CSM 447 Section 001: Digital Tools

Spring 2013

3 Credit Hours
Primary Instructor: Dr. Barrie Price
Core Designation: Computer Science, Writing
Syllabus subject to change.
Note: This syllabus contains one or more sections which have restricted viewing. Some content may require only a valid university login, while other content may be limited to students registered for the class.

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Faculty Information

Dr. Barrie Jo Price is a professor in the Institute for Interactive Technology in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. Introductory information on Dr.Price is available at


From the Student Records System
  • CSM 101 (undergrad)
  • Or
  • CS 102 (undergrad)

Course Description

This course meets the computer (C) and writing (W) requirements for undergraduates. The course is designed to provide the student with skills in the specialized applications of computers, Internet, and other digital tools for use. Substantial written assignments are associated with course activities. The purposes of the class are to prepare students to live and work in a digital environment and to allow for the development of technology skills related to product development within the context of a particular discipline. In addition, students produce an online eport (electronic portfolio), ideally for use for job applications, graduate school plans, etc.  Every effort is made to individualize the products in the class based on each student's academic major.  Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course.

This is a web-assisted class in which students learn new digital technologies, set up professional LinkedIn accounts, create professional portfolios on GOOGLE SITES, host meetings and do interviews via SKYPE, and use social media for professional purposes. Since the focus of the class is on how to work in a digital environment using computer-mediated tools, the instructional model used employs these same tools. The class does not meet in the traditional sense, though there will be some scheduled meetings by individuals and groups using computer-mediated tools (SKYPE, GoToMeeing, etc).

The course assumptions include that the student:

  • has mastered the basic use of the computer and has a general working knowledge of his/her own personal hardware.
  • has mastered the basic skills associated with word processing and presentation media such as Prezi and/or PowerPoint through previous experiences and/or classes.
  • will accept responsibility for acquiring the assumed skills if, for some reason, the student's pre-requisite experience did not include these basic skills, including doing the application classes and open class activities associated with achieving the basic competency.
  • will focus most of the effort in learning the appropriate technical skills on the student's own equipment so that he/she can continue to use AFTER THE CLASS CONCLUDES the technology skills learned in the class.
  • will demonstrate skills in writing equip to those normally required of an upper division (junior, senior) student.
  • can use his/her own personal equipment for the course in terms of basic tools and maintenance.
  • will use ONLY their crimson email accounts for all email communications in the course.

Required Texts

UA Supply Store Textbook Information


No textbook is required for this course, but some supplies are required. These may vary each term but are minimal in terms of cost. See the section in this syllabus on COURSE MATERIALS. Students are expected to do the classwork on their own technology tools: tablet computer, desktop, netbook and/or laptop. Some work may be possible on a SmartPhone.


Other Course Materials

Course Materials in Lieu of Textbook[1]: Each student is expected to purchase the following:

  • REQUIRED: Headset Microphone (about $12-20) - Each student should have his/her own “boom” or ‘headset’ microphone to record audio files on the computer and to communicate via tools such as VoIP (SKYPE).  The class instructors will use SKYPE in this class, and the students will need to have their own headset microphone as described. It is also required for making MP3 files.  The student’s computer may have a built in microphone, but a headset microphone is still required in order to produce the required technical level for recording for the class.  Students who prefer to use their built-in microphones may find that the quality of products created may not meet the required standards and result in a loss of points on some products.
  • REQUIRED: Personal Computing Device(s) – Each student must have his/her own personal computing device(s) in the form of a tablet computer (such as an iPad from Apple, Galaxy by Samsung or Excite from Toshiba), a netbook (such as from Dell), a laptop and/or a desktop (Mac or PC).
  • REQUIRED: Professional-looking photo - Students need some professional-looking photos (at least one) in digital format (.jpg or .gif) for this class.  Informal photos will not be acceptable because of the focus on the electronic portfolio for the purpose of job searches. Students will need at least one professional looking photo in digital format (.jpg or .gif) in professional dress. For males, it will be suit and tie; for females, it is a suit or other professional dress. No photos from weddings, canoe trips, etc. This is advanced warning that such a photo is going to be required, perhaps fairly early in the class.
  • REQUIRED: WORD (not WORKS) - If a student has WORKS rather than WORD, email TA or instructor for help on how to handle this.
  • REQUIRED: Backup Tools or Strategy - It is recommended that students have some means to back up work done for this class. Options are

a) external devices such as USBs, though some of the media files will be quite large,

b) uploading all work done to the student’s BAMA account, using it as an off-site backup, or other backup arrangements made.

