Also please note that in the first week or so of the semester, I will create a public Google Doc that will be a space in which all students from both sections of PHIL-119 can share, edit and collaborate on note-taking for our course. Hopefully you will find this to be a useful resource when reviewing course material, organizing your thoughts for class discussion, keeping track on in-class discussion and preparing written assignments.
Please note that participation on the Google Doc is optional UNLESS it is one of the two days during the semester on which it is your job to create a new thread on our Blackboard discussion forum. On those days of class, you will also be the class scribe on our Google Doc, whose job it will be to record your class notes in the Google Doc (or copy/paste them there ASAP after class). The part of your participation grade that reflects contributions to our discussion board forum will also reflect your job as class scribe on the two days in question. This means that there will typically be two class scribes per class meeting, which hopefully will give the rest of the class some basic note coverage for the day to supplement their own. This is not meant to create much (or really any) more work for students: if you are class scribe, simply share in the Google Doc whatever notes you would otherwise take during class discussion and that will be perfectly adequate.
In addition to the two longer, ice-breaking discussion board posts required of each student throughout the semester, every student must comment on at least one posting prior to every class meeting. This includes responding to a comment on an existing thread or creating a new thread of your own if you wish. You will not be graded on the content of your postings. However, if you fail to contribute to each discussion in a way that demonstrates a genuine engagement with the philosophical issues and with other students’ contributions, you will be penalized on the participation component of your grade.
What all this means is that, as soon as I distribute the discussion board semester schedule of assigned posters, every student will be contributing to the Blackboard discussion board forum every time we meet in class to discuss assigned readings.
Regarding what to do if those assigned to create a new discussion thread on a given day do not post the day before, as required: If you are online and it's not your turn to create a new thread but there are no threads yet, please create a new one. If it's not your day, there's no general requirement concerning length. Just make sure you say something substantial (specific but open-ended questions are fine) that others can sink their teeth into. This will more than satisfy your online participation requirement for that day.
Please note that if you are assigned to create a new thread on a given day and do not post it 24 hours beforehand, you will not get credit for having done so on that day. This is to give everyone an incentive to fulfill the assignment in a timely fashion so that the burden of creating fodder for online discussion does not fall on everyone else that day.
Those students whose job it is to create new thread on a given day should expect to be called upon to help launch discussion in class with some brief, focused remarks about the assigned readings.
In general, all students, having been required to make some contribution to the online discussion before each class meeting, should come to class having jotted down a reaction to or question about the material assigned for that day. One or two sentences will suffice, but please be prepared to discuss!
I will not contribute to the Blackboard discussion. This is a space where you can discuss and struggle with the issues together. However, I will read each of the threads and will use them to help structure the in-class discussions.