Spring 2020 - CMNS 253W D100

Introduction to Information Technology: The New Media (3)

Class Number: 1106

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 3003, 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.


The Internet promised to make the world more democratic, to make people more informed, and to offer them more freedom and flexibility in their work and life. But the same online platforms also gave rise to online harassment, misinformation, and automated forms of profiling based on race, gender, and sexuality. These online technologies that connect us also constantly track us in order to nudge us to work harder, scroll further, and buy more—leading to intensifying feelings of distraction, anxiety, and inadequacy. How can we evaluate the impacts of information technology for different groups of people, and what can we do to make these technologies work better not just for businesses but also for citizens and society as a whole?

Digital media isn’t just Twitter and Facebook. It’s also the software at your job monitoring your toilet breaks. It’s your self-tracking headphones helping you to focus more and sleep better. We’ll learn how to understand and analyse media that is no longer just on screens but forms the entire background for our lives.

This is a writing-intensive (W) course focusing on step-by-step practice and feedback for you to design, execute, and write up a research project. This course provides an overview of approaches and issues in our understanding of technology and digital media. We will learn how to apply concepts and research to contemporary questions and controversies about social media platforms, gig-economy apps, self-tracking wearables, media manipulation and disinformation, and more.


  • Written Assignments A (2 x 10% each) 20%
  • Written Assignment B 15%
  • Oral Presentation 15%
  • Final Essay 30%
  • Participation 20%
  • *To be confirmed in class


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.]

Doctor’s Notes:  Please see this website to view procedures to follow if you are sick.http://www.sfu.ca/students/health/see-a-doctor/missed-classes.html


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