January 2008 Archives
Your assignment is to read the term paper submissions of two classmates, and write an analysis (similar to what you did for Ex 4, where you evaluated an academic article). Ex 8 should be about 3 pages long.Remember that a peer critique is an act of frendship and solidarity. You can't boost your own grade by tearing down your classmate, and nobody is going to benefit if you flatter your classmate excessively. Constructive criticism notes both strengths and weaknesses, and the presentation of weaknesses should be phrased helpfully, without any gloating or pettiness. (I don't think this group will have that problem, but it's a standard reassurance that I offer.)
For each of your two chosen paper papers, respond to the following. (Note that these questions may also help you as you finalize your draft.)
1) What specific, non-obvious claim does this paper support? (That's another way of asking for the thesis... remember that "There are many interesting things to say about X" or a question like "Is X an instance of A?" or "People who kick puppies are bad" are not thesis statements that require academic argument.)
2) What opposing or alternative arguments does this paper address?
3) If this were your draft, what would you be the most proud of? (Be specific.)
4) If this were your draft, and you had more time to work on it, what do you feel would be the most beneficial change? (Again, be specific.)
5) Include me on the CC line in an e-mail in which you share your analysis with your classmate.
You are free to use this page to arrange to swap papers with 2 classmates, in preparation for Ex 8.
To submit your work, post a link from this page to the URL of your entry.
The idea is to post an original essay on your site, full of links to good material online (such as interviews with game designers, newspaper stories or academic articles, screenshots, perhaps videos of people playing the game(s) you're focusing on), all coming together to teach the class an important concept.
Don't spend time summarizing what you find elsewhere in the internet -- make your point as efficiently as possible, and link to where your reader can get the full article you're citing.
Ask questions, spark conversations, teach us something we don't know, demonstrate your ability to apply concepts taken from the course readings (and the maxims such as "all art is constrained" or the mirror/window/lens model).
We've already looked at Leslie's presentation on Lara Croft. That should give you a good idea of what to shoot for.
You may include texts on the syllabus, or texts that you have found on your own. I recognize there may be value in non-academic sources, such as interviews with designers or reviews in magazines or on personal weblogs, but when you are writing a scholarly paper, you should draw mostly from scholarly sources (such as journal articles, full-length books, or a single essay published as part of a collection).
Begin with a full MLA-style citation, as you would format it for a Works Cited list. Unlike a WC list, however, I'm asking you to follow each entry with a short summary of the article (explaining what the author was trying to do), and following that with another short paragraph that explains how this specific item will help you explore the topic you are choosing for your term paper.
If you're doing a term paper on Sim City, I don't expect you to find ten peer-reviewed articles on Sim City. You will probably find a handful of great sources that at least mention Sim City in passing, but other articles might be even more useful if they discuss simulation games in general. An article that doesn't even mention games at all, but instead discusses some aspect of city planning in the real world, may be extremely useful.
Here's an example of an annotated bibliography on interactive fiction. My evaluations are all based on how useful each item is for those who are interested in studying interactive fiction. (You don't have to assign a ranking to each item, but you should still evaluate it -- this means you need to move beyond summarizing what the item contains, and instead focus on explaining why a specific quoted passage will help you accomplish a certain intellectual task... thus, I asked you to read Jesper Juul's early essay not because it perfectly matched my own opinions, but rather because I wanted you to see how much Juul's opinion changed over time.)
You don't need to commit to using all 10 of these items in your term paper. You don't have to use ANY of them... my goal is not to force to you to lock yourself in this early, but rather to ensure that you're exposing yourselves to the kind of meaty arguments that will help you to come up with a thesis that engages with the ideas you find in the scholarly sources.
Asking you to do this bibliography research now is my attempt to prevent the horrible experience you will face if you write your paper first (based only on ideas from your own head), and then "look for quotes" to support the argument you have already made. (It makes far more sense to find good quotes first, and then develop a thesis statement that you can actually support based on the evidence you've already found.)
As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.
Ex 5 asks you to do some important advance work for your term paper. You are free to change your thesis, your topic, and your whole approach after you complete this exercise, so don't feel that this exercise is supposed to lock you in. It's simply supposed to ensure that you start the process of writing your research paper the right way -- by seeking out academic research first, and then coming up with an appropriate thesis that is supported by the available research. (Don't write your paper first and then "look for quotes" to support the opinion you had formed before you looked at any scholarly works... the arguments within the scholarly works are the building blocks you use in order to create your thesis.)