Saying that one’s computer crashed, was stolen or left at home in East Java, eaten by eaters-gone-wild, or, in some way is unavailable, will not be acceptable as an excuse because advance notice and warning is provided here recommending some kind of backup in light of the possibility of one of more just such events.  STUDENTS MUST BACK UP WORK FOR THIS CLASS.

[1] These tools may change just prior to the beginning of class to reflect new technologies and trends in use, but these notifications will be posted as the class begins.


Course Activities and Requirements

o Multimedia lectures and electronic discussions of course content

o Assigned readings, classroom activities, projects and external activities  

The class ‘lectures’ may take any number of formats, since these ‘lectures’ are stored and delivered electronically, typically asynchronously.  While students are conditioned to know how to behave in traditional classroom settings and to recognize the ‘lecture’ part of the class, this online class may seem confusing at first. However, once the student realizes that all of the instructions, background, information, demonstrations and other activities associated with the concept of ‘lecture’ are located on the lesson and available 24/7, he/she will become more comfortable. Spending time reading and click on the materials provided online will help a great deal. There are NO SHORTCUTS. Below is a chart of possible formats for ‘lectures’.  Students often say things such as “I can’t find the instructions for the assignment”. That means that he/she has not fully explored the materials provided, including the ‘lecture’ formats. Lectures may be written documents (.pdf), podcasts (.mp3), videos, presentations (some with sound included) such as Prezi or Power Point, and other emerging media formats. These lectures cover the same content the professor would present in a traditional, face-to-face, standup lecture in a classroom.  

Each topic in the class has these features: Lectures, Learning Activities, and Assignments. Students are required to go through all of the lectures and the accompanying learning activities before attempting the assignments. Learning activities are similar to lab or homework assignments in a traditional class. Performance on the assignment correlates positively with time spent on the lectures and the learning activities. To not do the lectures is like skipping a traditional class.  Not doing the learning activities is the same as skipping lab or not doing homework.

Student Learning Outcomes

 Course Goals: The course goals include those shown below. These goals describe the broad expectations that guide the development of the specific activities in each class section. It is from these goals that each set of activities emerge each term, meaning that the goals may remain the same but with different learning activities each term.


1.0 Students will understand computer-mediated communications, including collaboration, as applied within his/her major area of studies. 

4.0 Students will understand the importance of an individual’s web presence as it might be related to present and future audiences and the tools required to manage that presence efficiently and effectively.

2.0 Students will be aware of Web 2.0 tools, such as social networking, as a major force in communications, including job searches, within his/her major area of studies. 

5.0 Students will understand the role played by culture in creating and using web-based materials as part of a global economy.

3.0 Students will exhibit an understanding of the use of APA in the preparation of electronic and traditional documents as well as other basic writing structures and conventions.



Student Learning Outcomes and Outcome Measures: The student will develop cognitive competencies and/or skills for working and living in a digital environment including those shown below. These are the specific objectives and their related outcomes that define the course. These provide the foundation for teaching and assessment in this course:



Student Learning Outcomes (Objectives)

Outcome Measures (Evidence – Assessments)

Advanced uses of computer technologies including vocabulary (glossary) mastery

Demonstration of ability to use email, prepare an electronic portfolio, and download, use personal productivity tool by turning in products as evidence of skill use and proper use of vocabulary in correspondence and products for the class.

Application of writing skills in telecommunications and printed products

Essays, electronic postings, article abstracts,  blog postings, and/or papers,  following, where appropriate,  APA standards, with technology as themes, applied to the various majors reflected in the class membership, meeting standards provided (rubric) for each assignment.

Demonstration of technology-mediated communication skills such as proper and efficient use of email, social networking and web-based media, including Web 2.0 applications.

