Welcome to the instructor-led online discussions for Mu 101 (Spring 2020)! Each week, you’ll discuss a topic together based on a blog post I provide for you here. Think of this first online discussion as an ice breaker, a chance to share resources, and a way for you to set the tone for how you want our (online) time together to go this semester. I’ll get this conversation going by asking you two broad questions:
- What sorts of things make a classroom (or online) environment welcoming for you? What can we together do in this class to make it as positive and effective a space as possible? Let’s define our standards as a community for how we want to treat each other and also share tips or techniques for doing well in a class.
- What incentives are there besides grades? What kinds of feedback can you receive that isn’t a grade? What sorts of things can’t be graded?
Finally, there are several myths or misconceptions about learning. Each of the following is a statement which is untrue. What examples or explanations can you offer for why they are inaccurate or false?
- Earning good grade means that you know a lot about a subject
- If an instructor teaches an idea, that means that students have learned it
- Education means filling your brain with information
- “Good” students or “smart” students don’t ask for help
An important note about this kind of writing practice
Notice that these questions are broad and open-ended—this is a classic “Dr. J.” prompt, and you’ll see many prompts like this over the semester. You can (and should!) take these questions in as many (surprising) directions as possible, draw upon your own specific experiences, and don’t feel limited by how they’re worded. If there’s something seemingly unrelated that they make you think of, then hey! that “unrelated” thing is actually related! That’s how you contribute the most to the conversation, and that’s how we all learn together.
Most importantly for blog-style discussions, do not try to answer all of the questions I’ve posed. Focus on the ones that you have a strong reaction to, and learn from other people’s comments that address the other questions. Leave space for others to move the conversation along. There is no prize for trying to do it all yourself.
Limit each of your comments to addressing a single question or topic. By doing so, you make it easier for others to see your point quickly and easily, rather than letting your good idea get lost in the middle of a long, multi-topic post. If you have several different ideas you want to share, make several different comments. Let each idea speak for itself.
Finally, refer to the handout you received the first day of class (click on this highlighted text to go to that page our class website) which describes the amount and kinds of contributions you’re expected to make to these online discussions. These are the parameters of good conversation that happens offline, and they’re how I’ll be grading your participation here.
I look forward to seeing what you write and how this semester will unfold!