Kevin Dooley CC.jpg


Media Literacy & Youth Culture

Summer 2016 Syllabus

Sections 1 & 2 (Online)

Dr. Kaia Tollefson

Office: Madera 1405

Office Phone: (805) 437-3125

Cell: (805) 624-0788


I will make every effort to ensure that your experience of our class is meaningful, pertinent to your everyday life and relevant to your life and work with youth.

When emailing me, please format your subject line as follows: EDUC 345: your topic. I will do my best to respond to emails within 24 hours. In an emergency, feel free to text.

Course Description

This interdisciplinary course examines the relationship between mass communication, mass media, and youth culture. Topics include the theories and effects of mass communication, in particular the effects of mass media on children and adolescents. To develop media literacy, students will apply these concepts to their own experiences with popular media, including television, print, and film. Fulfills GE: A1, D, Upper Division Interdisciplinary; English elective.

Required Texts and Tools

Required Texts

  • Sternheimer, K. (2013). Connecting social problems and popular culture: Why media is not the answer (2nd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Assigned readings and videos will be made available via Blackboard.

Required Technology

  • Regular access to a computer (not a mobile device), webcam and high speed Internet
  • A recently upgraded web browser
  • Word processing and presentation software necessary for completing assignments
  • Plug-ins: Acrobat Reader, PowerPoint Viewer

Optional Technology

  • Headset with a microphone (available online for less than $15) to enhance quality of audio posts

Student Learning Outcomes

If you successfully complete all assignments, by the end of this course you will be able to:

  1. Define mass media, mass communication and culture
  2. Analyze the development of mass communication, historically and culturally
  3. Analyze the relationship between mass communication and cultural values
  4. Discuss the role and effects of mass media on the lives of children and adolescents
  5. Investigate how media portrays minorities (e.g., racial/ethnic identities, sexual identities, disabilities), gender roles and class
  6. Analyze mass media marketing and its effects on the behavior of audiences, especially children and adolescents
  7. Discuss the influence of mediated message producers, production technologies and message content
  8. Apply knowledge of mass communication to produce educational materials for youth
  9. Discuss the relationship between shape of media institutions and economic, legislative and social controls

By enrolling in this course, you are committing to demonstrating respect for your educational experience, your peers and your professor in the following ways:

  • Committing the time necessary to complete a semester's worth of work in a 5-week summer session. During a 15-week face-to-face course, students are expected to meet in person for 45 hours, total, and spend 2 hours for each of those contact hours preparing for class. Therefore, during our 5 weeks together you must plan on spending a minimum of 9 hours per week engaged in Blackboard and the other online learning spaces I have designed for you. IN ADDITION, your independent time spent reading assigned texts, taking quizzes and completing assignments should total at least 90 hours over the 5-week period.
  • Understanding that responsibility for effective time management is much more on the student's shoulders in an online class, without benefit of weekly face-to-face time with peers and the instructor.
  • Completing all readings and related assignments on time.
  • Participating actively, critically and productively in all learning activities.
  • Consistently helping to uphold class norms, including online etiquette, which we establish as a class.
  • Upholding the standards of academic integrity and all other academic policies described in CI's University Catalog.

Expectations and Tips for Online Learners

  • This course requires regular engagement throughout each of the learning modules.
  • Review the due dates for the assignments to orient yourself to the flow of the learning modules.
  • You are expected to log into CILearn on the first day of each learning module (starting with day 1 of the course) to assess the new learning unit, orient yourself to the due dates for that module, and plan your study time.
  • Online classes are deceiving. Often new online learners expect them to be easier than face-to-face classes and are surprised to learn how challenging they can be. If you find yourself needing assistance, it is your responsibility to reach out to me for help. I am here to help you as needed, but I need you to maintain communication with me throughout the class.
  • Ensure that you can dedicate the time needed to fit a typical 15-week course into a 5-week summer session (9 hours per week engaged in structured learning activities + approximately 18 hours per week reading, taking quizzes and completing assignments). Please take time to identify where and when you'll meet the requirements for this course on our aggressive timeline.