For Ex 5, supply the following information:
A habit you may have learned in high school is to write a full draft of a paper that supports the point that you want to make, and then "finding quotes" from scholarly sources that agree with your position. But that defeats the purpose of writing a research paper... you're supposed to learn as you research... maybe you'll even change your mind, based on the information and argument you encounter. So, before I ask you to come up with a thesis for your research paper, I'm going to ask you to show me that you know how to find and read academic articles.
- Find a peer-reviewed academic article on a topic of video game studies that closely interests you. Some online journals include Game Studies, Kairos, and Games and Culture, but you will also find articles about games in many other journals. (I found 278 hits for peer-reviewed, full-text articles containing the words "video game" in the EBSCOhost database at Reeves Library... there are far fewer when I search for specific games, but as you'll see, it's OK if you can't find any articles written about the game you want to study. Supply a full MLA-style reference for the article.
- Quote the author's main thesis. (That is, what is the single main claim that this author makes?)
- What evidence does the author use in order to support the main idea? Please don't go through my list and answer "yes" or "no" for each pf the following suggestions... my goal is to get you to think about what evidence the authors are offering.
- Has the author conducted a scientific experiment, putting 50 kids in a room with video games and 50 kids in a room with TV, and then counted how many fights broke out?
- Did the author merely ask the parents of the kids to answer a survey about the level of aggression the kids showed?
- Did the author show 20 girls games about war and 20 boys games about make-up, and then interview the kids afterwards to see what they thought?
- Did the author spend 6 months playing the game as a guild with other researchers, in oder to gain first-hand evidence?
- Is the author quoting from scholarly works, published reviews, interviews with gamers, Congressional testimony, or dialogue contained in the games?
Download it (for PC or Mac), play it, and use your knowledge of games (from Koster, Laurel, Juul, Aarseth, and other sources we have read) to analyze it. Take a look at the course objectives on the syllabus page, and do your best to demonstrate your ability to apply what you have learned.
For tomorrow's discussion, construct a well-thought-out thesis statement, which makes a non-obvious claim (something deeper than "This game is fun/boring" or "This game makes a point about food"). Make a claim that a reasonable person might disagree with, rather than issuing a polished, carved-in-stone pronouncement that only a fool would dare challenge. Quote the exact words of the sources you consult; include the page number of the direct quote. All this is practice for the skills you'll need to develop a good term paper.
The in-game tutorial is long, and it's not immediately clear how to exit out of some windows (the circle with the X in it is not close enough to where the information is listed), and when the message "enter" appears on the screen, I keep wanting to push the "enter" button (rather than space, which is what the game expects). Feel free to post your initial reactions about playing this game.
The pleasures of videogames are frequently enjoyed by those that commonsense might encourage us to consider as non-players - "onlookers" that exert no direct control via the game controls. In this article, I want to suggest that videogame players need not actually touch a joypad, mouse or keyboard and that our definition needs to accommodate these non-controlling roles. The pleasure of videogame play does not simply flow through the lead of a joystick.
What does Juul mean by "emergent narrative," and how does it differer from the narrative you would find in a book?
Included among the topics students have brought up have been the function of violence in video games (sparking copycat violence, or a way to release pressure harmlessly?) and the effect of Lara Croft (offensive stereotype or empowering icon?). Apply Juul's statements on "stylization" to one or both of these discussions. See if you can work your response into the form of a thesis statement.
(Use the index to look up these terms.)
You will need to develop a thesis statement that makes a claim (like the one I made in the lecture, in which I argued that Pac-Man is a representation of the core values of a hunter-gatherer society). If you need a refresher, here is some background material on thesis statements. (All this should be familiar from your freshman comp classes.)
To "analyze" is to break down into its components in order to see how the parts work together. To "evaluate" you need to investigate and weigh not only the good and bad, but also examine what you mean by "good" or "bad," who gets to choose the words that carry value, and what those words mean.
Thus, I might say that a McDonalds advertisement is "good" because it is entertaining and sells burgers, but "bad" because it encourages unhealthy eating habits. Or I might say an educational video is "good" because it accurately conveys important information, but "bad" because it is poorly acted and shoddily produced. You and I might agree on all four of these statements, but disagree as to whether the "good" outweighs the "bad." You and I might agree, but for different reasons.
