NCSU Department of Communication

COM477::Mobile Technologies and Cultures (Spring 2012)
Instructor: Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva






Contact information:
Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva
Associate Professor
NCSU Department of Communication

Class meetings:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Winston 209

Teachin Assistant:
Fernanda Duarte

Credit hours: 3

Class website:

Moodle page:

Winston 104

Office hours:
by appointment

Course pre-requisites:
COM250 or STS214


Catalog Description:

Mobile communication technologies and their influence on communication patterns and social behavior. Conceptualization of cell phones beyond mobile telephones, as Internet access points and gaming devices. History, current uses and future perspectives for the social use of mobile interfaces. The creation of new mobile communities. The influence of mobile images on communication and the creation of mobile networks. Use of mobile phones across cultures and places, such as Asia, Scandinavia, Africa, and Latin America.


Course Description:
Cell phones are among the most relevant communication media today. They are communication interfaces that not only allow us to talk to other people, but also to access the internet, and find information and people in physical spaces. The number of cell phones has largely surpassed the number of PCs worldwide, and for many people in the world cell phones are not only their first phone, but also their first computer and location-aware device. Mobile technologies are in the 21st century what the PC was in the 20th century: A computer that allows us to connect to the Internet and to socialize with other people.

This course explores mobile technologies' influence on communication patterns and social behavior. We will analyze the use of different mobile and locative interfaces, such as smartphones, RFID tags, GPS technologies and pads in different cultural and socio-economic contexts.
The course will engage students to address issues such as:
• The history of mobile interfaces,
• Cell phones' and locative technologies' influence on our perception of location, space and place,
• Educational uses of mobile technologies,
• Locational privacy and urban sociability,
• Mobile phones, privacy and security.
• Youth behavior, location tracking, and cell phones,
• Mobile communities, and location-based networks,
• Mobile annotation, mapping and gaming.
• Basic concepts of cellular technologies and cell phone generations,
• The use of mobile phones in the developing world (case studies in Africa, Asia and South America).

In summary, the course provides a general overview of the state of mobile communication technologies today, focusing on history, current uses and social appropriation of technology.


Course objectives:
Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding about basic concepts of cellular technology and their functions;
  • Identify and apply mobilities and mobile communication theories to critically analyze the state of mobile technologies in today´s society;
  • Analyze current place-specific uses of cell phones, connecting them to mobile phone history and theory.
  • Explain connections between cell phone usage and the social significance of pervasive and ubiquitous computing in contemporary society;
  • Discuss basic concepts of cellular technology by analyzing mobile platforms and mobile social software as they relate to social uses.
  • Explain how mobile, location aware and wireless interfaces influence communication and society.


Course components and grading:
The final grade will consist of the following components:
Participation: 5 points
Weekly blog posts: 20 points
Class discussion + article: 15 points
Final group project: 10 points
Mid-term exam: 20 points
Final exam: 30 points

I will be grading on the University's A+/F scale, as follows:

  • 97-100 = A+
  • 93-96 = A
  • 90-92 = A-
  • 87-89 = B+
  • 83-86 = B
  • 80-82 = B-
  • 77-79 = C+
  • 73-76 = C
  • 70-72 = C-
  • 67-69 = D+
  • 63-66 = D
  • 60-62 = D-
  • below = F


Course policies:

Incomplete grade policy
Students will not be given a temporary grade of IN (incomplete) unless they have attended classes regularly for most of the semester, have completed at least 60% of required work, have missed required work as a result of factors beyond their control, and have submitted satisfactory documentary evidence. An IN grade not removed by the end of the next semester in which the student is enrolled or by the end of twelve months, whichever is earlier, will automatically become an F (unless the student can present a compelling, well-documented case for the extension). For the NC State policy on grading and IN grades, see

Attendance and absence policy
Attendance is mandatory and required for a successful completion of the course. Unexcused absences will affect your grade directly. Three unexcused absences will result in a reduction of your final grade by 3 points (e.g., from A+ to A), four unexcused absences by 6 points. Five unexcused absences will result in failing the course. Students are expected to keep track of their own absences. Late arrivals are very disruptive for other students. Being late to class and not answering the attendance on time without proper documentation will count as one unexcused absence. Leaving class early without permission of the instructor will also count as an unexcused absence.

Per University regulations, excused absences must fall into one of two categories: sanctioned anticipated situations and documented emergency situations. Anticipated situations (e.g., participation in official University functions, court attendance, religious observances, or military duty) must be submitted in writing at the beginning of the semester or one week prior to the anticipated absence. Emergency absences (e.g., student illness, injury or death of immediate family member, must be documented by the Student Organization Resource Center 515-3323) within one week of returning to class. Late work will be accepted only in situations where absences were excused. Please consult the following website for further information on University attendance regulations:

I will take attendance at the begining of each class. It's your responsibility to be in class on time to make sure I take your attendance. Being late to class will automatically count as an unexcused absence.

