Fall 2020 - CMNS 253W D100

Introduction to Information Technology: The New Media (3)

Class Number: 6853

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM

  • 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. Butthe 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 tech 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, and more.

This semester, CMNS253 will be conducted remotely to minimise the public health risks of COVID-19. This will mean a combination of video lectures and asynchronous discussions (e.g. collective annotation & discussion of readings). The course will NOT involve 2-hour live Zoom calls, final exams, or online proctoring surveillance. If you have any questions or suggetions about course contents or policies, don’t hesitate to write the instructor at: sun_ha@sfu.ca


  • Participation & Weekly Exercises 40%
  • Final Essay 60%



No textbooks. All readings will be provided online.


No textbooks. All readings will be provided online.

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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).