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There will be two online discussion forums in the course that will serve as a type of seminar. The online discussion will provide you with an opportunity to engage in a vibrant and constructive dialogue with your peers and the professor. The online discussion will enrich your learning experience by exposing you to the opinions of others, which will help you further develop your own opinions.
Weighting: 10% (2 x 5%) Due dates: See the course Calendar for specific dates.
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As you prepare to participate in the discussion forums, keep in mind the idea that a good discussion is like a non-competitive volleyball game. The aim is to keep the conversation going. The way you ‘serve’, ‘return the serve’, and ‘field the return’ will have a significant impact on sustaining and adding value to the conversation.
The following is a list of nine different ways to keep a conversation going.
Level 1: you can keep the conversation going in a reply post by:
1. agreeing: You can add value to the discussion by agreeing with a previous point by simply repeating, rewording, or summarizing it, for the purpose of building consensus or indicating a job well done in a cheerleading or back-slapping mode — but if that’s all you do in your reply, you run the risk of dead-ending conversation, and if that’s all you do in your typical response, you will not be an engaging discussant over time.
2. questioning: You can add value to the discussion by, after showing that you have engaged with a post in some depth, raising a pertinent, provocative question asking for elaboration, expansion, or refinement of the previous post — but if you question in an automatic, perfunctory, mechanical, or shallow way, you run the risk of dead-ending conversation. In other words, don’t just begin with a question in knee-jerk manner, but show how the host post led you to arrive at a question. Show why your question is a question.
Level 2: you can keep the conversation going in a reply post by:
3. enhancing: You can add value to the discussion by providing additional evidence or support for the exact point made in a previous post with which you agree.
4. answering: You can add value to the discussion by satisfactorily answering a question asked by another, by clearing up someone else’s perplexity about a point that you or someone else made.
Level 3: you can keep the conversation going in a reply post by:
5. building: You can add value to the discussion by building a new but related point on the foundation of an existing post, by taking a previous point to a new and different level.
6. disagreeing: You can add value to the discussion by providing specific evidence or support in opposition to a point raised in a previous post, thus opening up potential new avenues for thought.
7. weaving: You can add value to the discussion by synthesizing two or more previous posts, recognizing that a new contribution, one not realized by the individual posters, emerges from the synthesis.
8. re-directing: You can add value to the discussion by demonstrating that, after several interactions, the current thread has reached a dead-end and by making a transition from the current post — literally taking the discussion in an entirely new direction.
9. re-thinking: You can add value to the discussion by acknowledging how a post or posts have caused you to re-think a position you have articulated previously, to have a new insight, to be converted to a new way of thinking, or to be more strongly committed to a previous position — that is, showing that you have listened to and learned from someone(s) else, perhaps the highest compliment in discussion.
These quidelines were developed by Edward J. Gallagher. For more information visit his Improving the Discussion Board website.
POLS 3340 Online Discussion Forums
9/29/2018 Online Discussion Forums
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Topic: Is Islam a constructive or destructive force for democracy in the Middle East? Answer with reference to the Middle East in general and your country in particular.
Due Date: Discussion #1 will take place during Weeks 1 and 2. Your initial posting is due by the end of Week 1. See the course Calendar for specific dates.
Worth 5% of final grade.
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Topic: Why do rentier states generally fail to provide economic prosperity for the whole society? Answer with reference to the Middle East in general and your country in particular.
Due Date: Discussion #2 will take place during Weeks 8-9 of the course. Your initial posting is due by the end of Week 8. See the course Calendar for specific dates.
Worth 5% of final grade.
You will be graded on (a) participation – posting a minimum of one initial post and three responses in keeping with the deadlines – and (b) the quality of your participation (using Gallagher’s criteria).