4381 Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media. (3) Students will 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.

This summer course is considered a lecture, but we will be incorporating some lab and hybrid elements. This means all lectures days are required, but lab days are optional. On the days we do not meet in class, you will be required to complete Online Modules from TRACS, along with comprehension quizzes at the end. In this class, you will have regular readings, assignments, quizzes and projects, as well as a midterm and a final exam.

The course website and TRACS will provide all the information you need for this course.

Lecture: T / Th 12:30-1:50pm, Alkek 250

Lab: Labs meet every other week. Consult your course schedule to determine when yours meets. We will hand out more specific schedules in lecture.

Contact Info:

Jon Zmikly
Twitter or e-mail.
Office Hours: M/W/F 9-10am, 12-1pm
Old Main 230Z

Graduate Assistants:
Randy Estevanes
Becca Silvas
Cheyenne Meyer
Andrea Alvarez
Sara Shields
Mary Catherine Underbink
Erika Jasso


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.

Course Objectives

This course aims to teach students about a variety of digital topics and skills, including:

  • Concepts and issues surrounding digital, online and social media
  • History and background of the Internet and Web
  • How the Web works
  • Social media tools in relevant situations
  • Blogging, social media, multimedia storytelling, web design and web writing
  • How companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Craigslist and others have disrupted traditional media
  • An appreciation for the role of mobile devices and data in the future of communication
  • The role of citizen journalism and user-generated content with professional media

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completing this course, students can expect to gain 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 course 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:

  • 40% Blog Project (400 pts total)
    • Blog Review 1 (100 pts)
    • Blog Review 2 (100 pts)
    • Blog Review 3 (100 pts)
    • Blog Review 4 (100 pts)
  • 20% Assignments (200 pts total)
    • Twitter Scavenger Hunt Assignment (50 pts)
    • HTML Assignment (50 pts)
    • Build An App Assignment (50 pts)
    • iMovie Assignment (50 pts)
  • 5% Online TRACS Quizzes (50 pts total / 5 points each)
  • 5% Lab Attendance and Participation
  • 30% Exams (300 pts)
    • MidTerm Exam (150 pts)
    • Final Exam (150 pts)
  • 100% = 1000 pts


The textbook for this class is recommended but not required: Journalism Next, Second Edition by Mark Briggs, CQ Press 2012. You should be able to get at the bookstore or via an online site like

Most of the required reading for this class will come from online sources and handouts.




Throughout the this course, your semester-long blog project (worth 40% of your grade) will be graded four times. In addition, you will complete four skill-based assignments. Each assignment and blog review must be submitted properly and on time via TRACS. Detailed instructions for each assignment and blog review are located on TRACS under “Assignments and Blog Submissions.”

Late Work: We do not accept late work or incorrect submissions in this class. Our deadline-driven field demands the utmost effort at submitting work on time and in full. In addition, digital technology allows anyone the ability to retroactively change blog or assignment dates, and so all blog and assignment submission must be done via TRACS with correct URLs. It provides a usable time-stamp for us, and it is proof to you that it was turned in. Late, missed or incorrectly submitted assignments will receive a zero (F). Absolutely no exceptions.

Attendance and Late Assignments:

Lecture Attendance is optional. However, those who have succeeded in this class have been those with highest attendance. We will be discussing news topics and engaging with material in ways that are unavailable elsewhere, and it will be difficult to catch up 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 5 minutes after the designated time, or if you create class disturbances, your grade may be reduced.

Lab Attendance: Lab sessions are mandatory. You may miss one lab without penalty. After the second absence, 5% of your final grade will be deducted. After the third absence, you will not be able to pass this class.

Online Modules:

A portion of your lecture and lab material will be provided in an asynchronous format known as “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 midnight on Sundays. 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. The facility has everything from DSLR cameras to camcorders and hand-held recorders. 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.

Dropping a Course:

You can drop this or any course and receive a full refund by _______. If you drop this class by ______, you can still receive a “W.” After that date you cannot drop a single course. You must withdraw from all courses.

Academic Honesty:

Simply put, copy/pasting material from the web onto your site and claiming it as your own is plagiarism. The School of Journalism and Mass Communication commits itself to the preparation of mass media professionals and scholars. Such a mission demands the highest standards 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 for violations of the standards for academic honesty are outlined in the Texas State Academic Honesty Statement, printed each year in the Student Handbook. The policy is also available at

Note to Students with Disabilities:

Texas State University seeks to provide reasonable accommodations for all qualified individuals with disabilities.   This university will adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws.   Students with disabilities who need special accommodations should contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at (512) 245-3451, and register with that office. ODS is located in Suite 5-5.1 at the LBJ Student Center. If you are a student with a disability certified by ODS and you require accommodations in this class, it is your responsibility to notify the professor no later than the fifth class day of this semester so that accommodations can be discussed and promptly provided.

Instructor may notify you of changes or updates to policies in this syllabus throughout the semester.