Today’s podcast is about Weeks 2 and 3 in CSC 442 Section B at the University of Illinois at Springfield. For more information, visit the blog at csc442b.blogspot.com.
back! This is Burks Oakley, and today is Sunday,
February 2nd, 2014 - Super Bowl Sunday! I’m speaking to
you today from my rented condo in beautiful Naples,
Florida. I had a really good week this past week -
and certainly the highlight was seeing (and
photographing) a Short-Tailed Hawk right in my backyard here
in Naples. This is a really rare species of birds, with
only about 50-100 living in Florida - and most of them are in
the Everglades or in the Florida Keys. So getting to see
and photograph this bird really made my week. Amazing that it
was right here in my backyard!
OK - on with our course
now. Throughout Week Two of our course, we discussed a
number of publications from the Pew Internet and American Life
Project on the general topic of What People Do
When They Go Online. We started our
"student-led discussions" in Week Two, and overall, there were some excellent
discussion threads that were really well moderated, and this is
just what I am looking for in these online discussions.
But unfortunately, I have to say that I was disappointed that a
number of students hardly participated in the discussions at
all. I sure hope that they will be more active this coming
week. Please remember that you are required to post your
original discussion question each week no later than Wednesday
On the positive side, a
number of students did really well and were thoroughly engaged
with the course material. And I’m really pleased to see
the wide variety of topics we discussed in Week Two. We
We also looked at:
Several students have asked me how I grade the weekly discussion postings. I look at both the quality and the quantity of each student's postings for the week. Basically, I look at the discussion question first - does it show evidence of critical thinking related to the weekly topics? You are required to post your own discussion question and then moderate the ensuing discussion, and also participate in at least three other students' discussion threads. If you make two postings in three other students' threads, well, that is six postings right there. And if you engage three students in your own discussion thread, with several messages exchanged with each student – well, that is another six postings. Bottom line – if you don't have at least ten postings for the week, you really aren't doing enough. The best students always seem to have fifteen or more good postings. Of course, what you write in each posting also matters – and matters quite a lot – recall the handout on "Student-Led Discussions" - it is linked from the Handouts button on the main Course Menu at the left of the Blackboard window.
What is a high-quality post? Well, it teaches us something, or adds something positive or substantial to the discussion. It contains information from the weekly readings or another valid source, or applies a concept from the readings or a legitimate website in a meaningful way, or it facilitates understanding of the course material. The best posts not only introduce new ideas or knowledge, but also help us relate it to what we are studying at the time.
Let me say one more
thing about moderating your own discussion thread. You
should think of this in terms of ownership – YOU own
your own discussion thread, and YOU alone are
responsible for promoting an interesting and informative
discussion of your own question.
Well, moving on now, in
Week Three of our course, we’ll be looking at the general
topic of broadband AND access to the Internet - we'll look at
several reports from the Pew Internet and American Life
Project, as well as an online article that is quite relevant
to the Week Three topic. The Pew reports are entitled: Home
Broadband 2010 and Digital
Differences, while the online article is entitled: The
FCC and broadband: Will rural areas be left behind?
I think that we have already touched on bandwidth as a
lingering part of the digital divide in the United States, and
we certainly know that students at UIS who live in rural parts
of Illinois simply don't have access to broadband - something
that most of us take for granted. Of course, that is
easy for me to say now - but we've actually have only had
broadband in our home for the past seven-plus years - before
that, we still only had dial-up access over a 56-k
modem. We finally broke down and got cable TV for
Christmas in 2006, and shortly after that time, we added
high-speed Internet. We installed a wireless router, so
that we have wireless high-speed access throughout our
house. As an aside, I'm amazed that this router is still
working great - since it has been running continuously for
well over seven years.
I'll add that the
widespread adoption of broadband makes it possible for so many
of you to be able to download these podcasts – since the mp3
files can be as large as one megabyte per minute of
sound. As I mentioned earlier, when we look at
broadband, we need to keep in mind the digital divide between
those who have broadband access in the home and those who
don't - how big of a disadvantage is it for people not to have
broadband access in today's world?
The Pew report on
Digital Differences characterizes the differences between
those who are using the Internet and those who aren't.
It is interesting to note that even in 2014, differences in
Internet access still exist among different demographic
groups, especially when it comes to access to high-speed
broadband in the home. This report also examines other
differences between people who use the Internet, and those who
don't, including education, socio-economic status, and
Also on the syllabus for Week Three are two links to sites that can measure the bandwidth of your Internet connection. I hope that you will take the time to measure your bandwidth and then share the results with everyone in the class.
I’m looking forward to our discussions this coming week – and I hope that some of you look into the concept of broadband in greater detail - since other countries, such as Japan and France, actually have much faster connections available in homes at a lower cost than we have here in the US. Later today, I’ll create a new discussion forum for the Week Three Discussions, and your job will be to pose a question for your fellow students by the end of the day on Wednesday – well, hopefully much earlier than that. You really should focus on single question, and not have an initial post with five different questions. One question is just fine – and possibly a second related question. But don’t ask a number of different questions. Of course, you will then need to moderate the discussion of your question. This means that you’ll have to respond to most all of the other students who answer your question. And remember, it takes some time to think of good questions based on the readings – this approach is designed to help you with your critical thinking skills. If you are stuck thinking of a question, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Phew! Wow, this has been a long podcast – but hopefully it contains some important information about our class. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Well, that wraps up this podcast, so until next time, this is Burks, signing off.