Online Discussions

The “Online Discussion” refers to a weekly online discussion about the topic of the week. It’s a bit of a terminology problem: there are other things that each involve “online discussion”, but only one “weekly Online Discussion.”

What: Weekly online discussions with a required initial posting and follow up discussion.
Why: The primary goal of these assignments are to get you to think about the material in the readings and lecture, by forcing you to answer questions and have a conversation about it with your classmates.
When: An initial posting is due on Wednesday, responding to the first prompt. The discussion will stay open until the following Friday so that you can discuss with your classmates.
How: The discussions will use the Canvas online discussion boards. The class will be divided into groups to make the discussions more manageable.
Assessment: we will grade on the Grading (Ungraded Grading Scale) for the initial posting, and consider your discussion postings as part of your Grading (Discussion Grading)
Late Policy: You will be penalized if you consistently contribute your postings late. Others need you to make your postings so that they can discuss! Turning in something late (up until the time that the discussion closes) is better than nothing, but is really unfair to the others who you are supposed to be discussing with.
Drop Policy: The lowest two scores will be dropped.

Note that the “Online Discussion” refers to this weekly structured, prompted discussion. There are other online discussions (the Seek and Finds and general discussions on Piaza).

Each week there will be an online discussion related to the topic of the week.

There will be an online prompt that you need to answer. Your groupmates will see this. You cannot discuss (e.g., read and reply) to others until you have made this initial posting. The prompts are designed so that they will hopefully lead to meaningful discussion.

In prior years, I tried to have the single “Online Discussion” be a place for many different things to go together. There were multiple required initial postings, and we used the discussions as places for handing in designs. This year, I am trying to split it to keep each discussion simpler. The “Online Discussion” will have a specific topic, and require a single “initial” posting. We migh have multiple discussions for other purposes (for example, we may have students turn in designs using a Canvas discussion so that we can give each other feedback).

While adding brief comments to others (like “I agree” or “good posting”) is useful (and you should do it), these don’t count as “meaningful” so you should also make more substantive responses as well. It is useful to acknowledge that you have read responses made to your posting - the Canvas “like” mechanism is a good way to do this. In general, we will use like to acknowledge a post.

Because it’s too hard to have a conversation with the whole class, the class will be broken up into random groups for each assignment. Once we get to steady state for the semester in terms of enrollment, we will hold the groups constant so people can get to know each other, but shuffle them occasionally, so you can meet new people. See Tips on Using Canvas (Canvas Groups) for some tricks.