Blogging

Rationale

Almost every day of class a group of students is tasked with posting to the course blog. There are several reason why I emphasize blogging in my classes:

  1. The blog posts jump-start the day’s conversations.
  2. The posts provide an opportunity for you to share current events and recent phenomena that relate to our class.
  3. The posts give students who are less vocal in class an opportunity to contribute to discussions.
  4. The posts help me to identify misconceptions or confusions about the course material.
  5. Blogging leaves a fairly permanent record of our class dialogue, which can be useful to revisit in the future.
  6. Blogging lets us extend the conversation beyond the 50 minute class period.
  7. Blogging is good practice for writing for a broader audience.
Criteria

Blog posts count as either Unsatisfactory, Satisfactory, or Excellent.

A Satisfactory blog post must meet the following criteria:

  • Posted to your blog by 8pm the night before your group’s day
  • Include a descriptive title
  • Focus on an aspect of the day’s material or broader themes that you find particularly compelling. This could be something you don’t quite understand or that jars you. Or you could formulate an insightful question or two about the material and then attempt to answer your own questions. Maybe you have a relevant example beyond the course reading to share and analyze, a kind of “sighting” in the wild. You might make connections between the course material and conversations we’ve had in class (or ideas that you’ve encountered in other classes). You can also respond to another student’s post, building upon it, disagreeing with it, or re-thinking it. In any case, strive to go beyond the obvious.
  • At least 250 words in length
  • Written in a clear manner, less formal than a conventional paper but still readable and rooted in evidence-based reasoning
  • Contain no more than 2 grammatical or spelling errors
  • Practice standard procedures for writing online, including hotlinking text (instead of dropping in unlinked URLs in the body of your post), embedding videos properly, etc.

For a post to qualify as Excellent, your overall blog must have the following characteristics:

  • a custom title and tagline
  • customization with headers, menus, and widget, and the correct time zone
  • SSL-enabled, meaning that https:// will connect to the blog
  • You must force https for all visitors to the blog

In addition to all of the above, Excellent blog posts must also:

  • Either (a) Include at least one illustrative piece of media (an image, a screenshot, a GIF, an embedded video, audio, etc.). Illustrative means that the media is directly related to your topic and you incorporate the media somehow into your discussion. In other words, it’s not simply tacked on at the end. The media must be fully sourced, with full credit given to the original source of the media, and ideally, linked back to its original source online. Or (b) You integrate (and link back to) some outside new story, report, finding, or other authoritative source into your discussion.
  • Provide exceptional insight or analysis, or make connections far beyond the day’s material

Your final grade for blogging will be determined by what “bundle” your 6 posts fall into:

  • 5 or 6 Excellent posts with the remaining posts being Satisfactory is an A (95%)
  • 4 Excellent posts with remaining posts being Satisfactory is an A- (90%)
  • 3 Excellent posts with the remaining posts being Satisfactory is a B+ (88%)
  • 1 or 2 excellent posts with the remaining posts being Satisfactory is a B (85%)
  • All Satisfactory posts is a B- (80%)
  • More than 2 Unsatisfactory posts with the other posts being Satisfactory is a C (75%)

Every student will have the opportunity to rework one Unsatisfactory post.

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