The Hybrid Introduction to Media course will meet once per week and will have between one hundred and one hundred and fifty undergraduates. This is both the opening course of our major, as well as a class in the liberal arts core. The New Media Communications area (Digital Communication Arts majors) includes students in media production (especially animation and sound recording) media and society (we are very strong in social networks and game studies), and media management (that is exactly what it sounds like). If that sounds diffuse, it is, and we do this with a very small faculty. The purpose of this class is to provide students an overview of what the media is, how it works (mainly economically and legally), and to introduce a focus on the text and narrative structures as a way of providing a common vocabulary for students in each of our three emphasis areas. In a much more basic, even very career oriented way, the purpose of this class is to provide students an adequate background to be in conversation about any number of media systems and developments for years to come. By the end of this course the students need to play the part of media specialists.
The course will have three units. The first is very plain, asking two questions: what is the media, and what is new media? Frankly, the the answer to the first question is far more important than the answer to the second. This unit really isn’t that exciting, and given that this is the start of the fall quarter, the students should be relatively fresh. Things start to get more interesting in the second unit on media economics and regulation. The students will start to learn about how media business works, and will do mini-debates in their class time. This unit will start to flip the classroom in that it will rely less on lecture material, and more on thinking through active debates in media regulation. The third unit will be fun, the students will be learning about narrative as a unifying aspect of multiple media types, and will be asked to play video and computer games as a part of their online/outside activities, and will play some story building games in class. At this point the students should be highly engaged and will have shifted from recall driven learning, toward evaluation. Example: in the first unit, they will learn what the largest media companies are and what they do; in the third unit they will review games and decide if narratives are effective or ineffective.
I decided to make these units distinct because the fulfill learning outcomes and call for very different kinds of learning at different points in the quarter. I layered the most memorization intense work in the beginning, the most dialectically rigorous material in the second unit, and the more introspective material in the third. The relationship between class time and homework will change through the course. As unit two goes on, the students will be working together on discussion and debate tasks increasingly. The outside course work will shift from heavier reading loads toward heavier experience loads; specifically more games will be played and television programs watched. Although the class is lightening in an important way the kinds of questions the students will be considering will be increasing in complexity, and hopefully starting to help them develop their future interests.