NCSU Department of Communication

COM547::Mobile Communication and Society
Instructor: Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva







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

Class meetings:
Thrusdays, 1:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Winston 205

Credit hours: 3

Class website:

Moodle page:

Winston 104

Office hours:
By appointment.


Course Description:
This graduate seminar explores points of intersection among mobile communication technologies, sociability patterns, and public spaces. We will analyze the use of different mobile and locative interfaces, such as smartphones, RFID tags, GPS technologies and tablets in different cultural and socio-economic contexts. We will also study the theoretical frameworks that contextualize the use of these technologies, namely ideas of mobility, location, place/space, globalization. The seminar focuses on the history, current uses and future perspectives for the social use of mobile interfaces.

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;
• Re-definitions of public and private spaces through mobility;
• Locational privacy and urban sociability;
• 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).

Students will be asked to read scholarly material, engage in class discussions and presentations, as well as present ideas that address at a practical level solutions to some of the problems involving mobile access and production studied in class.


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:
Mobile technologies database (wiki): 10 points
Weekly blog posts: 15 points
Text presentation: 20 points
Final project: 15 points
Final presentation: 10 points
Final paper: 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:

As this is a graduate level course, I won’t be taking attendance every class. However, I expect that you come to every meeting and act as an active participant in the class discussions. The success of a seminar class depends on the level of participation and involvement of the students. Participation entails not only attending the class but coming prepared having done all the readings, having made an honest attempt at understanding the author’s argument, and bringing reading notes and questions you’d like to ask. Should you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes and explanations from a classmate.

One of the premises that make a good researcher is the level of curiosity and independence that you achieve in your research work. As a graduate a student, I expect you to be interested in and curious about the topic, and not expecting me to tell you step by step what to do. Part of your grade depends on your creativity, level of independance, and ability to look for outside sources and information by yourself. I am here to guide you, not to give you all the answers.


Course structure and Evaluation
This course is run as a seminar. Learning in a seminar format depends upon preparation and involvement by the students as well as the professor. Therefore, it is very important that you not only read the assigned material, but also that you critically examine and interrogate it. The following questions should help you to do so:

  • What are the main ideas and concepts of the text?
  • How does this text connect with other readings in the course, class discussions, as well as with relevant outside materials?
  • To what extent does this text allow me to understand mobile technologies in general and cell phones in particular? How does it apply to practical issues/my own experience?
  • What doesn’t make sense to me? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this text?

In each class, one student will be responsible for presenting a text and leading class discussion. As the text discussion is also part of your presentation grade, you are also responsible for your colleague’s grade (as she or he is responsible for yours). So coming to class prepared to answer and ask questions is a fundamental part of this assignment.

A general task to be performed along the course is the development of a database of sources (scholarly and non-scholarly) about mobile technologies and social practices. You need to contribute to the class wiki with 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 contribute at least one source each week.


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 and projects will not be accepted unless in accordance with the excused absence policy referenced above.

If, in the case of an emergency you cannot present during your scheduled time, or cannot finish your final paper of project, you should let me know as soon as possible. If you have reasons for an excused absence, you can still turn in the exam or re-schedule your presentation 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:



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: 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: