Course Number: SOC 325
Course Title: Catholic Formation and New Media

Prof. Cynthia Gniadek, M.T.S., M.A.

cgniadek@holyapostles.edu

1. COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course examines Catholic spiritual formation in light of new forms of media, including social media and online communication. Approaches to Catholic spiritual direction and spiritual formation are introduced, and the promise and problem of online approaches to formation are examined. 

2. ENVISIONED LEARNING OUTCOMES

3. COURSE SCHEDULE

Week 1: Introduction: Spiritual Formation

Readings

Preface - What This Book is About (Nouwen)

 Introduction - Spiritual Formation: The Way of the Heart (Nouwen)

Ch. 1. From Opaqueness to Transparency (Nouwen)

Week 2: Communicating the Faith Online - Part 1

Readings

Ch. 1. The Virtual Aereopagus: Digital Dialog with the Unchurched (Fr. Robert Barron, in Vogt)

Week 3: Spiritual Direction

Readings

Ch. 1. What is Spiritual Direction? - Barry & Connolly (B&C)

Week 4: Communicating the Faith Online - Part 2

Readings

Ch. 4. Modern Epistles: Blogging the Faith (Mark P. Shea, in Vogt)

Semester Project: Form groups (if you want to work in a group) and choose a topic.

Week 5: The Centrality of Religious Experience

Readings

                Ch. 2. The Centrality of the Religious Dimension of Experience (B&C)

        Semester Project: Continue project work - finalize topic and begin tasks.

Week 6: Communicating the Faith Online - Part 3

Readings

Ch. 5. New Wineskins: Fresh Presentations of Ancient Tradition (Taylor Marshall, in Vogt)

Week 7: Spiritual Journey and Prayer

Readings

Ch. 2. From Illusion to Prayer (Nouwen)

Ch. 3. From Sorrow to Joy (Nouwen)

Week 8: Sharing the Journey Online

Readings

 Ch. 2. Into the Light: Sharing the Spiritual Journey (Jennifer Fulwiler, in Vogt)

Semester Project: Share project status.

Week 9: Relationship with God and Contemplation

Readings

Ch. 3. The Relationship Between God and Individuals (B&C)

Ch. 4. Fostering the Contemplative Attitude (B&C)

Week 10: Sharing with God and Others

Readings

Ch. 5. Helping a person Notice and Share with God Key Interior Facts (B&C)

Ch. 3. Speaking their Language: Connecting with Young Adults (Marcel LeJeune, in Vogt)

Week 11: Continuing Spiritual Growth

Readings

Ch. 4. From Resentment to Gratitude (Nouwen)

Ch. 5. From Fear to Love (Nouwen)

Week 12: Evaluation of Religious Experience

Readings

Ch. 7. Criteria for Evaluating the Religious Dimension of Experience (B&C)

Semester Project: PowerPoint is due.

Week 13: Developing Community along the Spiritual Journey

Readings

Ch. 6. From Exclusion to Inclusion (Nouwen)

Ch. 9. That they May be One: Cultivating Online Community (Lisa M. Hendey, in Vogt)

Week 14: Eternal and Future Considerations

Readings

Ch. 7. From Denying to Befriending Death (Nouwen)

Conclusion - To Infinity and Beyond: The Future of the Church and New Media (Vogt, in Vogt)

Semester Project: Project analysis is due.

Week 15: The Journey Continues

Readings

Epilogue - Journey Inward, Journey Outward (Nouwen)

Afterword by Timothy Cardinal Dolan (in Vogt)

4. COURSE REQUIREMENTS

Discussion postings – 60%

Students should post a 300-400-word response to the weekly discussion board prompt. Posts should address with some depth of thought the discussion prompt based on the lecture and the assigned readings.

Some weeks the discussion board prompts require students to visit and/or create logins on different online sites to experiment with their form and content and/or critically analyze how the sites are used for spiritual formation. Some of these activities may be research-oriented, and others may be hands-on activities.

Each week students are also expected to respond (in at least 50 words) to at least one other student’s 300-400-word response to the discussion board prompt. Reflections should not merely indicate agreement with or praise of the initial post. Reflections should contribute a unique or substantial insight to the learning community.

The Semester Project – 40%

The semester project is based on one of these learning outcomes (your choice):

  1. Students will demonstrate a capacity for assessing when new forms of media may be productive for spiritual formation, and when they may be a hindrance.
  2. Students will demonstrate ways in which they can foster spiritual growth among peers and others using new media.

Students will work individually or in groups (of up to three) to develop a short PowerPoint presentation (10-15 slides) based on either of the two learning outcomes above. This project will be divided into two parts, each of which will be on the dates assigned below.

This project is a practical demonstration of what has been learned in the course, and it builds on what was learned by going beyond the readings and exercises to create a practical example of a "Spiritual Formation and New Media" project that focuses on one of the two learning outcome areas defined above.

The first part is for the individual or group to create a PowerPoint presentation explaining the goal for the project and how it is to be carried out. Due on the discussion board by the end of Week 12.

The second part is for the individual or group to write up a 1- to 2-page analysis outlining why the individual or group chose the project, what the individual or group learned from it, and where the individual or group might take it in the future. (The rubric below applies to this analysis.) Due the end of Week 14.

Citations in Discussion Posts

Students should include footnotes to indicate which sources are used in discussion board posts. To create a footnote in Populi, type a special character (^) at the beginning and end of the footnote numbers to make a superscript in Populi (e.g., ^1^, ^2^).

To italicize book titles in Populi, type a special character (_) at the beginning and end of the book title (e.g., _Screen Saved: Peril and Promise of Media in Ministry_).

Example Footnote Formatting

^1^ Dan Andriacco, _Screen Saved: Peril and Promise of Media in Ministry_ (Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2000), 5.

Weekly Deadline

The weekly deadline is on Mondays at 11:59 p.m. eastern standard time (EST). This means you have eight full days to complete each week's assignment, and Mondays are both the last day of one week and the first day of another week.

Extensions and Grade Penalties

We all have busy schedules, and sometimes we feel that we don't have enough time to complete all our tasks and meet our deadlines. We must discern our workload carefully and plan accordingly. Any assignments in this course that are not submitted by the weekly deadline will receive a 0 (F). Extensions will not be given except for military deployment, serious illness, and the passing away of a loved one. 

If you are going on a trip or retreat and will not have internet access, you should submit the assignments in advance; it is your responsibility to make sure that you have internet access during the times that you need it to complete assignments.

The above policy on extensions ensures that students are graded according to the same standard and deadlines. The policy also keeps the course organized and facilitates class discussions that are timely and meaningful. The policy on extensions applies to all persons enrolled in this course. If you have questions or concerns, please email me at cgniadek@holyapostles.edu.

5. REQUIRED READINGS and RESOURCES:

6. EVALUATION

Also, see Course Requirements above. Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl).

GRADING SCALE:

A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below

Grading Rubrics

Grading Rubric for the Major Papers and Discussion Board (DB) Postings

CONTENT

1 (F)

2 (D)

3 (C)

4 (B)

5 (A)

Absence of Understanding

Posting shows no awareness of the concepts addressed in the topic by shifting off-topic. Work does not pass.

Misunderstanding

Posting demonstrates a misunderstanding of the basic concepts addressed in the topic through an inability to re-explain them. Work is manifestly substandard and contains serious flaws.

Adequate Understanding

Posting demonstrates an adequate understanding of the basic concepts addressed in the topic by a re-explanation of them. Work passes adequately or is generally inadequate.

Solid understanding

Posting demonstrates an understanding of the basic concepts addressed in the topic and uses that understanding effectively in the examples it provides. Work is worthy of much praise.

Insightful understanding

Posting demonstrates an understanding of the basic concepts of the topic through the use of examples and by making connections to other concepts. Work is of surpassing excellence.

NOTE: Discussion board grades are based primarily on content (Does the post address the weekly discussion topic directly and make a significant contribution to the learning community, and were all discussion questions addressed? Do reply posts develop or help others understand the material being discussed? Is the work of surpassing excellence, average, or below average overall?). Discussion board grades are also affected by the quality of writing and formatting since this quality affects the readers' ability to understand the content.

RESEARCH

1 (F)

2 (D)

3 (C)

4 (B)

5 (A)

Missing Research

Paper shows no evidence of research: citation of sources missing. Work does not pass.

Inadequate research and/or documentation

Over-reliance on few sources; poor quality of chosen sources; spotty documentation of facts in text; pattern of citation errors. Work is manifestly substandard and contains serious flaws.

Adequate research and documentation but needs improvement

Good choice of sources but could be improved with some additions or better selection; did not always cite sources; too many citation errors. Work passes adequately or is generally inadequate.

Solid research and documentation

A number of relevant scholarly sources revealing solid research; sources appropriately referenced in paper; only a few minor citation errors. Work is worthy of much praise.

Excellent critical research and documentation

Critically selected and relevant scholarly sources demonstrating extensive, in-depth research; sources skillfully incorporated into paper at all necessary points; all citations follow standard bibliographic format. Work is of surpassing excellence.

