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Discussion Post: Week 16

Well, that’s a wrap, everyone! It’s been a great semester working with all of you. I enjoyed watching the skills, experience, and confidence that you gained over the course of the semester, and the broad spectrum of ways in which you enhanced your ability to convey even the most complicated of concepts with clarity and precision.

With that said, let’s kick off this last post with the best news headline of the week: Unicorns exist!


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Discussion Post: Week 15

We’re just about done! We’re through half of Presentation IV, and after that, only the web portfolio remains. What did you think about our first few teams on Thursday? How did the presentations go, and what about the added challenge of question-and-answer sessions? What did you discover as those proposals were being delivered?

Please do not forget to send the URL and the rationale for your web portfolio via Blackboard mail no later than this Thursday. We’ve been working on this all semester, but if it’s late, I won’t even be able to grade it. Don’t let that happen — submit it early, not late.

Alright, since we’re winding down, how about we shake things up a bit this week? Let’s start with some sports news for a change.

College football’s regular season came to an end yesterday, with the Alabama Crimson Tide edging out the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship, 32-28, to win a national title shot against the undefeated Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish boast the second-stingiest defense in college football, with approximately 10.33 points allowed per game. Only Alabama itself allows fewer points per game: 10.31.

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Discussion Post: Week 14

We’re on the home stretch now! With Presentation IV right around the corner, how is your group doing with its final refinements? Do you have a convincing proposal ready to be delivered? Remember, stellar projects here really ought to be presented to the groups that can actually enact your plan — there’s no reason for this to remain confined to the classroom, after all, especially if you have a proposal that could do some good.

Don’t forget to submit your third and final self-evaluation at the start of Tuesday’s class, and be sure that your group submits its Presentation IV outline via SafeAssign at least 24 hours before your presentation. You’ll also want to bring a paper copy of the outline and rubric on your presentation day, as always.

Anyway, I know it’s tempting to kick off the week with the obvious local Black Friday headlines, but let’s start with a wider gaze, shall we? You probably recall the Arab Spring that began unfolding around two years ago. It’s not clear, however, if the revolution did the region much good.

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Discussion Post: Week 13

We’re almost done with Presentation III. How have you adjusted to the unique challenges of presenting about yourself? Were you up to the task, or were there elements about your presentation that you’d change if you had the chance? What lessons will you take away from your presentation moving forward, both to Presentation IV and to your job interviews in the future?

Please remember that your group’s Presentation IV topic is due by the start of class on Tuesday. As long as at least one member of your team sends in your topic, you’re fine — but if multiple group members submit your topic, that’s fine, too. I don’t have any problem with receiving your topic more than once, as I’d much rather get the same topic from your group five times than not receive it at all. If there’s any doubt about whether your group’s topic has been submitted, well, you gather what the safest approach is.

Also, don’t forget that Self-Evaluation III is due at the start of class on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving Break. I’m already working on getting the videos ready for you, and all of them will be posted to Blackboard no later than this Thursday, so you’ll have just as much time as always to review your presentation.

With that said, let’s get straight into the big news item of the week. As you’re surely already aware, Israel has been fighting with Palestinian forces for many years, with consistent hostility between the two groups. Last week, for instance, southern Israel was being pummeled by rockets from Hamas, the terrorist organization which controls the Gaza Strip, in addition to a few stray shells from Syria. In a major turn of events, however, Israel’s most recent air strike, dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense, was a successful assassination of Hamas’ military commander, Ahmed Jabari.

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Discussion Post: Week 11

NOTE: You can follow my election night coverage, updated minute-by-minute throughout the evening, on our sister blog, which I continued from a previous semester of COM 315.

It’s about time for Presentation III! How has your presentation been coming along? What have you learned from Presentation II that you’re planning to apply here? And how do you expect the challenge to be different than what we’ve faced in our first two presentations?

Well, America’s fateful day is almost upon us. On Tuesday, citizens across the nation will cast their ballots for the next president of the United States. Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have been hard at work over the final weekend of campaigning, both sides hoping to swipe as many votes as they can in order to pull out what may be a narrow win in two days.

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Discussion Post: Week 10

Now that Presentation II is behind us and you’ve been able to watch your presentation video, what do you think of your performance? Did it go how you expected, or were there some surprises in your presentation? How will you adapt to the challenges of Presentation III, when you’ll have to pitch yourself to your audience? And what about Presentation IV, which will come immediately afterward?

It’s worth a quick reminder that your group should be well on its way to finishing Presentation IV by this point, as there won’t be much time left after Presentation III concludes to play catch-up. Don’t forget to submit your topic for Presentation IV before the November 20 deadline, and also remember to send your Presentation III topic over Blackboard before the start of this Tuesday’s class.

