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1. Course Description and Objectives

This course explores the impact of Twitter on how organizations communicate (internally and externally) — from facilitating knowledge sharing to bypassing traditional communication gatekeepers, from social network impacts on content creation to new methods of conversational marketing. The objective of the course is to expose students to current practices in the digital ideaspace and the impacts of emerging technologies like Twitter on traditional communication practices.

Course Goals

By participating in this course, students will:

  • Acquire an understanding of how Twitter fits into the communication toolbox
  • Develop an awareness of unintended consequences of new communication technologies
  • Become better writers and more analytical thinkers

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain how Twitter has diffused through society, from invention to adoption
  • Identify three types of social media best practices employed by organizations, with an emphasis on Twitter
  • Use social media technologies to collaborate and share information
  • Customize their personal Twitter profile

Required Books

  • Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge – Amazon
  • On Writing Well (30th Anniversary Edition) – Amazon
  • The Twitter Book – O’Reilly, Amazon

Possible Books (for everyone)

  • Here Comes Everybody
  • Theories of Communication Networks
  • Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide (*excellent*)

Possible Books (based on student focus)

  • Case Studies in Organizational Communication: Ethical Perspectives and Practices
  • In Search of Excellence
  • Nonprofit Internet Strategies: Best Practices for Marketing, Communications, and Fundraising Success
  • Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint
  • PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences
  • Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR

Suggested Books For Improving Writing:

  • Bolker, J. Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes A DayAmazon
  • Royal, B. The Little Red Writing Book
  • Strunk and White, The Elements of Style – Amazon
  • Truss, L. Eats, Shoots & Leaves
  • Turabian, K.  A Manual for Writers
  • Wilhelm, K. Storyteller
  • Yagoda, B.The Sound on the Page
  • Zinsser, W. On Writing Well

Alignment With MCDM Core Values and Competencies:

Value/Core Competency COM597
Identify and analyze the latest developments in digital media technology. After reading course material and participating in class discussions, students can explain the origin of Twitter and offer informed hypotheses as to its future trajectory
Understand how to use digital media to create and convey a message.
  1. Students produce their discussion leader materials and reflections on their blogs, a public space, thereby contributing to the public conversation about the themes of the course.
  2. Students learn the intricacies of electronic publishing and distribution.
Pursue new business and management models based on the application of digital media. After reflecting upon the course material and questioning invited guest speakers, students can explain where Twitter is in the adoption cycle and offer informed hypotheses as to appropriate use of the tool by organizations and individuals.

2. Course Structure and Teaching Strategy

Teaching methods for this course may include lectures, video demonstrations, student presentations, reading, and writing assignments. Some classes may feature a guest lecturer who is a leading professional or scholar in social media. Class discussions are a key element of the course, and students are encouraged to ask questions, offer their own observations, and share their own experiences with technologies. Class size will be limited to 10.

The class meets weekly on Tuesday from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m., and the scheduled is posted on the class web site; net access and regular checking of UW email is essential.

Instructor’s Educational Philosophy

My goal is to provide a stimulating environment for learning. Course material includes both theory and application, with an emphasis on application to real world problems and situations. Written and oral reports are required because these skills are needed in the work environment in general, and in web development, management, and consulting in particular. Students are required to comment and collaborate as these are practical skills; the means used demonstrates theories discussed in class.

Communication with the Instructor

If you are unable to meet with me during office hours, I am happy to meet with you after office hours to accommodate your schedule. I also strongly encourage you to send questions, comments, concerns to me via email. I check my campus email less frequently on F-Su; please do not expect an answer to email sent F-Su until Monday. Please use clear subject lines (include the course number, COM597, and add “urgent” if the message is time-sensitive). Double your chances of a quick response by also sending the note to my gmail account: kegill at If you have not heard from me within 48 hours, please resend to both email accounts; it might be a good idea to also change the subject line.

3. Critical Analysis and Assessment

Each week, students will lead discussion of at least one real-world example of Twitter use and relate that use to to a book, communication theory, or research paper, comparing and contrasting viewpoints and linking the use to personal experience or current business practices. Students submit a written analysis to this blog (or a course wiki), thus contributing to the public discussion of issues raised by the technology.