Demonstration of ability to use conventions in professional and personal email use, ethics, and email attachments, as well as blogs, wikis, online discussion forums, and/or other forms of social media.

Development of skills including advanced digital media and user-input applications in Web 2.0

Presentation of individual electronic portfolios in online format, including digitized audio files, graphic images and artifacts from coursework

Review and examination of the use of web-based multimedia products and tools, including streaming video and audio

Essays, electronic postings on blogs and wikis, and, in some cases, papers concerning the use of web-based multimedia products from web sites in the various fields represented by students in the class., including site analyses.

Application of current best practices in Internet use, both personal and professional, tailored to the various majors served by the course.

Preparation of products such as electronic portfolio, demonstration of efficient searching techniques, and demonstration of ethical use in class activities, as per copyright and plagiarism via class performance and products about these topics

Acquisition and support of personal tools for digital environments at home

Downloading of personal tools such as anti-virus tools and procedures, and basic maintenance of equipment.

Personal and professional responsibility for use of technology is the social context of their own living and working communities, including community service projects

Downloading of personal tools such as anti-virus software, demonstration of use of email conventions in group (professional), and use of blogs and discussion forums

Collaboration via distance technologies, including team, online projects

Appropriate and accurate use of discussion forum, blogs, site reviews, and collective position papers.

Uses of technology with culturally diverse populations and in international contexts (e.g. international/national collaborative projects completed on-line and development of individual and collaborative home pages)

Comprehensive review of sites related to international audiences and culturally diverse groups, ideally within their own chosen professional field

Review and evaluation of distance technologies for life-long learning

Reports on reviews of online professional development opportunities in their own field


Class Communications

All correspondence related to CSM 447 )all sections) should go to the emails shown below with questions, comments and all communication related to the class:

CSM 447 001  

CSM 447 901

CSM 447 990

Also faculty members can be reached at 205-799-1567; this is the departmental cell, which sends your voice message to the professor as an email when you leave a message. Faculty can also be reached via their individual email accounts or SKYPE, but class communications should go through the email for the appropriate section.

All students must use only their crimson email accounts.

Announcements: For all sections, professors will use ANNOUNCEMENTS on Blackboard Learn Portal to communicate information to you as a group instead of sending group emails; past groups indicated that they preferred the use of the ANNOUNCEMENTS feature instead of having to try to find the past information in past emails!  Also students sometimes forget to keep their CRIMSON email accounts purged, meaning it is possible that students miss important emails from the class. For that reason, almost all if not ALL of the group communications will be through ANNOUNCEMENTS.

TWITTER will be used.  Each class section has a Twitter account as noted in the welcome letter from the professor(s). Information from ANNOUNCEMENTS will be repeated on TWITTER also so that students can get it more quickly without having to go into Blackboard Learn; this is also done as a result of suggestions from previous groups who did not want to have to log into Blackboard Learn to get announcements.  TWITTER is used, too, to illustrate how it may be used by your employers and others in the professional world.  

The Crimson email account will be used to communicate with students individually to return assignments and any individual work needed. Be sure it is working and you know how to use it. Check it often for personal communications.

Blackboard Learn or eLearning Platforms: Students enrolled in sections 001, 901 and 909 will always access the course through the Blackboard Learn Portal, making it easy to consistently find the materials, announcements and other information needed to succeed in the class.  Each professor will explain in greater detail the features he/she will use from Blackboard Learn.

Outline of Topics

Topic 1:  Introduction to Course and Future of Work

Topic 2:  Managing Web Presence

Topic 3: Computer-mediated and Cloud-based Tools     

NOTE: The assignments vary each term, depending on the majors included in the class and the emergence of new technology tools. All are announced in advance to give sufficient time for students to complete them.

There may be announced online quizzes on some topics, but the majority of the assessments require other skills; examples may include downloading software, creating written products (traditional and technology-mediated), and creating a personal online presence. The precise nature of these varies with the group and the term as technologies change.

Learning activities such as those shown below (though these may not be the specific assignments for this particular group) comprise the course; these may vary each term, though the goals and objectives will remain consistent.

  • Development of an electronic eportfolio
  • Written products, including blogs, wiki postings, and Twitter
  • Security and risk analysis reviews of personal equipment and use

Exams and Assignments

NOTE: The assignments vary each term, depending on the majors included in the class and the emergence of new technology tools. All are announced in advance to give sufficient time for students to complete them.

There may be announced online quizzes on some topics, but the majority of the assessments require other skills; examples may include downloading software, creating written products (traditional and technology-mediated), and creating a personal online presence. The precise nature of these assessments varies with the group and the term as technologies change.

Learning activities such as these shown below (though these may not be the specific assignments for this particular group or term) comprise the course; these may vary each term, though the goals and objectives will remain consistent.

  • Development of an electronic eportfolio
  • Written products, including blogs, wiki postings, and twitter
  • Security and risk analysis reviews of personal equipment and use

Schedule of Assignments and Late Work:   The Calendar on the online portal shows the precise dates and deadlines. Assignments, as shown on the calendar, are due by midnight (Alabama time) on the dates shown. Each section has its own calendar of due dates.  All assignments are turned in electronically with specific instructions listed on each assignment.  No late work will be graded.

Students may request an extension (more time) if he/she is unable to meet the deadline, but that request must be sent in an email to the appropriate mailbox email address for his/her section PRIOR to midnight; the requesting student does not have to give a reason. A STUDENT MAY REQUEST AN EXTENSION OF THE DUE DATE BUT THAT MUST BE DONE VIA EMAIL FOLLOWING THE SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS AND SENT PRIOR TO THE ACTUAL DEADLINE, EVEN IF ONLY BY ONE MINUTE!  No extensions will be given AFTER the due date without a confirmed, written, signed medical excuse or previous written arrangements with the instructor. Check the due dates for each course requirement; if a product is not turned in by the due dates, a grade of 0 will be given, unless prior arrangements have been made with the professor.

NOTE:  INSTRUCTIONS FOR REQUESTING EXTENSION -   The request for an extension should be sent to the class email account for your section. The SUBJECT LINE of the email must say “EXTENSION REQUEST FOR ____” and give the precise assignment number. Example: Extension request for No. 5. Without the proper information in the subject line, the extension will not be recognized[1].   Also the body of the email must say what class/section so the instructor, who may have more than one section of a class, can make the proper notation on grade book. 

If the student is unable to complete the product by the due date because of illness and did not request an extension prior to the deadline, he/she must provide a written, signed doctor's excuse to the instructor. If the student has extenuating circumstances other than illness, contact the instructor or TA by E-Mail at the course email accounts to discuss the circumstances IMMEDIATELY, not at the end of the term.  All such discussions should occur immediately.


[1] If  the student does not put the required information in the subject line,  EXTENSION REQUEST FOR ___, his/her email may be delayed or not captured by the proper filter; this would mean that the student might miss an opportunity to receive an extension (more time) on an assignment.


Grading Policy

Each student is expected to complete cognitive activities on course content or to demonstrate skill acquisition through product development. Products, skill demonstrations and cognitive assessments are used as options for evaluation in this course.  

Exceptions to Deadlines (EXTENSIONS):  Students who are excused from assessments or who miss assessments due to religious or other valid reasons may take the assessment  prior to or after the scheduled due datethrough arrangements with the TA or class instructor.  See the section above on EXTENSIONS and how to request them.

An illness requires a written medical excuse from the doctor. If the student becomes ill the day assignment is due, he/she must just send an email (see instructions above) asking for an extension, but if the deadline has passed, a written excuse must be provided in order for the work to be accepted.  Instructors have the discretion to allow students MORE time on assignments IF the request is made in writing BEFORE midnight on the day the assignment is due.  

Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. Students cannot pass the course, regardless of the overall grade, if they do not demonstrate passing work in the writing assignments. Even if the student has an average that is passing or beyond, if the writing assignments are not satisfactory for a passing grade, the student will not pass the course.   The instructor for each section will help students find assistance with writing skills, including recommending the student contact the Writing Center. 