An academic study should seek out and investigate differences in opinion, not try to explain them away or pretend they don't exist.
Feel free to post your ideas here before you write your full exercise. I'll be happy to give whatever feedback I can.
1) First, how familiar are you with Tomb Raider (as a game, movie franchise, or simply in popular culture)? If you are not familiar with the the series, choose a different game in which gender seems to feature prominently.
Ms. Pac Man would count, if you carefully look at the ways it differs from Pac Man... despite the feminist "Ms" she is still defnind as a kind of "Pac Man" -- not a separate construct called "Pac Woman." But some branches of the Galatea storyline lend themselves well to a gender-based analysis.
2) Whether you choose Tomb Raider or something else, look at your game through the lenses Laurel supplies... that is, examine the game not based on whether you personally would choose to play it during your leisure time, but rather apply Laurel's lenses and evaluate the game based on what it has to offer in terms of values, role-models, depictions of power, and the kinds of stories it tells.
3) Come up with a thesis -- a claim, framed in such a way that it invites discussion.
Make a claim about your chosen game, following a general formula such as "Although [examples that work against the claim I am going to make], [details 1, 2, and 3] suggest that [here's where you put the claim].A claim like "The sky is blue" or "Hitler is evil" is not really worth arguing about; neither is "Point-and-click games are more relaxing than button-mashing games," since that's just an opinion that depends completely on your personal definition of what means to play a relaxing game.
Since there are so few female video game protagonists to choose from, it is appropriate to feel grateful to Midway/Naamco for creating Ms. Pac-Man, who can in her game do anything and everything that Pac-Man can do in his game. Because the ghosts in Ms. Pac-Man move randomly rather than in set patterns, and because there are more portals that the player can use to teleport from one side of the screen to the other, Ms. Pac-Man require more lateral thinking and more multitasking -- skills that women are traditionally better at than men. However, the animation sequences that take place between levels, depicting a growing relationship between Ms. Pac-Man and Pac Man, and culminating in a stork's delivery of a baby Pac, reinforce a traditional hierarchy. The world of Pac-Man has meaning in and of itself. Only when that circle is changed through the addition of red lipstick or a bow can a generic yellow circle take on female characteristics, but note that Pac Man sports no icons of masculinity, such as a mustache or tie; when we see his pure form as a featureless yellow circle, we are expected to accept him as male. Like the "Ms" in the title and the pink color of the maze walls, both the game and the between-level animations are an echo that depends for meaning on the existence of the masculine world, and as such the game is hardly a feminist landmark, but rather a cynical attempt to get quarters from women.I think that thesis is a bit strong -- I'm really only making this claim in order to demonstrate the difference between writing a response and offering a claim. In fact, the history of Ms. Pac Man is even richer than that, in that it began as an unauthorized hack that caused some legal troubles for its creators. If I were working this claim into a full paper I might note the ways in which Ms Pac-Man improves on the original game.
I'm not actually asking you to flesh your thesis out into a full paper; rather, I hope you will make a claim that sparks a discussion.
As part of the discussion, remember to read what your peers have to say, and offer thoughtful commentary.
In 1998, Jesper Juul (author of Half-Real) delivered a paper at a conference in which he lamented what he felt was an excessive, and unproductive, attempt by humanities and literature scholars to treat video games as if they were stories.
[C]omputer games and narratives are very different phenomena and, as a consequence, any combination of the two, like in "interactive fiction", or "interactive storytelling" faces enormous problems.
I'm not the first person to make that point. The merit of this presentation is hopefully the detail with which this point is made. But it is slightly strange to be saying this. On one hand, it seems that the idea of an "interactive narrative" died commercially around 1993-94. On the other hand, much work and effort is being put into claims that game and narrative can be mixed- witness Janet Murray. And the dominant theoretical way of dealing with computer games still seems to be claiming that they are in some way narratives.
But computer games are not narratives. Obviously many computer games do include narration or narrative elements in some form. But first of all, the narrative part is not what makes them computer games, rather the narrative tends be isolated from or even work against the computer-game-ness of the game. I'll briefly try to isolate that gameness, and to sketch a way of saying something meaningful about a computer game.
