NCSU Department of Communication

COM547::Mobile Technologies and Social Practices
Instructor: Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva




Class schedule






Assignments will be evaluated based on:

  • The originality and creativity of your ideas
  • The quality of your argument
  • The quality of the sources you use to support your argument
  • How well you connect your assignment to the topics we are discussing in class
  • The quality of your writing / speech

All assignments must be completed in order to pass the course. No late assignments will be accepted, except with prior permission from the instructor.


1. Weekly reflections (blog posts) (10 points)
-- due each class
These are brief summaries/comments about the texts assigned for each class. The writing comments are due the day before (i. e., on Tuesday) each class and should be about half- to one- page long (1.5 leading space, 1” margins, 12-point font). You should summarize each text separately and then connect them together.

For each post, you are expected to address the following questions:

  • What are the main ideas and concepts of the texts?
  • How do these texts connect with other readings in the course, class discussions, as well as with relevant outside materials?
  • To what extent do these texts allow me to understand mobile technologies in general and its relationship to cultural/social issues? How do they apply to my own experience?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of these texts?

Posts are graded as 1, 1/2 or 0. Blog post grades are available at the course grade book in the course locker.

In order to be added as a blog user, you register at the NCSU WolfBlogs at: Then you will receive an email from me asking you to joing the class blog. After joining the blog, follow the instructions below to post comments.

Instructions to post comments:
1. Go to:
2. Login with your University username and password.
3. Click on "new entry" at the right hand side of the blog name.
4. Give a title to your post: the title should be the last name of the text's author, e.g., Abbatte.
5. Assign a category to your post (This should be your name).
6. Write your post (you can resize the text book by dragging the lower right hand corner).
7. Sign your post with your name.
8. Click "Post to Weblog".
10. To view your post, click on "COM547F09" on the top of the page.
11. If you wish to re-edit it, click on "Edit" below your post, which will take you back to the post interface. Make your changes and click "Post to Weblog" again.


Assignment goal: Blog posts are supposed to prepare you for class discussion by helping you to organize your analysis of the texts, and make you aware of your colleagues comments and points of view. You are strongly encouraged to ask research questions on your blog post and bring them to class in order to contribute to class discussion.


2. Text presentation: (20 points)

Each class, one student will be responsible for presenting the texts assigned to that day and leading class discussion. Much like the blog posts, you should summarize the texts, addressing the following questions:

  • What are the main ideas and concepts of the texts?
  • How do these texts connect with other readings in the course, class discussions, as well as with relevant outside materials?
  • To what extent do these texts allow me to understand mobile technologies in general and its relationship to cultural/social issues? How do they apply to my own experience?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of these texts?

Also, you should:

  • Bring any type of materials (scholarly sources, newspaper clips, web pages, online works, video clips, etc) that help to understand and contextualize the topic.
  • Address research questions / develop a critical analysis of the text responding to the authors’ arguments
  • Bring questions to lead class discussion.
  • Take about 15-20 minutes to present the text.
  • Lead class discussion for 30-40 minutes.

You’ll be evaluated based on:

  • how you describe the main concepts in the text adequate detail
  • how you connect the text with other readings in the course and class discussions
  • how you conceptualize the topic in a broader research context,
  • the quality of your research questions
  • the quality of your text analysis and criticism (responding to the author’s arguments)
  • how you conclude/expand the topic beyond the author’s ideas
  • the quality of the research materials you bring (scholarly papers, articles, audio/visual)
  • the adequate length of the presentation (15-20 minutes long)
  • the adequate citation of sources (APA style)
  • your presentation outline
  • your public speaking abilities

--> You should have your presentation outline ready one week before the due date to discuss it with the instructor.

Assignment goal: The text presentations are supposed to prepare you for public speaking. The presentation part matches the general length of a conference presentation. The discussion part will help you to lead group discussions, as in a classroom setting. Additionally, presenting the text requires you to develop a mini-research on your topic through broader connections to outside research materials.

Download text presentation grading rubric model


3. Sources database (Wiki) (10 points)
A general task to be performed along the course is the development of a database of sources (scholarly and non-scholarly) about mobile technologies that will serve as an updated research source for the class. You need to bring in newspaper / magazine clippings, ads, web pages, exhibit announcements, video clips, or any other artifact you may run across that in relate to the issues raised in the readings for that class period. As a suggestion for finding relevant sources on the topic, you should subscribe to the Websites/RSS feeds which are in the resources list of the Gaming Lab Website. You are also encouraged to find your own sources. Each student should plan on bringing at least one source each week. You should be able to justify why your source is relevant for the class and for the topic we are discussing that week.

The first 10 minutes each class will be dedicated to the discussion of the research sources you bring with you. You should be prepared to critically analyse the sources and to explain to the class:

  • why you chose that specific source
  • why is it relevant for the topics discussed in class
  • how it connects with other sources brought by other students

Your wiki entry should contain:

  • The title of your article/news/image (etc)
  • A brief description
  • The uploaded file / link to the file

Instructions to populate the online database at the wiki:
1. Go to:
2. Login with your unity ID and password at the top right hand corner of the page.
3. Click on the class topic (e.g., "Mobility")
4. Click on the "Edit" button at the top navigation bar
5. Decide if your contribution is a scholarly article, popular press article, a blog/wiki or a book. Click under the category you chose.
6. Write a title for your article / news / image, etc.
7. Select the title and click the "b" button at the edit navigation bar to make it bold.
8. Write a brief description of your source.
9. If you want to add a link, use the links at the top edit bar.
10. If you want to insert an image, you need to upload it first using the link at the left hand side. Keep the name of the file. Then go back to your edit page and click on the button for "embedded image". Replace the given tag with your image name.
11. Sign your name in the end, so I know you wrote that source: by yourname.
12. Also click on the signature button to keep track of when you posted.
14. Click on "Save Page " to finish.

