AU-322-APP-sum19


Welcome!  to 2019 Summer Online: Session II
Govt 322:  American Political Parties

Welcome to Govt 322 – American Political Parties

You might have already seen the short introductory notes on Blackboard.   Notes about our schedule, grades, etc follow below.

This is our course’s home page


Our schedule for the semester

Each Monday morning we’ll have the week’s material available, and we’ll have assignments due throughout the week.  There will be readings, videos, a few PowerPoints, etc.  At times it might seem like a lot of material, but remember that we are trying to do the work of 15 weeks in just seven weeks.

Week 1 – July 1 – Intro to Online Learning and Intro to American Political Parties
Week 2 – July 8 – What are we talking about, really?
Week 3 – July 15 – How did we get here, and where are we?
Week 4 – July 22 – American Political Parties and Political Economy
Week 5 – July 29 – Looking Back, Looking Forward: What’s Next?
Week 6 – August 5 – Finishing your papers
Week 7 – August 12 – American Political Parties in Review


Welcome to American Political Parties!

This will be our primary work space.  We’ll have some documents on Blackboard (Bb) but our usual meeting place will be here

Your readings and videos each week will be here online – there are no textbooks to purchase.  We will begin Monday, July 1.  If you have any questions, please email me


Outline of Assignments

Most weeks have a sequence:  I’ll offer you some readings and videos; you’ll reply to some prompts; and you’ll discuss your responses with each other.  For example, in a given week you might be asked to answer two prompts by Thursday night, and reply to the essays of two classmates by Saturday night. Each week I will also link to What Makes a Good Post – please read this carefully a couple of times.

In addition, throughout the semester and especially during the last week, you will focus on your own individual 2,000 word research analysis.  You will pose a question to which you don’t already know the answer, and you will try to answer it.  More on this below.

American political parties is an interesting and challenging course  and subject matter at our university.  We’ll approach it with generosity and humility and the assumption that each of us is coming with honesty and vulnerability and  the best of intentions toward to material and toward each other.

When I first started teaching online, one of the most important things I learned was not technological – how to use Blackboard or any of the other software – it was philosophical.  That is, I was thinking of an online course as ten (or in this case, 25) individual independent studies.  What I learned then and really have come to appreciate is the importance of trying to replicate the in-class peer-to-peer learning.  In this course we’ll read and watch videos, you’ll respond individually to them here on this web site, and you’ll reflect on each other’s responses.  We won’t ever be online together – we are “asynchronous.”  But with a commitment to openness and respect we will go far.

It’s my anticipation – indeed, it is always true – that we will learn a lot from each other.  I don’t care if you’re a AOC Democrat or Eisenhower Republican or Chinese Communist or Bulgarian GERB or Ivorian Workers Party or Peronista Justicialist or a committed independent or genuinely unsure or still in love with Gary Johnson.  We’ll treat each other and our opinions and analyses with respect.  We’ll actually spend very little time on our opinions – we will focus instead on analyses.  We won’t compare the daily ups and downs of  Booker and Harris and Biden and Hickenlooper – we’ll approach things in a more historical, scientific, analytical way.  You might feel things personally – that’s entirely understandable and expected – but our work here is not what we feeeeel – it’s what we can know and learn.  We’re not just going to watch the 2020 campaign unfold – instead, we are going to do the bigger-picture stuff that will make us much better consumers of it.  (And for a lot of you, activists in it — but all that is outside our course.)


Grades

Your weekly essays and replies to classmates will comprise two-thirds of your grade; your longer Week 6 paper will provide the other one-third.  I will comment on the class’s essays each week in general; I may comment on some individual essays each week but not each one.  Your grades will be based on administrative (is the work on time, grammatical, etc.) and substantive (does your essay demonstrate that you have thought carefully about the readings and videos; do your replies to classmates reflect learning on your part, advancing the conversation, and humility and generosity.  Essays that are hostile or otherwise inappropriate will not be posted or will be removed, and will need to be redone for credit.  


Office hours 

I will check my AU email each morning. If you like, we can schedule a phone call, Skype, etc., by appointment.  With short, quick questions you can also facebook message me – details on Bb.


Notes about the Online of our Online Course

Much of our work will be done at govt396.com.  We will also have a Blackboard (Bb) page, but that is not where we will do our work – we will do it on govt396.com.  Additionally – and this is optional – if you are not already a member of our closed fb group, please request to join from (link on Bb). The fb page will have former students/alumni as members; some check in with useful insights from time to time.  We won’t do formal work there, but I try to share useful, interesting items, and invite you to do the same.

If this is the first summer online course you are taking, there are a couple of ideas worth considering.  First, the course has two important adjustments, for the instructor and for the students:  the course is online, and the course is compressed into just a few weeks.  You should expect the same amount of work on your part in these few weeks as you would give to a full semester-length course.  The usual semester-length expectations are 135 hours – 45 classroom hours and 90 individual study hours.  Do the math: that’s a considerable dedication of time each day/week.  (Even if we don’t always meet these time commitments, that is the goal.)

Second, and related to that last idea, is the prioritization of your work.  During the fall and spring, you have several competing courses, along with activities, work, internships, etc.  During a summer online course, you need to think of your online course as your key responsibility.  If you are also working or interning, you need to recognize that this course may be at least a demanding part-time job of about 20 hours per week.

Most of this is not material or response that you can do a few minutes at a time waiting for the Metro or walking your dog.  Those might be great times to check the news, or to see if there are responses to your latest post.  But you also want to block out periods of time in which you will be undisturbed by work, personal, or other distractions.

Finally, combining the ideas above, no late work can be accepted in subsequent weeks.  Week 2 work has to be submitted during Week 2, etc.  A particular post might be minutes or hours late, with some adjustment to your grade, but may not leak into the following weeks.  It just puts you in too difficult position to catch up so please, stay on pace.

Similarly, your course paper is due on the due date, Tuesday, August 13,  11:59 PM Washington, D.C., time (EDT). I will post details of the paper assignment on Bb, fb, and govt396.com, but in short: any topic you choose and I approve; approx 2000 words; due August 13.  *You should expect that late papers will not be accepted at all.


Ok, now what?

Advice from me: whether or not this is your first online summer course, one note: the semester is short and moves fast. It’s important to keep up.

Advice from you: I’ll be asking you for a couple of things during the semester. If you have a request, suggestion, etc., let me know anytime.

My goal is that this should be a fun, interesting, and academic endeavor for you and for me.  By choosing this course I expect you already have some real interest in American politics and American political parties – maybe you have some academic or field experience as well.  In any case, online summer classes are good only with real engagement by the students. I’ll try to make that easy and appealing for you, but only you can do it.

Ok, great, thanks – let’s get started!


Our schedule for the semester

Each Monday morning we’ll have the week’s material available, and we’ll have assignments due throughout the week.  There will be readings, videos, a few PowerPoints, etc.  At times it might seem like a lot of material, but remember that we are trying to do the work of 15 weeks in just seven weeks.

Week 1 – July 1 – Intro to Online Learning and Intro to American Political Parties
Week 2 – July 8 – What are we talking about, really?
Week 3 – July 15 – How did we get here, and where are we?
Week 4 – July 22 – American Political Parties and Political Economy
Week 5 – July 29 – Looking Back, Looking Forward: What’s Next?
Week 6 – August 5 – Finishing your papers
Week 7 – August 12 – American Political Parties in Review