The Internet and Society

Course Details

Course Number
MCOM 2523
Section Number
MCOM 2523
Spring 2017
Fain Fine Arts Center
Classroom Number
Days & Times

MWF 12:00-12:50

Dr. Mitzi Lewis (view Profile)

Course Attachments


Course Objectives

The Internet is profoundly effecting how we live our lives. It has changed the way we work, play, and interact with other people. In this course, we will examine the personal, academic, media, and business uses of the Internet. We will also look at the mutual interaction of computers and other new technologies, the Internet, society, and the struggles for control/ownership of the World Wide Web and its content. There are (at least) two sides to almost all of the questions we will consider in this course. We will spend much of our class time discussing the issues and exploring different points of view.

No previous technical knowledge is presumed other than your personal experience with computers, the Internet, and mobile phones.

After successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  • understand some social, legal, philosophical, political, constitutional, and economical issues related to the Internet and the historical background of these issues
  • discuss the benefits offered by the Internet in many different areas as well as the risks and problems associated with it
  • explore the arguments on all sides of a controversial issue, and argue convincingly for the position you select
  • have an increased awareness of current social and legal developments related to the Internet
  • understand how the Internet gives rise to social issues and ethical dilemmas
  • evaluate accuracy of information on the Internet
  • explain the uses and gratifications theory
  • apply the uses and gratifications theory to evaluation of people's behaviors when using the Internet
  • identify communication tools available on the Internet
  • utilize communication tools available on the Internet
  • compare communication tools available on the Internet
  • create, craft, and enhance your personal brand/digital identify on the Internet


Course Expectations

  • Baase, Sara (2012). A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing and the Internet (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. (note: this book covers many Internet issues and also some non-internet issues; for this class, we will focus on the internet-specific issues)
  • E-mail account
  • Internet access - we will watch videos almost every week, so the speed of your connection will need to accommodate this
  • Persistence, Patience, Optimism, and an Active Mind: Computers are fairly elaborate machines, which means that there are many ways in which they can break down – so be prepared for many strange and wondrous things. We will be discussing basic trouble- shooting techniques in class as issues arise. In many cases, however, you will need to be your own technological problem-solver – identifying problems and figuring out ways they can temporarily or permanently be solved. Techno-whining is not productive and will not be tolerated.


Grading Standards


You will be graded on your ability to think critically about the material we cover in class and communicate your thoughts in writing, e.g., through your blog, online class discussions, and online social media communications. There will not be any mid-term or final exams. I will post grades on Blackboard, which you can check throughout the semester.


Online class discussion assignments (15 weeks; 10 points/week; 150 points total)


Online personal brand (100 points total)


Blog portfolio (100 points total)


Goal statement


Lead discussion



More about Grading

  • In the professional world, if you can’t show up on time and make your deadlines, you won’t keep your job. Assignments must be completed on time in the format specified. The only accepted excuses for late work or missed exams are documented medical emergencies or requests from a dean. No exceptions. Plan ahead.
  • Spelling and grammar count in your assignments, your blog posts, and your e-mails. Grades will be reduced for spelling and grammar errors.


Course Grade

Grading is on a straight scale (no curve):




< 60%     


Submission Format Policy

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

In the professional world, if you can’t show up on time and make your deadlines, you won’t keep your job. Assignments must be completed on time in the format specified. The only accepted excuses for late work or missed presentations or exams are noted in the attendance policy. No exceptions. Plan ahead.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

The success of this format depends on your willingness to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in class discussions and other activities. 

Attendance and participation are critical to your success. Another way to describe this is professionalism. Professionalism means that you’re here, ready to engage in new opportunities, both online and in person. You are expected to arrive to class on time, be prepared, actively participate, and stay for the full class period. The same goes for online activities. You are expected to complete them on time, be prepared, actively participate, and contribute throughout the semester. If you miss class, you miss the chance to participate in your education and the education of others in class. Your peers are counting on you to be present and to participate. 

If you miss class without an acceptable excuse you get a zero for that day’s participation and class work and any work that is due.

If you must miss class, please let me know BEFORE the class period that you will miss. You may call my office and leave me a voice mail or you may notify me by e-mail. An absence may be excused at my discretion in accordance with university policy if you provide documentation of the reason for your absence. When you have an acceptable excuse, you are responsible for finding out what you missed and arranging to make it up with the instructor. Missed work must be made up within one week of when your return to class, or you will receive a zero. 

Plan carefully regarding appointments and/or work schedules to avoid missing class. Any personal emergencies that arise will be dealt with on an individual basis. Do not assume you will be allowed to make up assignments missed during an unexcused absence. IF YOU MISS CLASS, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO FIND OUT WHAT YOU MISSED.

If you miss a class you get a “zero” for that day’s in-class assignments. Missing one class means you miss 1/16 of the class meeting time for the semester. If you miss more than one class, or if you are habitually late or leave early, your final grade may be lowered by one letter grade for each instance beyond one absence. If you have difficulty with the attendance and participation (professionalism) requirement, your grade will suffer and you may be dropped from the class.

I reserve the right to determine what, exactly, constitutes an excused absence or when a late arrival is excusable.

Finally, it is unacceptable to skip another class to work on a project for this class. Also, do not ask me for an excused absence to work on another course. If either of these occurs, it will greatly lower your participation grade. Plan accordingly and be organized. 

Some additional guidelines:

  • You are responsible for all material presented in every class period, whether present or not.
  • If you miss a class period you should obtain the material presented from another classmate. (I will not repeat lecture material that was missed. Handouts are available from my office – it is your responsibility to come get them.)


Other Policies

  • Classroom behavior that interferes with either the instructor’s ability to conduct the class or the ability of other students to benefit from the instruction will result in the instructor’s removing the disruptive student(s) from the class.
  • If you promise that you will not halt your class participation to read your email, text with a friend, post to your Facebook wall... I promise that I will not halt my class participation to read my email, text with a friend, or post to my Facebook wall.” (from oh_richard on 
  • Students are expected to adhere to the Standards of Conduct as published in the Student Handbook. Students should refer to the current MSU student handbook and activities calendar for University policies and Student Honor Creed on academic dishonesty, class attendance, student’s rights, and activities.
    • The main statement from the MSU Student Honor Creed should be a guiding principal for you: “As an MSU student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else to do so.”
    • I reserve the right to drop any student with an F if he/she engages in any form of academic dishonesty.  I further reserve the right to recommend other sanctions as may be appropriate.  Students are also encouraged to consult the following sources for additional discussion of students’ rights and responsibilities regarding cheating, attendance and general conduct:
      • The MSU Student Honor Creed
      • MSU Undergraduate Catalog
      • MSU Student Handbook
    • In addition, the university requires faculty to provide this statement to all students: “By enrolling in this course, the student expressly grants MSU a “limited right” in all intellectual property created by the student for the purpose of this course.  The “limited right” shall include but shall not be limited to the right to reproduce the student’s work product in order to verify originality and authenticity, and educational purposes.”
  • On the Internet, plagiarism is especially easy. DO NOT give in to the temptation to copy-and-paste other people’s work! YOUR WORK MUST BE YOUR OWN. If you plagiarize as a professional and get found out, you will damage if not destroy your own reputation and do great harm to the reputation of any organization you work for. In this class, plagiarism will have dire consequences.
  • Plagiarism: Plagiarism comes from the Latin word plagiarius, which means kidnapper.  Webster’s Dictionary defines plagiarize as to take (ideas, writings, etc.,) from (another) and pass them off as one’s own-plagiarizer. Plagiarism includes the deliberate as well as inadvertent failure to properly attribute. All of the work you do in this class should be the work of you. Violation of this policy may result in the student and/or group receiving a failing grade for this course.  IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE…IF IN DOUBT-ASK! Students in this course should adhere to the MSU Student Honor Code. 



Federal privacy law prohibits me from releasing information about students to certain parties outside of the university without the signed consent of the student.  Thus, in almost all cases I will not discuss your academic progress or other matters with your parents.  Please do not have them call me.  Regardless of these important legal considerations, it is my general policy to communicate with the students, not their parents, even when a student has signed a consent form.  College students are adults and are expected to behave accordingly.