The main point of this paper does clash with several to be presented tomorrow. Since fighting over words tends to be unfruitful, I'll mainly be pointing to characteristics of the traditional narrative media and compare them to the computer game. But I do think that the term narrative doesn't fit the computer game very well. ("A Clash Between Game and Narrative")
It's not necessary to insist that games are either stories OR systems of rules, but Juul made strong statements against the value of the narratology approach, and those strong statements prompted defenses of narrative, since Juul seemed not only to be questioning the conclusions of games scholars who critiqued various games based on how well they told stories. We can see how the passage quoted above works against the central importance of stories to the philosophy of Brenda Laurel. Juul also seemed (to some) to be challenging the whole premise of the humanities scholars whose influential books helped to legitimize video games as a legitimate subject of academic study.
Juul's central claim -- that games are unique creations and they require a brand new vocabulary so that we can talk to each other about what matters to designers, players, and critics of games -- seems perfectly obvious now.
By the late 90s, most of the scholarship being done on computer games was happening in literature departments, and some of the prominent names who wrote about games were not themselves gamers. They interviewed gamers about what they they thought about games, they watched gamers, and they certainly sampled the games in order to see what they were like, but they were not themselves committed and dedicated gamers, who would have recognized when one game referred to a different game, or what was notable and innovative about this level, and so forth. Games scholarship had to start somewhere, and traditionally literature departments have been where scholars have had the flexibility and freedom to study emerging and marginalized genres (such as cinema, the graphic novel, pioneer women's journals and letters, etc.).
But in 1998 few universities would have offered courses in video games, other than engineering and technical schools where the focus was on using games in order to teach students basic programming techniques, or a design course where students demonstrated their ability to create a game. At my previous job (where I started teaching in 1998) I had a hard time explaining to my fellow professors why video games were worth studying, and part of the reason was because there were few published works that I could turn to in order to help me explain my interests in ways understandable to my peers (who mostly specialized in more traditional literature subjects).
Juul is absolutely right that the narrative lens heavily influenced early scholarship on computer games. His radical insistence that the narratological approach was just a lens (and an unproductive one, at that) ruffled a few feathers, placing Juul in the position of looking like an anti-narratologist (rather than a pro-ludologist).
My main goal in bringing up this topic is to prepare you for why some of the things Juul says in Half Real are notable. After this book came out, only narratologists fret about the narratology/ludology debate -- the ludologists seem to feel the question is settled; Koster's point of view includes narrative as an important part of understanding games, but as we have seen Koster's central theme is not story or rules, but "fun."
While I tried to include authors who write from different perspectives, it's not necessary for you to decide whether you feel Koster, Laurel, or Juul are "right" -- they all make statements that work well together, but each wears a different lens, so it is possible to find arguments that work against each other.
Note that Laurel wrote games with stories that she hoped would become part of the lives of millions of girls. Koster emphasizes that any game is destined to become boring -- used up. Juul writes, as part of his argument against the centrality of narrative:
In literature there is an idea of the endless work, of books you can read and read, and never tire of. This can both be a religious work like the bible, or a modernist work like Ulysses or The Wasteland. Contrast this with the term trash novel, implying that a book is disposable once read. It does seem that repeatability is perceived as connected with high culture, the reverse with low culture. The surprising part is that the notoriously "low" computer game lives up to this much more than novels tend to. The dominant mode of receptions of narratives is one-shot, but games are inherently something you play again, something you can get better at.For today's discussion question, find a point of contention or disagreement, where Koster, Laruel, and/or Juul seem to be at odds. What disagreement do you find? Resist the urge to dismiss the issue by saying "The real truth lies somewhere in between," or "It's a matter of opinion whether you agree with one or the other." How do you, as a student in a liberal arts degree program, respond to the issue?
It then appears that trying to add a significant story to a computer game invariably reduces the number of times you're likely to play the game. Literary qualities, usually associated with depth and contemplation, actually makes computer games less repeatable, and more "trashy" in the sense that you won't play Myst again once you've completed it. There's no point. ("A Clash Between Game and Narrative")
In either case, there is a gap between vision and the world, between the code as we assumed it was and the code as we discover it must be. (140)Consider the above comment along with my comment (from the second lecture) that all art is constrained. Looking at the way a text game forces you think a certain way can remind us that all games that seem "natural" to us only seem that way because we already think the way that the game encourages us to think. All games persuade us to jump through hoops, by offering rewards. Not everyone feels the rewards offered by interactive fiction are worth the work required, but the same can be said of every game genre, and beyond games, the same can be said of novels, opera, camping, weight-lifting, and pretty much any human activity that someone, somewhere on the planet, enjoys.
