Course Introduction – CMNS 201 Introduction to Mass Media

Are you interested in Communication Studies and Mass Media? Athabasca University’s Communications Studies program has expanded to include a new communications course, Introduction to Mass Media (CMNS 201), to its list of ever-growing course offerings. According to course professor Dr. Evelyn Ellerman, CMNS 201 is the ?first of two introductory courses for our proposed Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies),? and offers students an excellent learning experience through varied topics and an exciting online component.

CMNS 201 highlights the ?important relations between technology and society and between the mass media and society.? Over nine units, students focus on various key topics in the media. Students are also trained to focus on ?questions raised by the relations between these media and the field of public relations; by the globalization of information; and by the blanketing effects of media on society.?

Unit 1 acts as an introduction to mass media and communication, ensuring that students have the ?framework? upon which to build their knowledge of further material discussed in the course.

In unit 2, students discuss public relations, seeing how the field ?balances the ethical standards that support the practice of public relations against the ways in which they can be perverted by public and private interests.?

Units 3 and 4 discuss advertising and newspapers/magazines, respectively. The topic of unit 5, sound recordings, ?pays particular attention to ownership and control in the music industry.? Students also delve into the cultural effects of music, and the ?role of music in society.?

Units 6 and 7 familiarize students with radio and television media; in unit 8, students look at the widespread use of the Internet, with special focus on the ?social, legal, and ethical problems that this medium poses to society.?

CMNS 201 also has a new online textbook component. Students receive a ?print copy of the text, The Media of Mass Communication by Vivian and Maurin, along with its URL.? This URL enables students to access additional sections that have been added to the text to enrich the students? learning experience. For instance, students can access additional topics such as ?Media People,? ?Media Issues,? and ?Media Abroad? to ?broaden understanding and appreciation of the history of mass media and the thoughts of some of its key players,? says Dr. Ellerman.

Additionally, CMNS 201 also has audio and video components. Dr. Ellerman indicated that Dr. Aaron Bor has a ?wonderful ability to reach the first year student in a way that is accessible and interesting. It is appropriate that the course moves back and forth between the print and online formats, because that is what contemporary media ask us to do.?

Course authors Dr. Bor and Dr. Ellerman are both part of AU’s Communications Studies faculty.

Dr. Bor, previously professor of Communication Design at the California State University, Chico, is currently an Adjunct Professor at AU. Dr. Bor has worked extensively with video arts and multimedia workshops at the University of California at Santa Cruz. His awards for this work include those from the Santa Cruz Video Festival, California Intercollegiate Press Association, and the Broadcast Education Association. His previous clients include the Public Broadcasting Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Park Service, as well as the State of California, and many more.

Dr. Ellerman is one of the pioneers of AU’s Communication Studies program, and was a driving force behind its conception in 1999. She has co-authored several AU Communications courses, including CNMS 301 (Communication Theory and Analysis) and CMNS 302 (Communication in History).

CMNS 201 has several assignments, as well as a final exam, the latter of which is worth 40%. According to Dr. Ellerman, the assignments are ?designed to give students a great deal of feedback throughout the course.? She explained that the AU faculty has found, over the years, that students ?prefer more frequent feedback and course assignments that are divided into smaller chunks,? a preference that is especially pronounced in 200-level courses like CMNS 201.

As a result, CMNS 201 has three essay assignments (750 words each), each of which is worth 8%. The essay topics are suggested in the assignment manual, and are many and varied. All topics focus not on the reading of the course material, but on the student’s ability to apply their readings to ?everyday life? situations. Essay topics include media debate issues, analysis of the ?construction and effectiveness of advertisements,? as well as ?assessment of the effectiveness of certain media in [the student’s] community.?

The remaining 18% of CMNS 201’s marking scheme consists of their choice of two unit study questions which focus on the unIt’s material. If students prefer, another option for these small assignments is a short discussion on the relevancy of the mass media theories discussed in the unit to ?the contemporary environment.? The unit study questions help facilitate quality student-tutor interactions, providing students with an excellent learning experience.

For more information, visit the course syllabus at: http://www.athabascau.ca/html/syllabi/cmns/cmns201.htm

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