How you will be assessed

Grading and Assessment

If you are obsessive about grading, don’t take this class. We’re about co-learning and communication. If you do all the assignments and do them in a manner that is not perfunctory, you will receive a B. If you do all the assignments excellently, you will receive a B. If this sounds too vague, don’t take this class. If you don’t do your assignments, you will be notified. This is not a class for B students. Your grades will depend on your performance in the forum, your blog, wiki work, co-teaching, classroom discussion, and collaborative projects. Reducing this to a number of fixed points for each activity is contrary to the co-learning approach we are taking.

Co-Teaching Team Missions

Co-teaching teams of one or two will form by way of signups on the wiki. Co-teaching teams will plan one hour learning activities, submitting a draft plan to instructor at least ten days prior to co-teaching session and meeting with instructor during office hours one week before co-teaching session. More here about: how to be a great co-teaching team. Co-teaching teams, in addition to leading and facilitating learning activities, will take the lead on the lexicon wiki page by adding words and phrases from texts and classroom discussion within 24 hours of their class meeting and creating at least two exemplary definitions. In addition, co-teaching teams will select a question from those submitted by each student on 3 X 5 cards for discussion during their session and facilitate in-class conversation about the question, make a blogging assignment for all students for the following week, based on the texts discussed during their session. In addition, co-teaching teams will initiate, the evening after their class session, two forum topics for discussion by the entire class — and will host and facilitate discussion in those topic threads.

During face to face class meetings, each team will be responsible for leading the entire class in making meaning from the texts and online discourse — not delivering a book report or identifying material likely to be on a final exam. The instructor presents and answer questions about key arguments and important terms, issues, and ideas from assigned readings or videos; the co-teaching team leads in-class discussion about the texts and associated issues, formulates questions for in-class student break-out groups, designs exercises, provokes forum discussions designed to initiate inquiries likely to lead to deeper knowledge of the text’s subject. The teaching team will not be responsible for the entire 180 minute class meeting — the instructor will have in-class social media labs, present mini-lectures, invite guests, and generate other activities. But a good teaching team will make sure that the class engaged for at least an hour. Many of the activities in this course are cooperative, but one arena in which competition is encouraged is co-teaching — the class becomes more exciting for all of us when each co-teaching team tries to outdo previous teams.

Individual weekly workload

Students are expected to devote a minimum of seven hours per week to study and collaboration between class meetings, allocated as follows:

  • 1 1/2 hour each week in written reflection in blog and personal learning journal
  • 2 hours each week reading required texts and formulating questions
  • 1  hours each week preparing for co-teaching or group project collaboration
  • 2 1/2 hours of individual online activity each week in forums, wiki work, and other social media assignments

These numbers are approximate and variable: the week before a team teaching session will probably involve heavy collaboration requiring more than  1 hour; other weeks will include continuous but less intensive collaboration. Individual contributions to forums, blogs, and wikis are ongoing; teaching teams and group projects are more sporadic.

Your personal learning journal

You will use your wiki page to maintain an ongoing personal learning journal in which you reflect upon the skills, knowledge, and tools you are seeking and getting out of this course and reflect upon how the subjects covered in the texts relate to the circumstances of your own life online and offline. Set up an index page on your main wiki pages that links to subpages you create for each week’s topic. On the wiki page for each topic, you can reflect on your learning and expand upon the reading questions you submitted in class.

The key word for learners is reflection; this is about thinking about the subject matter, not simply demonstrating that you did the reading. In addition to weekly reflections on your learning, you will record the discussion questions you have agreed to turn in each week.

Please read this more complete explanation of your personal learning journal.

Individual forum, wiki, blog contributions

Students are expected to make at least one substantial post to the forum each week – and more than one post per week for those who contract for an A grade.  Such posts should be less formal than mini-essays. They aren’t tests or term papers. They are individual reflections or arguments or scenarios that stand alone and, more importantly, contribute to a collective discussion. Good forum conversation is a communication art on its own. Be sure you know how to use the forum software, understand these guidelines to discussion board participation, and understand how forum posts should be evaluatedFor examples of “substantial” comment threads, try this one about online identity or (perhaps ironically) this long thread commenting on Nicholas Carr’s article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” or this thread about “the dark side of digital backchannels.” Here is a productive thread in the new (2012) threaded discussion medium, “Branch.” It helps your forum performance if you’ve done the readings, since the common theme of the discussions will be the previous week’s readings and class discussions. In addition to your forum posts, you are expected to make substantial blog posts and comments on other students’ blog posts each week .  Co-teaching team will identify and add to the lexicon key words and phrases from their week’s texts and discussions; all students will participate in defining, correcting, and refining the key words during the week, according to their contracts.

