MC4381 | Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media | Fall 2017

Instructor: Dale Blasingame, M.A.
Office: Old Main 230Z
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30-3 p.m. and Thursdays 9:30-11 a.m. or by appointment. If my door is open, feel free to stop in.
E: | T: @daleblasingame | W:

Catalog Description

This course will explore new tools and skills relevant to the digital age, particularly the usage of smart phones in storytelling. Students will use those skills to produce video content as part of a weekend in a state park.

Course Objectives

Students will be introduced to topics related to digital/online media and mass communication. Course covers the effects of the Internet and related technologies on the fields of journalism, interactive advertising and public relations, search engines, personal branding, social networking and mobile platforms.

This is a required core course for any Mass Communication major. We will study how the media has transformed due to the internet and new strategies and concepts for a digital age. We will spend time discussing the history and background of the Internet and web, as well as issues related to digital media, including search engines, social media companies, digital photography and video techniques, e-commerce, new media law and ethics, and more.

The course method is lecture and lab in a hybrid format. This means you are required to attend your assigned in-class lecture and your designated lab section once a week. Your labs will be taught by a graduate assistant in computer labs throughout campus. You are also expected to complete online assignments and lessons which work in tandem with lecture and lab. In this class, you will have regular readings, assignments, quizzes and projects, as well as a midterm and a final exam.

Course Objectives

This course aims to teach students about a variety of digital topics and skills. By the end of the semester, students will be able to:

  • identify key concepts and issues surrounding digital, online and social media
  • describe the history and background of the Internet and Web
  • demonstrate how the world wide web works
  • practice social media tools in relevant situations and analyze their own use of these platforms
  • apply their knowledge of blogging, social media, multimedia storytelling, web design and web writing into a succinct, effective personal and online brand
  • explain how Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Craigslist and digital companies have disrupted traditional media consumption and dissemination
  • examine the role of mobile devices, apps and data in the future of communication
  • recognize the role of citizen journalism and user-generated content with professional media.


You must use an active Texas State email account. Communication via TRACS uses your Texas State email, and the university is required to send grade information out only through the Texas State email system. Contact the instructor, if you have questions. Make sure you check your email on a regular basis, as schedule changes will be communicated there as well as on our course site.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completing this course, students can expect to gain the aforementioned digital skills and knowledge, as demonstrated by:

  • authoring and maintaining a Wordpress blog throughout the semester on a specific topic of his/her choice
  • applying concepts learned in class to self-promote his/her blogs using social media
  • completing assessments on topics explained in lecture and online materials
  • utilizing skills explained in online and in-class tutorials, like HTML and iMovie to complete digital media projects
  • writing a reflection on his/her blogging and social media experience
  • creating an effective online brand and presence
  • a collection of writing samples and multimedia projects to be used in a senior portfolio

Course Grade Breakdown

There are a total of 1,000 points available in this class. Every ten points equals one percent of your overall grade.

30% Website Project

  • Website Review 1 (75 pts)
  • Website Review 2 (75 pts)
  • Website Review 3 (75 pts)
  • Website Review 4 (75 pts)

20% Assignments

  • Twitter Scavenger Hunt (50 pts)
  • HTML Assignment (50 pts)
  • Mobile App Assignment (50 pts)
  • YouTube Assignment (50 pts)

7% Online Module Quizzes

  • You will have quizzes to complete with each online module that are worth five points apiece.

3% Lecture Quizzes

  • There will be random quizzes in lecture that will be worth ten points apiece.

10% Lab Checkpoints

  • You will have assignments due at the end of each lab session that will be worth ten points apiece. The lowest two grades will be dropped.

30% Exams

  • Midterm Exam (150 pts)
  • Final Exam (150 pts)


We do not use a textbook for this class. However, some of the material has been adapted from Journalism Next, Third Edition by Mark Briggs, CQ Press 2016 and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. Other readings are taken from online news stories, handouts, videos and research articles, which will be provided in Online Modules.