Social Justice

Social justice is one of Midwestern State University’s stated core values, and I consider the classroom to be a place where students will be treated with respect as human beings, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Moreover, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided the students can agree to disagree. It is my expectation that ALL students be able to consider the classroom a safe environment.


Special Accommodations

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information that needs sharing, or if you need special accommodations in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible. Please also contact Disability Support Services at 940-397-4140 in Clark Student Center, room 168, to document and coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities if you have not already done so.


Additional Resources

Tutoring is available at the MSU Writing Center, located off the 2nd floor atrium of Prothro-Yeager, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also find a tutor at the satellite location in Moffett Library Honors Lounge, Sunday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Writing tutors will not edit your papers for you, but they will provide support and feedback at every stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to drafting, revising to proofreading.


Research and Creative Opportunities at MSU

Enhancing Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (EURECA) is a program that provides opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in high-quality research and creative activities with faculty. EURECA provides incentives and funding through a system that supports faculty and students in a cooperative research process. For more information contact the Office of Undergraduate Research, (940) 397-6275, or  You can also stop by the UGR office located in the atrium of the Clark Student Center, room 161. Information and resources are available at

Like EURECA, UGROW provides opportunities for students to conduct research with faculty. However, the research occurs in the summer. For five weeks UGROW students experience the authenticity of scientific research in faculty’s laboratories, in a highly interdisciplinary environment. Students work on projects of their choice and present their findings at the end of program and the MSU Undergraduate Research Forum.  Faculty members publicize research projects in the spring.  The application deadline for UGROW 2016 is has not been established yet; however, it will be in the spring.  Information and resources are available at

To support undergraduate research and creative activities, Midwestern State University holds an enhanced institutional membership with the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).  This institutional membership includes unlimited memberships for any interested faculty, staff, and students. Students may find information on benefits and resources at and may sign up   The CUR Undergraduate Resources webpage contains:
•    Research opportunities;
•    Presentation opportunities;
•    Undergraduate research journals;
•    CUR-sponsored student events;
•    A registry of undergraduate researchers;
•    And more!



  • Attend class regularly both in person and online.
  • Remember I am available to help you. Ask for help immediately if you don’t understand something. Waiting to “get it later” doesn’t always work and could get you into trouble.
  • Back up your work. Have two backups.
  • Consider saving your work under different names literally each time you work on a project. It just takes one click and could save you lots of time and frustration.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Try to do work for this class ahead of time. This will give you some cushion in case you have problems.
  • Sometimes things will go smoothly, other times they won’t – the important thing is to have fun and practice thinking and working with both sides of our brains.
  • This is your class; we can do (or try) almost anything you want; be creative!


Online Communications Guidelines/Netiquette

Your comfort level with expressing ideas and feelings in writing will add to your success in this course. The ability to write is necessary, but you also need to understand what is considered appropriate when communicating online.


The word "netiquette" is short for "Internet etiquette." Rules of netiquette have grown organically with the growth of the Internet to help users act responsibly when they access or transmit information online. You should be aware of the common rules of netiquette for the Web and employ a communication style that follows these guidelines. Read and follow “Core Rules of Netiquette,” by Virginia Shea. Here are the rules, in brief:

Rule 1: Remember the human

Rule 2: Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life

Rule 3: Know where you are in cyberspace

Rule 4: Respect other people's time and bandwidth

Rule 5: Make yourself look good online

Rule 6: Share expert knowledge

Rule 7: Help keep flame wars under control

Rule 8: Respect other people's privacy

Rule 9: Don't abuse your power

Rule 10: Be forgiving of other people's mistakes.


Final Caveat: I reserve the right to change any part of this syllabus for any reason. This includes changing or deleting assignments. Sufficient notice will be given to you if changes to the syllabus are necessary.


By accepting this syllabus and staying enrolled in this course, you are indicating that you understand and accept the terms of this syllabus.


Thanks to Eszter Hargittai and Howard Rheingold who generously allowed me to use and adapt portions of their work, to Jim Sernoe who allowed me to adapt portions of his work for policies and final paper requirementsand to Kimberly Sultze of Saint Michael’s College for sharing her intellectual requirements.


Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at