This course asks whether new social media are contributing to a Knowledge Society. What role do social media play in our society?  Do the rise of social networks and new media facilitate and advance online collaboration and knowledge building, and if so, how? How do (or might) social media such as forums, blogs, twitter, YouTube and Facebook contribute to promoting a paradigm shift in key applications such as University Education, Business, Community, and Health communication. We will both analyze and employ online collaboration and knowledge building in our study of new social media.

Our key question is: do social media facilitate collaborative learning and knowledge building in business, education, community and social communication applications?

Do they advance knowledge discourse and thereby contribute to a knowledge society?

And if so, HOW??

Or if not, why?

Which technologies and social media?

What features of social media and network technologies promote (or compromise) knowledge building?

What designs promote or mitigate against collaborative learning and knowledge building?

Ultimately, how is discourse best moderated to advance collaborative knowledge building?

The course will introduce theoretical, historical, and conceptual frameworks to guide the discussion and analyses. Theory of Knowledge and Online Collaborative Learning will provide an analytical framework for examining various new communication technologies and social media. A historical context is essential to view today’s society and technology within a wider framework, to inform discussions and analyses of the role and potential role of current social media, as well as considering designs for the future of a Knowledge and Knowledgable Society.

EIGHT classes will be conducted F2F while FOUR classes will be held totally ONLINE, using and studying new media tools and their social applications. The Online classes will be student-moderated seminars, for which students will be responsible for designing, facilitating, and assessing a 1-week seminar on a topic related to the course focus. Students who are not moderating that particular week will participate as discussants in the online seminars.  A significant portion of the total grade is dedicated to the quality of your participation as a moderator and as a discussant in the online seminars.


Mid-Term:                                             15%
 Assignment #1: Mystery                                5%
 Assignment #2: Seminar Participation                 30%
 Assignment #3: Seminar Moderating                    30%
 Assignment #4: Final Paper                           15%
 Peer assessment                                       5%


Mid-Term:                                           15%

  • Individual grade
  • Multiple Choice and Short Answer

Assignment #1                                      5%

  • Individual grade
  • Mystery

Assignment #2:  Seminar Participation      30%

  • individual grade: 10% per weekly seminar
  • quality + quantity of online discussion

Assignment #3: Seminar Moderating          30%

  • Group grade/peer input
  • Online Seminar
    1. Presentation (10%)
    2. Moderating/Facilitating (10%)
    3. Evaluation (10%)

Assignment #4: Final Paper                              15%

  • Group grade/peer input
  • Final Paper

Peer Assessment                                    5%

  • individual grade

Course Readings:


Harasim, L. (2012). Learning Theory and Online Technology. Routledge:  New York, NY.


Sharkey, C. (2010).  Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. Penguin Press, NY, NY.

Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown Up Digital: How the net generation is changing your world. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Additional References (not required for course work):

Bauerlein, M.  (2009). The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)

McLuhan, M. (1951) The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man; 1st Ed.: The Vanguard Press, NY; reissued by Gingko Press, 2002 ISBN 1-58423-050-9

McLuhan, M. (1962). The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man; 1st Ed: University of Toronto Press; reissued by Routledge & Kegan Paul ISBN 0-7100-1818-5

McLuhan, M. (1964).Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man; 1st Ed. McGraw Hill, NY; reissued by MIT Press, 1994, with introduction by Lewis H. Lapham; reissued by Gingko Press, 2003 ISBN 1-58423-073-8

McLuhan, M. with Q. Fiore (1967). The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, produced by Jerome Agel; 1st Ed.: Random House; reissued by Gingko Press, 2001 ISBN 1-58423-070-3

Seely Brown, J. and Duguid, P. (2000). The Social Life of Information.

Seely Brown, J..   You Tube presentations, on WoW.

Shirky, C. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations.







May 8

INTRODUCTION to the Course:Student Self-Intros, interests, questionsIntroduction to Course; Course grading, assignments and format (Blended OCL);

What are student-led online seminars?


KEY CONCEPTS: What constitutes social media?  What are major DISCOURSE applications?  What is the Theory of Knowledge & the Knowledge Society?

Manual: pp. 1-8


May 15

Theory of Knowledge, CMNS + OCLHistory: 4 Major Paradigms ShiftsKey Terms & Concepts:

(Knowledge Building, Knowledge Society, Social Media, Online Discourse, Online Collaborative Learning, Moderating, etc.)

ATTRIBUTES of various social media & how these attributes contribute to KB?

Manual:Harasim, 2012:Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 6 pp102-6



May 22

Social media as a GAME CHANGER.  How do social media shape communication in the major socio-economic sectors of the Knowledge Society?Are they contributing to socio-economic and cultural development or degradation?

What is the potential? Identify examples of social media & applications that exemplify KB.

Begin to form groups around applications:


  • Business
  • University Education
  • Social, political, civic communication
  • Professional Communication
  • Health, medical
  • Journalism, other.


Manual:Harasim, 2012:Chapter 6

Chapter 9


May 29

How do media change and shape society? Contribute to social change and knowledge?  What new up and coming social media hold implications for knowledge building?Introduction to online seminars, roles related to being a Moderator and Discussant.OCL & Knowledge building in your seminar.


Form groups & develop seminar Discussion Questions (DQs)


Harasim, 2012:Chapter 7 scenario 2Manual: moderator & discussant roles


June 5

Review Online Seminars: Moderating & Discussing

Hands-on Virtual-U.


Review the manual, pp 1-39


June 12

Midterm  (5:30-7pm)Participating & Moderating Online


June 19

No Class:Meet in GroupsTO DESIGN Your Online Seminar

Prepare for Online:

See example:


June 26

Online Seminar A: 


July 3

Online Seminar B: 


July 10

Online Seminar C: 


July 17

Online Seminar D: 


July 24

Preparing Final paper  Manual: p.


July 31

Final Assignment Due at 5pm 

CMNS 453 Flow


1. In-Class Participation 

For the purposes of this course, the in-class participation grade depends on the following: 

  • Regular and on-time attendance to class, not missing any classes without an acceptable excuse (e.g., illness, of you or a family member, accident, moving, any uncontrollable event).  In the case of foreseeable reasons, you are expected to give advance notice.
  • Doing the assigned homework (reading the course material critically, doing research in the library, online, etc.)
  • Missed classes without acceptable excuse: deduct 5% each time

Doing the above will help you to develop your responses as listed below, which will in turn affect your in-class participation grade positively.


 Therefore, a student who demonstrates a high level of in-class participation does the following: 
 Listens:            Responds:






Alert, eyes on the speaker, nonverbal signs of attention demonstratedAnswers questions when asked directly

Contributes to discussion, without being asked, takes notes

to the point being discussed

Changes behavior based on feedback from the lecturer and fellow students

Writes reflections during class and analyzes own behavior

Becomes a contributing group member who solves problems and fosters positive communication

Does not sit back and wait for directions

Does not watch the clock and wait for the class to end

Does not start getting ready to finish and leave the class before the lecturer says so.

2.  Adhere to SFU Policies on Plagiarism!  Plagiarism is not allowed in cmns453.

3. Use grammar checkers and plagiarism detectors to help your writing:


You +1’d this publicly. Undo

    1. Grammar check
    2. Instant proofreading
    3. Plagiarism detection

Citation machine helps students and professional researchers to properly credit the information that they use. Its primary goal is to make it easy for student researchers to cite their information sources.


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