Spring 2013 Syllabus

booksWelcome to English 377!


What are we trying to accomplish in this class? During this course, we will be exploring how professionals utilize blogs and social media to both gather and disseminate news and ideas, as well as how various organizations have attempted to implement social media guidelines in order to keep their folks out of trouble.

In addition to studying what others do online and how social media affect the 24/7 news cycle, you will learn how to create your own online content. You’ll be starting a blog, commenting on other students’ blogs, engaging others on Twitter, plus making and posting videos, photographs and audio content.

Required Books


Here’s how your grade will be determined:

  • Blog entries/blog participation: 40 percent
  • Twitter engagement: 10 percent
  • Project 1: 15 percent
  • Project 2: 15 percent
  • Project 3: 15 percent
  • Attendance and participation: 5 percent

Assignment Details

Blog entries/blog participation: You will be expected to create a blog focused on a specific content area, post quality, well-written blog entries at least twice a week and add photos, video and/or audio. The blog will be publicly available. Included among the types of entries you’ll be expected write: An interview, an analysis, an informational post and a review.

twitter iconTwitter: Twitter is the vehicle through which professionals are not only engaging one another, but are also spreading news stories and ideas through the social network. News organizations expect reporters to regularly tweet, and those working in journalism, public relations and politics use Twitter for many reasons from taking the public’s pulse, to promoting articles, blogs, TV shows, films, products and candidates. You will be expected to create a Twitter feed and learn how to use it wisely. You can follow me on Twitter: @MeredithOBrien.

Project 1: Students will select a news story or event (like the Inauguration, the Oscars, the Super Bowl, etc.) and follow it through the news cycle. Students should assess how the story was depicted on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and on news organization web sites.

Project 2: Students will analyze how a news organization uses blogs and social media.

Project 3: Select a controversial issue that people are talking about with your blog’s subject area and then research it and create a post for your blog about it.

Attendance and participation: This is a discussion-heavy course. During our classes, we’ll not only be discussing the readings, but will be doing live research and social media activity. We will also spend significant class time assessing one another’s blog and social media activity. This is my long-winded way of saying: You need to attend class.


Class 1: Introduction.

Class 2: History of online media. Online Journalism Handbook, pgs. 1-14.

Class 3: Journalism & online media. Online Journalism, pgs. 30-35.

Class 4: Why blog? Online Journalism, pgs. 74-84. Journalism Next, pgs. 37-44.

Class 5: Which blogs should you read? Online Journalism, pgs. 88-89. Journalism Next, pgs. 1-18.

Class 6: Why tweet on Twitter? Online Journalism, pgs. 85-88. Journalism Next, pgs. 89-113.

presidential sealClass 7: Who should you follow on Twitter?

Class 8: State of the Union Address coverage: News media vs social media.

Class 9: Social media guidelines.

Class 10: Crowdsourcing. Online Journalism, pgs. 139-142, 149-155. Journalism Next, pgs. 65-80.

Class 11: Creating blogs. Online Journalism, pgs. 34-44. Journalism Next, pgs. 45-62.

Class 12: Creating blogs continued.

Class 13: What should you write on your blog? Online Journalism, pgs. 80-82.

creativecommonsClass 14: Flickr & Creative Commons. Journalism Next, pgs. 137-165. *Project 1 due*

Class 15: A journalist & social media.

Class 16: Graphics for blogs. Online Journalism, pgs. 126-130. Journalism Next, pgs. 252-259.

Class 17: Podcasting. Online Journalism, pgs. 93-102. Journalism Next, pgs. 171-195.

Class 18: Student interviews.

Class 19: Advice from a veteran podcaster/blogger.

Class 20: Developing an audience, participating online. Journalism Next, pgs. 263-311.

Class 21: Case studies: Using social media to promote ideas, stories and products.

Class 22: Discuss student projects. *Project 2 due*

Class 23: Student blog assessments, blog traffic, content engagement, Twitter action.

Class 24: Video. Online Journalism, pgs. 105-117. Journalism Next, pgs. 197-226.

Class 25: Best practices in news video.

Class 26: View student video blogs.

Class 27: Class workshop for Project 3.

Class 28: Discuss student projects. *Project 3 due*



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