WRITING & EXPRESSION

1 (F)

2 (D)

3 (C)

4 (B)

5 (A)

Incomplete writing

Posting is only partially written or fails to address the topic. Work does not pass.

Writing difficult to understand, serious improvement needed

Posting touches only on the surface of the topic and proceeds to talk about something else; confusing organization or development; little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage. Work is manifestly substandard and contains serious flaws.

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Posting is an uneven response to parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment; satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors. Work passes adequately or is generally inadequate.

Solid writing with something interesting to say

Posting is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reasons and examples; level-appropriate syntax and diction; mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error. Work is worthy of much praise.

command-level writing, making a clear impression

Posting is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of issues; compelling organization and development; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage. Work is of surpassing excellence.

COMMUNITY INTERACTION (100-word response)

1 (F)

2 (D)

3 (C)

4 (B)

5 (A)

Inadequate response

Response merely provides laudatory encouragement for original post (e.g., “Excellent post! You really have thought of something there.”). Work does not pass.

Weak response

Response summarizes original posting to which it responds. Work is manifestly substandard and contains serious flaws.

Acceptable response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds. Work passes adequately or is generally inadequate.

Individually-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds and fosters its development. Work is worthy of much praise.

Community-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the learning community and fosters its development. Work is of surpassing excellence.

7. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Mr. Bob Mish, the Assistant Dean of Online Learning, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

8. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends. Plagiarism includes: 1. Directly quoting without acknowledging the source. 2. Changing a few words of a text without indicating this was done and/or not acknowledging the source. 3. Not acknowledging that the structure of ideas or logic is from another author. 4. Not acknowledging a unique image (including analogies, similes, metaphors etc.) is from a particular document or author.

Students, where applicable:

     Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.

     Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.

     Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.

     Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl/resources).

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students caught plagiarizing will receive a zero for the assignment, and may be withdrawn from the class and/or expelled from Holy Apostles.

9. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

10. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

11. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSOR – CYNTHIA GNIADEK

 Cynthia   Gniadek   received  her   M.A.   in Philosophy from   Holy  Apostles College   and

Seminary   and   her   M.T.S.   from   the   Pontifical   John   Paul  II   Institute   for   Studies   on

Marriage and Family. She received certification in teaching research design through the

Catholic Distance Learning Network, a certificate in copyediting from the University of

California,  and  a certificate  in  online teaching   and learning from  United Theological

Seminary.

Cynthia and her husband currently live in Connecticut, where they enjoy worshipping at

a wonderful Catholic parish and are preparing for doctoral studies in philosophy and theology. In their

free time, they explore the many traditional Italian dishes that Connecticut has to offer.

In addition to teaching the ENG 221 course at Holy Apostles, Cynthia also teaches SOC 325 Catholic

Formation and New Media and ENG 891 Academic Research, Design, and Writing; and she leads the

online resource orientation for incoming students.

Cynthia   Gniadek   received  her   M.A.   in Philosophy from   Holy  Apostles College   and

Seminary   and   her   M.T.S.   from   the   Pontifical   John   Paul  II   Institute   for   Studies   on

Marriage and Family. She received certification in teaching research design through the

Catholic Distance Learning Network, a certificate in copyediting from the University of

California,  and  a certificate  in  online teaching   and learning from  United Theological

Seminary.

Cynthia and her husband currently live in Connecticut, where they enjoy worshipping at

a wonderful Catholic parish and are preparing for doctoral studies in philosophy and theology. In their

free time, they explore the many traditional Italian dishes that Connecticut has to offer.

In addition to teaching the ENG 221 course at Holy Apostles, Cynthia also teaches SOC 325 Catholic

Formation and New Media and ENG 891 Academic Research, Design, and Writing; and she leads the

online resource orientation for incoming students.

Cynthia Gniadek received her M.A. in Philosophy from Holy Apostles College and Seminary and her M.T.S. from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. She received certification in teaching research design through the Catholic Distance Learning Network, a certificate in copyediting from the University of California, and a certificate in online teaching and learning from United Theological Seminary.

Cynthia and her husband live in Wyoming. In their free time, they study philosophy, theology, and languages. Cynthia also enjoys editing books for Catholic authors.

In addition to teaching the SOC 325 course at Holy Apostles, Cynthia also teaches ENG 131 Poetry; ENG 151 Drama; ENG 221 Novels, Short Stories, and Literary Research; and ENG 891 Academic Research, Design, and Writing. She also leads the online resource orientation for incoming students and is Chair of the A.A. Liberal Arts Program Online and Chair of the B.A. Liberal Arts Program Online.