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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Side Discussion: The Purpose of Education

So, I noticed that a couple of weeks ago, we had an interesting discussion that stemmed from the Harvard University cheating scandal. Some people slammed the students for losing sight of the learning goals at hand, treating the grade as more important than the knowledge and expertise to be acquired. Others chided the university and the academic system as a whole for making education so expensive that it acts more as a marketplace than a site of learning.

I think we were onto a rather important topic — after all, even once you’ve finished your time in college, the education system will have a major influence over the colleagues with whom you interact. That means that the educational mission will remain a crucial issue throughout the rest of your respective careers. With that in mind, I’d like to re-open the subject for further discussion.

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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 4

Well, we’re through Presentation I! What did you learn from this experience? If you’ve watched your presentation video, did you notice anything about yourself that you didn’t expect? How did it compare to what you expected? What do you think are your strengths as a presenter, and in what areas are you going to strive to improve in the future?

Remember that Self-Evaluation I is due at the start of class on Thursday. Be sure to watch your video before then and write up your assessment of yourself, then bring a printed copy of that analysis to class.

While we’ve been enjoying an array of presentations, it’s been a tumultuous week in the rest of the world. Many of us probably expected the biggest news story on Tuesday to be little more than a reflection about the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks (along with, perhaps, a reminder that the new class of middle school children weren’t even born yet when the catastrophe rocked our nation). Or perhaps we would be talking about construction on the new 9/11 museum, which resumed after arguments over the budget were resolved on Monday.

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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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Discussion Post: Week 2

It’s about time to start Presentation I. How has your preparation been going? If you’re presenting this week, hopefully your outline is close to complete so that you can start your rehearsal. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the array of presentations that are in the works, so I can’t wait to see what you’ve developed. Just as a reminder, don’t forget to submit your presentation outline via SafeAssign at least 24 hours before the class period in which you signed up to present.

So, it’s official. At last week’s Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination for the presidency, confirming what we’ve known for months: that this November would feature a head-to-head showdown between Romney and Barack Obama to see who will lead our country for the next four years. The Republicans spent their time pushing Romney as a devoutly religious, successful businessman who will generate more jobs for the starved economy. Much like Obama was framed as the anti-Bush candidate during the 2008 election, Romney has portrayed himself as the antidote to Obama for voters disillusioned with his leadership over the last four years.

However, Romney’s focus on attacking Obama led some analysts to question whether he was able to build his trust with voters who still don’t know him very well. As the Obama team argued, even as Romney went on the offensive, he offered very little information about what he would do if he won the election. Furthermore, Romney’s recent moves have taken him further and further away from the moderate voters to whom he’ll have to cater if he hopes to triumph this November. Worse yet was the inconsistent focus among many of the convention speakers, who spoke about themselves and their own families as much as they did about Romney, and contradicted one another in turn about whether Romney was loving, respectful, or like “a nasty doctor.” (Gregory “Romney” House, anyone?) Let alone Clint Eastwood’s chat with a chair, for which “bizarre” is one of the kindest descriptions I’ve seen.

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Discussion Post: Week 1

Once again, welcome to the COM 315 course blog! I’m looking forward to chatting about various subjects with you over the duration of the semester. As I mentioned in class, while I do run another blog with content that may, at times, overlap with this one, my goal here is to tailor this version to your particular interests and the needs of our class. (You’re free to engage the other blog as well, if you’d like, of course.)

How is your preparation for Presentation I going? From the topics I’ve seen thus far, we can expect a unique array of presentations. If you haven’t already done so, please remember to submit your topic no later than the start of class this Thursday. I’m excited to see the rest of them!

We’ll start this week by considering the tumultuous tale of Lance Armstrong, who won an unprecedented seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999-2005 after recovering from testicular cancer. As I previously noted, Armstrong’s miraculous feat drew heavy scrutiny from the start, even though he reportedly underwent hundreds of blood and urine tests during his cycling career and never had a single positive test result. This year, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) launched a fresh wave of doping allegations against Armstrong, based largely on testimony from other cyclists — who themselves had positive test results — that they had seen Armstrong use the blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO) as well as steroids, and that he also trafficked and administered the same performance-enhancers to others. The USADA claimed to have over a dozen witnesses ready to testify against Armstrong in arbitration, although the USADA never officially revealed their identities, claiming that Armstrong had previously engaged in witness intimidation.

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Welcome!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the COM 315 course blog! Over the coming months, we’ll be using this blog to:

  • Discuss Course Assignments
  • Pose Questions and Answers
  • Share Media (video clips, links to relevant articles and readings, etc.)
  • Network and Converse

In addition to serving a class requirement, feel free to use this blog to network with one another, ask questions, or just have a friendly chat.

The first formal discussion post will be added next Sunday. I’m looking forward to a great semester!