Collaborative projects

Each student will participate in three different kinds of collaborative projects:

  • key theme co-teaching teams,
  • wiki collaboration around the lexicon, and
  • final group projects.

First, students self-organize into  teaching teams who collaboratively prepare, help teach, and help lead inquiry during one class session and online for the following week, assisting the instructor in raising questions and stimulating conversation about aspects of that week’s specific theme.

Second, while the co-teaching teams take the lead in identifying key words and phrases from the texts and classroom discussions for the lexicon, it is up to the entire class (each contributing according to her or his contract) to fill out the definitions during the week.

Finally, students will organize into teams of four to conduct an independent inquiry (research project) during the last half of the course.

Ten Minute Learner Lectures

Each week, two students will each select one of the recommended (i.e., not one of the required) texts for that week and report some important, relevant idea, fact, or issue from the text in no more than five minutes, using any medium but PowerPoint.

Final Group Project

During the second half of the quarter, teams of three or (at most) four students will use social media of their choice and face to face meetings to design, implement, and document independent inquiries into some aspect of the course subject matter; multimedia group presentations, no longer than 15 minutes long, followed by discussion, will take place during the last class meetings; each student is expected to devote at least 9 hours after class to the team project, spread over the quarter. Students in past classes have:

* conducted surveys about multitasking online in class
* assessed people’s judgements of others on the basis of Facebook profiles
* surveyed and assessed different interactive media for their educational potential
* conducted privacy assessments by “stalking” themselves using online tools
* surveyed Facebook and MySpace users and assessed differences
* interviewed and surveyed users of massively multiplayer online games and assessed their reasons for playing
* designed hypothetical virtual communities for a variety of users/uses
* analyzed the way technologies were used in our classroom, interviewed and surveyed students, kept diaries
* interviewed and surveyed students about self-disclosure on sites like Facebook and MySpace
* conducted a research literature review to survey cultural differences in social media use
* created Second Life avatars that differed in the degree of physical attractiveness portrayed, and assessed reactions of other users
* created online games that required students to solve puzzles related to the syllabus
* analyzed the potential positive and negative impacts of social media for the public sphere

These examples are not meant to limit your choices. Use your imagination, think big, and most of all, work on projects you find meaningful in relation to your own lives online — do not attempt methodologically complete research. Think of your projects as “probes.” Ask a good question. See what you can find, make meaning of, and teach to others about your question. When making a presentation, you can use any interactive multimedia presentation medium OTHER than PowerPoint. Here is a list of interactive multimedia presentation resources and here is a list of mindmapping tools that can also be used for this purpose and a list of concept-mapping resources. You might want to refer to this article about using mind mapping for collaboration if you want to use mindmapping to plan your project.

Keep in mind that this is a collaboration in which you not only divide labor but help each other learn — specify which team member is responsible for each part of the project, make clear how the parts fit together, and make a positive effort to make connections between the parts. An ideal collaboration is more than the sum of individual contributions. You need, therefore, to make your collaborative dialogue explicit. Use the comment thread attached to your project wiki page to explicitly make connections between parts and make clear how they fit together. Collaborate on writing a group charter on your project wiki page, describing your agreement about the purpose, scope, and division of labor. Agree upon what you want to accomplish together, what you each commit yourself to do, and how each of your parts relate to each other, contribute to the whole — achieve your agreement through face to face and online discussion and inscribe it on your wiki page. Talk about individual milestones; communicate about progress regularly. Collaborations in which collaborators fail to communicate frequently result in multiple mini-projects, each one about a related topic; the collaboration we are doing here requires integration between individual component tasks, not just a high-level topical umbrella. The collaboration and your documentation of it is as much of the assignment as the specific project you agree upon. Three weeks before the project is due, each team member will discuss the quality of their collaboration with the other students on the team, usingthis rubric.


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