May 13, 2008

Your podcasts on iTunes.

If you want to see yourself on iTunes (if you have it on your computer), search the music store for "Pass the Peace." You should see our program as the first under the "Podcast" heading on the results page. Just click on that and you'll see your files. You're famous!

Hope you all have a good summer.

Grades posted

I've posted final grades on WebVista. Please let me know ASAP if you see any errors. I plan to submit those to the university on Wednesday afternoon.

May 9, 2008

Course wrap up

Just to repeat, your final audio projects are due Monday by noon. There's two places where those need to get posted:

1) Audio goes on the project blog. Instructions on that here:

2) The script (with citations) and your project reflection are submitted as attachments on WebVista through the "On the Air" link. More information on the project reflection can be found here:

In addition, those reflections can be places to explain any technical difficulties you encountered while creating this project--explaining how your project is weaker than you'd like it to be.

In addition to that final project, you have the option of completing the extra credit option for the final course reflection. That can also be submitted as an attachment on WebVista and is described in this post:

All work must be submitted by that noon deadline--I will not accept late work after that point. I hope to post grades on WebVista by the end of the day Wednesday (possibly sooner) and will turn in grades to the U sometime late Thursday.

Let me know if you have any questions about all this as we wrap up.

May 7, 2008


If you have a microphone, please bring it to Thursday's class to hand back. We can talk in class if you feel you need it beyond that time. I will not post your final grade if you still have a microphone checked out.

May 6, 2008

Confirming final schedule changes

I'm writing to put down on paper the schedule changes we discussed in class today.

1) The final draft of your last project is now due by noon next Monday, May 12th. There are NO late assignments for this assignment--if it's not in by that point, you will not receive credit. You will post the MP3 on the course blog (see my previous post on this) and turn in the script and reflection to WebVista as attachments.

2) If you would like some extra credit, I'm offering a revised version of the final course reflection. You can pick ONE course objective you feel you've either improved on or done well this semester and argue for that, using the criteria talked about on that assignment. You'll receive up to 10 points extra credit for doing so. Turn that in by Monday noon as well on WebVista.

On Thursday, we'll talk about how the course went, finish up revision groups, go over the final reflection extra credit, and you'll have time to work as needed. Feel free to bring food if you'd like.

Please let me know if you have questions about this change.

May 5, 2008

Posting your final podcasts

We'll go over this in class this week, but here's what needs to happen with your final commentary podcasts. I'm assuming you've already saved them as an MP3 (instructions on that were posted last week). Try to choose a unique title for that MP3--like something that includes your name. We don't want two podcasts with the same file name.

To post these podcasts, you'll need to access the University's blogging system. You can do this by going to the following address:

On this screen, click on "Log-in to UThink" on the yellow toolbar on the left hand side of the screen. Enter your x.500 in the login screen. You should see "Pass the Peace" listed as a blog you have access to. Click on that blog title.

On the next screen, click on "Upload file" on the toolbar running down the left hand side. Then click on browse and select your MP3 file. Click on "Upload". It may take awhile to upload depending on your connection speed. You want to choose "Create a new entry using this uploaded file" and then click on "Link."

You're now back to main blog page. Give your podcast post a suitable title in the "Title" window. If you want to enter a short description, such as "An interview with John Doe, a professor who...", find the "Download file" text in the "Entry Body" window and type your description there instead. Then click on "Save" at the very bottom of the screen.

That's it--you can click on "View Site" to make sure your podcast has been posted. For these projects, I'm also requiring you to turn in your script with citations and the project reflection. I'll talk about how to do that in class.

Please let me know if you have any questions or problems with this process.

May 2, 2008

Last week!!!

Second drafts of your commentary are due next Tuesday. If you'd like to assure feedback from me, however, you need to post by Monday at noon. I'll try to get those back as soon as I can, certainly no later than Tuesday afternoon and probably before. I can't guarantee feedback on drafts posted after that point. Remember to post both the text of your script (the Word document) and an MP3 of your project.

**IMPORTANT: Bring headphones to class on Tuesday so you can revise in class!!!**

In class on Tuesday, we'll do that revision and you'll have a chance to fill out course evaluations. We'll also talk briefly about the project reflection, which should be turned in with the final draft. It should be 1-2 pages long and answer the following questions:

1) How did you try to make this project interesting and appealing for your audience?
2) How did you try to make your argument relevant and convincing for your audience?
3) Why did you include the audio background you did? What does it add to your project?

As I grade this project, 80 points will go to the piece itself, based on your argument, appeal, evidence, and style/conciseness. 20 points will go to the reflection, based on how well you explain the decisions you made.

The final project is due on Thursday. You'll post that on a project blog, which I'll also mention on Tuesday. Just bring the MP3 to class with you. I'll also ask for a printed copy of your script and project reflection. We'll spend most of that time debriefing the course and talking about the final course reflection, due Monday of finals week.

We're almost done!!

April 30, 2008

One other draft note

One last thing: Just as with your second paper, these aren't commercials for the issue you're focusing on. That is to sya, be careful of being too black and white about things. You can admit weaknesses even in points of view/actions you support, just so long as you feel the balance of evidence supports what you say. Think particularly about how some ideas which sound good in practice might become more complicated in reality. I'll also talk about this a little more tomorrow in class.

