ComS 222 Analysis of Electronic Media Paper Assignment


To experience a variety of interactions online

To compare the nature of online and face to face interactions as instructional contexts

To reflect on those experiences from an instructional communication perspective

To account for (explain) the affordances and limitations of various mediated experiences by applying relevant communication theory.


In order to accomplish this assignment you will need to start immediately so you have sufficient time to find and subscribe to appropriate online lists, discussion groups or courses that provide sufficient “traffic” for you to assess the experiences.  You will participate with those lists, discussions or courses you subscribe as well as and online discussions in our class that may emerge.  Time is needed to ensure the lists are sufficiently active and for you to experience their nature and quality.  Also, you will encounter technical problems that will take time to solve—all part of the mediated instructional context.

 You should take notes about your experiences regularly so you have a record of your cognitive and affective (even skill) changes as you explore the online learning environment. 

 The assignment has three parts that I explain below.

 Part I:  I have provided you a list of URLs (Web site addresses) as starting points for your analysis of electronic media as delivery channel for instruction.  Part of this assignment necessitates you joining some discussion groups related to instruction via electronic channels.  (Course, List, or Blog  )

Here are three possible sources to get you started--

Khan Academy  Khan's blurb: "Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We're a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere."

Saylor.Org  "Harnessing technology to make education free."
Feel free to take one of these courses (or look through the catalog for another you'd like to try)

Comm 101 Public Speaking 

Psych 406 Gender and Sexuality 

This resource can be quite interesting, but timing of some course offerings are not compatible with our schedule; nevertheless, I suggest you check out three that do fit our time frame:

I suggest you explore the categories of Education or Humanities, but you are free to look in other categories that may interest you. In Humanities, I recommend,

Specialization: Virtual Teacher Program

Course available:

1) Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual Classroom

Sept 29-Nov 3 2014


Specialization: Foundations of Teaching for Learning

Courses available:

1) Foundations of Teaching for Learning 4: Curriculum

Sept 8-Oct 20, 2014


2) Foundations of Teaching for Learning 7: Being a Professional

Sept 22-Nov. 3 2014

For a list of lists with subscription links try

Read the directions for subscribing at the top and try some out.  Keep a record of your sign-ups and keep the response you get from any successful subscription so you know how to unsubscribe if and when you need to do so. 

 For an unmoderated list try DEOS.  To subscribe, go to:   Then click, "Join or leave list."  Historically, this list provides lots of information and opportunity for lots of interaction, but can get a little tedious.

While lists are still used, blogs seem to be replacing them.  Here's one that you may want to read and comment on:
The TLT (Teaching/Learning with Technology) Group sponsors this one.

 Here are some of the questions to guide your thinking as you go through the semester:

 ·        How does the context of communication and instruction via electronic media differ from that of the communication context present in the traditional classroom?

·        What are the affordances of the electronic media as a channel for communication designed to instruct?

·        What are the weaknesses or limitations of electronic channels in communicating with students?  What are the strengths of these channels in facilitating learning?

·        What knowledge do we already possess (i.e. what theory do we have) that can guide our best use of this medium?

·        What do we need to learn in order to make best use of these media? 

These questions are intended only to provide starting points; if you wish to use one or all of them, you may.  If you wish, ignore them and pose other questions you feel are more important or interesting. 

 Part II: You will have some assigned readings regarding the topic of electronic media and instruction, the material from the TLT blog, my web page, electronic journals and other material you discovered which you will use as basic resources for your analysis. 

 Part III: Prepare a 5-7 page analysis of your experience with electronic media.  This analysis will use ideas drawn from our class readings as well as from your own reading on the subject. 

 RECOMMENDED STRUCTURE OF THE PAPER (If you decide to create sections related to the topics below, be sure to create logical transitions to integrate the parts—these are not three mini-papers.) The best essays are conceptual wholes.

Part 1: Exploration: explore the present and potential structure of electronic communication in the classroom; what will the communication system look like?  How will it be different from the present face-to-face system?  Where and how will instruction take place?  How will those differences impact instruction as a communication process?

Part II: Explanation: using relevant communication theory, account for present uses of electronic communication (or lack thereof) in the classroom; account for your experiences both good and bad.  What worked and why?  What did not work and why?

 (Use the course readings, material you have discovered in research –expected—and this book available online: Theory & Practice of Online Education, 2nd edition, edited by Terry Anderson and Fathi Elloumi.)

Part III: Speculation: speculate on how electronic media will re-shape the instructional context (or will the context affect the structure of the media?)  What will we have to know more about in order to communicate most effectively given the availability and use of electronic media?

Use the APA stylebook to format this paper. (If you don't have a style book, use the on-line versions listed in the syllabus.)

 Criteria for Grading

·        The essay presents a coherent conceptual approach with introduction, body and conclusion.

·        The essay treats all three areas of the assignment: exploration, explanation and speculation.

·        Evidence of exploration is present in the essay in the form of examples, illustrations and narratives of your experience.

·        Explanation is grounded in appropriate and sufficient communication theory to account for your experiences and those of others you include.

·        Speculation is logically related to explanation; present and future have some connection; experience and theory are connected, too.

·        The essay is free of spelling and grammatical errors.     

·        The essay is properly formatted using APA stylebook.


These journals are concerned about doing education online. However, note, the writers rarely treat communication theory or practices explicitly.  Be careful not to apply statements from the journals to any discussion of instructional communication without first considering whether or not the content is consistent with theory we employ.  For example, media tools are central to many of the discussions, but the symbolic and semantic qualities of media are almost never discussed.  Advocating media use for the sake of convenience, for example, is a wrong-headed rationale for its use.

Journal of Educational Technology & Society

Journal of Interactive Media in Education

International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning