NCSU Department of Communication

COM598M::Mobile Technologies and Social Practices
Instructor: Dr. Adriana de Souza e Silva



Class schedule



Readings & resources



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, excepted in the case of an excused absence.


1. Weekly reflections (blog posts): 15%
-- due each class

These are brief summaries/comments about the texts assigned for each class. The writing comments are due before each class and should be about half to one page (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?

All text comments shall be posted in the class weblog prior to the class meeting. Blog posts will be graded 3 times a semester.

In the first class you will receive a login and a password, as well as detailed instructions on how to post your comments.

You are also encouraged to comment/reply to your colleagues’ posts.

Instructions to post comments:
1. Go to:
2. Login with your username and password.
3. Go to "Write > Write post"
4. Give a title to your post: the title should be the last name of the text's author, e.g., Abbatte.
5. Write your post.
6. Sign your post (include <p></p><p></p> by "your name")
7. Assign a category to your post. This should be your name, listed on the right hand side of the page.
8. Unclick the "uncategorized" category.
9. Click "publish".
10. To view your post, click on "View Site" on the top right hand corner 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 "save".



2. Text presentation: 30% (15% each)
-- twice a semester

Each class, two students will be responsible for presenting a text and leading class discussion on the text assigned for that day. Much like the blog posts, you should summarize the text, addressing the following questions:

  • 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 its relationship to cultural/social issues? How does it apply to my own experience?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of this text?

Also, you should:

  • Bring any type of materials (newspaper clips, web pages, online works, video clips, etc) that help to understand and contextualize the topic.
  • Address research questions
  • Bring questions to lead class discussion.
  • Take about 15-20 minutes to present the text.
  • Lead class discussion for 20-30 minutes.
  • Turn in an outline of your presentation (it can be in the form of slides, written text, bullets, but it should contain the main points you addressed, the author's main ideas, your research questions, your discussion questions, and the sources you consulted for the presentation).
  • Sources should be cited according to the APA style guide.

You’ll be evaluated based on:

  • how you describe the main concepts in the text in adequate detail
  • how you connect the text with other readings in the course and class discussions
  • how you conceptualize the topic in a broader context,
  • the quality of your research questions
  • how you conclude/expand the topic beyond the author’s ideas
  • the quality of the research materials you bring
  • the quality of your discussion questions.
  • how clearly the text is presented to the class
  • how you lead lead the class discussion.
  • the correct timing of the presentation.
  • how you connect your presentation to the other texts being discussed on the same day

Download text presentation grading rubric model


3. Mobile Technologies database: 15%
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. 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 10-15 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

Additionally, a digital version of you source must also be posted on the class weblog under the Online Database. The 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:
1. Go to:
2. Login with the username and password given in class.
3. Go to "Manage > Pages"
4. Click on the "Edit" button that corresponds to the class you want to edit
5. On the Page Content box, add <p>---------------------------------------</p> after the last entry.
6. Write a title for your article / news / image, etc.
7. Select the title and click the "b" button at the Quicktags to make it bold
8. Write a brief description of your source.
9. If you want to add an external link:

  • click on the "link" button on the top navigation bar
  • write your URL on the pop-up window
  • click "ok"
  • write the text / add the image tag you want appear as a link
  • click again on the "link" button on the top navigation bar

10. If you want to upload any type of file (images, pdf, videos, etc) - max. size = 1MB

  • Click on "Upload" at the top navigation bar
  • Browse the location of the file you want to upload.
  • Click "Upload File"

11. To insert your uploaded file on the page:

  • Go back to "Manage > Pages"
  • Click on the "Edit" button that corresponds to the class you want to edit
  • On the Page Content box, write "<img src="wp-content/yourimage.gif" width="100"> (replace "yourimage" by your image name). OR if you want to add the file you uploaded earlier, write <a href=wp-content/file.pdf">my file</a> (where "file" is your file name).

