Fall 2021 - CMNS 253W D100

Introduction to Information Technology: The New Media (3)

Class Number: 5972

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    HCC 1900, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    CMNS 110 or 130, with a minimum grade of C-.



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 better understand the human and social consequences of information technology, and how can we ensure that it leads to a better society?

This is a complicated question, because ‘media’ isn’t just Twitter and television. It’s also facial recognition tech scanning you for job applications. It’s microtransactions in your video games (and in games for 3-year old kids too). It’s deepfakes applying machine learning to put people’s faces on pornography. 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.

If you have any questions about the course content / setup during enrolment, I’d be happy to chat – just email me at sun_ha@sfu.ca


This is a writing-intensive (W) course, focused on step-by-step practice on designing and delivering 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.


  • Weekly Attendance & Participation 30%
  • Final Project - Proposal 15%
  • Final Project - Presentation 15%
  • Final Project 40%


 Grading breakdown above is provisional and subject to change.



No textbooks required. All readings will be listed on syllabus & available online via instructor.

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 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.