January 4, 2008 Archives
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.