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Course Expectations

Page history last edited by dparry@... 10 years, 8 months ago

Course Expectations:

 

First, let me say a bit about my pedagogy and the philosophy behind this course's construction. This class will reflect one of the fundamental principles underlying the strength of the internet: None of us are smarter than all of us. Or, if you prefer a slightly different take: Knowledge is a communal process even if we have been taught to treat it as an individual product.

 

As such, we are going to be engaging in a semester-long, group exploration of the issues raised by the internet in relation to privacy and control of the network. I am by no means the expert (or even an expert) in these matters.  My hope, the goal for this class, is that collectively we can pool our knowledge, expertise, and interests to produce a body of knowledge that helps us all understand the issues here in a more nuanced way. As such I am asking a great deal of you in this course, which is after all an advanced undergraduate course. Don’t take this course unless you are willing to put in this time and effort. As I said this is a collective effort, and no free loaders are allowed. My experience here at UT Dallas has been that the undergrads are capable of tremendously impressive work.  The more I tend to ask in class, the more I am impressed with the returns, and the more, I think, students learn, so expect me to ask a great deal, but expect the pay-off to be large.

 

The course's title is “Digital Writing,” but rather than spending a whole semester looking at writing about writing on the internet (something that could, after a short time, be rather mundane) we are going to practice writing for the internet. Writing is perhaps too narrow a term, as it implies text only. To be sure, text is still king on the internet:  it drives searches, code is written in it, and a majority of the discourse which takes place is still text-based. But, to be rhetorically effective on the net it is also useful to produce visualizations, maps, videos, audio and other non-text based content. Think of your work as producing critical content for the internet, not just writing in the narrow sense of the term. In short, we will all be responsible for producing internet content which engages the question of privacy, control, and surveillance in the internet era. 

 

Required Texts:

 

The internet. 

 

Seriously: the internet itself will be our “textbook”:  it is both our object and means of study. Most of the readings will be available online, in digital format. You will need to spend a lot of time on the internet, reading, writing, and engaging in discussions about the issues we raise in this class.  Additionally, you need to purchase the three following books.

 

-Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion Abelson, Ledeen, Lewis

-The Anarchist in the Library, Siva Vaidhyanathan

-Access Controlled, ed. Deibert et al.

 

 

Class Requirements:

 

Given this class’s focus on collaborative learning, it might seem somewhat awkward to evaluate people with individual grades. Nevertheless, you will receive a grade for the course. Some of the grade will be based on work you individually produce, while some of it will be an evaluation of collaborative effort.

 

Attendance, Reading, & Participation (25%): This is a crucial part of class. Students are expected to come to class on time, prepared, having completed the assigned reading and writing, and ready to contribute their thoughts to class discussions, to listen seriously and respectfully to the thoughts of others, and to participate in all in-class activities.  I strongly urge you to attend every class, as most of the work done in class is necessary for successful completion of the course.  Only one absence is permitted, and this should be used for illness or an emergency (i.e., this does not mean one absences plus one absence for illness etc.).  Missing more than one class will affect your grade.  More than two absences can result in failing the course.  If you need to miss class for religious reasons, please speak to me ahead of time.  Absences for religious purposes do not count against the permitted number (as long as prior notification is given).  Lateness is also unacceptable; if you arrive late to class you will be marked as absent. Leaving early also counts as an absence. Your primary responsibility is to be in class and fully present. (Expect to spend 3 hours a week in class and roughly 3-4 hours a week doing reading for this class.)

 

Group Project (50%): A substantial portion of your grade will come from a semester-long group project. Each group will focus on one specific area of internet privacy, control, or surveillance. More detail will be given on the first day of class. 

 

Social Media (10%): Class doesn’t end at 3:15. Privacy and control are currently hot topics on the net. There is a great deal being written about these topics, governments are currently debating legislation, and technology companies are continuously developing new tools which alter the discussion (as I am writing this Facebook just launched their location-based service). It would be impossible for any one of us to keep up with the deluge of information, but by “crowdsourcing”the conversation we can cover more ground. In addition to the readings for each week you should spend some time reading up on the current conversation and sharing that with the class. Three key tools for doing this: 1. The class website. 2. Twitter (everyone should have a Twitter account). 3. Tagging and bookmarking websites. The class tag (hashtag) is EMAC4325.

 

Individual Learning Record (15%): Every week you will need to write a short description chronicling what you did for the group project. This should be both descriptive and reflective, talking about what you did, what you were trying to accomplish, what worked, what did not work, and anything else you think is important. These need not be extensive, 200-300 words a week should suffice. It also does not need to be formal, but it should be polished and edited (i.e. you don’t need to write eloquent artistic prose, but it does need to be error-free.) I will ask for these several times during the semester. And at the end of the semester you will turn in the  entire record for the semester along with a summary.

 

Note: The University wide standard class policies, which apply to this course, can be found at: http://provost.utdallas.edu/syllabus-policies/

 

Course Website:

You should get in the habit of checking this regularly as I will post suggestions and thoughts about the readings here, as well as links to other things that might interest the class.  The syllabus can be found here as well, and any changes to the syllabus will be posted here.  If you forget the web address you can always find it from <http://www.outsidethetext.com>, an easier url to remember.

 

A Note on Technology:

As much as technology makes life easier, at times it can also be difficult (computer crashes, deleted work, unavailable internet connections, etc).  Plan accordingly: “the computer ate my homework” or “the internet was down” are not reasons to forgo doing the assigned work.  It is in your best interest to leave extra time, especially at first, to ensure that technology does not get in the way of your work.

 

How to Reach Me:

The best way to reach me though is by email <dparry [at] utdallas.edu> or you can find me online at <http://www.outsidethetext.com>.  I check email frequently throughout the day.  If you email me and do not receive a response within 48 hours (usually I will get back to you within a day), please feel free to email me again (I might not have received your first one) and give me a reminder. I promise not to consider this harassing. Don’t call my office phone, though; voice mail is annoying and I tend to check it less frequently than email.

My office hours are Monday after class 3:15-4:15, or by appointment. My office is ATEC 1.502. Feel free to drop by, or schedule an appointment (on the class site) if you want to make sure you won’t overlap with someone else.

 

A Final Note:

Should any aspect of class confuse/concern/trouble you, or should you have questions about any of this, please see me.

 

 

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