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Course Wrap-Up

I can see several of you are busy getting in your final research blog posts and otherwise wrapping up on the class activity. I hope that you have found the course enjoyable, instructive, and perhaps even useful to you as part of your educational journey. I know an online course can be a strange experience. As a teacher, it is hard to know if your students are learning. You don’t get to look them in the eye. It’s hard to get the vibe of the class, to know what is working, what is engaging, and what isn’t. As a student it can also be disorienting. You can’t see me to know if I think what you are saying is making sense. Your posts are mixed in with dozens of others in a continual flow of conversation.

In the end though, you can look back and see that you have done a fair amount of work. You have read several texts, done independent research, written thousands of words, and composed a research paper. Hopefully you leave the class with a fuller sense of the role of videogaming in our culture, the key issues surrounding the genre, and the role that digital media studies might play in the humanities. I have appreciated the conversations we’ve had over the past few weeks, and overall I feel like I have gotten a good sense of your thoughts about videogaming. I think we’ve had some fruitful conversations, which I hope you’ll carry forward with you in some way.

Grades are due by July 5th, so with the holiday and weekend in-between, I’ll be reading over your research papers and calculating grades early next week. As such, it is necessary that everything is done by that time. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions and I hope the rest of your summer goes smoothly.

off-topic question

I’m curious. If you are an English major, what’s the typical amount of formal, graded writing you are asked to do in an English class?

For example, in this class, for an A you’d write a minimum of 4000 words, which comes out to 15 pages.

Class participation assignment

Here’s what the syllabus says about class participation:

This is an online class. You will participate in a regular basis. Regular participation means posting to the course blog a minimum of 25 times during the session and at least 3 times each week. These contributions can be in the form of new posts or comments on existing posts. While you will have freedom to raise topics of your own interest (related to video gaming, of course), your posts must be substantive, at least one solid paragraph (100 words+).

So you should be posting and/or commenting on this website at least 3 times per week. You should categorize your posts in an appropriate category. For example, you should put posts about Bogost’s book in the “how to do things with videogames” category.

As a reader of posts you can look in a couple places. I make important/popular posts “sticky” so they appear in the “featured posts” area on the home page. The most recent post appears at the top but 15 of the most recent posts and comments appear in the sidebar to the right on the home page.

You can also look on the category pages (check the nav bar at the top of the website) and see all the posts about the different books we are discussing.

grading contract FAQ

So far, about 1/3 of you have indicated your choice for a grading contract. The deadline for doing so was last Monday. However I will give you an extension until Friday, May 31st at 11:59. You must email me at areid@buffalo.edu and let me know which contract you want.

If you don’t, you will default to a “C” contract. It will not be possible for you to earn a grade higher than a C+.

I will email you a reply to let you know that I have received your contract request. I will be happy to answer any questions you have about the contract in the comments below.

  • If I choose the “A” contract but then don’t meet the requirements, what happens?

If you don’t meet the requirements then the contract is broken. I can give you any grade I want. Here’s how it will work though. To pass the class you must meet the “C” contract requirements. If you meet those requirements, I promise you will receive at minimum a C-. If you choose the “A” contract and do not meet it, but meet the requirements of a “B” contract, it is possible that you could receive a B grade, but that will be at my discretion and based upon the quality of the work you have submitted.

  • What if I decide I want to change the contract?

I won’t say this is impossible. For example, if you became ill toward the end of the class and were unable to meet all the requirements of an “A” contract, then I would likely allow you to move to the “B” contract.  However, I won’t accept requests for moving up (i.e. B to A). Generally speaking though, contracts are binding.

 

Managing Workload in a Summer Online Course

A few of you have mentioned this is your first online course. It might also be your first summer course, so I want to give you some advice. I’ve been teaching online for more than a decade, and I can tell you the most common reason that students struggle (when they struggle) is because they fail to manage their time well.

If this was a traditional class, we’d be meeting 75 minutes a day Monday-Friday. In addition, you would be doing somewhere around 10-12 hours a week of work outside class. In the case of an English class like this one, most of that time is spent reading and writing.

So here is how I would plan for this course. You don’t have to come to the site everyday, but I would plan to be here at least three days a week. You should expect to spend six hours a week reading and writing posts. This is the equivalent of our in-class time. Then, of course, you’ll also spend time doing the class readings and later the other, more formal assignments for the course.

Hopefully you’ve already read the syllabus and have some sense of the grading contract. Basically choosing the B or A contracts means putting more time and work into the course. So you can decide how you want to spend your time this summer. Maybe you are working full time this summer and don’t have as much time as you’d like to put into this class. I think there are perfectly legitimate reasons for picking the C contract if you want.

Categories

Please try to put your posts into a category. Otherwise they end up in the Uncategorized category and become harder to find.

some notes about this site

I am reasonably happy with this WP theme. However it does have a couple limitations I want to point out.

1. It only shows the most recent post on the front page (plus other posts I designate as “sticky” and appear in the “featured posts” box). As such, you’ll need to look in the far right sidebar to see a list of all the most recent posts. Right now you can see that I have mostly featured “getting started” posts, but as we move along, I’ll be featuring student posts as well.

2. Because this is a free site, there are ads on most pages. I don’t see the ads myself because I have one of those ad blocker plugins for my Chrome browser (Firefox has similar plugins). If those bother you, you might want to install one of those plugins; they’re free.

3. I’ll be switching around the navbar content to feature the categories we will using (e.g., I take off the introductions category in a couple days and put up the “Reality is Broken” category instead). All the posts will still be there, but the nav bar will make it easier for you to find the posts that are most germane to current discussion.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

course introduction (video)

Welcome to ENG 380: New Media

This course begins Monday May 20th 2013. Here is the description.

Since the appearance of the Atari 2600 video game console in 1977, video games have become an increasingly common feature of our lives. Today, we play games on our televisions through more advanced consoles, dedicated handheld devices, personal computers, and on our mobile phones. We play games online with millions of co-players, in augmented reality, and with our bodies without controllers. In other words, video games have proliferated and mutated into a vast ecology of media, interactivity, and genre. Over the last 20 years, the interdisciplinary study of video games has developed into a full-blown area of scholarly practice, including many practices with their origins in English and the humanities (as well as other methods from the social sciences, computer science, engineering, and other fields).

This online course will introduce the methods and foundational scholarship in games studies. We will play a number of games ourselves (you will not be required to purchase any specific games or devices, other than what is typically needed to participate in an online class). In addition to developing an ability to analyze and interpret video games, we will also discuss the potential social and cultural uses of video gaming beyond entertainment. Readings will include Ian Bogost’s How To Do Things With Videogames, Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken, and other essays. Course work will include online discussions, reading responses, and a final research project.