Every lecture, discussion, and presentation from each class period will contain material covered on the midterm and final exam. Consequently, you will need to be present in class, alert, and involved in order to grasp the material, ask questions about it when necessary, learn it, and pass the course. If you should miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes and explanations from a classmate.

Requirements for Credit-Only
In order to receive a grade of S, students are required to take all exams and quizzes, complete all assignments, and earn a grade of C- or better. Conversion from letter grading to credit only (S/U) grading is subject to university deadlines. Refer to the Registration and Records calendar for deadlines related to grading. For more details refer to:
**Note that students cannot take this course for credit-only if they intend to count it toward a Communication major.

Requirements for Auditors
For details refer to:

Incomplete and late assignments
Late assignments will only be accepted in the case of verified/documented emergencies. See the University Attendance Policy
Late exams will not be accepted unless in accordance with the excused absence policy referenced above.

If, in the case of an emergency you cannot take the quiz during the due time, you should let me know as soon as possible. If you have an excused absence, you can still take the quizz after the due date upon presentation of appropriate documentation according to the University policies.

Class evaluation
Online class evaluations will be available for students to complete during the last two weeks of class. Students will receive an email message directing them to a website where they can login using their Unity ID and complete evaluations. All evaluations are confidential; instructors will never know how any one student responded to any question, and students will never know the ratings for any particular instructors.

Evaluation website:
Student help desk:
More information about ClassEval:

Laptop policy
Laptop use is allowed in class ONLY with permission of the instructor for class related assignments. If you use your laptop without permission, to do non-related course activities (e.g., check email, surf the internet, etc.) you will be deducted points from your participation grade, and will be asked to shut down the device.


Policy statements:

Academic integrity
Students are bound by academic integrity policy as stated in NCSU Code of Student Conduct:

Students are required to uphold the university pledge of honor and exercise honesty in completing every assignment. Instructors may require students to write the Honor’s Pledge on every exam and assignment and to sign or type their name after the pledge. (“I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this test or assignment.”).

A student shall be guilty of a violation of academic integrity if he or she:

  • Represents the work of others as your own;
  • Obtains assistance in any academic work from another individual in a situation in which you are expected to perform independently;
  • Gives assistance to another individual in a situation in which that individual is expected to perform independently;
  • Offers false data in support of laboratory or field work.

Plagiarism is an act of deceit that is taken very seriously by the Department of Communication and by the University. Plagiarism is writing using someone's works -- be it word or ideas -- without giving her or him credit. If you are found plagiarizing you risk failure and even more stringent disciplinary actions. This is particularly important with web-based materials. If you use someone else's image/words/audio, you must give appropriate credit. For an extended explanation of plagiarism, please go to:

If you are in doubt regarding any matter relating to the standards of academic integrity in this course or on an assignment, consult with me before presenting the work. By submitting an assignment to be evaluated, you are certifying that you have not received unauthorized help on assignment.

Adverse Weather
Read the complete adverse weather policy for more info: . Check email, news, the NCSU home page, or call 513-8888 for the latest information.

Students with disabilities
Reasonable accommodations will be made for students with verifiable disabilities. In order to take advantage of available accommodations, students must register with Disability Services for Students at 1900 Student Health Center, Campus Box 7509, 515-7653 For more information on NC State’s policy on working with students with disabilities, please see the Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Regulation (REG02.20.1) at

Electronic Hosted Course Components
Students may be required to disclose personally identifiable information to other students in the course, via electronic tools like email or web postings, where relevant to the course. Examples include online discussions of class topics, and posting of student coursework. All students are expected to respect the privacy of each other by not sharing or using such information outside the course.

Anti-Discrimination Statement
NC State University provides equality of opportunity in education and employment for all students and employees. Accordingly, NC State affirms its commitment to maintain a work environment for all employees and an academic environment for all students that is free from all forms of discrimination. Discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, creed, national origin, age, disability, veteran status or sexual orientation is a violation of state and federal law and/or NC State University policy and will not be tolerated. Harassment of any person (either in the form of quid pro quo or creation of a hostile environment) based on color, religion, sex, creed, national origin, age, disability, veteran status or sexual orientation is also a violation of state and federal law and/or NC State University policy and will not be tolerated. Retaliation against any person who complains about discrimination is also prohibited. NC State’s policies and regulations covering discrimination, harassment, and retaliation may be accessed at or Any person who feels that he or she has been the subject of prohibited discrimination, harassment, or retaliation should contact the Office for Equal Opportunity (OEO) at 515-3148.


Student resources:
Writing and Speaking Tutorial Services:
Academic Policies: