Assignments, Grading, and Evaluation (Spring 2019)

This course has the following stated objectives:

  1. To whet your appetite for thinking about the role and effects of digital technologies, especially as it relates to the content we consume;
  2. To help you develop a framework to analyze and interpret technology-related events and trends;
  3. To better understand (but not necessarily fully comprehend) how different technologies work;
  4. Give you practical experience with a three digital publishing tools and formats: blogging (WordPress), wikis (Wikipedia) and annotations (;
  5. Allow you to develop and express your own thoughts about various aspects of technology.

These are the objectives the instructor has identified, but they are not set in stone. On the first day of class we will review these objectives and modify them to whatever the class wants.

The extent to which we meet some of these objectives can be more easily evaluated than others. In many cases, you will be the only ones that will be able to say whether or not we succeeded.

So together we need to think about how we want to evaluate ourselves. Here is some reading to help us think through how to do this evaluation.

Evaluation Method:

Your final grade for each component of this course will be determined by a combination of you and the instructor, sometimes with feedback from your peers.

Peer evaluation comes in when students charged with leading a unit assess how well their classmates fulfill the assignment they give them. All assignments will receive written feedback. Every student will be in a position of peer-grader (working two students at a time) once this semester.  Giving and receiving feedback is one of the ways in which we learn together, and it is also one of the most valuable life skills you can take away from this course.


(1) CLASS ATTENDANCE/PARTICIPATION (includes reading/viewing/listening to all assignments)

Class attendance is required.  You may miss at most one class (and the corresponding blog post) without an official (doctor or pre-approved) excuse.

Excused absence requires a doctors note or equivalent. If you are missing for a non-medical/emergency reason, you have to have approval in advance and, at that time, state your plan for making up the missed work. You are still responsible for the readings and filing the weekly assignment.

Graded through negotiation with the instructor out of 10.


In this course we will use an online annotation tool, This tool serves several purposes, most of which help you learn. At the very least, they will shine a light on how each of you does critical reading. (We will talk about this more in class).

To participate online, install the Chrome Extension or bookmarklet and join this group. Then start making annotations (you’re encouraged to add tags as appropriate).

Good participation (both online and in-class) includes (but is not limited to): inserting new ideas for discussion, responding to other’s ideas, posing questions, highlighting interesting passages, explaining a tricky concept, offering an informed opinion, and bringing in additional resources.

Graded through negotiation with the instructor out of 10.


Think of this as an evolving research paper.  It has the same importance and weight and seriousness.   It will be on our class WordPress site, visible to all (although you may choose to password protect your post with a password we will agree upon as a class). There will be a comments section where you will receive public feedback from the professor, any of the other students, and the two or three students leading and assessing that particular unit.

Blogs must be completed within a week of the class session in which they were assigned.  All students are required to read the blogs by their classmates on a regular basis and are encouraged to comment in writing as well as in class discussion.   Blogs are substantive, should use secondary sources where appropriate, and can use video, sound, images, animation as well as text.

Students do not need to write this assignment the week they are leading the class. In addition, students may “skip” an additional week’s assignment without penalty.

Graded through negotiation with the instructor out of 30 using feedback from your peers and from the instructor.

Students will work in teams of two and will be responsible for a unit of work that will occupy us for one. Typically, students will make a presentation, guide a reading, and lead us in an exercise that helps us explore the chosen topic. NO TALKING HEADS PLEASE! Think of ways to make your presentation as interactive, engaged, thoughtful, and inspiring as possible.

Prof. Alperin will lead the first unit.

For peer-led sessions:

Begin by settling on a reading assignment for the class.  You may consult with Prof. Alperin who may already have some suggested readings for your chosen topic, or you can identify articles, websites, videos, podcasts, or anything else.  All readings must be posted on the course syllabus a week in advance of your class. You can expect all your classmates to read and annotate your chosen readings by the time they come into the classroom.

You will construct a class presentation that is as interactive as you can make it.
You will also be responsible for setting the homework for the week, which should take the form of a writing/other media assignment (e.g., a 400-500 word blog or some equivalent). This could be a question prompt, a topic to be explored, or any other assignment.

You will be responsible for reading all of the blogs (or the alternative assignments) by your peers and writing substantive feedback on each one, viewable by all in the class.

Required, but not graded. Failure to complete will result in a deduction of one whole grade (e.g., from A- to B-, from B to C, etc.).

(5) PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION TO KNOWLEDGE (i.e., Wikipedia Assignment) 
Each student is required to make one substantive contribution to a public resource such as Wikipedia. With the help of the Wiki Education project, this assignment timeline and instructions can be found here.

Wikipedia is one of the most successful crowd-sourced projects of all time. It is a terrific resource, but it could be better at being inclusive (to put it nicely). Get first-hand experience at making a significant contribution to a topic of your choice (preferably related to the course content) by following the timeline and instructions found here.

Graded on a complete/incomplete basis, out of 10.


Each student will write a final essay (approximately 500-750 words) that outlines their experience in the course, and the ways in which their thinking about the roles of technologies in publishing, and in our lives, has changed as a result. Students can focus on a single takeaway, on several, or discuss the course as a whole.

Used as starting point for negotiation of “meeting learning objectives” assignment.

Grade Breakdown

  • Participation (in class): 10%
  • Participation (annotations): 10%
  • Weekly blogs: 30%
  • Public Contribution (Wikipedia): 10%
  • Meeting learning objectives: 40%

University Policy

The program expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, the School will follow Policy T10.02 with respect to “Intellectual Honesty,” and “Academic Discipline” (see the current Calendar, General Regulations Section).