COMM 351 – An Opportunity to Excel

COMM 351 will be one of the most heavily practical courses you’ve encountered so far. While we’ll spend a portion of the semester looking at the status-quo-shifting aspect of the technology, we’ll focus primarily on establishing (or enhancing) your professional presence on social media.


Your main assessment will require you to work towards a goal of your choice using social media as a primary tool. The project can be a professional endeavour, a personal objective, or something that complements your studies. Be sure to define the goal clearly in your mind (you should be able to state it in one short sentence). Only then should you begin to select the social media platforms and services that best suit your needs as a student or professional.

The graphic design crowd usually excels in this course. As artists, creators, and makers at heart, many of you are already using the technology to build your skills and display your design work, illustrations, or photography. Some of you will want to use this opportunity to pursue personal projects that don’t fit into your school and job workloads.

And if you’re not a graphic designer?


Read on.

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Session 1 – Planning your project

You’ve been given an opportunity to prove to yourself, the public, and future employers and clients, that you’re capable of consistently producing quality content for digital platforms. Beyond simply a valuable asset, that skill is increasingly becoming a necessity for communications professionals. So keep that in mind as you approach this coursework, and aim to produce something that is exciting, uniquely you, and manageable.


Today’s update focuses on that ‘manageable’ bit. I want you to think big and bold, but I don’t want you to bite off more than you can chew. Here are some simple guidelines for developing an appropriate project idea, and for using the social media platforms that are most appropriate for your goal.

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Crowdfunding in the Classroom



image via TechCrunch/Shutterstock


I’ve been struggling for a while now to incorporate a meaningful, interesting segment on crowdfunding and crowdsourcing into one of my social media theory classes. So far, those efforts have resulted in middling explorations of Trinbagonian Kickstarter projects and reiteration of the “social media empowers audiences” theme. It’s a topic I was beginning to dread covering, but this semester, I have an opportunity to add a lot more substance to my illustrations.

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Why study media?

The following is an example post for students of my introductory media theory courses:

image via Shutterstock


A few years ago, while speaking to other students at a graduation, I jokingly remarked that due to my programme of choice, every movie I watched, every video game I played, and even every podcast I listened to could be considered research. I was only half joking, though. I had, after all, been studying mass communication.Time and time during my studies, I was able to illustrate concepts and deepen my discussion of theory by using examples of everyday media. I explained convergence and consolidation using Sony’s virtual monopoly of Spider-Man-related electronic media in the early 2000s. A page of Vladimir Putin memes sparked a discussion that I later referenced in an essay on public relations. Critical observation of media has always reaped rewards for me professionally, whether as a teacher, a former reporter, or a freelance writer. And media studies has remained a fresh and exciting field to me because it’s based on an ever-developing, ever-changing media landscape.

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On heroism and representation in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The following is an exemplar blog post for COMM 365 (Audience and Reception) students.

I’m conflicted about Finn.

Like most moviegoers, I was fooled by JJ Abrams’ mystery box marketing and went into Star Wars: The Force Awakens expecting to see the character established as the new Luke Skywalker of the series. As a black nerd, even an older, jaded one, the idea of a young man of colour becoming the central figure of that fabled universe was…exciting.

Finn is not that sort of hero.

Read on.


I want this poster, though.

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How to Market on Social Media and get away with it

(This week’s post is a guest column by my colleague and fellow COMM 351 lecturer, Ms. Nikita Yorke.) 

1A wise man once said “One of the greatest challenges companies face in adjusting to the impact of social media, is knowing where to start.” Social media is an ever-changing, multifaceted, collaborative medium that can either make or break you. It can be the greatest evil or the most beautiful advantage; it depends solely on how you choose to use it.

One of the greatest benefits of social media is the relaxed environment of communication. It creates a voice for the voiceless, an image for the invisible and confidence for the shy. Is it any surprise that organisations want to capitalize on this magic medium?

Social media has now come to be one of the main building blocks of a company and allows them to strive as an organization. Here are some essentials to making sure your business is social media ready and can gain a wealth of attention.

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What makes your work worth sharing?

In our first class, I told you that bloggers and vloggers should have a unique voice. There should be something special about what they share, or how they present it.

This is what I meant.

Let’s talk about what we can learn from Zach Anner’s YouTube channel.

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Widgets and gadgets: The building blocks of your blog’s layout

What’s a widget?

image courtesy CPA Training Vault.

image courtesy CPA Training Vault.

Aside from templates, widgets will be the most important choices regarding the look and functionality of your blog. Widgets (called gadgets on Blogger) are small visual utilities that display specific content or connect your blog with another social media service.

You most likely already have a few widgets on your blog. Those little boxes with About Me, Archives, Recent Posts, Categories are usually added to your left or right sidebar by default, and they’re some of the simplest and most ubiquitous examples of widgets. But widgets can range from calendars to small games to background music players to, as we discovered last class, a picture of a puppy that changes every day.

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Moderating comments

This is social media, so I’ll be expecting all of you to provide feedback on your classmates’ blogs, like and join their various pages, collaborate, and otherwise interact and connect with each other. In this post, we’ll quickly run through the basics of moderating the many comments you’ll be receiving from your classmates this semester.

By default, WordPress and Blogger are both somewhat restrictive in terms of allowing readers to comment on your blog. This is due to potential abuse of the commenting system by advertising spambots or malicious readers. To comment on your blog, readers usually have to be signed in to their Google or WordPress account. For this course, I encourage you to decrease that security level a bit to allow your classmates and readers to more easily leave comments on your posts. The options in both services are extensive and fairly self-explanatory.


Discussion settings in WordPress

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Adding links to your blog posts

You’ll often need to include links to other pages in your blog posts, and there are two ways of doing that. Simply pasting a URL into the body of your post looks terrible (especially if the URL is long), and forces readers to go through the extra steps of copying and pasting the URL into their browser instead of simply clicking on the link. Adding links seamlessly on to text makes for a much better-looking and efficient reading experience.

Adding a hyperlink in WordPress

Adding a hyperlink in WordPress

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