The following description of online discussion participation is also available as a PDF for download: Online discussions


 Participating in an online discussion forum (a blog) is a useful way for people on the Internet to share ideas, engage with communities of people with common interests, and do so from the comfort of their own home—it’s the cliché interconnected global world in action!

Computer literacy and fluency in online forums are important skills to have, and participating in such online forums is an easy way to ensure that you’re thinking about music more often than just during our once-weekly class meetings. Therefore, online participation is a significant portion of this class (30% of your overall grade, counting both instructor-led and student-led online discussions). At the same time, it’s also a task in which you can easily earn full points. Think of this portion of the course as an opportunity to engage in a lively conversation, learn from each other, extend or expand our in-class work, and practice your writing skills in an informal setting (with your peers and graded for participation).

Creating a WordPress account:

Following the first class meeting, you’ll receive an invitation to become a “follower” of the class website ( from WordPress. Accept this invitation and create a WordPress account (if you don’t have one already). Remember your email/username and password for logging in. Send me your username so that I know who you are online (—do not hit “reply” to the invitation email (it’s a do-not-reply email and I won’t receive it)!

In the past, some students have found it helpful to download the WordPress app to their smartphones or tablets so they can participate in the blog without being at a computer.

How to comment on online discussions:

Instructor-led online discussions are located at Make sure you’re signed into WordPress using the username and password you created, and make sure you’ve emailed me your username (—I cannot give you credit if you have not told me who you are online!

Read the blog post and any comments that have been made on it so far. You can leave a comment by typing in the comment box at the bottom of the page marked “Leave a Reply.” You can “reply” to other students’ comments by clicking “reply” next to their comment or using @ + username to specifically respond to another student, just as you would on other social media platforms.


You must comment on each online discussion at least three separate times while the discussion is available—the goal is to keep the conversation going, to keep it lively, and to enjoy the (surprising) contributions your colleagues make to the discussion. You must add at least one of each kind of required comment in order to earn full participation credit:

  1. Respond to the blog post. Comment on it, respond to its questions, take issue with a claim that it makes, or add your thoughts to the conversation. If you’re reminded of another article/book/blog you’ve read or another piece of music you’ve heard, you can also include a link to it, but the link by itself won’t count as a comment without, well, any contextual commentary from you.
  2. Ask a question. This may be a question in response to the blog post itself or a colleague’s comment.
  3. Respond directly to a classmate’s comment or question.

It is possible to earn extra credit for your blog post participation grade (i.e., a grade higher than 100 for a given blog post) by contributing significantly to the conversation in terms of insightfulness, by adding additional links or information, or by being particularly engaging conversationalist. Quantity is not the same as quality. You’ll know you’ve earned extra credit if I “like” your comment.