About this Class

Course Description

M W F 10:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. |  Zoom (see Canvas for link)

How do various web tools and platforms dictate how we interact with each other? Why do we use some platforms for personal reasons, others for coursework, and some for professional purposes? Is there one correct way to use the web? In this seminar, we will critically examine social media platforms, information repositories, apps, and other tools to create personal understandings of how a tool or company’s motive influences not just our personal use of information, but how we interact with our community. Themes include online identity, privacy, democracy, and the academic web. We will explore these topics through the lenses of inclusiveness, information bias, “Big Data,” and social networks. The course culminates in a multimedia narrative, giving students hands-on experience with various web publishing and content management technologies.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Determine motive of informational web platforms and content, and how those motives influence coursework, personal life, and professional life
  • Be aware of various levels of information privilege
  • Create and promote web content sustainably
  • Implement best practices for content management and preservation


Required Course Materials

All students must have access to a laptop or computer for each class session. If you do not have access to a laptop please contact Dean Jason Rodocker (Dean for First Year Experience). You may also use a computer in a university lab. Email helpdesk@wlu.edu for information about computer labs. Students are also required to create various accounts on social media and academic platforms, while preserving individual students’ privacy.

Class Expectations
  • All readings/content for discussion and assignments on the charted schedule must be completed by class meeting time on the day indicated. Completing all assignments is required to pass the course.
  • Students will submit one discussion question to Padlet for each of the assigned readings/content by 9 am before each class meeting. Students may submit additional discussion questions about current events as they relate to the course if they choose, understanding that extra points will not be awarded.
  • Students will sign up to lead a class discussion on one of the readings/content from that week.
  • All viewpoints are welcome in the classroom. In turn, using threatening language or gestures to argue viewpoints are not be permitted, and students may be asked to leave the room if either or both professors find it necessary. We will create a “Student Bill of Rights” on the first day of class.
  • If you find it difficult to complete your coursework because of precarious housing or finances, food insecurity, or threatening relationships, please contact one of the professors immediately. This will be confidential and we will help you.
Participation, Attendance, and Late Work Policies

This discussion-based class requires active engagement from all class members, which includes attendance. Students must not only attend class, but also participate in discussions, contribute to group work, complete all assignments, and present their Multimedia Narrative in the last week of class. Students may miss one class session with no explanation; after that, absences require explanation. Excessive unexcused absences will result in a failing grade.

Work submitted after the due date will result in a 10% grade reduction.


Grading Scale and Grade Breakdown
93-100 points: A80-82 points: B-67-69 points: D+
90-92 points: A-77-79 points: C+63-66 points: D
87-89 points: B+73-76 points: C60-62 points: D-
83-86 points: B70-72 points: C-0-59 points: F

Additional Student Resources

Resources to Help Avoid Plagiarism

Students are expected to observe Washington and Lee University’s Honor System. W&L defines plagiarism as “the use of another’s words or ideas without proper acknowledgment.” Familiarize yourself with what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. For assistance, see the resources available on the library website and/or visit Professors Abdoney and Teaff during their office hours.

Resources for Disability Accommodations

Washington and Lee University makes reasonable academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. All undergraduate accommodations must be approved through the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources (Lauren Kozak) Director Kozak may be reached at: Elrod Commons 212, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia 24450, (540) 458-4055. Students requesting accommodations for this course should present an official accommodation letter within the first two weeks of the term and schedule a meeting outside of class time to discuss accommodations. It is the student’s responsibility to present this paperwork in a timely fashion and to follow up about accommodation arrangements. Accommodations for test taking must be arranged with the professor at least a week before the date of the test or exam, including finals.