If you experience technical problems in this course, do the following:

  1. Clear your browser’s cache
  2. Try a different browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome)
  3. Shut down and restart your computer
  4. Contact the CI Help desk or 805-437-8552

Grading Policies

See the CI Catalog for grading policies that pertain to all courses. In addition, policies specific to this course include the following:

  1. Criteria for successful completion of assignments will be provided. Rubrics or other instruments to be used for evaluating assignments will be provided before assignment due dates.
  2. All written assignments must be submitted through SafeAssign in Blackboard by 9am on their due dates.
  3. Individual assignments will be returned with substantive feedback, typically the week following their due dates.

Final Course Grade

The final grade will be calculated as percentage of total points earned on all learning module activities completed and assignments submitted.

97-100% = A+

93-96% = A

90-92% = A-

87-89% = B+

83-86% = B

80-82% = B-

77-79% = C+

73-76% = C

70-72% = C-

67-69% D+

63-66% = D

60-62% = D-

Policy on Assignment Submission and Late Work

All assignments described below must be submitted by 9am on their due dates. A 1-week extension may be requested if complicating life circumstances keep you from being able to submit your best work on one assignment. Multiple extensions will not be granted without extreme justification.

Online posts must be submitted by 9am on their due dates, as indicated within Blackboard course modules. No late submission option is available for interactive/discussion posts or for quizzes and tests. Failure to post on time will result in zero credit.

Jonas Seaman CC-BY-NC-ND Time Travel.jpg
DC Museum of Natural History Kaia.jpg
DC Museum of Natural History Christina.jpg
DC Museum of Natural History Dino.jpg

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

CSU Channel Islands is committed to equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities in compliance with Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The purpose of Disability Resource Program is to assist students with disabilities to realize their academic and personal potential. Students with disabilities needing accommodation are required to contact the Disability Program office at (805) 437-3331. All requests for accommodations need appropriate advance notice by the student to avoid a delay in services. Please discuss approved accommodations with me so that I have adequate information and time to prepare accordingly.


The following assignment descriptions, point values and/or due dates will be modified as needed by the instructor as the semester progresses.

Assignment 1: 345Blog on Course Readings

This is a weekly online (password protected) blogging space for you to process what you experience in EDUC/COMM 345 — within your own mind and with others in class — posing questions, formulating arguments and making sense of course readings and other learning activities that you experience.

Your engagement with assigned texts via your group 345Blog is worth 50 points per week. This is due to the fact that EDUC/COM 345 counts as an Upper Division Interdisciplinary General Education (UDIGE) course and can be used for English credit; consequently, it is designed as a writing-intensive course.

You will also see in the 345Blog Rubric that this assignment is intended to provide accountability for:

  • Completing assigned readings
  • Identifying new learnings and connecting them to other texts, other courses and/or life experiences
  • Engaging with other members of your group in an exchange of ideas: Please post your initial entry by Saturday night during each module. Then check back in Sunday and/or Monday so that you can respond to others' entries by the time each module closes, at 9am each Tuesday.
  • Developing academic writing skills, such as citing textual references (e.g., APA or MLA), paragraph structure and writing mechanics. If you are unclear on any of these requirements, I strongly encourage you to visit the University Writing Center, located in the Broome Library at the back side of the 2nd floor.

To get started, go to

  1. Click on the link above and read the information on that page. Password: hobbs (all lower case)
  2. Find your 345Blog group number by clicking on the "Group Members" page in the Navigation Bar and locate your name.
  3. Click on your group number's page. When prompted for your username and password: Your username is your first name, as listed in MyCI (capitalize the first letter). The password is hobbs (all lower case)
  4. Find my post entitled "Getting Started." Follow the directions you will find there to begin posting.
  5. Locate the 345Blog Rubric in Blackboard, in the Rubrics tab. Read it and use it to guide your participation in this 50-point per week assignment.

