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About participation (so far), getting ready for next week

by Steve Krause on September 11th, 2014

Two messages in the category of “housekeeping” and announcements I wanted to share:

First, I’m going to be emailing each of you with some very brief feedback on your participation in the class so far. I think it’s useful for me to give this kind of feedback early in the semester because a lot of students haven’t taken online classes before, and this class is a little unusual in that your participation in the discussion is so important. So you will all receive an email from me in the next day or two with some basic feedback– “keep it up,” “you aren’t doing enough,” “you need to participate in the discussions earlier,” etc.

I describe the requirements for class participation in the Policies for the class and I also talked about participation in some detail in the introductory video for the class in this post. But just to recap briefly:

  • Online attendance is important and the only way you can be counted as “present” is to comment in the discussions. If you are absent from the class too many times, you will fail.
  • Discussions begin on Mondays and Wednesdays and conclude on Wednesdays and Fridays. For example, our discussion of “Watching and Discussing ‘In Defense of Rhetoric'” began on Monday and wrapped up yesterday. This is important because if everyone just waits until the end to post a comment, we can’t really have a discussion. Which leads to my next point:
  • Remember that these comments are supposed to replace/replicate the kind of discussion we might be having if we were in a face to face classroom. So you don’t want to write super-long comments/mini papers. Try to find ways to engage in discussion with each other about the topic at hand. On the other hand, you don’t want to write super-short comments either– “I agree with Ted!”– because the suggests you didn’t do the reading and aren’t really that engaged in the conversation.
  • In order to get an “A” for participation, I expect people to be involved in all of the discussions early and often. So for example, if you still (as of Thursday afternoon) haven’t posted about the Anson and Forsberg yet, you’re not really doing what I’m expecting for an excellent grade for participation.

Second, get ready for next week which will include a peer review of the first writing project, the Personal Statement Assignment. Remember this is supposed to be based on a real personal statement prompt! So if you still haven’t figured out what you’re going to be writing your personal statement about, you should do so very soon.

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