This link will take you to a page about Andrew Plotkin's interactive fiction game "Shade."
Try clicking on "Play Now" in the upper right corner (you may need to click "Show me How" as well) and following the directions.
If that doesn't work, try this online version.
- Read about the first third of "Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave," up to the paragraph marked 21.
- If you love computer programming, you might enjoy looking through the analysis of the computer code. If coding doesn't thrill you, you can skip ahead to the photo tour that starts at paragraph 59.
- Either way, read the final paragraphs, from section 75-87.
Galatea (Emily Short, 2000
A few years ago, film critic Roger Ebert announced that he does not consider video games to be an art form. Here, he has (at the bottom of the page) a thoughtful exchange with a reader.
I'd like you to look beyond whatever gut-level reaction you might have, in order to address the reasons why Ebert is predisposed to think the way he does. What lenses color his perception of video games? What lenses color your own perception, contributing to your own take on the subject? Where are some assumptions that Ebert and his questioner make, and how can we usefully challenge those assumptions in order to learn more about the debate? (Note -- this isn't about making your opinion look good by mocking people who hold different opinions; this is about looking for paths to agreement, on the assumption that we come closer to truth by examining multiple different answers to a question, rather than trying to "win" by calling the other guy names.)
The online participation portfolio (I'll also refer to as a blogging portfolio) is your opportunity to draw my attention to specific examples of your best online participation, in a framework that identifies what you thought was most valuable about each contribution.
Some people contribute best when they write a smaller number of longer pieces, while others work best by giving a constant stream of briefer statements. Some students find that the act of writing a blog entry helps them make sense of the material (so they post early), while others feel they only have good things to say after they have had the chance to see what their peers have to say first.
- All art is constrained.
- Realism is a choice.
- Art presupposes a critical tradition.
To understand what Adams was talking about, you'll have to look more closely at the genre of interactive fiction.
Read Game. There are about 7 or 8 pages to this article. An excellent introduction to the genre.
Read this introduction to interactive fiction.
Play along with the annotation, and try to get across the crystal bridge. (Gameplay tips: http://brasslantern.org/beginners/beginnersguide-b.html) You'll need to get past the snake, first! Playing IF absolutely requires you to create a map. (Here be hints and tips for Adventure.)
Once you've crossed the crystal bridge, keep playing for as long as the game holds your interest. (I've learned that some people get addicted to this kind of game, while others simply can't stand it.)
Listen to my introduction and the opening remarks from Scott Adams. Don't miss the audio of the joke about the bear -- the audience reaction is really worth hearing. You can scan the transcripts of the Q & A session.
Storytelling in Video Games
(Remember the associated response assignment.)
You should first read the course syllabus.
The way J-Web is set up, an essay question will be marked as a zero until I have evaluated it. (I wish there were some way to change that.) I don't promise to evaluate all essay questions overnight. When I give you multiple-choice questions, the computer will be able to grade it immediately.
Don't think of the online exercises as tests or even quizzes. They are simply online exercises that are designed to help you keep from falling behind in the readings.
Since I won't be able to see whether you are smiling and nodding (indicating you like what we're talking about in class and want more), you're rolling your eyes and doodling (suggesting you're bored or I'm going too slowly), or frowning and muttering (suggesting I'm going too fast), I will need some way of quickly checking how the class is doing. The J-Web exercises give me that opportunity. All J-Web exercises are open notes, open book, and open Internet -- but my idea of "openness" does not include asking other people do to your work for you.
Also, as is the case with any assigned reading, incorporate your response into a "response/position statement" e-mail for that day.
Checking to see if there is a J-Web workbook due and writing the response paper are routine things that are part of any reading assignment.In the future, I won't always add a note like this one, reminding you of these routine details.
Requires Flash, a multimedia plugin that should already be on almost any computer purchased within the past several years.
