Weeks Two and Three in CSC 442 Section B at UIS Transcript


Todays 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.


Well, welcome back!  This is Burks Oakley, and today is Sunday, February 2nd, 2014 - Super Bowl Sunday!  Im 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 evening.

On the positive side, a number of students did really well and were thoroughly engaged with the course material.  And Im really pleased to see the wide variety of topics we discussed in Week Two.  We looked at:

We also looked at:

I probably left out a few topics in this review - but those were the major themes that I can recall.  I find it interesting that there was even a discussion of e-mail, and how many students don't use e-mail except for work - it is clear that they prefer to send text messages.

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, well 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 disability.

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.

Im 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, Ill 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 dont ask a number of different questions.  Of course, you will then need to moderate the discussion of your question.  This means that youll 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 dont hesitate to contact me.


Well, that wraps up this podcast, so until next time, this is Burks, signing off.