Weeks Eight and Nine in CSC 442 Section B at UIS Transcript

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Today's podcast is about Weeks Eight and Nine in CSC 442 Section B at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  For more information, visit the blog at csc442b.blogspot.com.

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Well, welcome back!  This is Burks Oakley, and I'm speaking to you this morning from suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Today is Sunday, March 23rd, 2014.  I'm here in Minnesota visiting our older daughter and her family - so this week, I'll be answering to the name of "Grandpa Burks".  Our daughter has two children, and another on the way.  I took several days driving here, and I had a good day taking photos of birds near the Mississippi River yesterday.  Of course, it was a real shock to my system to go back to winter - gosh, I was able to play golf in Champaign earlier in the week.  But it clearly is still winter here in Minneapolis.

OK now, on with the podcast.

I was really busy this past week grading the papers that you all submitted for the Paper One assignment.  There were some excellent papers, and it is clear to me that the students who wrote these papers put a major effort into this assignment, and their hard work definitely paid off! But I have to say that I'm really disappointed by a number of the papers that were submitted for this assignment - they just were not very well written.  I honestly don't know if this is because some students didn't put much effort into this assignment, or if these students simply are lacking the skills needed to write a college-level paper.  Since our course is an upper-division general education course, everyone should have completed Composition I and II, and know how to write a paragraph!  [I've never given so many low grades on an assignment in the CSC442 class before, and I'm really troubled by this.]  At any rate, in the next day or so, I'll be everyone an e-mail note with information about how to access their graded papers, which contain my detailed comments.  Don't hesitate to contact me if you have a question about how I graded your paper.

OK, now, on with the podcast.  This past week, in Week Eight of our course, we looked at the role of the Internet in politics, including campaigns and elections, as well as in government and civic engagement.  Certainly a topic that is, or at least should be, relevant to all of us.

We read several publications from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and these were:  Government Online, Social networking sites and politics, Social Media and Political Engagement, and Civic Engagement in the Digital Age.  Even though you were asked to answer one of the questions that I posed, it appears that several of you posted a question as you would have done for a "student-led discussion".  But I guess that is OK.

To summarize the Week Eight discussions - the Internet is now seen to play a huge role in the political process - people are going online to share political content with others, to sign up for updates about elections, to donate money to candidates, to set up political news alerts, and to sign up for volunteer activities related to campaigns.  The Internet is now equal to newspapers, and roughly twice as important as radio, as a source of election news and information.  In the 2012 election, Americans were eager to share their views on the races with others online and to take part in the debate online on social media sites, such as blogs and social networking sites.  In the one Pew report, they found that fully 42% of those individuals ages 18 to 29 say they regularly learn about campaigns from the Internet, the highest percentage for any news source.  We also saw that Americans are now going online to contact a government official or to sign an online petition.  I mentioned the Project VoteSmart website in my posting in the Week Eight discussion forum - and several of you looked into the un-biased information that is available on this site.  I hope that everyone will make note of the votesmart.org website for future use.

OK, now, moving on.  Week Nine of our course will be starting tomorrow.  And during Week Nine, we'll be looking at some aspects of how the Internet is impacting teens in America today.  We'll be reading and discussing four papers from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and they are:  Teens and Sexting, Cyberbullying 2010: What the Research Tells Us, Teens and Technology 2013, and Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.

The report on teens and sexting provides some insight into this relatively recent phenomenon.  You know, I read in the Chicago Tribune a few years ago that the Illinois State Senate approved a measure whereby students under 18 who use computers or cell phones to share nude photos of their peers would earn little more than a scolding -- offenders would NOT face criminal charges, but would get juvenile court supervision that could result in counseling or community service.  A timely topic for our discussions, for sure!  The Pew report on cyberbullying found that about one third of all teenagers who use the Internet say that they have been targets of a range of annoying and potentially menacing online activities such as receiving threatening messages or having rumors about them spread online.  The Pew study of teens and technology examines the tools teens use to communicate, with a particular focus on mobile devices, and then places the use of those tools in the broader context of how teens choose to communicate with people in their lives - certainly topics we all know a lot about already.  Finally, the report on social media and privacy found that teen social media users do not express a high level of concern with third-parties accessing their private information.  Go figure!

Im looking forward to another week of interesting discussions with all of you -- to learn from your perspectives and your experiences.  I know that each of you has experiences that are relevant to one or more of these Pew studies.  Remember that a few well thought out postings that go into depth, contribute much more than a larger number of brief, superficial ones.  And I'd like to say one other thing about writing a discussion question.  If your question includes the phrase "How do you feel about...?", well, then I suggest that you re-think what you are asking, since the best discussion questions require some FACTS to answer well - not just a short statement about the respondent's feelings.

Finally, remember that your second paper is due on May 9th, which is the last day of the Spring 2014 semester.  I have already opened a new discussion forum for the Phase One discussions of this Paper Two assignment.  And last Wednesday, I produced a podcast about the Paper Two assignment.  Sometime soon, you each should take time to look over what this paper should cover.  You then should select your topic for this paper, and begin your research to find appropriate online references, and also begin to participate in the Phase One discussions of this assignment.

As for this podcast, I would really like to hear from anyone who listened to all of it - so please send me an e-mail note, if you did.  As you know, my e-mail address is oakley@uis.edu.

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

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