Communication Studies (CMNS) 421

Being Online (Revision 4)

CMNS 421 Course image

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

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

Precluded Course: (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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Welcome to Communication Studies 421: Being Online, a three-credit senior-level course that focuses on how people communicate on the Internet. The 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—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 relatively 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.

Course Outline

CMNS 421 — Being Online consists of two sections and four units:

Section One

  • Unit 1 — Implications for “Being Online”: The Internet Then, Now and in the Future
  • Unit 2 — The Self Online: Am I My Own Avatar?
  • Unit 3 — Romance Online: From Meeting to Breaking Up
  • Unit 4 — Developmental Perspectives: Children, Parents, and the Elderly
  • Unit 5 — Deviance and Pathology: From Addiction to Bullying
  • Unit 6 — Therapy and Health: Psychotherapy Online and Self-Diagnosis

Section two

  • Unit 7 — Online Communities: Fans, Gaming, Support Groups
  • Unit 8 — Work, Business, and Marketing Online: Effects of Social Media
  • Unit 9 — The Politics of Information: Leaks, Censorship, and Privacy in the Digital Age
  • Unit 10 — Death of the Information Expert?


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).

Activity Weighting
Essay Assignment 25%
Unit Discussion Questions 40%
Discussion Board Posting 5%
Final Exam 30%
Total 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


Levinson, P. (2013). New New Media. New York, NY: Penguin.

Other Materials

The course materials also include a study guide, course information, and course readings.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you 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 about 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.

Activity Weighting
Take home exam 48%
Exam 52%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

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 4, December 18, 2015.

View previous syllabus