Assignment #2: Position Paper Part A (pre-course survey, 15 points) and Part B (post-course survey, 25 points)

The purpose of this 3-5 page paper is to gather pre- (Part A) and post- (Part B) course reflections on what you think about media education. Using Hobbs’ synopsis of “The Seven Great Debates in the Media Literacy Movement” (2001), take a position on each of those debates at the beginning of the course. For Part A of this assignment, record your position and briefly explain why you voted the way that you did. At the end of the semester, take Hobbs’ survey again. Then, for Part B, write a 3-4 page paper to do two things: (1) compare your end-of-semester positions on the “Seven Great Debates” with the views you held on them prior to your experience of the course; and (2) reflect on your overall experience of EDUC/COMM 345. (Learning Outcomes #4, 6, 7, 8)

Assignment #3: Media Moment (25 points)

Media Moment: The Early Years (25 points). For this assignment, you will create an original piece of media that communicates a memorable experience with media that you had when you were young (any age or age range, up until you completed high school). The "media moment" you highlight can feature an experience any form of media (e.g., television, movie, music, radio, billboard, comic books, young adult fiction, the news, advertisements, etc). You are free to communicate your media moment in any form: an essay, a poem, a video (e.g., of an original song that you compose and perform), a drawing or painting, a set of PowerPoint slides -- your medium, your decision. I am intentionally leaving this assignment broadly defined, as I want you to have the freedom to engage it as creatively as you wish. If it helps, though, some optional prompts that could guide your work follow: What is your earliest media memory? What was a "media moment" or form of media that had a large impact on you as young person? What are the feelings and/or family memories you associate with it? How did it impact your youth and/or who you are today? (Learning Outcomes #4, 7, 8)


Media Moment: Now (25 points). For this assignment, you will create an original piece of media that communicates a recent or current experience with media. The "media moment" you highlight can feature an experience with any form of media (e.g., television, movie, music, radio, billboard, comic books, young adult fiction, the news, advertisements, etc). You are free to communicate your media moment in any form: an essay, a poem, a video (e.g., of an original song that you compose and perform), a drawing or painting, a set of PowerPoint slides -- your medium, your decision. I am intentionally leaving this assignment broadly defined, as I want you to have the freedom to engage it as creatively as you wish. If it helps, though, some optional prompts that could guide your work follow: What is a "media moment" or form of media that is currently having a large impact on your life? How and why is it having that impact? What are the feelings, ideas, goals, needs or fears that you associate with it? Why does it matter? (Learning Outcomes #4, 7, 8)

Assignment #4: Media Critique VoiceThread (50 points).

The purpose of this assignment is to provide opportunities to practice facilitating thoughtful conversations about media—that is, to apply the knowledge and skills of media literacy—developing as effective communicators and as potential media educators at home, at school, and in our communities. Please choose one of the following activities and prepare to create and facilitate a VoiceThread discussion on it. Be sure to include in your VoiceThread post accurate citation information to ensure that your media example is “real” – that is, that it was an actually published somewhere online, on screen or in print, not spoofs. (Learning Outcomes #3, 4, 5, 7, 8)

Sign up: Go to this Media Critique GoogleDoc Signup Sheet to select the date when you will submit your VoiceThread Media Critique.

For instructions about how to create and post your own VoiceThread, see Blackboard VoiceThread Support. For more personalized support from CI's very own IT people, see Michelle Pacansky-Brock's VoiceThread tutorials.

Submission requirements: Create one or more PowerPoint slides containing your example of one of the three options below. You are free to design your slides however you like. You may wish to insert your discussion question(s) as part of the slide, or you may want to just make a slide of the media image(s) you select, and add your discussion questions via audio or video posts from within VoiceThread. At any point during the course, click the VoiceThread assignment within that week's Blackboard module and create a new VoiceThread with the PowerPoint slide(s) you made.

Grading: You will receive automatic full credit (50 points) during the final week of class if two things are true: (1) you successfully created a VoiceThread at some point during the course and successfully engaged several of your classmates in discussing it; AND (2) you were actively supportive of your classmates throughout that time period by responding to their VoiceThread posts. If you meet one but not both of these two criteria, you will receive half credit (25 points) for this assignment.