Attendance and Late Assignments

Lecture Attendance: Attendance is not recorded in lecture. However, those who have succeeded in this class have been those with highest attendance. Extra credit is provided in lecture only, and you must be in attendance to receive those instructions. Also, news topics discussed in lecture, as well as lecture notes, will be on the midterm and final exams. If you miss a lecture, obtain class notes from a student who was in attendance. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to cover the material discussed on your own. We will start class at the designated time. It is important that you show up on time, as announcements tend to be made early, and you could miss valuable information. If you consistently arrive later than five minutes after the designated time, or if you create class disturbances, your grade may be reduced.

Lab Attendance: Lab attendance is required. Assignments will be completed in lab and cannot be made up. The two lowest grades will be dropped, meaning you can miss two labs without penalty. If you miss three or more lab sections, you cannot pass this class.

Late Work: The media industry is deadline-driven. As such, late or missed assignments will receive a zero (F).

Online Modules

In addition to your weekly lecture and lab, other material will be covered through Online Modules available on TRACS. These modules should be completed every week. There is a quiz at the end of each lesson, which you can take an unlimited number of times before Thursday at 11:59 p.m. of that week. TRACS will record your highest score. Some questions will be used for the midterm and final exams, so do not wait until the end of the semester to complete these modules and quizzes.

Supplies and Equipment

You may need a USB storage device (Flash drive) to save a backup of your files for some of the projects you work on in class. You may also need to visit a computer lab on campus to complete some of the projects if you do not have access to certain technologies at home. We will discuss this more in class.

Students should also have a Texas State University email account that they check frequently. This will be the main method of course communication.

Equipment Checkout: You may need to check out a camera or camcorder to complete an assignment, if you do not have access to your own. Located in Room 236E of Old Main, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Equipment Checkout Room is open five days a week to allow students to check out different types of camera and video equipment. Light kits, microphones and tripods are also available for checkout. Students must be on the valid roster of a SJMC class and bring their student IDs to be able to borrow equipment.

Use of School-Owned Camera Equipment: This class may/will utilize the School of Journalism and Mass Communication Equipment Checkout Room. Use of equipment is a privilege earned through your respect of and cooperation with the checkout rules. These rules are put in place to ensure all students have a chance to use the equipment. If you are late returning a camera to the Equipment Checkout Room, you lose all checkout privileges. In addition, a return that is two days late may result in up to a letter deduction on your grade. If equipment is kept five days past the due date, it is considered stolen, and UPD will be notified.

Student Conduct

While the use of technology is encouraged in this class, it can also be a distraction. Be aware that multitasking on mobile devices and laptops can severely inhibit learning, and use of these electronic devices can disturb those around you, especially during lecture. Please be considerate and use discretion.

You should feel comfortable to participate and express opinions and ideas. Please respect the opinions of others and be considerate of their need to contribute and learn. Please do not have private conversations with your neighbors during class time, whether the instructor or other students are talking.

Any student who does not adhere to these conduct policies will be asked to leave the classroom. In general, please be respectful of others desire to learn and help to create a fun and beneficial classroom environment.

Academic Dishonesty

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication commits itself to the preparation of ethical mass media professionals and scholars. Such a mission demands the highest standard of academic honesty and integrity. Violations of academic honesty, including but not limited to plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, collusion, deception, conflict of interest and theft are not tolerated and can lead to severe penalties. Disciplinary actions are outlined in the Texas State Academic Honesty Statement, printed each year in the Texas State Student Handbook.

The policy is also available here: or

Falsifying sources or other information and copying material without proper attribution are acts of academic dishonesty that will not be tolerated in this class. They will result in a failing grade on an assignment and potentially a failing grade in the course.

Students with Special Needs

If you are a student with a disability certified by ODS and you require accommodation in my class, it is your responsibility to tell me at the beginning of the semester so accommodations can be provided promptly. You must notify me by the second week of class if you need accommodation. If your status is pending with ODS, notify me as soon as possible. Contact the ODS office if you have questions 245.3451. It is my desire to accommodate students to the best of my ability. ODS certifications assist in this endeavor.

Drop Policy

You can drop this or any course by October 30, 2017, and receive an automatic W. After that date, you cannot drop a single course. Instead, you must withdraw from all courses. Please review PPS 4.09 at this Web site: