Discussion board

Throughout the semester, you will be asked to investigate various ideas and archives management processes and report back on the Blackboard discussion forum.  For each question asked, you will be given a period of two weeks in which to respond to that question, from Monday to the Friday evening at the end of that fortnight to make your post. You will be marked on the number of topics addressed, and will need to apply for an extension if you are going to miss a number of topics.

The posts are spaced so that there is not one due every week. Discussion is the key. All posts are read (we ‘hover’ but do not ‘invade’), and general commentary will be provided as required.  The idea is not to provide assessment feedback but to summarise, clarify and, above all, provide food for further thought. Around week 4, the unit co-ordinator will provide individualised feedback on your posts, looking at your writing style, number of posts and so on.  It is not possible to provide this continuously. At the end of semester you receive a grade based on the criteria set out above. This grade is not allocated until the very end of semester when all progress through all of the tutorials is reviewed.

If there is a large enrolment in the unit, you will be placed in discussion groups and I will organize these in the first week of semester. Each group comprises up to 25 students which makes it easier for you to “talk amongst yourselves” in small tutorial style regarding each of the discussion topics. The more you “engage” in the discussions, the more successful you will be in both your learning and appreciation of the unit. You need to engage with the readings, and to demonstrate your awareness of other resources and information of relevance to the topic. It is not enough to list resources and provide an abstract of what they have said. It is important that you let us know what you think in regard to the tutorial question and how the readings might have helped you arrive at your view/s.

You need to try and respond to each topic at least twice, so that the discussion board becomes, in Ed Gallagher’s words, “a game of non-competitive racquetball or tennis in which the goal is not to win but to exercise both yourself and others by keeping the ball (ideas) in play as long as possible.” (Gallagher and Tompkins, 2006).

There is no word length but, as a guide, 150 – 250 words per discussion post should be plenty – remember, you can post multiple times. Provide a brief introduction: “Thinking about the question of….”, rather than, “I agree with Jan.” Get to the meat of your point, and then provide a conclusion. There is no limit on any subsequent posts, either by word count or number of posts, but your post/s need to be relevant to the topic.

Even though the tutorial postings are not considered to be a very formal piece of writing, if you do use the ideas of others, you still need to acknowledge them (see the University guidelines on plagiarism  – http://academicintegrity.curtin.edu.au/ ). As with all University writing, referencing is important.

  • Your assessment for this component of the unit will be based on:
    Your writing style and presentation;
    The way you present your concept/s and argument/s, including sound and analytical engagement with the issue;
    Complete and correct referencing (i.e., APA 6th)
    Timeliness of the post, i.e. posted when it is due; and,
    Engagement with other students on the topic.

Your responses should be well referenced, using APA 6th and demonstrating an understanding of the topic and an awareness of current research and writing. This enables students to develop a sense of collegiality, as well as encouraging the sort of responses that might be found in professional fora like the ArchivesLive Ning site (http://archiveslive.ning.com/) and the Archives and records management google group ( archives-and-records-australia@googlegroups.com). Given that many archives are often ‘lone’ arrangers or have small staff, developing online discussion skills is a key communication tool.

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