Our assignment is to watch a short cartoon that introduces (through humor and exaggeration) several important details in the development of video games.
If you aren't familiar with Homestarrunner.com, you might first watch Strong Bad answer a letter from someone asking for help writing an English paper. Then you can go on to watch Strong Bad offer his opinions on Video Games.
Stick around after the animation ends -- there will be four more things to do. (Click the boxes.)
- Find a traditional review of one of the games analyzed in one of the 10 "unmissable" examples of "new games journalism" (but not the same game you chose for Ex 1a). (To find a traditional review, just go to Google and type the name of your game with the word "review" and you should have no trouble.)
- Write a brief reflection that analyzes the most important differences between the traditional review and the new games journalism piece. Quote passages from both the traditional review and the NGJ essay.
- Include an MLA Works Cited page that includes both the NGJ essay and your chosen review. (Here are some handouts to help you format write an MLA-Style paper and the bibliography entries. Remember to alphabetize your entries by the author's last name.)
Write a short review of a computer game of your choice. 1-2 pages. Upload to Turnitin.com by noon Friday. (For future reference, most exercises will be due at 9AM, so that I will have time to review your work before posting the day's discussion questions.)
Make this a traditional game review, addressing key topics such as how to play, where the particular challenges are, how this game differs from others in the same genre, why it received the ESRB rating that it got (if any), whether the game has replay value, etc.
(Please do not simply answer my list of questions in the order I presented them here; instead, look up a few online reviews, and use them as models. Gamespot.com is a consumer-friendly commercial site, and GameRevolution.com is a bit more irreverent and biting.)
Read Amer Ajami's GameSpot review of Jedi Outcast (three parts), and compare it to Ian "Always Black" Shanahan's "Bow, N*gger." This article, State of Play, will help you pin down the differences. For the purposes of this class, I am far more interested in having you emulate the subtle, thoughtful, engaging Shanahan's piece than the precise, technical analysis presented by Ajami. Ajami's review is perfectly good for what it is -- an assessment of a commercial product, useful for those who are considering buying it. On the other hand, Shanahan's piece opens up a huge array of emotional and intellectual possibilities.
For your response paper, focus mainly on Shanahan's article. Quote passages from the two very different analyses of Jedi Outcast, and use those quotations to support your own explanation of how and why new games journalism differs from traditional reviews.
For every assigned text in EL250, including an article, a section from a book, a game, or a video, I am asking every student to contribute to an online discussion.
First we will start out simply posting a comment to the appropriate page on the EL 250 website.
But once everyone has had some time to experiment with the SHU weblog system, I'm asking for everyone to employ this four-step process, designed to prepare for a productive online discussion.
You will each get a Seton Hill weblog. I will point you to complete instructions, and there will be plenty of time for you to try out your blog and get comfortable with it before we start blogging in earnest.
Update: I've posted a 15-minute tutorial on how to log in to your blog and post an entry. You'll need to wait until I e-mail you with your username and password before your blog will work, but the video will give you an idea of what to do. You can also see the same material as a written tutorial. After you get your username and password, post a test blog. (If you've already blogged for me before, you're welcome to start posting you response/position papers on your blog.)
Update: When Derek pointed out that what I announced as the "vastly improved" had the sound all screwed up, I replaced that bad link and I'll restore the links to the files that were larger and uglier to look at but acceptable to hear. Obviously I'm still looking for the right balance between good audio and good visuals.
Blogging Tutorial (80MB) | Blogging Tutorial (20MB)
Choppy sound over a slow connection?
Right-click and "Save As" to your computer.
Cick on the file when it finishes downloading.
If that one is too slow for you to download, try this different version, which may begin playing faster. It's in three parts, which should load automatically one after the other. Blogging Tutorial (part 2 and part 3)
Online classes are not for everyone. This class will require self-motivation and a willingness to contribute meaningfully to an online environment. I will have some online Q & A banks that will disappear if you do not complete them by a certain time. Don't obsess over those activities -- they are really only designed to prime the pump, so to speak, and let you test your mastery of the subject in private, which should prepare you for a good online, public discussion. Your job is not to bookmark everything I post to my weblog and spit back the "right" answers during the quiz. Instead, you will be asked to develop the capacity to present and defend your own original thoughts about the assigned readings.