Draft notes

I've now returned all drafts that were turned in on time for the final project. I should get to the couple of late assignments by the end of the day. In general, these were rougher than I was expecting. Probably the biggest problem I saw across drafts was a lack of really reliable evidence for the points you all were making. In many pieces, there was a lot of personal opinion or very limited examples. Opinion isn't necessarily bad, but if it's only opinion, you need to have personal authority to back up what you've said. That is, you have to know what you're talking about. When I designed this assignment, I imagined you'd draw on the evidence you used for your second or third papers. These pieces don't need to be highly factual, but offer some facts or stories from those sources here or there to support your opinion. If you've chosen a new topic, then that will probably mean additional research for you. But even newspaper editorials usually rely on some evidence to support what they're saying.

Along these lines, you all will need to introduce yourself early on in these pieces--state your name and whatever background you think is relevant. Otherwise, this will just be a disembodied voice speaking, which doesn't really work.

Citation was pretty rough in these drafts, so that's something to work on as well. We'll talk about wordiness on Thursday.

Lastly, remember that these are audio pieces--meant to be heard. If you haven't already been doing so, speak your piece aloud so that you have a chance to hear what it sounds like. Is it interesting? Something someone would want to listen to for a few minutes? If not, how could you use humor, emotionally engaging examples, or other such devices to make it more so?

April 25, 2008

Week 13 update

Next week we'll continue work on this last argumentative assignment. You'll need to turn in a 1st draft of your script (written only--no audio) to your revision group for Tuesday's class. We'll actually be giving feedback in revision groups during that class time, so come with something posted to share. I'll also be handing out microphones during that class and we'll try to figure out a system where everyone will have a chance to record.

On Thursday, we'll talk a bit about your final reflection, which will be due the Monday of finals week. But you'll have most of the class time to work on your own--either editing your script or working with the audio you've already created. Hopefully you'll find that time helpful.

I've blocked out some times next week where I'll have a room and equipment for you to record if we can't figure out a way for everyone to do that on our own. That will include some of Wednesday afternoon as well as times on Thursday morning and Friday afternoon. I'll have a sign up for those times on Tuesday if they're needed.

Hopefully you're finding this a fun and interesting assignment to end the semester. I enjoyed hearing your creations last Thursday and look forward to seeing/hearing what you come up with.

April 24, 2008

Saving audio as an MP3 in Audacity

Today we had a chance to experiment a bit with Audactiy, a free audio editing program. I've put a link to a download page for that program in the Essay 4 folder--it's free and probably the best option of its kind. If you're on a Mac, Garage Band is a better program, I've been told, but it does cost a little money, I think.

When you've created your audio piece, you'll need to save it as an MP3 in order to share it. Instructions for how to do that are posted below.

Important note for Mac users using Garage Band: I believe the default file format for Garage Band is m4a--an Apple only format. You have to use iTunes to convert it to mp3--you can try to google instructions for how to do that. Since mp3s are more universal, that's the format I prefer.

Saving as an MP3 in Audacity
Once you've got your draft in more or less the state you want it, choose "Export as MP3" under the file menu. Audacity needs an additional file (a LAME encoder, in tech speak) to do this, and will ask for that file once you type in a file name to save under. Here's a link to where you can download that LAME file. Once you've downloaded it, double click on the folder, and then again on the next folder that comes up. You should see a file called "lame_enc.dll" Move that file somewhere on the computer you're using (such as in the Documents folder). When Audacity asks you to find that file, simply browse to where you saved it. Then export your file.

April 18, 2008

Week 12 update

Three weeks to go! Next Tuesday the most painful part of the semester is over--you submit the final draft of your third paper. In addition to a printed copy of the paper, you'll need two examples of feedback you gave and copies of most of your sources. An electronic copy of your final draft should be submitted to as well.

Also on Tuesday, you have a short listening assignment before class. Pick one of the four NPR Editorials listed in the Essay 4 folder. Listen to it (only 3 minutes or so) and then post in the appropriate Reading Discussions topic. We'll talk about the structure and argument of those pieces in class.

Thursday will be a day to begin working with audio files. We'll spend most of class time becoming comfortable with Audacity.

April 16, 2008

Got headphones?

We'll be starting to work with audio in class beginning a week from tomorrow, April 24th. To that end, you'll need to bring headphones to class with you so that we aren't deafened by the many computers. Let me know if this poses a hardship--Target has them for $10 and under if you don't currently have any.

April 11, 2008

Week 11 update

Only five more weeks to go! May seem like a lot right now, but it will go fast.

Next week will be a bit of a transition. On Tuesday, we'll continue to work on the second drafts. We'll look at a draft as a whole class. We'll also submit your drafts online to, a plagiarism detection service. Lastly, we'll revisit grammar issues again.

On Thursday, you'll meet in revision groups. In addition to that, we'll begin talking about your last assignment, the audio commentary. We'll go over the assignment, listen to a few brief examples, and begin brainstorming in class.

April 9, 2008

Thursday conferences

These will be held in 276 Appleby Hall. Come with questions about your paper. A missed conference counts as a late assignment.

Important disclaimer: My son woke up with a fever today, and there's a chance I might need to help take care of him for part of the day tomorrow, which would mean rescheduling/cancelling a few things. For now, I'm planning on everything going according to schedule. But I'll send out an email as soon as I know if things change--no latter than tomorrow morning at 8.

Thursday, April 10:
10:10 John F.
10:20 Abdulla A.
10:35 Arsenio W.
12:00 Natalie C.
12:15 Grant G.