Required Work

[ Updated Aug. 23, 2018 ]


Weekly blog posts 20 points
Weekly blog comments 36 points
Topic presentation 20 points
— Reference list 8 points
— Discussion leadership 6 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.
  • Thursday: Come to class.
  • Thursday or Friday: 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 FOUR PARTS to the instructions below. Please read them carefully.

The topic presentations are NOT 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, and adding other ideas. Each topic presentation must include significant articles 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 (do these things AT LEAST two full weeks 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 two weeks before submitting your reference list.
  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. Research these ideas and increase your expertise in and knowledge about those ideas.
  4. From that research, identify at least three significant scholarly articles, book chapters, or other “deep” works that you will read thoroughly and refer to in your presentation.
  5. Based on that research, 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.

Part 2: The reference list AND your five key points (due exactly one week before your presentation date).

  1. Write an email to your professor. The subject line: Topic presentation reference list.
  2. Include a numbered list of the five points you will cover in your presentation. Each point must be a complete sentence — either a statement or a question. Make sure they do not repeat one another or overlap too much. Make sure you are expanding on ideas within the scope of the week’s defined topic or topics.
  3. Attach an MS Word document containing a reference list in which each reference is correctly formatted in APA style. A minimum of THREE references must be scholarly articles, book chapters, or other significant works (NOT short videos, NOT news articles or Op-Eds lacking analysis, etc.). I will look these up and evaluate them.
  4. For each item in the reference list, summarize briefly its value to your presentation. Make it easy for me to connect this to one or more of your five key points. Obviously, the point of finding the references is that you will use them to enhance your expertise about the topics that are the basis of your presentation.
  5. This complete package must be emailed to me before 9 a.m. on the Friday before your presentation. Check your email over the weekend in case I have sent you urgent feedback about your choices.

Part 3: The actual topic presentation

  1. You may use any kind of presentation materials — your choice.
  2. Minimum presentation time: 25 minutes. Maximum depends on the topic discussion.
  3. Do not be boring. Work hard to be interesting to everyone in the class.
  4. During your presentation, you must clearly indicate your five key points, as outlined in your email to me. Organize your presentation so you are highlighting each point of interest in a distinctive way.
  5. During and after your presentation, you might be asked to respond to questions from your professor or your fellow students. You are expected to be comfortable talking further about your selected key points. You should know more than what you included in your presentation.

Point deductions (live presentation)

  • Reading from notes, your slides, etc.
  • Mumbling, rushing, talking too fast.
  • Talking slowly or in a monotone; seeming uninterested in your own materials.
  • Failure to show examples or external media.
  • Failure to make eye contact with the audience.
  • 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 choose to talk about a person, such as a scholar whose theory is relevant to the week’s topics — but don’t spend too much time trying to tell us everything about them.
  • Focus on the message you want to deliver about each key point. Think: “I want the audience to understand x.” That is your goal for each one of your five key points.
  • Well in advance, practice the entire presentation out loud at least three times. Time it!
  • Come to the classroom at least 20 minutes before class. Set up the projector and classroom computer. Open all your links. Take deep breaths.

Part 4: After or during the presentation, in class

  1. You will confidently lead the class in a discussion about the week’s topic or topics.
  2. Most students find it easiest to do this AFTER the presentation. Some students are able to integrate the discussion and the presentation, but that is more challenging.
  3. The key goal here is to get to students talking and/or asking questions about ideas.
  4. The WORST question is, “What do you think about x?” No one wants to answer that.
  5. Have at least THREE distinct questions designed to stimulate conversation and thinking. All questions must be connected to what you presented.

Class attendance and participation

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.