There are specific assignment options outlined below. Students are advised to choose a topic early as this may determine some of the relevant material for the media blog. The term paper will be 5-7 pages (double-spaced, 12pt font) The purpose of this assignment is to encourage the development of your academic writing skills as well as your ability to critically reflect upon and analyze your own experience of media in your daily life. Your grade will be based upon the quality of writing and organization, your ability to critically reflect upon and analyze your own experience and your ability to apply course material (at least 1 course reading) to your own experience.
Term paper assignment options:
1) Join a virtual community (this could be anything from a web forum on some topic, a gaming space such as The Sims, or Second Life, or an active blog space with ongoing conversation) for the bulk of the term (you will probably need to engage in at least one month of active participation). Pick something you actually have an interest in and would possibly continue after the course. Keep a record of reflections of your experience of participating in this virtual community (you could do this on your media blog) and use these reflections to write a paper analyzing your experience. You must apply at least one assigned course reading to your analysis in the paper.
2) Engage in a 24 hour media fast and analyze the experience. This article (assigned as a reading for our introductory class) by Walker, Danna. L. (2007, August 5). The Longest Day. The Washington Post Page W20 available online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/01/AR2007080101720.html?referrer=delicious outlines a media fast assignment in her class. You can use this article as a guide and also use the results of her class experiment to compare and analyze your experience. You may want to engage in a media fast with other classmates and pool your results for comparison. You would still each have to write your own paper.
3) Become involved in an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game) or a text-based Moo/Mud. It is possible to access free trials of games like World of Warcraft for short periods. If you only have a 5 or 10 day window to experience the world, make sure you select a time period when you can spend some significant time in the world. You could use your media blog to keep a record of reflections of your experience of playing in the multi-player online environment. Use your reflections to write a paper analyzing your experience. You must apply at least one assigned course reading to your analysis in the paper.
4) Analyze your media life. You could use your media blog as the basis for this topic. You might consider such broad questions as: How are you using mobile communications devices? How are you involved in Social Networking sites? How much advertising are you exposed to? You could analyze one of these or some other trend or pattern that is evident in your media life. You must apply at least one assigned course reading to your analysis in the paper. Students taking up topic option #4 must submit a brief topic proposal to be approved by the instructor – e-mail is acceptable.