Your work in this course will be evaluated primarily on a term project, composed of a book chapter proposal (objective and outline), two drafts, and final chapter with an appropriately formatted bibliography. Students will collaboratively (using a wiki or GoogleDocs or this blog) develop an annotated directory of organizations using Twitter; will be active participants in the Twitter space during the course of the quarter; will collaboratively (wiki or GoogleDoc or this blog) write book chapters, including an annotated bibliography; and will periodically blog about their experiences in the course.

NOTE: After in-class discussion week one, the class may elect to have a more collaborative writing process and/or work in pairs. If so, then the evaluation deliverables may be modified.

Deliverables include:

  • Post: goals
  • Post: goals revisited
  • Prototype profile
  • Best Practices recommendation
  • Q/A interview
  • Additional profiles
  • Draft chapter
  • Final chapter

From Week 1 student discussion:

(1) Twitter involvement:
* 10 tweets/week – 5 info, 5 replies
* virtual class (Tuesdays – tweet our discussions)
* follow one another, one Kathy [@kegill or @kegill_uw], uwtwtrbook
* be sure to @ the people we tweet about

(2) Information/Data/Knowledge management
Blog (short posts) Twitter tips, book ideas, organizations to possibly profile (good or bad) … to this site. Then tweet your blog post w/our hashtag, #uwtwtrbook

We will revisit this workflow in 2 weeks to see if it’s working.

14 July:
We have switched to Twine for link collection and are also testing co-tweet.

Extra credit: write a review of either required book. Post to your blog no later than 1 August. Send Kathy an email with the link; tweet the link (#uwtwtrbook). See criteria for evaluating book reviews.

Your final grade will be based on the total points received.

Reading Reflections (two – should not be back-to-back weeks) 50 x 2 = 100
Final Presentation (your pick for”best of the best”) 100
Term Project (form to be finalized week 1) 500
Twitter Engagement (form to be finalized week 1) 100
Class Participation (includes assigned reading synopsis, blogging) 200
Total Points 1000


  • >950 points = 4.0

  • 900-949 points = 3.9

  • 870-899 points = 3.7

  • 840-869 points = 3.5

  • 800-839 points = 3.2

  • 770-799 points = 2.8

Grading Scale

  • 4.0 – 95-100
    Exceptional work. Student performance demonstrates full command of course material and evidences a high level of originality and/or creativity
  • 3.9 – 90-94
    Outstanding work. Student performance demonstrates full command of course material and exceeds course expectations by completing all requirements in a superior manner.
  • 3.7 – 87-89
    Very good work. Student performance demonstrates above average understanding of the course material.
  • 3.5 – 84-86
    Good work. Student performance demonstrates good comprehension of the course material.
  • 3.2 – 80-83
    Average work. Student performance demonstrates average comprehension of the course material.
  • 2.8 – 77-79
    Below average work.
  • 2.6 and below – 76 and belowUnacceptable work. Course work performed at this level will not count toward the MC degree. For the course to count towards the degree, the student must repeat the course with a passing grade.

UW Grading System

4. Course Policies

By becoming a member of this class, you agree to abide by these rules and any other policies not explicitly stated here that are detailed in the UW Student Conduct Handbook.


Students are expected to attend all classes and are responsible for completing all course material on deadline. You must e-mail me if you miss class because of illness or emergency. This communication is part of your class participation. Moreover, rather than ask me what happened while you were away, you should also check this blog as well as talk to your classmates to “see what you missed.” In-class assignments cannot be made up except by arrangement.

Additionally, from the Faculty Code:

A student absent from any class activity through sickness or other cause judged by the instructor to be unavoidable shall be given an opportunity to perform work judged by the instructor to be the equivalent… Examples of unavoidable cause include death or serious illness in the immediate family, illness of the student, and, provided previous notification is given, observance of regularly scheduled religious obligations and might possibly include attendance at academic conferences or field trips, or participation in university-sponsored activities such as debating contests or athletic competition (Faculty code, Vol. 4, Part 3, Chap 12, sec 1B).


