Course Syllabus: “Research in the Interface of Digital Media, Culture, Education and Youth”

Course Title:

Research in the Interface of Digital Media, Culture, Education and Youth 


Sofia Trilivas, Christos Varvantakis & Srinivas Gurram

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DISCLAIMER: Research for this publication was supported by the Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme within the 7th European Community Framework Program.This publication is an open access, free of copyright, deliverable of the DIGIT-M-ED project (DELIVERABLE NR.: 2.3; WORK PACKAGE NR.: 02).Please cite this guide as following: Triliva, S., Varvantakis, C., S. Gurram (2013) Research in the Interface of Digital Media, Culture, Education and Youth (Course Syllabus). Rethymno, Greece: DIGIT-M-ED. A pdf version of the text can be found here:  DIGITMED D2_3

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Course Description

This course will focus on conducting research on materials found in digital media in different cultures. As a foreground to this focus the course will begin with an overview of the different theoretical approaches applied in developing understandings concerning visual cultures and how they are used in education or can become educational tools. After having set the complicated, diverse, and replete in debate background in theory, the course will than focus on the empirical research methodologies that have been used in studying the meaning, significance and affect of digital media as they are applied in the teaching-learning praxis.  By the end of the course, each student will have conceptualized and implemented his/ her research project involving digital media data as it is used, produced or understood by young people around the world.  The general aims of the course are: (1) to develop the theoretical and methodological skills necessary for producing rigorous research on new and emerging digital media in different cultural contexts and countries, (2) to become familiar with digital media research tools and methodologies, and concomitantly, (3) to develop a critical approach to the use and misuse of these technologies as educational tools, and (4) to develop hands-on experience and understanding of the current cultural changes in  media production and consumption by young people around the world.

Learning outcomes 

By the end of the course, each student should be well versed and feel comfortable with the following:

  • Understand and discuss how media and technology are analyzed through various social science theoretical perspectives
  • Understand and be able to apply the following research approaches:  content analysis, semiotics, discourse analysis, multimodality, and theorizing on-line behavior through notions of race, gender, marginality, etc.
  • Appreciate the research approaches to the study of digital media and culture– that is how digital media alters bodily experiences, emotions, identity, sociality, political thought and praxis, and globalization.
  • Conceptualizing, designing, and implementing a digital media research proposal
  • Learn how to access appropriate online materials needed in conducting on-line research

Course Format

This course meets once a week on a specified Skype time and date where all participants will have gathered in groups in order to discuss the course materials, take part in exercises, and share their work.  It will also take place throughout the week on the class blog. Classroom time consists of weekly presentations by students on weekly reading assignments and screenings with a follow-up discussion on these readings and a group activity associated with the readings that will be carried out in the Skype class meeting. Classes consist of both assessment of student research and discussion of the weekly readings. Assignments are given weekly and deadlines are set for both class-time and throughout the week (to be submitted on the blog).

Digital Media Journals

The central focus of this course will be a set of explorations into digital environments and the creation of media journals regarding research on the use of digital media by youth in learning, expressing themselves, seeking social justice, and the use of new media in their daily lives. The journals will focus on 5 topics: theoretical frameworks in understanding new media use; digital enhanced learning and educational experiences; research practices used in the developments of empirical understandings in digital media and culture; doing research in the interface of digital media, youth, and culture across the world-developing experience and knowledge, and ethical and deontological considerations in doing research with youth in the digital media field.  Each topic for the journals is pursued over a two or three week period. The questions that will be addressed in each period will be:

  1. How do digital genres create cultures and subcultures? How do the different theoretical approaches conceptualize these processes?
  2. What are the pedagogical underpinnings of digitally-enhanced learning as it is used by youth around the world? What new ways of learning can be outlined and applied through the use of digital media? How does the networked nature of performance, reconstruction, and recirculation influence young people’s understandings of themselves and their lives?
  3. What are the different approaches that have been used in studying popular culture and new media? How have researchers approached the study of digital media?  What research designs have been used?
  4. How can I develop an explicit methodology for my research focusing on digital media use by youth in my context?  More specifically: What is my research question and how can it be successfully addressed? What are the digital media materials that I have identified to serve as grounding for the research question I have chosen? Have I evaluated and surmised which research design or method is best for the particular project that I have in mind? Have I found useful references that serve as lenses to help in theoretical deliberations and analyses of the findings?
  5. What are the deontological and ethical issues and standards that need to be taken into account in doing research with youth and in the field of digital media use in education and learning?