Assignment goal: Mobilities / Mobile Technologies is a fairly recent academic area. Therefore, the number of resources available (especially journal articles) is very limited and can be hard to find. By creating an online database we are collecting our own sources and sharing resources among ourselves in order to promote and facilitate research.


4. Final group project (20 points)

With support from RENCI (Renaissance Computing Institute), we are developing a hybrid reality gaming authoring system, which will support the development of hybrid reality games for the most diverse purposes: entertainment, education, tourism, etc. This system will allow professors and students to create their own hybrid reality games. Potentially, it can be used as an educational tool in any classroom.

Currently, the system is being developed by Rick Skarbez, PhD computer science student at UNC and the first prototype(s) of HRGs developed with the system will showcase at the CHAT UNC festival, organized by the UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities. The festival will take place at UNC in February 16-20:

The final group project includes the conceptualization, development and documentation of a hybrid reality location-based mobile game developed with the existing authoring system to be showed / played at the UNC CHAT Festival.

During the 3 days of the Festival, the projects will be exhibited at the RENCI site at UNC (IT Manning building). Visitors to the Festival will have a two-fold experience. First, they will be able to watch the documentation video of the projects developed in class, which will be looping on a large projection screen. Second, they will be invited to sign up for playing the games, which will be performed at specific times of the day.

The theme for the game is open, as long as it contains the following elements:

  • collaboration / interaction among participants in both physical / virtual spaces
  • access to / interaction with location-based information in both physical / virtual spaces
  • a game mechanism, which included a narrative, goals and rules
  • some kind of learning experience
  • ability to be perfomed at the site (UNC campus, RENCI IT Manning building and surroundings).

Examples of HRGs will be showed in class. Extensive class time will be given to the discussion and development of game ideas.

The project will be evaluated based on:

  • How clear and concise you present your game design concept
  • How clear and concise you present your game rules
  • If the game components allow for social interaction
  • If the project shows creativity and originality, elaboration on existing aspects of HRGs
  • The actual functionality of your game
  • How well you document your game (video documentations shouldn't be longer than 5 minutes)

The last class meeting will be reserved for students’ demonstration / presentation of their project.

You will develop the project by completing a series of four assignments, each of which contributes to the total of 20% of your grade:

  • Present a written (one paragraph) proposal of the final project to be discussed in class (09.23)
  • Present an initial storyboard for the final project (10.14)
  • Present a initial working prototype of your game (11.04)
  • Final presentations (12.09)

Download project grading rubric

*Those students not willing to participate on the group project will have the option to:
- produce a video that deals with cell phones
(talk to the instructor for details)

5. Final paper (40 points)

The final individual paper's topic is open, as long as you focus on some theoretical aspect of mobile technologies and social practices. You can use a rhetorical approach, discourse analysis, critical theory, case study approach, qualitative or quantitative research as methods for developing your paper. Your analysis should emphasize any cultural and social implications of the use of mobile communication technologies.

General directions for the paper:

  • Between 7000 and 9000 words, including abstract, keywords, notes, figures, tables, and references list.
  • Double line spacing, 1” margins, 12-point font, and no extra space between paragraphs.
  • Cover page with the paper title, your name/number and class.
  • Follow APA style guide for references and paper formatting.
  • You must have at least 15 sources; 9 of which must be scholarly sources. You should cite at least 3 texts used in class.

Your paper must have:

  • Abstract / minimum of 5 keywords / Introduction / Conclusion / References.
  • a clearly defined research question(s);
  • a clearly defined thesis statement;
  • clear supporting points or evidence;
  • a logical, argument-based structure; and
  • concrete, well-documented evidence.

The paper will be evaluated based on:

  • your topic definition, that is:
    • if you clearly analyze mobile technologies as social and communication media
    • how you describe your research questions / thesis statement in adequate detail.
  • the substance of your research, that is:
    • the originality of your idea
    • how you completely and clearly discuss the issues involved drawing from class lectures, discussions and readings.
    • how you define, review, and draw on the relevant scholarly literature.
    • how you provide specific criteria and evidence for the position being espoused based upon readings and lectures.
    • if your research is appropriate to your topic.
  • Your paper structure, that is:
    • the adequate length of your paper.
    • the adequate number of sources.
    • the adequate number of scholarly sources.
    • the propper formating / citation of sources according to the APA style.
    • if the paper is clearly structured and organized.
    • the quality of your writing (paragraph transitions, spelling, grammar, punctuation).

You will write this paper by completing a series of 5 individual assignments, each of which contributes to the total of 40% of your grade:

  • A one-paragraph statement of your proposed topic. For help with writting your paper proposal look at the Online Writing Lab at Purdue's University: (09.30)
  • An annotated initial list of 5 sources relevant to your topic; at least 3 of these must be scholarly journals or books. Information on what a scholarly source is can be found at (10.21)
  • Paper outline. A good example on how to write a paper outline can be found at the Online Writing Lab at Purdue's University: (10.21)
  • Final paper presentation (12.02)
  • The final paper (12.02)

For additional help on writing your paper look at the following Workshop:

*Download paper grading rubric model