As I noted in my previous post on success in an online class, you should plan to spend at least two hours a week writing posts, as well as another hour or two writing comments on existing posts. So that’s 3-4 hours a week in total. In the syllabus, I ask that you post and/or comment a minimum of 3 times per week. As a general rule I think one post and two comments would be a good approach. If you all do that then we should hopefully get some good conversation going. Below I provide specific guidelines for both.
If it works for you, you can think of your posts as reading responses. I’m guessing you’ve done your fair share of those in other classes. If you do one per week, you can write one response for each book we are reading (and then maybe use your final week’s post to write some overall response to the course). If the idea of reading responses is horrifying or dull to you, then don’t think of your posts in that way. There are many other approaches. Here are some suggestions of the kinds of things you might write:
- Book Review: here you would review the book as a whole. You might want to track down other reviews of these books and put your review in conversation with theirs. For example, you might want to write a review of Ready Player One, the novel we are reading at the end of the session.
- Specific issue/concern: identify a particular topic raised in the book we are reading that interests you. Maybe you disagree with the author. Maybe you have some experience that you think pertains to what has been said. Maybe you just want to explore the issue further or apply what has been said. For example, you might be interested in exploring the concept of “unnecessary obstacles” that comes up in this week’s reading.
- Tangent: that is, your post should make some connection to the reading, but it doesn’t have to take the reading as its main subject. For example, maybe you’ll be interested in finding out more about gold farming in World of Warcraft after reading Bonnie Nardi’s book or applying some of the analytic concepts in Galloway’s book to a game of your own choosing.
Maybe the most important thing to say about posts however is that they should be designed to start conversations. So make an argument that others might agree or disagree with. Ask questions for others to answer. Or suggest courses of action and see if others try them out and come back to tell you what happened.
So that’s the content of your posts, what about the form? An ideal post would include links, images, and perhaps video. You can upload images to this site if you want or just link to them elsewhere. Embedding YouTube videos is very easy. I think the course experience is made richer when we aren’t just reading text.
In the syllabus I say that your posts should be a minimum of 100 words. However I am also expecting that you’re spending 3-4 hours per week posting and commenting. If you are going to write one post and two comments per week, then at least one of those will be quite a bit longer. I would estimate that you should be able to get close to 1000 words total among all three.
I suppose the main thing to say about commenting is that we should be civil to one another. This is a class, so you shouldn’t write anything here that you wouldn’t say in a classroom. That said, it’s fine to disagree with one another (or with me for that matter!). Comments should be substantive (e.g. not just “good post”). You can write short comments if you want, asking a question for example, but mostly I’m looking for more engagement than that (i.e. more than 100 words). A comment might
- provide a link to relevant information and then describe what we might find there;
- answer a question raised by the poster;
- agree or disagree with a point made and provide some further support for your position;
- ask a question of your own and tell us why it’s important to consider.