Carrie Perry - no prep necessary... Students working on projects
Moodle conversation, but no ePortfolio posting
 10 3/24 - 3/30
 V - Advertising
Matt - Neilsen
Moodle conversation, but no ePortfolio posting
 -------  -------  -------  ------- -------
 11 3/31 - 4/6  VI - Final projects work  Students working on projects
Create your letter, or your ad
 12 4/7 - 4/13

 VI - Final projects work  Students working on projects Create your letter, or your ad

 13  4/14 - 4/20  VI - Final projects work  Students working on projects Create your letter, or your ad

Jason turns in grades!!!