Fall 2022 Communications Course Offerings
Please note that courses offered by the Communications program rotate each semester; the list below covers only fall 2022.
COMM 001 Newspaper Practicum
Through this class students will work as reporters, photographers, editors, and advertising representatives to publish the Altoona Collegiate Review newspaper online. Reporters are assigned beats as with a regular newspaper, and are responsible for finding leads and generating stories. Photographers handle both photo assignments from writers and enterprise assignments that they develop on their own. Editors copy-edit stories and design pages. This is modeled after working newspapers, and there is a strong emphasis on teamwork. Note: Students are urged to either have already taken COMM 260W or to be enrolled concurrently with this course.
COMM 100N Mass Media and Society
Mass Media and Society is an overview of the interaction between mass media, society and culture, with particular attention paid to the social influences that shape media messages. The aim of this course is to help students understand the role of mass media in our society. During the semester, we cover a wide range of topics, including the historical development of the media industries, media technologies, media research, audience reception, economies of mass communication, textual analysis, media and politics, and media and law. Since mass media plays such a crucial role in our society, it is important to understand its influence, how it is produced, and who controls its production, distribution and exhibition in order to improve one’s media literacy skills. By the end of the semester you will have a better understanding of the forces that affect what you read, see and hear everyday. By better understanding the ways in which media work, the hope is that by the end of this semester you are more informed and critical media producers and consumers.
COMM 110 Media and Democracy
This course seeks to introduce students to the important role of the mass media in developing conceptions of democracy and democratic participation in contemporary societies. Utilizing current events, popular culture and the students' own relationship to media as the template, this course is designed to stimulate student thinking about the interrelationship between the dynamics of US culture, news, politics, and civil society in order to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of what civic engagement and global awareness can do towards nurturing democracy's principles and practices.
COMM 150N The Art of the Cinema
The primary goal of this course is to help students gain an understanding of film as a medium, an art form, a business, and a key part of popular culture. Main topics include: learning the formal elements and techniques of film making; the emergence of cinema as an institution and business; the global dominance of Hollywood cinema; the history and development of American film as a business and an art form; analysis of film genres; the study of important forms of world cinema; the study and application of basic theories of film; the introduction of film aesthetics; and alternative approaches to film making. Class activities will focus on readings, film showings, short film clips, short lectures and discussions. The core purpose of the course is to make film viewing a conscious, critical and analytic activity.
COMM 190 Gaming and Interactive Media
The course is an introduction to the digital interactive media industries. Students will learn about industry structures, basic economics, business models, work flow, types of enterprises, job descriptions, and opportunities. It examines both the national and global markets. The course will build on the students' personal and social experiences of these media, but it is not a course about playing or designing games or mastering individual applications. No special knowledge or experience in playing video games, using "serious games," or experiencing virtual worlds is required.
COMM 242 Basic Video/Film Production
Learn basic video production using digital cameras and the latest nonlinear editing software. This course includes camera and lighting basics, shooting techniques and editing principles. Prerequisite: COMM 150.
COMM 260W News Writing
This course helps beginning journalists learn how to write a news story, from determining what is news, to figuring out who the sources are, to formulating questions to ask, to putting it all together in a cohesive, understandable fashion aimed at the reader or listener. Students learn proper techniques for print, broadcast and online new outlets and learn the differences between news and feature writing. There is a strong emphasis on spelling, grammar, and Associated Press style (the industry standard). Class discussions and critique sessions of fellow students’ work help students hone their own skills throughout the term. Prerequisite: COMM 160 (only for students intending to transfer into the Bellisario College of Comm at UP), and ENGL 15 or 30.
COMM 320 Introduction to Advertising
This course introduces students to the advertising industry and provides a foundation for understanding what advertising is and how it developed to its current state, what it tries to accomplish, how it works, and how it can affect society. Prerequisite: Third-semester standing.
COMM 374 Audio Production
Studio techniques for the production of audio essays, musical portraits, news, and on-air editorials and radio drama are explored through various writing and control room exercises. Students learn how to make interesting, marketable audio material suitable for both broadcast and non-broadcast markets. This course also covers the aesthetic limitations of each format and the marketing potential in the current broadcast and narrowcast markets. The cultural genesis and brief history of each medium and format provides the context for the producer, as will readings covering the ethical and legal constraints particular to each production medium. Prerequisite: COMM 100.
COMM 408 Cultural Foundations of Communications
“The medium is the message,” said media scholar Marshall McLuhan 60 years ago at the dawn of the TV age. He was calling attention to how the technology we use to communicate often has sweeping effects on how we live, socialize, work, shop, create, and even how we think. This course explores the relationship between media, culture, and civilization from the invention of writing onwards, with a particular focus on the digital future we’re living in today. How have media changed our world, and how are new digitally networked media continuing to do so today? Course activities are based around readings, class discussion, and writing assignments (including a semester research paper and weekly online discussions). This course counts for 400-level Theory credit in the COMAL major. Prerequisite: COMM 100 or 110 or 150 or 180 or 320 or 370.
COMM 470B Convergent Media News Service: TV
This course is unique to Penn State Altoona's Communications program, and is intended for COMAL students who have completed the majority of their other major coursework. COMM 470B is a practicum class, emphasizing television news package production for periodic campus news programs and for additional media formats. Students will work primarily in video production, but will also reformat some of their work in a secondary media format, either the campus newspaper or the LiveWire online magazine. This course gives students experience in crossing between media forms, an important skill in our convergent media world. It also provides publication opportunities for portfolio and a chance to participate in a cutting-edge media service. Prerequisite: COMM 260W and COMM 242 and at least one 400-level Application course in the COMAL major.
COMM 472 Public Relations Event Planning
This is an advanced PR course that allows students to work through the various stages of event planning using various media. Prerequisite: COMM 370 and 5th semester standing. This course counts for 400-level Application credit in the COMAL major.
COMM 481 Advanced Multimedia Production
This course builds on the foundations of multimedia production developed in COMM 270 giving students the opportunities to create multimedia website projects. Students will apply advanced multimedia concepts and techniques to website production and demonstrate versatility in multimedia software. Working individually and in teams, students will develop projects for clients using multimedia software, including web authoring, video editing, audio editing, image editing and animation software. These projects will be uploaded to the World Wide Web, and will serve as portfolio materials for the students. This course emphasizes skills development in multimedia and visual media in support of program objective to help students develop cross-media skills and versatility in media. This course counts for 400-level Application credit in the COMAL major.
COMM 490A Convergent Media Seminar
This class has the dual purpose of preparing students for the Communications job market and of providing them with the opportunity to critically examine and articulate their understandings of the effects of media on society. In addition students are challenged to examine the ethical responsibilities they have as media practitioners. Besides readings, papers, and discussions, students work on portfolios and resumes to prepare for the job market and/or do research projects and plan for entrance into graduate school for further study in Communications. Prerequisites: Seventh- or eighth-semester standing and 3 credits of COMM 470.