NCSU Department of Communication

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








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) (15 points)
-- due each class
These are brief summaries/comments about the texts assigned for each class. The writing comments are due on Wednesday of each week by noon. Posts should be about one/two pages long (1.5 leading space, 1” margins, 12-point font). You should summarize each text separately and then compare them with each other.

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, according to the following criteria:

(1). The student (a) provides a clear and objective summary of the texts' main ideas, and (b) connects the text main topics with previous classes and readings, and personal observations.
(0.5). The student (a) identified some main ideas in the text, but did not address them adequately, (b) did not provide a clear summary of the text, or (c) did not satisfactorily connect the text ideas with previous classes, readings and personal observations.
(0). The student (a) did not summarize the text and did not connect it to past classes, or (b)posted after the deadline.

*If you have an excused absence, you can still get credit to your blog post if you post it within one week of the absence. You are excused from posting if you are presenting to the class.

After you accept my invitation to join the blog by clicking on the link provided in the email, login with your google/gmail account. Then you can click on "post" or follow the instructions below.

Instructions to post comments:
1. Go to:
2. Login with your gmail account or google account.
3. Click on "new post" at the top navigation bar.
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 label to your post (This should be your last 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 on "Publish".
10. To view your post, click on "Visualize Post".
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 "Publish" 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. 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 it is relevant for the topics discussed in class

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 and dynamic academic area. 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 (15 points)

The group project is a design proposal/concept for a digital tool that takes advantages of the affordances of mobile technologies/ubiquitous computing. It could be a mobile app for the iphone/android, or a more sophisticated proposal for a pervasive computing prototype. The theme for the project is open, as long as it addresses at least one social issues discussed in class surrounding mobile technologies, such as:

  • privacy,
  • surveillance,
  • collaboration and sociability,
  • mobility,
  • spatial awareness.

The project concept should be original, that is, it should be different than any other already existing commercial app. In your final presentation, you should be able to articulate this difference as well as clearly justify the functionality of your tool. This can take the form of a flow chart, a series of hyperlinks, images, or a video tutorial. The proposal must contain sufficient detail to communicate specific interface features and desired user behavior. Different than a regular design project, what you are presenting is anticipated usage. You are demonstrating how users are likely to engage in the application, program, tool that you have created. And you are demonstrating why it matters.

***This project will be part of an instruction collaboration with Associate Professor Benjamin Watson, at the Computer Science Department. Professor Watson is teaching a class on the design of mobile applications and he will come to lecture in this course on March 15. Additionally, we are planning two brainstorming sections with computer science students, so that students in Communication and in Computer Science might have a change to talk about the social implications and design constraints of creating mobile applications.***

The project and the final presentation will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • The project is well conceived.
  • The functionality of the project is clear and logical (explicitly showing all GUI elements and possibilities for user interaction).
  • The project presentation is clear and well organized (students provide a full documentation of the project, including a video showing user experience and interface elements).
  • The project adequately addresses issues of mobility and mobile technologies discussed in class and elsewhere (establishes detailed connections to the literature studied in class and external sources, including citations).
  • The project solves a clearly articulated problem (visual comparison to other existing applications, showing motivation / gap)
  • The design concept is clear and concise (interface design design is clear and user interaction seamless).
  • The project reflects original and creative ideas (based on comparison with other apps).
  • The project storyboard is adequate and clear.

There is no additional writing component required in this project.  Everything should be clearly communicated through the visual presentation. A printed copy of the presentation should be delivered to the instructor after the presentation.

You will develop the project by completing a series of assignments, each of which contributes to the total of 15% of your grade:

  • Present a written (one paragraph) proposal of the final project to be discussed in class (02.16)
  • Present an initial storyboard for the final project (03.22)
  • Final presentations (04.19)

Download project grading rubric

*Those students not willing to participate on the group project will have the option to develop an individual project.

5. Final paper (30 points)

The final individual paper's topic is open, as long as you focus on some theoretical aspect of mobile technologies and social practices. Your analysis should emphasize any cultural and social implications of the use of mobile communication technologies.

General directions for the paper:

  • Between 5000 and 7000 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 30% of your grade:

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

*Download paper grading rubric model

*Download final presentation grading form