Rubrics and Instructions for Turning in Work: Each product in this class has a grading rubric (standard) posted with the assignment. It is highly recommended that students review those rubrics and use them to grade their own work using the rubric PRIOR to turning in the assignment. This gives the student a chance to correct any flaws or deficiencies in the product before turning it in to the assignment mailbox.  In most or many cases, there are often also sample products provided.  Products have specific due dates and times, after which products will not be accepted, unless the delays are the result of illness, religious holiday or prior arrangements have been made with the professor on email to receive an extension. Each product has specific instructions for turning in the products. Be sure to follow those instructions carefully to guarantee that the assignments reach the professor. 

Grading Criteria: The grade for the course will be based on explicit criteria for each type of product and for points awarded for any assignment. Points available for this course are associated with each competency. Final course grades will be determined as follows: A = 90% and above; B = 80% to 89%; C = 70% to 79%; D = 60% to 69%; and F = below 60%.  Plus and minus grades are determined as above or below the halfway points between percentage breaks; example - 80 to 84 is a minus, 85 to 88 is a letter grade, 89-90 is a plus.  Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. 

Policy on Missed Exams & Coursework

IMPORTANT:  NO LATE assignments are accepted, so all requests for extensions (explained elsewhere in this syllabus) must arrive at the course section email account from the student's crimson account prior to midnight on the due date. Just send the request to the appropriate email address for your section (see above under Communications).

If the student is unable to complete the product by the due date because of illness and did not request an extension prior to the deadline, he/she must provide a written, signed doctor's excuse to the instructor. If the student has extenuating circumstances other than illness, contact the instructor or TA by E-Mail to discuss the circumstances.

This is explained elsewhere, too, in this syllabus (GRADING POLICY and SCHEDULE OF ASSIGNMENTS & LATE WORK).

Attendance Policy

Attendance:  This class is a web-assisted class, with all of the materials available on the online learning platform provided by UA and/or other online locations.  Attendance is not required in the traditional sense.  What IS required is that, in lieu of actual attendance in the lab or a classroom, the student should spend sufficient time on his/her own computer to master the content. 

Each student needs to plan to spend AT LEAST as much time at the computer reading the web site as might be spent sitting in a three-credit course, in addition to the time required for homework and to complete the products. 

For a typical class, students are expected to go to class 150 minutes per week; in addition, the rule of thumb is 2 or 2.5 times as much time for study and preparation as spent in class. Therefore, 2 x 150 minutes in class means students should plan to spend at least 300 minutes (5 hours) plus the 150 minutes per week spent actually ‘in’ class. That is 450 minutes per week, meaning students should plan to spend 7.5 hours per week on this class, at least, doing work in order to maintain regular progress.  If the student’s typing and computer skills are more advanced, it may take less; if skills need refinement and practice, it may take longer. 

There are no short-cuts for this course.  Students have to take the time to read the instructions, do the activities and produce the products.  Attendance is defined as the time spent at the computer, working on the course content If students try to go directly to the assignments, without doing the reading, preparations and study, he/she will be frustrated and find the assignments confusing and difficult.  And those students typically make a lower grade. Also if students try to do each assignment on the day it is due, time often runs out and/or the student does poor work.  Students are urged to work ahead of the deadlines as stuff happens with technology; allow time to finish and do a good job.

Email is a major part of 'attendance', so check email daily while in class or doing assignments. Students may only use ONE email account for this class: CRIMSON EMAIL. For CRIMSON EMAIL, each student has his/her own password; do not share that email password with anyone. To do so is to violate the University's Honor Code, and violators will be subject to the same penalties as in any other violations.   Students who do not know how to manage Crimson email will miss important communications because this is the official connection The University uses, and it is also the official communication channel for this course. Be sure to use the proper class account email for your section.

Extra Credit Opportunities

There may be the option of bonus activities during the final quarter of the course, with this option concluding prior to the last day of class. If this option is offered, it will be announced and those bonus activities will be posted on the course content website on the eLearning portal and announced.

Policy on Academic Misconduct

All students in attendance at the University of Alabama are expected to be honorable and to observe standards of conduct appropriate to a community of scholars. The University expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid discipline. Academic misconduct includes all acts of dishonesty in any academically related matter and any knowing or intentional help or attempt to help, or conspiracy to help, another student.