By 9am, you should have already completed all of that day's readings and workbook assignments (a "workbook" is my term for a collection of small review assignments intended to help you stay on track with the readings), so that you can contribute fully to the online discussion.
Each day at 4pm I will post discussion questions on the course weblog. You will usually have about two days to contribute to these online discussions. (By "contribute" I mean do your part to help carry on an in-depth conversation.)
Keep up with the readings, reflect on them before the weekday 4pm course blog update, and help sustain an active, positive learning environment.
I will often send out bulk e-mails to the address on file for you in the J-Web system. If you check a different address more regularly, please use SHU's e-mail forwarding service so that you don't miss important updates.
Posting a comment here (or anywhere on the course blog) will automatically generate an e-mail, so you don't need to e-mail me to tell me that you left a comment.
If you'd like to arrange a telephone conversation, or if you happen to be on campus and you'd like to visit, my website has my contact information.
(Because the blogs were down for part of the day, I've posted today's discussion questions on the J-Web forum.)
The course will begin with a few slide shows and handouts that I've worked up in order to get things going, but we will quickly move into a phase where most of our time will be spent responding to the assigned readings -- I won't keep creating slide shows that spell in bulleted lists out every little detail for you. Instead, we will work out the important things together, through online discussion (and I'm sure I'll learn as much as everyone else in the class).
- I plan to post an announcement every day at about 4pm EST, and that's where you'll find a list of what you should be working on next.
- The page you will want to consult most frequently is the outline (which lists all assigned readings and the due dates for major assignments).
- During the last week or so, most of the assignments will be geared towards helping you make progress on your term paper.
The most important thing to note is that I'll make that 4pm update with the optimistic assumption that you have completed all the assigned work for that day. Some of the next day's work will actually be due at 9:AM, so that I have time to read and respond to it, and incorporate your progress into my daily 4PM announcement.
Feel free to post questions on the site -- I'll be happy to clarify whenever I can. I'm working on an updated blogging tutorial, but if you're dying to get started, here's a link to the existing weblog tutorial.
You can also contact me privately, if you don't wish to make your comment public.
If you e-mail me a good question, I might strip your name from it and post a public response, with the idea that others in the class who haven't thought of asking that question would nevertheless benefit from the answer. If you'd prefer a private response, then let me know.
At the moment, the Power Point file, without recorded narration but with the notes that I was reading from, is available in the Handouts section of J-Web.
After you've watched/listened to/read the lecture, post a response here -- a request for clarification, an objection, a link to some other related material, or anything else that demonstrates your willingness to engage intellectually with the material.
A Windows movie file (slides and audio) (AVI, 67 Meg) Opening Lecture.avi
MP3 Audio (37 Meg): Opening Lecture.mp3
- Video Game
For the first part of the course, every day at about 4pm I will post a message pointing out exactly what you should do for upcoming assignments.
I'm still working on the website, and ironing out some kinks in the online version of of the opening lecture. So some of the other pages on this site might refer to things that are still developing.
Here are the pages on this site that you should read for tomorrow.
If you look at the top of this page and click the "Outline" tab, you'll see that the five items above are already listed in the outline under Jan 3. In the future, I won't retype every link that's already in the outline, I'll just expect you to go directly to the outline and see what's there.
Each day at about 4pm, I will post discussion questions that assume you have already finished all the work that is listed for that day. (Some assignments will be due at 9am, so that I'll have time to review them before the 4pm bulletin.)
You'll have about two days to respond to the discussion prompt and engage your peers (initially on this website, and eventually on your own SHU weblogs, which I will set up very soon.) We'll do some work via e-mail, some on J-Web, and some in Turnitin.com. But every assignment will have its own page on the course website, and I hope that those details will be posted well before you need them.
If you're ever feel unsure of what to do on a particular assignment, or you're working ahead and you would like for me to flesh out a particular page, just send me an e-mail or post a comment on the blog, and I'll tend to it as soon as I can.
The welcome page and the syllabus contain much more information about the course, which I won't repeat here. Should you have any questions, please feel free to post a comment anywhere on the course website. (That will automatically generate an e-mail to me, so you needn't e-mail me to ask me to look for your comment. I'll find it.)
It's about 9pm. I'm signing off for a few hours so I can get my kids to bed, but I'll check in again briefly tonight in order to post the first set of study questions (due Friday).