Digital Concepts 1100F – Digital Ethics – This course will examine problems and opportunities caused by technology and changing audience habits. It will look at recent case studies and provide a framework for making moral choices in the digital age.

This is an online course, and all content will be administered through TRACS. This online course begins on 9/14 and will end on 10/9. In this class, you will have regular readings, assignments, quizzes and one final exam.

Contact Info:
Jon Zmikly
Twitter or e-mail.
Old Main 230

You must use an active Texas State email account. Communication via TRACS uses your Texas State email, and the university is required to send grade information out only through the Texas State email system. Contact the instructor, if you have questions. Make sure you check your email on a regular basis, as schedule changes will be communicated there as well as on our course site.

Course Objectives
This course aims to teach students a foundation for moral and ethical decision making in the digital age, including:

  • The development, application and improvement of their personal professional ethics and values
  • How to critically examine specific case studies and/or controversial issues to make an ethically sound decision
  • The use of social media and the internet as a means of fact-finding
  • The importance of truth and honesty in digital storytelling
  • How to properly serve, communicate with and develop a digital community
  • Appropriate professional conduct and contributions each media practitioner might make to society

Learning Outcomes:
Upon completing this course, students can expect to improve and develop their personal professional ethics and values, as demonstrated by:

  • Applying concepts learned in class to discuss and examine specific digital ethics cases on online forums
  • Posting thoughtful replies to case study peer reviews
  • Completing assessments on topics explained in online materials
  • Interviewing and analyzing responses from a professional media practitioner

There is no required textbook for this class, but we will be using excerpts from The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century by Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel. Many of the required reading for this class will come from online sources and handouts.

Attendance and Late Assignments:
Because this is an online class, physical attendance is not mandatory. However, completion of online materials is required weekly. Online forum posts will be assigned and due each week as well.

Late Work: We do not accept late work or incorrect submissions in this class for a variety of reasons. Our deadline-driven field demands the utmost effort at submitting work on time and in full. Late, missed or incorrectly submitted assignments will receive a zero (F). Absolutely no exceptions.

Online Modules:
All course material will be provided in an asynchronous format known as “Online Modules” available on TRACS. These modules should be completed week. There is a quiz at the end of each lesson, which you can take an unlimited number of times before 11:59pm on Sundays. TRACS will record your highest score.

Students should also have a Texas State University email account that they check frequently. This will be the main method of course communication.

Student Conduct:
This course touches on sensitive and deeply important issues, and students should feel comfortable to participate and express their opinions and ideas openly. Please respect the opinions of others and be considerate of their need to contribute and learn. Academics and professionals grappling with difficult moral and ethical questions must agree to disagree. Students will never be penalized for holding a different opinion than the professor or other students on a controversial issue.

Any student who does not adhere to these conduct policies will be asked to drop the course. In general, please be respectful of others desire to learn and help to create a fun and beneficial classroom environment.

Dropping a Course:
You can drop this or any course and receive a full refund by Sept. 9. If you drop this class by Oct. 25, you can still receive a “W.” After that date you cannot drop a single course. You must withdraw from all courses.

Academic Honesty:
Simply put, any material that is not your own and claiming it as your own is plagiarism. The School of Journalism and Mass Communication commits itself to the preparation of mass media professionals and scholars. Such a mission demands the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity. Violations of academic honesty, including but not limited to plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, collusion, deception, conflict of interest and theft, are not tolerated and can lead to severe penalties. Disciplinary actions for violations of the standards for academic honesty are outlined in the Texas State Academic Honesty Statement, printed each year in the Student Handbook. The policy is also available at

Note to Students with Disabilities:
Texas State University seeks to provide reasonable accommodations for all qualified individuals with disabilities.   This university will adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws.   Students with disabilities who need special accommodations should contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at (512) 245-3451, and register with that office. ODS is located in Suite 5-5.1 at the LBJ Student Center. If you are a student with a disability certified by ODS and you require accommodations in this class, it is your responsibility to notify the professor no later than the fifth class day of this semester so that accommodations can be discussed and promptly provided.

Instructor may notify you of changes or updates to policies in this syllabus throughout the semester.