CMS.360/860: Introduction to Civic Media

Today was the first session of the new Introduction to Civic Media course that I’m teaching at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program (CMS.360/860). It’s been interesting to develop the syllabus in public, which I’ve been doing using etherpad. I started putting up ideas for the course several weeks ago at, and last week began tweeting, sharing via FB and G+, and sending the link around to mailing lists. All of these produced a fair amount of interest, but I got the best response by posting the link in IRC channels (oddly enough.) Many people stopped by to add ideas, readings, links to texts, and generally help me develop what I think is going to be an amazing first stab at an Introduction to Civic Media course.

The images above are from today’s first class meeting. I asked the students to write ideas they’re interested in on yellow stickies, and skillsets they have on pink stickies, then post them up on the blackboard. I asked them to look at what was already on the wall and create clusters. You can see that there are shared interests in digital journalism, justice and human rights, and media literacies, and skillsets including video production, software development, and blogging (among many others).

Mostly this is just a nice icebreaker, but it also helps get everyone thinking about areas of mutual interest and collaborative learning practices. It’s a very diverse group of students, with first-year through fourth-year MIT undergrads, Media Lab and CMS MA students, videomakers from Wellesley, game designers from GAMBIT, a community news web manager from Costa Rica, and many more. As part of the class, students will be blogging weekly at, so expect to see a lot of conversation here around our weekly thematic areas and core texts. All of them are freely available online (links are at so feel free to follow along during the semester and post comments!