Required Work

[Updated Aug. 20, 2016]


Weekly blog posts 20 points
Weekly blog comments 36 points
Topic presentation 20 points
— Reference list 3 points
Presentation assessments 11 points
Class attendance and participation 10 points
TOTAL 100 points

Details about points and letter grades are in the Syllabus.

Weekly blog posts

Specific instructions for each blog post will be posted each week.

Each assignment has a title that begins with the words Blog Post, followed by a number. The assignment will include the DUE DATE for that blog post. See all posts related to your assignments by looking at the Assignments category.

Each blog post must be 300 to 500 words long. Demonstrate your understanding of the reading(s) or video(s). Show that you have both read and understood any assigned reading or viewing. Most important: Report as instructed on any activities assigned. Be sure to read the assignment each week BEFORE you start writing your own post!

SLUG: In the assignment post, you will see the assigned SLUG for that week’s blog post. The SLUG must be the FIRST WORD(S) in the TITLE of your blog post.

A total of 12 blog posts are due throughout the semester, each worth two (2) points. Only the points from your 10 best blog posts will be counted toward the final grade, so the total amount of points possible is 20. To be counted, a post must be online by 9 a.m. on Monday in the week assigned. (If a blog post is ever due on a day other than Monday, that will be noted on the Course Schedule page.)

Your blog will be a new blog dedicated to the work assigned in this course. Your blog must be created at

Weekly blog comments

Blog posts seem pointless if no one is reading them, and blog comments show a blogger that someone is paying attention. Thus each week you are asked to comment on (or reply to) three of the posts by your fellow students. Each comment of substance* is valued as one (1) point, so a total of 36 points is possible. To be counted, a comment must be posted on the other student’s post by 4 p.m. on the Friday in the week assigned. No more than three comments will be counted in any single week.

* Substance: To earn one (1) point, a comment must add something of interest. Simply saying you agree or disagree, or saying you like what the post says, is NOT worth a point. Write the comment for the person, not for the point.

Grades for your comments: To get credit for your comments, you must LINK to them. Otherwise, they will not be graded. To supply these links, you must post a comment on YOUR OWN blog post and paste all of the precise comment URLs into that one comment by you. Paste each link on a separate line (press Enter or Return after EACH pasted link).

Here is an example (image):

Example of three comments posted as reply

This comment (reply) containing your three links must appear on your post by 5 p.m. on Friday in the week assigned. So you must post three comments by 4 p.m. Friday, then get the correct and complete URLs to those comments, and paste the URLs into a reply/comment to your own weekly blog comment by 5 p.m. Friday. This is your task every Friday (of course, you may do it before Friday).

Note that if you fail to approve comments that others make on your posts, you will lose points. Make sure you approve all comments between 4 and 5 p.m. EVERY Friday.

Here’s a weekly schedule to keep you on track:

  • Sunday: Write your own blog post. DEADLINE for your blog post: 9 a.m. Monday.
  • Wednesday afternoon: Come to class.
  • Thursday: Comment on three posts written this week by other students in the class. It’s always best to do this AFTER class meets. DEADLINE for three comments on other students’ blogs: 4 p.m. Friday.
  • Thursday or Friday: Post the URL links to your three comments (as a new comment on YOUR blog post). DEADLINE for comment links: 5 p.m. Friday.

See also:

  1. If you skipped writing a blog post …
  2. Trouble getting your comment link?

Topic presentation

Each student will be a topic presenter once during the semester. The goal of the topic presentation is for the student to take ownership of a topic area and become an expert on that topic. We are in the communications field, so “expert” does not mean you have to master engineering, or any other technology!  But you will need to thoroughly research all the main ideas around the topic.

There is no research paper in this course — consider this presentation to be a research paper without the “paper.”

There are THREE PARTS to the instructions below. Please read them carefully.

The topic presentations are NOT ONLY based on the week’s reading assignment(s). For the class meeting in which a student is assigned the topic presentation, that student is responsible for elaborating on and explaining the topic, expanding on ideas found in the readings. Each topic presentation must include significant websites and/or articles/posts relevant to the week’s reading. These must be included on the reference list for your presentation (see below for details about that).

Part 1: Preliminary steps for a successful topic presentation (DEADLINE: One full week before your presentation)

  1. Identify the topics of the week of your presentation (hint: they are on the Course Schedule). Think about those as you do the rest.
  2. Read the assigned articles (and watch all assigned videos, if any) for the week. Complete this at least one week before your presentation day.
  3. Identify two or three important ideas in EACH of the assigned readings or videos for the week. These must be related to the topics, but they will be less broad (more specific). Research these ideas by searching online for relevant websites, posts, journal articles, videos, or cases. Increase your expertise in and knowledge about those ideas.
  4. From that research, identify at least three significant websites and/or articles/posts/videos that you will use and discuss in your presentation.
  5. Identify exactly five distinct points (or “key ideas”) you want to talk about in your presentation. All points must be clearly connected to the topics, but these points are aspects of the topics, or extensions of them. Make sure the five points are not repeating one another.
  6. Write an email to your professor. The subject line: Topic presentation reference list. (a) Include a numbered list of the five points you will cover. Each point must be a complete sentence — either a statement or a question. (b) Include the complete URLs for each of the significant websites and/or articles/posts that you will use in your presentation. (c) For each URL, include a short explanation of why it is important, and note which of your five points it relates to.  This email must be sent at least five days before your presentation: on Friday or earlier! NOTE THAT YOU ONLY GET POINTS for the reference list if you send this email on time and follow the instructions. Otherwise, you lose the 3 points.
  7. Prepare all materials you will show in your presentation. I suggest making a Google Document containing all the URLs you will show in class, one URL per line. This way they will be clickable links, and you can open them on any computer, because you can open the Google Document on any computer. List the URLs in order, and you will not get confused.
  8. Write an outline of your presentation points. You may look at this list during your presentation, but DO NOT READ from it.
  9. Practice the entire presentation out loud at least three times. Time it!
  10. Come to the classroom at least 20 minutes before class. Set up the projector and classroom computer. Open all your links. Take deep breaths.

