Organizing discussion

Today is our final planning day for panels. We’ll talk about writing discussion questions and posting your readings, questions, and materials to this course site.

First, let’s start with this question: In your experience what makes a good discussion in the classroom and out?

Writing discussion questions

Once your group feels like it has a strong grasp on your phenomenon, you’ll need to align 4 things:

  • your reading(s), which should get at the complexity, history, and newsworthiness (or relevance) of your chosen phenomenon
  • your online discussion questions, which should be focused mostly on our experiences with, opinions about, or responses to the phenomenon
  • your in-class discussion questions, which will be about the phenomenon, but more importantly the readings. These will build from the chat online the night before.
  • your counter-technology, which will go beyond common-sense approaches you’d see on your local evening news broadcast.

By “align” I mean that these four elements should work together and not feel like a potpourri of topics or distinct tasks — each one builds from the next to co-create a meaningful and purposeful (yet still unpredictable) discussion.

While conversations will occur online before class, your group will have a chance to push on certain threads in class before unveiling your counter-technology in class. As such, we want to think about the kinds of questions that make group conversation meaningful.

This handout from one university walks us through some of the different kinds of questions you can ask as a discussion leader:

Example: The Gig Economy

Reading: “Why Hasn’t the Gig Economy Killed Traditional Work?” (NPR, March 26, 2019)

Online questions.

Note these are general questions and not tied to any readings. They are also posted on the plan (see below) and on our social media platform (Section 1 will post these question on the notes tab on the area of their chosen readings. Section 2 will post these questions with their links on our Facebook Group):

Q1: Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB, are the most common examples of companies in the gig economy. What are some others, whether you’ve used them or not?
Q2: Have you used a service offered in the the gig economy? What has been your experience with them as a consumer?
Q3: Drivers, hosts, babysitters, helpers, shoppers — these are the jobs workers do in the the gig economy. Have any of you worked these jobs (or know people who do)?

In-class discussion questions.

Note these are tied the specific readings, but then branch outward. these could also be revised as I collect info from responses to the above questions:

Q1: The beginning of the article include many links to studies about “the gig economy.” Who went upstream via the links at the beginning of this article? What patterns do you notice when you did this?
Q2: The article notes that Arun Sundararajan, author of The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism, doesn’t believe the research trends in the links at the beginning of this article. Why? What else does he predict about the gig economy?
Q3: The article explains some of the differences between working for one’s self and working for “a firm” (aka a corporation or company). What are these differences and why is it important to studying them?

Counter-technologies: Earnings calculators: AirbnbUber

Posting your plan

At least 2 days before (preferably more), you’ll post your plan to our course site. This includes your panel members, online questions and links to your readings and counter-technologies. In addition, you should use the Document tab on the right side of the post page to:

  • Mark the category of Unit 3 (if unmarked)
  • Tag your post with relevant terms.
  • Choose an appropriate featured image, which will show up on our home page.

Here’s an example of how you should set this up, starting with the title:

Section 1 // 11:00 a.m. // #doxing

Panel members: Rachel, Joe, Laura, Lex

Online discussion questions:

Q1: Do you think doxxing is ever justified?
Q2: What are some cases of doxxing you’ve heard about in the news?
Q3: Should doxxing have consequences? If yes, what kind?

Readings (link the title and include the publication name and date in parenthesis):
Women Explain Why They Are Boycotting Twitter” (Gizmodo, October 2017)
Whatever Your Side, Doxing Is a Perilous Form of Justice” (Wired, August 2017)

Counter-technology: Dox Yourself! (Google Doc)

→  For top-secret directions on how to post to the course site, including the username and password you’ll be using, look at this Google Doc here. ←

Evaluating panels

As you might recall,  20% of your grade in this unit is based on your online participation, but the other 80% is assessed, at least in part, by your peers. Here’s how. Both forms can be found in the Unit 3 menu, above. ↑

  • 50% panel performance. This grade is determined via ratings from the Evaluation Form. I use the average overall score from the class to determine this grade.
  • 30%  individual contributions. This grade is determined, in part, by an internal evaluation form, that you and your group-mates will complete after your discussion. You also have a chance to elaborate on your experience in your final individual reflection.

Homework for Tuesday, 4/18

Read assigned texts for Group 1 and post comments online by Monday evening.