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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Digital Influence (fusion online) (EFIE11009)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course will focus on increasing public and policy-maker literacy and understanding of how to - measure, track and, potentially, wield influence in the digital field. It will cover conceptual aspects - what is influence, how does this manifest in the digital sphere; methodological aspects - how is influence measured and how to recognise robust measures of digital influence; and the moral psychology of wielding influence. By the end of this course students will have a nuanced understanding of what digital influence is and will be familiar with a range of technologies, methods, and insights on how to monitor, shape and measure the flow of influence in the digital conversation.
Course description Over the course of this offering, participants will learn to understand what digital influence is and how to harness the technologies, methods, and insights required to monitor and shape the digital conversation. This course is taught in hybrid format: 2 week pre-intensive; 2 day intensive; 2 week post-intensive.

The course team is interdisciplinary: social and psychological sciences, social computational science and cognitive neuroscience. The team also includes external speakers from the corporate digital influence environment.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - Online Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities. Students should note that their interactions may be recorded and live-streamed. There will, however, be options to control whether or not your video and audio are enabled.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  6
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 15/01/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 6, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 8, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 3, Other Study Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) 3 hours scheduled group work
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment:

The course will be assessed by means of the following component:

1) 1000 Word Individual Blog Post (100%)

The final assessment for this course is a 1000 word individual blog, articulating a proposed solution to the course's Digital Influence challenge.

Students may build on the insights developed by their group work in classroom exercises to develop their own solution, or they may completely deviate from the group perspective and offer their own independent solution.

Students should integrate insights from the reading that they have been doing for this course, and the blog should be fully referenced using hyperlinked references. The bibliography does not count towards the word limit.

Formative Assessment:

Each course within Edinburgh Futures Institute includes the opportunity for students to participate in a formative feedback exercise or event which will help them prepare for your summative assessment. The formative assessment does not contribute to the overall course mark.

1) 500 Word Synopsis

Students will be allocated to a journal club group, and will be responsible for leading a discussion around a paper allocated to them - creating their own journal club

As a discussion leader, the student will:
1. Post an initial 500 word synopsis of the allocated paper,
2. Be responsible for keeping the discussion going, for example by asking further questions/clarifying the arguments of others.

As a discussion participant in others journal clubs, the student will:
1. Respond to their initial synopsis, by commenting, asking further questions and relating the paper to other literature;
2. Respond to others' contributions.

2) 1000 Word Blog Post Draft

The final assessment for this course is a 1000 word individual blog, articulating a proposed solution to the course's Digital Influence challenge. This formative assessments offers the student an opportunity to submit and solicit peer feedback on a draft of the blog post that will later be submitted for assessment.
Feedback Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Summative Assessment:

1) 1000 Word Individual Blog Post (100%)
- Assessed with staff feedback - 14 days after the 2 day intensive study period.

Formative Assessment:

1) 500 Word Synopsis
- Peer and tutor feedback - prior to 2 day intensive study period.

2) 1000 Word Blog Post Draft
- Peer feedback - 7 days after 2 day intensive study period.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concept of digital influence and the moral psychology of wielding influence.
  2. Explain and identify key technologies for the analysis of digital influence.
  3. Develop original, creative and effective responses to data driven problems in relation to digital influence.
  4. Demonstrate their ability to communicate - in verbal and written form - coherent, balanced arguments surrounding the monitoring, shaping and measurement of digital influence.
  5. Work in a peer relationship and develop an independent challenge-led digital influence strategy.
Reading List
Indicative reading list:

Llewellyn, C., Cram, L., Hill, R. L., and Favero, A. (2019) For Whom the Bell Trolls: Shifting Troll Behaviour in the Twitter Brexit Debate. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 57: 1148-1164. DOI: 10.1111/jcms.12882

Crockett, M.J. Moral outrage in the digital age. Nat Hum Behav 1, 769-771 (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-017-0213-3

Brady, W. J., Gantman, A. P., & Van Bavel, J. J. (2020). Attentional capture helps explain why moral and emotional content go viral. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 149(4), 746-756. DOI: 10.1037/xge0000673

Widmann, T. (2021), How Emotional Are Populists Really? Factors Explaining Emotional Appeals in the Communication of Political Parties. Political Psychology, 42: 163-181. DOI: 10.1111/pops.12693

Fazio, L. K., Rand, D. G., & Pennycook, G. (2019). Repetition increases perceived truth equally for plausible and implausible statements. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 26, 1705-1710. DOI: 10.3758/s13423-019-01651-4

Hocking, B and Melissen, J, Diplomacy in the Digital Age (The Hague: Netherlands Institute of International Relations 'Clingendael', 2015). []

Bovet, A., Makse, H.A. Influence of fake news in Twitter during the 2016 US presidential election. Nat Commun 10, 7 (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07761-2
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills (1) Students will develop nuanced knowledge and understanding of digital influence through presentations, hands-on data hacks and the production of research synopses and a digital influence challenge project.

(2) Students will practice the use of computational methods to analyse twitter collections as a technique to answer scholarly research questions.

(3) Students will gain cognitive skills by conducting original research on the digital influence challenge and developing their own strategy in the context of world knowledge.

(4) Students will develop communication, ICT and analytic skills by interacting with academic staff and their peers in different settings (physical and online), by learning to use different computational tools and digital platforms to support their course work and collaboration skills.

(5) Students will gain autonomy, accountability and learn to work with others by collaborating in small groups on the practical elements of the course and during the preparation stage of their project, developing their communication skills, and gaining valuable skills in working with others.
KeywordsDigital influence,social media,experimental,cognitive
Course organiserDr Robin Hill
Tel: (0131 6)50 4426
Course secretaryMr Lawrence East
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