Going into the third and final presidential debate on Monday, most major polls had Barack Obama and Mitt Romney effectively tied, with the difference between them within the margin of error. With the momentum swinging toward Romney, though, some analysts argued that Obama needed to completely dominate the last debate in order to stem the tide. But despite Obama’s best efforts, such dominance was nowhere to be found as the two candidates fought to a draw over foreign policy.

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Discussion Post: Week 9

We’re almost done with Presentation II! How has the challenge been compared with Presentation I? Did it seem a little easier since you had more time with which to work, or was it harder to juggle your visual aid along with the more complicated content you strove to deliver? What did you learn from watching others’ presentations, and what lessons will you take from Presentation II as you move forward?

After the second presidential debate, only one thing was clear: it was not a repeat of round one. President Barack Obama took the affair seriously, fighting back against Governor Mitt Romney in a stark contrast with the passiveness he displayed in the first debate. Many analysts and polls suggested that Obama a stole the advantage in round two thanks to a few Romney missteps, of which the most egregious was a mistaken claim about Obama's response to the Benghazi embassy attack. However, the reported win was, at the very least, less clear than Romney’s round one triumph, with Romney making several compelling points and imploring voters not “to settle” for the current economy.

With the narrower win in mind, the Obama camp has to be nervous about Romney’s momentum across the nation. While early vote totals have been quite high, suggesting an advantage for Obama in the November election — in recent years, more Democrats than Republicans have filed absentee ballots — the margin by which he leads those early votes is much smaller than the lead he held in 2008. With even major media outlets that supported Obama four years ago openly shifting toward Romney, the presidency may be within reach for the challenger.

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Discussion Post: Week 6

Well, after a long week of work on our web portfolios, hopefully yours is off to a good start. How do you feel about the progress you’ve made thus far? What work do you expect to have to tackle outside of class? Do you have any lingering concerns about your portfolio? What areas do you expect to be the most challenging in the future?

What about Presentation II? How has your planning gone thus far? Do you feel like you have a clear direction for this presentation, or are you still figuring out how you want to address your topic? What did you learn from the experience of Presentation I that you hope to apply during this round? For that matter, do you think you can apply any of the advice from the textbook or from your peers to further strengthen your presentation?

On a side note, a few people had questions about the “Purpose of Education” blog post I added a few days ago in terms of how it fits into the class. Just to be clear, I’m not adding additional requirements or anything of that nature, as a few of you asked. Remember that for each week of participation on the course blog, you have an eight-day period in which to post, from one Sunday through the Sunday that follows. The “Side Discussion” post I added is just another medium in which you can post, both to earn credit and to discuss that significant issue.

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Discussion Post: Week 5

It’s about time for us to start working on our web portfolios! How do you feel about the process going into it? Do you have any prior experience working on a website? Or do you already have a portfolio of your own? What are you considering for your approach to this project?

While we’ll be working on the web portfolios throughout the week, don’t forget to submit your Presentation II topics by the start of class on Thursday. Also, remember that we won’t be in our regular classroom this week; check the schedule on Blackboard for our lab locations on Tuesday and Thursday.

The violent protests from last week that killed several U.S. officials, including our ambassador to Libya, only spread and intensified this week, expanding to U.S. embassies and military bases in Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Pakistan, among other countries. Hundreds of angry men clashed with police, setting fire to cars, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, and chanting “Death to America.”

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Discussion Post: Week 3

At last, our first round of presentations is underway! What did you think about the presentations you have seen so far? Was it what you expected? Did you pick up any techniques that you can use in your future presentations (or, for that matter, anything that you want to be sure not to do)? And for those of you who already delivered Presentation I, how was the experience? What would you like your peers to know about your preparation and the presentation itself?

Andy Roddick’s run at the U.S. Open finally ended on Wednesday, as a rain-delayed four-set loss to Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro — 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4 — finished his career. As we discussed last week, Roddick announced that this tournament would be his last, so this loss effectively closed the book on his time as a professional tennis player. Roddick was one of the most consistent players in the game, holding a top-ten ranking nine years in a row, and was indubitably the top American man for most of the past decade.

Over the course of his career, Roddick made it to a total of five Grand Slam finals but had the misfortune of losing four of them to Roger Federer, his nemesis and the man currently ranked #1 in the world. In fact, while the shining moment of Roddick’s career was probably the only Grand Slam tournament he won (the 2003 U.S. Open), many say that his best match was the tremendous 2009 Wimbledon final against Federer, where Roddick fell short in a marathon 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 16-14 defeat.

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