The journals will be published in the form of a collaborative blog. The blog will serve both as a research tool and as a way to document the process and results of the explorations. Discussion of research findings of the last week, engaging criticism and feedback posted on the blog by the students and the instructor. Over the course of the semester a collection of journals will accumulate based on the student work. These will remain online as public documents, accessible both to other students as well as the general public if students permit and can be used to further research in the field. The critical appraisal of the blog materials will lead to a final document that will be composed collaboratively and will be dubbed:  A guide to doing research in digital media environments around the globe.

Course Requirements

All students are required to attend the Skype meetings and complete all assigned readings. Students are required to both post their own research blog posts and comment on other students work. Deadlines are rigid and posting late is not accepted. Towards the end of the semester, all involved in the course will work collaboratively on assembling a set of rules that will serve as guidelines for research involving digital media environments around the world.


Suggested use of ROSE 2012 as the basic book of the course.


HEATH, HINDMARSCH &LUFF 2010 [Chapter 1: Video, Analysis and the Social Sciences]

PINK 2012 [Chapter 1: Advances in Visual Methodologies]

PINK 2012 [Chapter 4: Video in Analytic Practice]

ROSE 2012 [Chapters 4-11: Presentation of different Analytical Approaches to Video]

Internet & the Digital World:








MACDOUGALL 1999 [Chapter 6: Whose Story is it?]

HEATH, HINDMARSCH & LUFF 2010 [Chapter 2: Access, Ethics and Project Planning]

PINK 2012 [Chapter 14: Contemplating the State of Visual Research: Obstacles and Opportunities]

ROSE 2012 [Chapter 12]


Video Across Cultures:

MACDOUGALL 1999 [Chapter 13: Transcultural Cinema]

APPADURAI 1997 [Chapter 1: Introduction]



Grading System

Digital Media Journal #1: 10%

Digital Media Journal #2: 15%

Digital Media Journal #3: 15%

Digital Media Journal #4: 15%

Digital Media Journal #5: 10%

Guide For Exploring Digital Media Environments: 10%

Class and Blog Participation: 15%

Reading Discussion Lead: 10%

Total: 100%

Grading Criteria

A – Excellent. Student exhibits exemplary creativity through research and critical analysis.

Research and writing is lucid and engaging with zero mistakes.

B – Good. References to the course material are well-selected and topical. Critical analysis is present, but largely rehearsed from class lecture and discussion. Student’s style is clear and has very few mistakes.

C – Satisfactory. References to the course material are well-selected and topical, but student performs little or no cultural or critical analysis. Problems exist in student’s work. Work consists mostly of underdeveloped ideas, off-topic sources or examples, inappropriate research, or anecdotes.

D – Unsatisfactory. Student does not engage with the material and no cultural or critical

analysis is present. Substantial problems exist in student’s work.

F – Fail. Student does not submit work, or work is below unsatisfactory level.

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APPADURAI, A. 1996. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis and London, University of Minnesota Press

BANKS, M, & RUBY, J. 2011. Made to Be Seen : Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.

BOELLSTORFF, T. 2008. Coming of age in Second Life: An anthropologist explores the virtually human. Princeton, Princeton University Press

COLEMAN, G. E. 2010. Ethnographic approaches to digital media, Annual Rev. Anthropology, 39, 487-505

DAHLBERG, L. 2011. Re-constructing digital democracy: An outline of four ‘positions. In New Media & Society, 13,6, 855-872

DENISSEN, J., NEUMANN, L. & VAN ZALK, M. 2010. How the internet is changing the implementation of traditional research methods, people’s daily lives, and the way in which developmental scientists conduct research. In International Journal of Behavioral Development, 34, 564-575

HEATH, C., J. HINDMARSCH & P.LUFF 2010. Video in Qualitative Research: Analysing Social Interaction in Everyday Life (Introducing Qualitative Methods). Los Angeles: SAGE.

HINE, C. 2000. Virtual ethnography, London and Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

JEWITT, C. 2009. The Routledge handbook of multimodal analysis, London/New York: Routledge

KARAGANIS, J. (ed.) 2007. Structures of Participation in Digital Culture, New York: Social Science Research Council

LIVINGSTONE, S. 2003. Children’s use of the internet: Reflections on the emerging research agenda. New Media & Society, 5 (2), 147-166

LIVINGSTONE, S. and BOVILL, M., (eds.) 2009. Children and their changing media environment: a European comparative study (pp. 31-50), Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

MACDOUGALL, D. 1998. Transcultural Cinema. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

PINK, S. (ed.) 2012. Advances in Visual Methodology. Edited by Sarah Pink. London: Sage Publications.

ROSE, G. 2012. Visual Methodologies, 3rd Edition. London: Sage Publications.


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