Digital Communication is the fastest growing sector of digital media worldwide. As Marshall McLuhan predicted, the Global Village, as it is constructed on the Internet, is increasingly made up of virtual centers where people congregate and communicate, and where national and social boundaries disintegrate. From Kalamazoo to Korea, online environments draw millions of users and create virtual world and “dirt world” economies.

This course examines media environments such as social computing, multi-player environments and other digital communication technologies.

Students will explore and experience, from a media ecology perspective, the nature of these new modes of communication from Facebook to Blogging to SecondLife (or Snapchat, Reddit, Discord, and Slack), examining the communities they create, the associated privacy and property issues, what these technologies enhance, obsolesce, retrieve and reverse (McLuhan’s Laws of Media). The mission of the course is to help students develop digital media literacy and to better prepare them for the appropriate and ethical use of digital communication technologies in a global context.

Students will:

  • Learn the relationships among social networks, mass communication and human communication.
  • Explore digital media technologies and how they work.
  • Investigate how social networks, automation and online media environments influence human behavior.
  • Research, in a scholarly manner, the ways in which digital media is used in mutually beneficial social contexts and the “relationship economy.”
  • Examine the cultural impact of user-generated content.