Eng 103, Spring 2007, Essid
In-Class Writing Exercises & Journal

Online Journal   

We will be using the Blackboard discussion group to write a public journal, a part of your participation grade. I'll keep a journal there, too, as will Kate Seferian.

The journal is a self-paced activity, but the software date-stamps everything. If you crowd a bunch of entries in the week before class ends, that's less-than-mediocre work (C or lower) in terms of how I'll grade the entries. Instead, it would be wise to post a short and thoughtful entry at least every week.To improve your own grade, you should also respond to others' journal entries occasionally--something really interesting may warrant an e-mail to the entire class.

If you run into software trouble or have questions, e-mail me. I don't want to give someone a D who posts once or twice in their journal, then learn, two days before the end of the semester, that they never learned how to post and reply, or attach a file to a post.

So What the Heck Goes into a "Public" Journal?:
Each of you will have a Blackboard conference under your name. The Journal is a place for:

1) Leaving hard-to-misplace notes to yourself that others can read. It does not have to be written in dramatic or grammatically correct prose. I'd suggest an entry for each of our readings, at the very least. You can also park notes about other ideas in your journal. You might copy text from a Word doc for your group to critique, you might write about the weather, life at UR, gripe about this or other classes in a public and friendly way, whatever you please.

Note that since others can read and use your ideas, this journal is about as private as a bulletin board. While you might write "Essid is a crazy, boring dumb-head" in a private note, would you post it where everyone could see?

2) Talking back to others. If you see a cool entry or clever idea in a classmate's journal, reply with your own follow-up remark or question.

3) Joining others to chat. You could do so through IM or any similar chat software, but others will be dropping in and it may be hard to hold an on-topic conversation. Note that the board's chat feature keeps a transcript--handy for later study if you meet online to discuss a project.

Being a Good Citizen Online:
Since the journal is public, cursing or personal attacks on writers and their ideas are not appropriate. No anonymous posts are permitted by the system--we have to take responsibility for our words and ideas. I will play "bad cop" as soon as news of this reaches me. Otherwise, I'll be a good "beat cop" who will stroll through the journals on occasion, type something in my own, and give you feedback too.

About acting stupid: No, I do not want "hot" links (pun intended) to your favorite porn site. I'm not a puritan, however; as long as you do not violate the law, you can put what you want in your journal. That said, cussing, pornography, and other behaviors that isolate you from a wide audience are, well, stupid ways to persuade folks to take you seriously. They also don't count for participation in class.

If what you write or post offends someone, I hope that they will tell you first, then tell me if needed. Acting as beat-cop again, I will ask you work it out--I do not censor, but I may ask you to apologize.

Mad pirate with peg legSemi-Sleazy Piracy: Note that some wags in past classes decided that they could parrot the entries of others by repeating the substance in their own words. I can detect this type of piracy a mile away, and such journal entries get no credit. I'll notify you if you have pirated another's journal.

Outright Plagiarism: They used to hang the rotting bodies of pirates in chains for their crimes, then toss the rotten cadavers out just inside the high-water line to warn others. . . those were the days. I have never run into much plagiarism in my classes because I tend to assign topics that would be difficult to plagiarize. If you ever feel tempted to "borrow" an essay from a pal or any number of online essay mills, rest assured that I'm good at tracking down such work and assigning an appropriate penalty for piracy...ye'll be hauled before the UR Honor Council to hang in virtual chains if found guilty.

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