The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct.

Disability Statement

If you are registered with the Office of Disability Services, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss any course accommodations that may be necessary. If you have a disability, but have not contacted the Office of Disability Services, please call 348-4285 or visit 133-B Martha Parham Hall East to register for services. Students who may need course adaptations because of a disability are welcome to make an appointment to see me during office hours. Students with disabilities must be registered with the Office of Disability Services, 133-B Martha Parham Hall East, before receiving academic adjustments.

Online students should call the office directly to discuss support and/or contact that office via email from the website ( Faculty will also help online students make contact, if necessary

Severe Weather Protocol

In the case of a tornado warning (tornado has been sighted or detected by radar, sirens activated), all university activities are automatically suspended, including all classes and laboratories. If you are in a building, please move immediately to the lowest level and toward the center of the building away from windows (interior classrooms, offices, or corridors) and remain there until the tornado warning has expired. Classes in session when the tornado warning is issued can resume immediately after the warning has expired at the discretion of the instructor. Classes that have not yet begun will resume 30 minutes after the tornado warning has expired provided at least half of the class period remains.

UA is a residential campus with many students living on or near campus. In general classes will remain in session until the National Weather Service issues safety warnings for the city of Tuscaloosa. Clearly, some students and faculty commute from adjacent counties. These counties may experience weather related problems not encountered in Tuscaloosa. Individuals should follow the advice of the National Weather Service for that area taking the necessary precautions to ensure personal safety. Whenever the National Weather Service and the Emergency Management Agency issue a warning, people in the path of the storm (tornado or severe thunderstorm) should take immediate life saving actions.

When West Alabama is under a severe weather advisory, conditions can change rapidly. It is imperative to get to where you can receive information from the National Weather Service and to follow the instructions provided. Personal safety should dictate the actions that faculty, staff and students take. The Office of Public Relations will disseminate the latest information regarding conditions on campus in the following ways:

  • Weather advisory posted on the UA homepage
  • Weather advisory sent out through Connect-ED--faculty, staff and students (sign up at myBama)
  • Weather advisory broadcast over WVUA at 90.7 FM
  • Weather advisory broadcast over Alabama Public Radio (WUAL) at 91.5 FM
  • Weather advisories are broadcast via WUOA/WVUA-TV, which can be viewed across Central Alabama. Also, visit for up-to-the-minute weather information. A mobile Web site is also available for your convenience.

UA's Non-discrimination/EEO Policy

The University of Alabama does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sec, sexual orientation, age, disability or veteran status in admission or access to, or treatment of employment in, its programs and services. Individuals who live, work, teach, and study within this community are expected to contribute positively to the environment and to refrain from behaviors which threaten the freedom or respect that every member of our community deserves.  UA attaches great value to freedom of speech and open debate, but it also attaches great importance to the principles of civility and respect which govern an academic community. Harassment or other illegal discrimination again individuals or groups not only is a violation of University Policy and subject to disciplinary action but also is inconsistent with the values and ideals of the University.  UA’s harassment policy is available at .  It is a No Tolerance statement and defines harassment.  There are also modules available within the course on cyber bullying and harassment. 

Special Notes

1) Students should contact the instructor regularly via e-mail at the section’s assigned email account for assistance as needed and not wait until the end of the term to request assistance. DO NOT hire a tutor for this class. Learning how to formulate specific questions is a critical skill in a technology course, so the student should work with the instructors and TAs. 

2)  Instructors have tools to allow them to provide computer-mediated assistance, including accessing, with permission, the student’s computer, so professors can assist students electronically just as they might if the student brought his/her computer to a campus office.

3) Students are expected to have at least basic understanding of how to use their own personal machines (tablets, netbooks, laptops, and/or desktops) as this is not a class to teach basic computer use.

4) Students are expected to have basic knowledge as to how to set up files, folders, and to use basic indexing tools to find and manage documents on their personal computing tools.

5) This document may contain errors, for which the department and faculty members apologize. If any errors are noted, please let the lead professor(s) know so the errors can be corrected. 

6) The faculty reserves the right to make changes in the schedule and the content as deemed appropriate or as required by changes in the technology.