Thursday
Oct082009

How to Participate in Discussions

To complete your discussion participation:

(1) Go to the “Discussion” section of the menu on your left, and click on the link for the Unit we’re currently in. Read the available topics and think about which topics appeal to you. You may want to make sure you’ve listened to the assigned recordings, and read the assigned readings, so that you’ll have a sense of what the topics are really about.

(2) Read the instructions for the topic you’re discussing, and consider the specific questions for your topic. Draft your response (about 200 words), proof-read it, and click “Create New Post” to enter it on the website. Make sure this is what you want everyone to read — it will be visible to your classmates. If you have any trouble submitting your post, please contact the TA immediately, including an attachment of your work with the email.

(3) Comment on your classmates’ posts, and pursue conversation with those whose posts interest you. Ask questions, challenge perspectives, and don’t shy away from controversy.

(4) After the deadline, your TAs will spend a few days organizing the posts into groups according to inquiries and controversies that your posts have in common with those of other students.

(5) Your discussion participation — in total — is worth 5 points. TAs award 1-2 points of extra credit for really substantial and thoughtful contributions to conversation. 

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We have 5 units in the course, and you need to choose topics in only 4 of these units, as topics for your 200-word discussion posts. The deadlines for the discussion posts are at noon on each of the dates as follows:

Unit 1 — October 15

Unit 2 — October 29

Unit 3 — November 12

Unit 4 — November 24

Unit 5 — December 3

(These are the same as the final deadlines for the essays, of which you need only write two.)

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Some important notes on etiquette:

Appropriate and encouraged uses of the site: Stating your opinion, fostering debate, criticizing/disagreeing with the content of the lectures or your classmates’ posts, talking about music, asking questions, shouting out for your TAs, making suggestions about the website, etc.

Inappropriate uses of the site: Getting personal — don’t lavish praise on people, and don’t cut them down. These discussions should be about music. If you’re feeling angry or emotional, say how you feel, but leave out the attacks on people’s intelligence, personality, etc…stick to your point of view on the content of the conversation. If you have a compliment to give someone, make sure you describe specifically why you think a post is strong, what you learned from it, and how you think others can gain from it.

Inside jokes should be avoided, because not everyone is “inside”. The bottom line is: this is a public conversation. Please be inclusive, thoughtful, productive, and respectful.