The keeping of a focused, academic journal is one of the best ways to train your mind to think through complex questions and develop intellectual rigor in analyzing difficult problems. It also provides a straightforward way to keep track of your work during a long project, such as you will complete in this class. It can help you draw connections across disciplines and ideas that you might not see without the record of a journal. Additionally, the ability to keep an online journal, or blog, where others may comment on your thoughts, promotes discussion and insights you might otherwise forego.
Each student will keep an individual blog, and each student must subscribe to the class blog, available here. Please make sure that I can identify your userid (THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE YOUR GETTYSBURG ID) in a private email or on the blog, whichever you prefer. Since I require you to subscribe to this blog, the simplest way to set up your blog for the class is to use wordpress. You may also use blogger.com. If you’d like to use another blogging site, I will not be of as much help. Part of this assignment is setting up your own blog in a timely fashion. I am not providing further instructions because I would like you to take the initiative and responsibility for your blog.
You will be required to make at least one online journal entry (blog) each week during the semester, due by Friday at 9am. You must also comment (with content, and not just with statements like “I agree with Mary”) on at least one other of the blogs each week. You will know the other blogs because I will provide links to them from the class page. A schedule for where these comments will take place will be developed by the end of the first week.
More frequent blogging is highly recommended. Remember that you can make posts that will be private (e.g. for notes for yourself on your research) as well. I will read and comment on the blogs as I see fit.
Some hopefully helpful hints:
Feel free to be creative. Cut and paste (with attribution). Illustrate. Interview experts or interested parties and write about it. Bring in discussions from other courses, or from talking with your friends. Use it to remember and share computer commands for Stata or Excel. Don’t be afraid of saying something incorrect. Ask questions if there are things that confused you in class. Relax and think.
The journal is worth up to 15% of your grade. Take it seriously and it will also improve your final paper, and therefore its grade as well.
Thanks to Prof. Brooks Kaiser for above.