13. Sign your name in the end, so I know you wrote that source: by yourname.
14. Click on "Edit Page" to finish.
15. Click on the "View" button that corresponds to the class you edited to view your entry on the class weblog.


4. Final project + paper: 40%
-- Final paper: 20%
-- Final project: 20%

The final assignment consists of a project proposal for a short mobile video AND a paper that explains / elaborates on the proposal. The project should be developed in groups of 2 or 3, but the paper is individual.

The project:
In groups of two or three persons, you should create:

A. a short mobile video narrative (1-5 minutes) about cell phone communication. The movie should be filmed with your cell phone (video cameras can also be used). You can create a motion movie or a still movie. In both cases, you are encouraged to add voice over / soundtrack. The Mobile Gaming Lab workstation will be available for video editing (please sign up before using the computer). If you are using a PC, you can use simple software such as QuickTime to edit your movie, or you can use Adobe Premiere, if you are confortable with the software.

The theme for the video is open, as long as it deals with cell phones as social media. Your group's story should reflect a particular view of the cell phone based on its ability to create (or not) social environments, and social imagination. Some examples of questions that can be explored are:

  • What would happen if you are a day without a cell phone?
  • How can cell phones mediate interpersonal relationships?
  • How can cell phones be used for collective communication?
  • Is there a parallel between online dating and cell phone dating?
  • Do cell phones blur private and public spaces?

The project will be evaluated based on:

  • How well you create a method of representing your idea
  • How clear and concise your movie is
  • How you define the audience of your project
  • If the narrative deals with social interaction

The last class meeting will be reserved for students’ demonstration / presentation of their project. We will invite guest critiques for feedback on the presentations.

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

  • Define work groups (08.30)
  • Present a written (one paragraph) proposal of the final project to be discussed in class (09.27)
  • Present an initial storyboard for the final project (10.11)
  • Final presentations (12.06)

Download project grading rubric


The paper:
The final paper is an individual essay and should be a development of the research questions you worked on your group project. The paper should combine rigorous analysis of some topic within the general subject "Mobile Technologies and Social Practices", and be strictly connected to the topics addressed on your video project. For example, if you developed interviews for your video, these interviews might be used as qualitative data for your paper. If you talked about a "real" story, it might be used as a case study for your paper.

Every research paper starts with a clear research question (e.g. how can cell phones work as technologies of cooperation?) and a clear statement recognizing a shift in the current situation (e.g. shift from static to mobile internet, shift from wired to wireless interfaces). It must be an original study written by you for this course and based on scholarly sources.

Your paper should also connect with class topics and discussions, to broader social/spatial implications, and include conceptual analysis. But, most importantly, you have to be specific and very focused on defining your theme.

A written (one-paragraph) proposal for your topic should be given to me no later than 10.04. Your proposal should be composed of:

  1. A clearly defined thesis statement
  2. Clearly defined research question(s)
  3. A clear connection to your project.

Your paper must have:

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

General directions for the paper:

  • Minimum of 15 pages and maximum of 20 pages (around 5000 words), not including title page, notes, references list, and appendix.
  • double line spacing, 1” margins, 12-point font, and no extra space between paragraphs.
  • If you want to include images, insert them as an appendix. Don’t forget to mention copyright and sources.
  • Cover page with the paper title, your name, class name/number, and date.
  • Follow the APA style guide for references. (information on the APA style guide can be found here. A copy of the publications manual is also available at the NCSU library).
  • You must have at least 15 sources; at least 9 of these must be scholarly sources. You should cite at least 4 texts used in class.

The paper will be evaluated based on:

  • your topic definition, that is:
    • if you clearly analyze cell phones as social media
    • how you describe your research questions / thesis statement in adequate detail.
    • if you connect the topic with some social issue
  • 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 4 individual assignments, each of which contributes to the total of 20% of your grade:

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

Hand in a PDF document in a disk + a printed copy

*Download grading rubric model