Fall 2019 - CMNS 253W D100

Introduction to Information Technology: The New Media (3)

Class Number: 3330

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    AQ 3150, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 9, 2019
    3:20 PM – 3:25 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    CMNS 110 or 130.



An introduction to new communication/information technologies, seen as new media of communication: the technologies, their uses, and the social issues arising from them. Students with credit for CMNS 253 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.



New media was supposed to be wonderful.

We thought the Internet would deliver democracy, free speech and better information to everyone. But the same technologies also support authoritarian censorship, the spread of hate speech, the triumph of trolling. How can we determine the impact of information technology, and how can we ensure that it leads to a better society?

The media isn’t just Twitter and television. It’s also about facial-recognition technology training you to smile better for your job. It’s microtransactions in your video games (and in games for 3-year old kids too). It’s deepfakes applying machine learning to put your face on a porn video. It’s your self-tracking wristband beeping at you to eat less and run more. We’ll learn how to understand and analyse media that is no longer just on screens, but is an entire background for our lives.

This is a writing-intensive (W) course, focused on step-by-step practice and feedback on how to design, execute, and write-up a research project. We will cover some of the big questions and approaches on how to study technology and new media. We will learn how to apply theory and research to big contemporary questions about fake news, algorithmic bias, surveillance, social media, AI (artificial Intelligence), and more.


  • Written Assignments A (2 x 10% each) 20%
  • Written Assignment B 15%
  • Oral Presentation 15%
  • Final Essay (Take Home Exam) 30%
  • Lecture and Lab Participation 20%



The school expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03 and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline. [Note: as of May 1, 2009 the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02), and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies.]

Sick Notes:

Please see this website to view procedures to follow if you are sick.



This is a writing-intensive course.

*Students who began their degrees in Fall 2006 onwards must successfully complete at least two (W) courses, at least one of which must be upper division, within the student’s discipline. It is strongly recommended that students take one (W) course as early as possible, preferably in their first 30 units. Students are required to complete their first (W) course within their first 60 units. Each (W) course must be at least 3 units, and achieve at least a C- grade.



No textbooks; all readings will be available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html