If you are co-presenting with a partner

Everything in the list above is the same, except what is listed below. The two of you must work together to divide the ideas between you. You must not repeat or duplicate each other during the presentation!

Each student must send me a separate email for the reference list.

  • For number 3 in the list above: The two students must meet and collaborate to come up with  these ideas. You must do it together so that you are in agreement about what is important to talk about in your presentation.
  • For number 4 in the list above: Each student must send me three different URLs. No duplicates between you!
  • For number 5 in the list above: Each student must write only three distinct points (not five). These must be different for each student. These are the points you will make during the presentation. Make sure you collaborate so there is no duplication.

Part 2: During the actual topic presentation

  1. You may use any kind of presentation materials — your choice.
  2. You must open and show at least five sites, videos, articles, or other external Web or mobile media that enhance your presentation. (If you are one of a pair: three for each person, a total of six, not five.)
  3. Single presenter: 25–30 minutes. Pair of presenters: 20 minutes each.
  4. Do not be boring. Work hard to be interesting.
  5. You must clearly indicate your separate points, as outlined in your email to me. If you are a sole presenter, five points. If you are in a pair, three points each. Organize your presentation so you are highlighting each point of interest in a distinctive way.
  6. After your presentation, you will respond to questions from your professor. This is where your expertise from your research will help you. You are expected to be comfortable talking further about your selected points (or “key ideas”). You should know more than what you included in your presentation. You should be able to participate confidently in a class discussion about the week’s topics. You should be very familiar with the assigned readings (and/or videos).

Point deductions (live presentation)

  • Reading from notes, slides, etc.
  • Failure to contribute to the class discussion.
  • Failure to show external media as described above.
  • Repetition of what was in the assigned reading or videos (refer to them, yes, but don’t tell your audience what they already read or watched).

Presentation tips

  • Use about 5 minutes for each main idea or point. This is a good rule of thumb to use in structuring your presentation. Make it modular.
  • Showing videos is good, BUT make sure you are NOT showing more than 2 or 3 minutes of any video! (Only show the best part.)
  • You may begin by introducing the author(s) of the assigned text — sometimes the author is quite an interesting person — but don’t spend too much time on that.

Part 3: After the presentation (DEADLINE: One week or less after your presentation)

You must share all your resources in a Storify. You must create a new blog post on your blog for this. Provide a link to the Storify in the post. Be sure to include the word “Storify” in the post title, and the topic(s) of your presentation in the post. Post this before the next class meeting after your presentation.

Here’s an example that shows a Storify from a past student. Please notice how the student wrote and numbered his main points.

Here is a video how-to. It shows you how to embed videos and Web links in a Storify correctly. Make sure you are doing it right.

  1. Create a new Storify that summarizes your full presentation and includes all the major points. Number the points and style them as headlines, as in the example.
  2. Embed all significant resources used in your presentation. Embed all videos that you showed. For any academic journal articles, include a link to the ABSTRACT of that article, which will be freely accessible on the journal’s website. Do not link to anything that cannot be opened by the public.
  3. Organize the resources under each one of your main points from your presentation. Write a very brief summary of each one of your main points in the Storify, followed by the related resources.
  4. Be sure to write a good descriptive title and a short, helpful introduction for your Storify.
  5. Publish the Storify, get the published URL, and post a LINK to the Storify in a new post on your blog.

NOTE: If there are two presenters, then BOTH of them must post the same Storify link in their blogs. That means the two presenters must collaborate to create the one, single Storify.

Point deductions (Storify)

  • Missing the deadline: 3 points
  • For each 24-hour period after the deadline: 1 point
  • Failure to follow the instructions: 5 points

Presentation assessments

This assessment is a printed form that each student will fill in, in class, after each presentation. The assessment will cover the requirements for the presentation and also gauge the “interestingness” of the presentation. The assessments will be used by your professor while she is grading the presentation. However, the final grade is the decision of the professor. The grade is partly, not wholly, determined by the assessments.

Assessments are not anonymous. You will receive a point for each assessment you hand in, so you must put your name on the assessment.

Class attendance and participation

Image by on Flickr

If you miss more than ONE class meeting, points will be subtracted from your grade. Chronic lateness, leaving early, or inattention can also negatively affect this portion of your grade.

Participation during class meetings refers to making meaningful comments and/or asking relevant questions related to the week’s topic. You do not need to talk excessively, but you do need to contribute. Please note that any pre-arranged remarks will not count as participation and might in fact detract from your grade. Participation must be spontaneous and genuine.

Attention counts. Checking your phone or viewing social media during class is really rude to anyone who is speaking, whether that is your professor or a fellow student. Rudeness is undesirable behavior anywhere, including in the classroom. Learn to give your full attention to people in the room with you.

It is possible to lose all 10 points if you are frequently absent or late, or if you do not participate in class.