Communication Studies (CMNS) 421

Being Online (Revision 3)

CMNS 421 Course image

Revision 3 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online or grouped study (check availability)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None. CMNS 301 and CMNS 302 are recommended.

Precluded Course: HSRV 422. CMNS 421 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under two different disciplines—with HSRV 422. (CMNS 421 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for HSRV 422).

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Communication Studies home page

CMNS 421 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course is organized to lead in concentric circles outward from the self. It begins with an exploration of the intrapersonal-how people construct and represent themselves on the Internet. It then moves to the interpersonal-how people relate to one another and form communities on the Internet. It ends by examining the transpersonal-how people use the Internet for spiritual purposes. The course relies on recent research to explore issues and concerns about this new medium of technology. Questions about ethics on the Web, about the gendered use of technology, about Web addiction, and about the changing nature of work and play are among those considered in this exploration into the complex relations between human beings and communication technology.


  • Unit 1: Overview of the Internet: Societal, Psychological and Mechanical Aspects
  • Unit 2: The Self and the Internet: “Variations on the Illusion of One Self”
  • Unit 3: Interpersonal Net Relationships: From Playing in the MUD to Falling in Love
  • Unit 4: Group Behaviour: From MUDs to Murder
  • Unit 5: Developmental Perspectives: Video Games and Beyond-Nemesis or Highway to Intelligence?
  • Unit 6: Social Roles: Gender and Class Issues Online
  • Unit 7: Contexts Outside the Home: Work and Education
  • Unit 8: From Deviance to Pathology on the Internet
  • Unit 9: Transpersonal Implications: From Religion Online to the Evolution of Consciousness
  • Unit 10: Summary and a Look Forward


To receive credit for CMNS 421, you must complete all of the assignments, achieve a minimum mark of 50 percent for the final examination, and obtain a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent).

Essay Assign. 1 Essay Assign. 2 Unit Discussion Questions Discussion Board Postings Final Exam Total
20% 20% 25% 5% 30% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Shedletsky, L. & Aitken, J. (2004). Human communication on the Internet. Boston: Pearson.

Aycock, A. & Buchignani, N. (1995). The e-mail murders: Reflections on "dead" letters. In S. Jones (Ed.), Cybersociety: Computer-mediated communication and community (pp. 184-231). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [Reprint.]

Other materials

The course materials also include a study guide, student manual.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the CMNS 421 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the examination.

Take home exam Exam Total
48% 52% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Current Grouped Study Locations

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, August 19, 2008.

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