VoiceThread Option 1: Media Deconstruction: Find a print ad, video clip, or link to a web site that has content worthy of thoughtful deconstruction—that is, a media example containing both explicit and implied messages about such topics as power, places, people (e.g., their age, body type, gender, physical ability/disability, race, sexual identity, socioeconomic status), or your discipline (e.g., art, business, communications, education). Facilitate a large-group deconstruction/discussion of your find.

VoiceThread Option 2: Lies in the Media: Show one or more example (print ads, video clips, photographs, etc.) illustrating Carl Hausman’s “misleading” strategies (lying with language, with numbers, with images). Discuss the strategy employed in the example and facilitate a VoiceThread discussion about its effectiveness.

VoiceThread Option 3: Great Links (e.g., websites, YouTube, someone’s blog): Take the class to a great place online. In your VoiceThread post, explain what makes that particular Web experience important, useful, meaningful, or just generally good to you. Be prepared to share the specific criteria you used in deciding that your example is a “great” site. Post questions to invite others’ comments in response to the site as well as in response to your evaluation of it.

Assignment #5: Anti-Ad (25 points).

This assignment will require you to create an “anti-ad," upload it as a Padlet post, review each other's anti-ads, and vote on the anti-ads you found most effective. An anti-ad tells the truth and/or provides a critical perspective about implicit messages and denied/distorted elements in a published advertisement for a particular product (counter-advertising). The purpose of this assignment is described well by Jesse Gainer, who wrote, “It is not enough to have [students] deconstruct meanings of everyday texts; they must also have opportunities to redesign them. It is important to give students opportunities not only to critique media but to create it, as well. In this way, Vasquez explained, they learn to ‘use texts as social tools in ways that allow for a reconstruction of inequitable worlds’” (Gainer, 2007, p. 110). (Learning Outcomes #3, 5, 7, 8)

Assignment #6: Evaluating Newsworthiness (25 points).

Watch an hour-long news program. You can choose which news program you want to watch, but it must be be one broadcast on one of the major network news channels (e.g., ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, MSNBC), and it must not be an entertainment/celebrity news channel. As you watch, make a list of the stories covered. Then use the criteria we develop together online to label each story as “newsworthy” or not. For each story that does not meet the criteria for being newsworthy, in your judgment, make up another label that would characterize the content (e.g., celebrity gossip). Then, calculate percentages to answer the following questions. Of the total number of stories covered, what percentage is newsworthy? What percentage is celebrity gossip? What percentage is each of the other categories you named? This does not have to be a formal paper written in narrative format. It can be presented as a table or in bulleted lists.

Final: Original Media Project (50 points).

The purpose of this assignment is to provide opportunity to synthesize learnings from the course and to provide original resources for increasing others’ levels of media literacy. You may work alone or with a partner of your choice to create a work of original media that can be used to help other students (of any level, P-16) to become more media literate. If you choose to work with a partner, you will also be asked to individually submit a brief written commentary on how your team divided the labor and whether equitable collaboration was achieved. This final project can take any digital form: a skit that you upload as a YouTube video, PowerPoint slides, an audio recording of an original song performed by you or your group, a movie trailer that you write and film. The only limits are your imagination, your courage, your ability to share your end result with the rest of the class, and the bounds of good taste and good sense. :) (Learning Outcomes #4, 9)

Course Schedule: Summer 2016

Module 1: Introductions and Orientation to Media Literacy & Youth Culture

  • Week 1
    9am Tuesday, May 24 through 9am Tuesday, May 31

Module 2: Visibility

  • Week 2
    9am Tuesday, May 31 through 9am Tuesday, June 7

Module 3: Attention

  • Week 3
    9am Tuesday, June 7 through 9am Tuesday, June 14

Module 4: Impact of Media on Culture

  • Week 4
    9am Tuesday, June 14 through 9am Tuesday, June 21

Module 5: News & Newsworthiness

  • Week 5
    9am Tuesday, June 21 through 9am Tuesday, June 28

Image Credits

1. "Penetrating Media" image by Kevin Dooley, CC-BY

2. "Grading Wordle" image by Kaia Tollefson, CC-BY-NC-ND

3. "Time Travel" image by Jonas Seaman, CC-BY-NC-ND

4. "Dino Pics" by Kaia Tollefson & Christina Pabers, Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC