Classroom Notes

These notes cover an outline of class activities, and descriptions of hands-on workshops. For each session, there are one or more facilitators who will lead the discussion, and one or more scribes, who will take notes and live blog the session. To learn about live blogging, check out "How To Liveblog Events With a Team" by Matt Stempeck.

Each session should:

  • Motivate students with an intriguing question or problem.
  • Build a framework (write this down beforehand).
  • Limit the number of points (3 or 4 major ideas).
  • Move between levels of abstraction (simple/complex, abstract/concrete, familiar/unfamiliar).

Session 1: Introduction

Course overview, expectations, introductions and interests, shared course tools: course blog, etherpad, twitter.

Session 2: The 'Crisis in Journalism' and Digital Inequalities

There's a lot of talk about the crisis in journalism. We'll begin by grounding our understanding of the 'crisis in journalism' in data about the state of the news industry.

Session 3: Dialogic Approaches: From the Public Sphere to Networked Counter Publics

The public sphere is the dominant framework for thinking about the relationship between information and civic engagement.

Session 4: Contentious Approaches: Power and Conflict, From Hegemony to Media Justice + Project Proposal Workshop

Although it is the most visible in contemporary US debates about the future of media, Public Sphere theory is not the only framework for analysis.

Session 5: Critical Political Economic Approaches: Is it the system, or is it propaganda? Yes.

The critical political economy of communication is an influential framework for understanding the relationship between the economics of the cultural industries, policymaking in the arena of information and communications technology and cultural production, and the reproduction of power inequalities.

Session 6: Free Cultural Labor

What is free labor?

Session 7: Civic Maps

As GIS and map literacies become more widespread, maps are increasingly important tools across all spheres of civic life.

Session 8: Platforms and Affordances: From Pamphleteers to Peer to Peer

If we only focus on digital media and new platforms, we lose the ability to critically examine continuity and change within and between media and communication technologies as tools for civic engagement and social change.

Session 9: Net Culture, Civic Remix, and Kony2012

This session, we'll look at civic action taken by netizens and how this relates to movements and campaigns off the net.

Session 10: From the Barricades to the New Normal, or, from Indy media to the Age of Citizen Journalism

The birth of Indymedia in 1999 was a watershed moment for the intersection of radical media making, free software, the global justice movement, and the World Wide Web as a viable space for large scale participatory news production and distribution.

Session 11: Freedom of Information: from the Pentagon Papers to Wikileaks and Beyond

Guests: Emi MacLean.

Session 12: Mobile Civic Media

Mobile phones: everyone knows that we will soon be born with nanobot mobile phone implants coursing through our bloodstream. What will this mean for civic media?

Session 13: Civil Disobedience and Hacktivism, from the Black Bloc to DDOS and Beyond

This session is all about: disobedience, black bloc tactics, civil disobedience, hacktivism, and digital direct action.

Session 14: Video Activism, Free Software, and Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region

Andrew Lowenthal from, the Plumi project, and video4change will be visiting us for a guest presentation and conversation.

Session 15: Final Project IGNITE Talks

During the last class meeting, each student (or project team) will formally present their final project as an IGNITE talk (5 minutes, 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide, automatically advanced. Final projects are due. No late projects will be accepted. For more information about final projects, see the Assignments page.