The purpose of the final project for this class is to give students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of a particular area or aspect of social media, apply course concepts, and synthesize the conceptual and practical dimensions of social media in a manner that suits their own interests and goals.
The final project may take one of two forms, each detailed below. Whichever option is selected, students will also be required to explain their project, visually and verbally, in a blog post.
Traditional research paper
A research paper should be 10-15 pages in length, critically analyzing a specific topic related to social media. The topic may be an in-depth examination of an issue touched upon in class, such as social media activism, or of a subject of interest to the student but not specifically included in the syllabus, such as social media use among pre-teens in the United States. Topics may explore specific applications of a single platform (e.g., Twitter use in nonprofit organizations); general categories of platforms (e.g., analysis of several location-based social media tools); or one of the cornerstone perspectives across numerous categories of social media tools and practices (e.g., an in-depth analysis of economic and ownership issues in social media).
The research paper is an individual project, with all work carried out and presented by a single student. Papers should include a clear thesis statement, logical argument, and rely on some combination of secondary sources from scholarly literature (at least 5 citations) and nonacademic sources (at least 5 citations), including practical examples where relevant. Additionally, primary research is preferable wherever possible. Research papers should be written and formatted according to an established style guide (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).
The research Paper Proposal
Proposals for a research paper as final project should be approximately 1-2 pages in length, and include the following:
- A brief description of the topic. The topic should be narrow enough to be feasibly addressed within the assigned page limit;
- A description of the type of research to be conducted (secondary only, or primary and secondary, with a description of the proposed methods if using primary research);
- A provisional list of sources (at least 5 total), so I can verify that you are looking in the right direction.
Individual or group applied project
Applied projects may be carried out by individuals or groups of no more than 4 students. These projects fall under the category of service learning, which involves implementing the principles and skills learned in class in a specific applied context, reflecting and evaluating on the process. The applied project may take the form of preparing an extensive social media plan and policy for a particular group or organization; developing and testing new uses for social media practices and/or platforms (for example, creating and monitoring a knowledge base wiki on a particular subject area); or any other application of social media in a means and context suited to the student(s)’ skills and interests. Projects are subject to instructor approval; it is strongly recommended that you discuss your idea with me generally even before submitting the proposal, so that you don’t spend valuable time conceiving of a project I am unlikely to approve.
The applied project must be thoroughly detailed, either in the form of a final document (or set of documents), or through an ongoing chronicle such as a blog or multimedia record. Whether the project is undertaken on an individual or group basis, each student participating must also submit an analysis and summary paper (2-3 pages in length) contextualizing the project with regard to the four cornerstone perspectives, course concepts, and existing scholarly and/or professional research.
THE Applied Project PROPOSAL
Proposals for an applied service learning project as final project should be approximately 1-2 pages in length, and include the following:
- A brief description of the project and its intended purpose. Students should explain how their project fills a gap or serves a need that has not yet been addressed;
- A detailed work plan explaining how all participants (in the case of a group project) will uniquely contribute to the project, and including a calendar of execution for the project;
- Indication of the type of output that will be provided for the project, whether a final document (or set of documents) or an ongoing chronicle, or both;
- A provisional list of sources (at least 5 total) from the scholarly and/or professional literature, giving examples of similar projects (if any exist) or highlighting the existence of a need.
Final blog post
Regardless of the option selected, all students will have to present their work online by the date indicated on the syllabus. You will be expected to prepare a blog post that effectively summarizes your project, provides a clear explanation of the work carried out, and includes visual elements to enhance your descriptions. You will also be expected to respond to any comments left by visitors to your blog, and answer any questions they may have about your paper or project.
In essence, the blog post should be prepared according to the same principles as a scientific research poster. For those of you unfamiliar with research posters, see the resources below.
Some resources for creating a POSTER-LIKE BLOG POST
Scientific Poster Design (PDF from Cornell University)
Creating Effective Poster Presentations (Excellent web site full of tips and examples, from North Carolina State University)
Advice on Designing Scientific Posters (via Swarthmore College, with some context of what conference poster sessions are typically like)
Grading and assessment
The final project is worth 25% of your total grade for the course, of which 15% is for the material output (research paper, documents and chronicle, or other output agreed upon in advance), and 10% for the final blog post and responses. Top-quality work will present a clear direction, well reasoned argument, incorporate and expand upon concepts and skills learned in class, and be articulately written and discussed.
Deadlines for the proposal, project, and blog post are indicated in the syllabus.