About this Class

Media Technology & Cultural Change – FMMC0246, Spring 2010
Led by Professor Jason Mittell and Joe Antonioli, Web & Interactive Media
M 2:50 – 4:05 / W 1:30 – 4:15, Axinn 105

Course description:
This course will explore how new media technologies impact society and change cultural practices. The course will consider new media of today and yesterday, including printing, comics, television, and digital media, focusing on the social construction of technology, how media technologies help foster our sense of identity and social reality, and how media technologies can be understood across a range of disciplines. We will use new media as both a topic of analysis and as a mode of expression, with ongoing lab projects exploring course concepts via the creation of digital media. No previous media technology skills required. The course will be highly emergent & dynamic, developing throughout the course of the semester, so stay tuned!


Professor Jason Mittell: homepage and blog and Twitter
Office: 208 Axinn Center , 443-3435, jmittell@middlebury.edu
Office Hours: Wed & Thurs 10-11:30 am & by appointment

Joe Antonioli, Digital Media Specialist
Office: 202C Main Library, 443-3062, jantonio@middlebury.edu
AIM: vocalvt

Class Policies:

Class Participation & Attendance:
You are expected to attend all class meetings on time, having done the readings, thought about the material, and prepared the necessary assignments. Attendance will be regularly taken, but it is the individual student’s responsibility to attend class in order to gain the most from their education. If a student misses a class, it is up to them to find out what they missed from their classmates and make-up the necessary material. Your final grade will be lowered one mark (B becomes B–) for each unexcused absence in excess of two. If you know that you will be absent from class, please contact Professor Mittell as soon as possible to make necessary arrangements and avoid penalties.

The class participation component of your grade will reward students who actively participate in class, meet with the professor outside of class, and otherwise demonstrate their engagement with the material. Likewise, this grade will be used to downgrade students who are clearly disengaged with the class or fail to uphold their end of the course policies. If you are concerned with your participation grade at all, please discuss the matter with Professor Mittell.

LATE POLICY: Late assignments are highly discouraged, as they throw off schedules for both student and professor. If you know that you will need to hand in any assignment later than the deadline, please contact the professor in advance as soon as the situation becomes apparent – together arrangements can be made, often without penalties. If a project is not turned in on time without making arrangements with the professor prior to the due date, it will be penalized by 1/3 grade points (e.g. an A- becomes a B+) for each day of lateness. All assignments are considered “turned in” when they are linked to the student’s section of the course website.

You will be graded based on the following scale:

  • A is reserved for students who truly excel on assignments, demonstrating mastery of the material and dramatically surpassing the expectations of the assignment.
  • B is for students who do above-average work, clearly achieving the course goals and completing all assignments in a strong fashion.
  • C is for students who satisfactorily meet the course requirements in an adequate fashion.
  • D is for students who do not achieve course goals and whose work does not adequately meet expectations.
  • F is for students who dramatically fail to meet course goals and do not fulfill course expectations.

Printing & Computer Use Policy:

Nearly every assignment in this course is “born digital,” and thus will be turned in via blog or email. Many readings are online – students are welcome to print or not print at their choosing, with the understanding that students should take notes on readings either via digital annotation or separate notebook or word processing file. You should bring readings to class each day, either via paper or on a laptop screen. Feel free to use laptops throughout all class meetings except during screenings, where the light from the screen can disrupt the viewing experience. If you are on your laptop, you are expected to engage with course materials, not free-range surfing the web, checking email, Facebook, etc. – unless that is the topic of discussion!

General Course Policies:
This course operates under the assumption that all participants are adults who are responsible for their own choices and priorities. If you find any of these course policies or expectations unclear, it is up to you to discuss these matters with the instructor. It is also up to you to clearly review this syllabus and all assignments as early in the semester as possible, so you can understand what the course’s expectations are up front.

The basic expectations for taking this course are:

  • You will attend class on-time, prepared, and ready to participate
  • You will treat everyone in class with civility and respect
  • You will take responsibility for your own work
  • All work you submit will be your own and you will not inappropriately assist other students in their work beyond the allowances of a particular assignment, in keeping with the Middlebury College Honor Code. All final portfolios must include the signed (or its digital proxy) statement of the Honor Code in order to be graded.

There is a no-tolerance policy for academic misconduct in this course! The minimum penalty for academic misconduct will be a failing grade (F) for the course – further academic and disciplinary penalties may be assessed. The definitions of plagiarism and cheating used in this course are consistent with the material in the College Handbook, Chapter V.

Any student with a disability or who otherwise needs accommodation or other assistance should make arrangements with the professor as soon as possible.

Hopefully all students will be able to accomplish the goals and requirements of the course with no major problems. Should a situation arise where you find yourself behind in the course’s workload or having problems meeting expectations, please contact Professor Mittell as soon as possible. Any problem can be resolved satisfactorily with enough advanced warning. Please try to anticipate problems so that we may nip them in the bud – trying to resolve problems that have been allowed to linger too long becomes much more difficult. While the course requirements are quite strict and challenging, Professor Mittell will be flexible with students particular needs and situations, but can only respond to issues that are made known openly. Please do not hesitate to make contact throughout the semester, if only just to check in.

Each student is encouraged to meet with the professor during his office hours or by appointment, to communicate with him via email, and to actively pursue any questions, comments, or concerns you might have about this course. Professor Mittell generally checks email daily, from Monday through Friday – if you email him asking for a response and do not receive one within one working day, assume that your email may not have been received. If you attempt to email an attached document, please use either MS Word, PDF or RTF file formats.

1 thought on “About this Class

  1. Aaron Smith

    Hello all,

    I just want to introduce myself as a Middlebury alum ’09 who took this Media Tech class during its first year of operation (and was the TA for its second). The course has personal significance to me, as it shaped my interest in comparative media studies and introduced me to my future academic focus. But I’d like to make a quick comment here to provide some perspective from someone out in the workforce.

    Currently, I’m the Multimedia Specialist at Penn State University, where I teach students and faculty how to use various digital media programs. Like many universities, there is a huge initiative to integrate technology into the classroom. Blogs, podcasts, and videos are all part of the course material in almost every department. However, for a variety of reasons, often classes channel their focus towards the technical aspect of a multimedia project (for example, learning video editing software) , while losing sight of the medium’s cultural/social implications, unique strengths and limitations, and specific communicative ‘language.’ I feel that the full potential of many projects suffer as a result. My experience in the advertising industry (where I was before this job) was a little different. I found that many people had great ideas, but they lacked the ability to express themselves outside of PowerPoint and Excel.

    And so, though I remember Media Tech being quite rigorous and overwhelming at times, I’ve had a greater appreciation for how it blends the ‘how’ and the ‘why’, the technical skills with critical ones, and thoughtful analysis with creative expression. This type of “media literacy” is an incredibly valuable tool and one that I think can really make you stand out in whatever career you decide to pursue. Just some food for thought as you begin the semester!

    Lastly, if anyone has any questions about the class, internship opportunities in NYC or LA, life after Midd etc, feel free to contact me. (asmith at middlebury dot edu) I look forward to following along and participating in the blog discussions from a far!


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