A portion of your course participation grade will be determined by comments you make midweek at the course blog. The idea is that the blog lets us sustain conversations between the end of class on Monday and the beginning of class on Friday, as you respond to readings and webisodes.
While I’ll occasionally share other history-related content from around the web, most blog posts will actually be written by you all. On blog weeks, I’ll go through the response papers submitted that Wednesday and select excerpts to turn into two or three posts at the blog. (They won’t always be the responses that earn the highest grades — more, I’ll be looking to share a variety of viewpoints.) Then on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning, I’ll expect you all to weigh in with at least one comment on one of the week’s posts. This should set us up well to hit the ground running with a discussion on Friday afternoon.
For each blogging week, you’ll get a comments grade out of 5 points, based on a few simple criteria:
Quantity: I’d like to see at least one good comment, but it would have to be a really terrific, insightful, original comment to get the full 5 points. Better: write a comment, and then add one more to a thread that someone else starts. Quality is more important than quantity here.
Understanding: Is it clear that you understood the content and intent of the original post? (Or, if you’re asking a question to seek a clarification from the writer, is your question germane to the original post?)
Originality: Are you, as a commenter, advancing the conversation in your own way? You can do this by pushing the writer on a point that needs development, by singling out what you see as an especially important point and adding your own commentary to it, by framing a question you think we ought to discuss together, or even by suggesting some further reading related to the post.
Civility: I don’t expect things to get overly heated, but… I do expect that you respond to any post or other comment in a spirit of good faith, humility, and love, demonstrating the “irenic spirit” so characteristic of Bethel and its heritage. (On this, see the 2012 convocation talk on civil discourse given by theology professor Christian Collins Winn.)
Late Policy: For that week’s grade, I’ll only count comments made between the end of class on Monday and the beginning of class on Friday. You can’t go back and make up missed comments, since that defeats the purpose of sustaining a conversation online that flows into F2F class discussion.