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Northwestern University

Understanding Media by Understanding Google

Northwestern University via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


Google Inc. is one of the key success stories of the Internet era. The company has expanded beyond its original search business through innovation and acquisition to touch the lives of nearly every person who lives life online. For example, Americans spend more than 3,400 hours per year using consumer media, the field where Google’s impact is most profound, and citizens around the world must understand what the company has wrought not only to control their offline and online environments, but also to interact and engage successfully with anyone in our professional and personal lives.

Enrollees in this course learn how to understand the tactics that modern media companies, journalists, marketers, politicians, technologists, and social networks are using to reach them and affect their behavior. They learn how to adopt strategies that put them on an even footing with these entities in achieving their own communications goals. They 

  • think about, react to, and write about excerpts from half a dozen important books; 
  • read a sampling of newspaper and magazine reportage from Google’s entire history;
  • monitor news sites and specialized blogs about the company and its competitors while the course is in session;
  • take note of their own usage of Google and other online resources; and
  • learn how to anticipate the future impact of the company and its competitors on aspects of the media such as information consumption, creation, and distribution. 


Weekly topics

Week 1: The Age of Google
  • Introduction: Why study Google and the media?   
  • Search and Research
Week 2: Google and Publishing 
  • Google and News
  • Google and Books
Week 3: Google and Advertising
  • How and Why the Magic Works
  • Advertising Personalization and Privacy
Week 4: Google and Video
  • Google, YouTube, and You
  • YouTube (and Google) and the News
Week 5: Google and Mobile
  • Google and Smartphones
  • Google and "Wearable"
Week 6: Google, Social Media, and Privacy
  • Google's Social Circle
  • The Private, The Public, and the Politic(s)

Taught by

Owen R. Youngman



4.8 rating, based on 5 reviews

Start your review of Understanding Media by Understanding Google

  • Lindley Walter-Smith completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Fantastic course, with far more reading required than other MOOCs I have taken (or started), so be aware of that if you prefer lectures! Fascinating look at the effect Google has on our world from a journalism perspective, and interesting assignment. The peer marking was actually one of my favourite parts of the course, letting me hear stories from completely different cultures and perspectives, and the different way different countries use things I take for granted, like YouTube.

    Highly recommended.
  • Yves Shangas

    Yves Shangas completed this course.

    I've taken three classes at coursera. So far this one was the best. Prof. Youngman was creative and was one of the lectures who wanted online students to gain best experience.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Great and up to date course! Highly recommended to all who wish to understand more about the intricacies of the Google world we live in.
  • pssGuy

    pssGuy completed this course.

    Wide ranging and up to date

    Used several teaching techniques

    Excellent interaction by Professor
  • Matteo Ferrara completed this course.

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