All work must be completed on time. Errors (facts, spelling and grammar) will result in a reduced grade. You are expected to produce original work and properly cite the thoughts and works of others. All sources must be properly cited. Plagiarism and cheating are serious offenses and are not tolerated by the University. For more information, please refer to the University’s Academic Honesty policy.

Classroom Environment

Students and faculty are responsible for creating a good learning environment. We will use computing technology in the classroom during labs; specific uses of computing technology will be announced in advance with detailed instructions.

Students may use laptops or other portable devices for taking notes. However, these portable devices should not be used to engage in non-classroom activities, such as surfing the Net, checking e-mail, playing games or listening to music. These activities would certainly divert your attention away from class and could distract other students as well, thus corrupting the learning environment. I reserve the right to end your use of a portable device, ask you to move, or revoke the privilege of using wireless devices in the classroom.

During class breaks, students may use portable computing devices or lab computers for personal use as long as they respect other class members. Material visible on the computing device should not be offensive or incendiary. Any music played during breaks should be at a level conducive to classroom civility.

Courteous Discourse

Whether in class or online, students are expected to conduct themselves with professional courtesy and decorum. Please make constructive comments; flames and insults are not acceptable. Disagree with the idea, not the person!


The instructor will not give incompletes except under exceptional circumstances.


To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924/V, 206-5430-8925/TTY. If you have a letter from Disability Resources for Students indicating that you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations that you might need for the class.

E-mail Communication

E-mail communications among members of this class should reflect respect for the rights and privileges of all members of the academic community. This includes not interfering with university functions or endangering the health, welfare, or safety of other persons. In addition to the University of Washington’s Student Conduct Code, there are additional policies for this class:

  • E-mail communication from a student to the instructor will be acted upon, if possible, within 24 hours (M-Th). If an e-mail from a student does not receive a response within 48 hours, then the student should investigate other ways of contacting me (telephone, office hours, etc.). E-mail to the instructor must have clear, not cryptic, subject lines and should include the course number (COM546).
  • Students are responsible for checking their UW mail regularly; instructor and class mailing list mail is directed to the student UW address, as it is the official e-mail address for class enrollment.
  • E-mail communications should not include any CCing of anyone not directly involved in the specific educational experience at hand.
  • E-mail communications should not include any blind-CCing to third parties.

5. MCDM Practices and Principles

The Master of Communication in Digital Media is a degree program for working professionals, intended to balance fundamental theory and concepts with practical tools. It focuses on the economic, political, social and cultural impact of new communication technologies and encourages students to apply these concepts to their spheres of interest.

Many of our students are looking to advance their careers – some within their present organizations, others in new professional directions. They want a new perspective on technology. Although a few may pursue additional studies after completing the MCDM, the MCDM is not integrated into the UW Communication Department doctoral program.

At the end of the program, students should be able to:

  • Identify and analyze the impacts of current digital media technology on business and social institutions
  • Understand how to use digital media tools to create and convey a message.
  • Apply new business and management models based upon or impacted by digital media.

The MCDM provides high quality instruction with conceptual and practical applications. As such:

  • The course plan should clearly lay out expectations and learning objectives.
  • Class projects should flow directly from larger learning objectives.

Grading and workload (3 hours a week per credit hour including class time for a 10-week course)

  • A 3.5 – 4.0 grade reflects a substantive ability to master the course content, reflect upon it critically, fully participate in class, and express oneself in a way that expands the scope of the content beyond how it has been traditionally understood.
  • A 3.0 – 3.4 grade reflects the ability to assimilate course content, understand its implications, express oneself clearly, and obvious progress in learning.
  • A minimum of 2.7 is required for each course that is counted towards the degree.

Our students are expected to:

  • Write coherently and clearly, completing assignments on time and as directed.
  • Not miss more than two classes a quarter, unless due to extreme circumstances.
  • Engage as much as possible with colleagues and the instructor.
  • Stay current with the latest developments in digital media.
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