Week 5, Day 1

Posted by on 17th Jun 2019

We are, believe it or not, in the final week of the semester. And as we come to this end, we face down the few tasks that remain between this class and whatever's left of your Summer. Your primary concern is the final project: the superfluously-alliterative "Mediated Metacognitive Meditation", but there are a few more things to attend to as we wrap things up.

Goals for the Week

  • Complete the Mediated Metacognitive Meditation
  • Engage with your class community
  • Tighten up your WordPress site or sites
  • Propose your Final Grade

The Final Project

OK, I realize it's kind of a silly name, but all of the things in it are important. I do want you to meditate in some mediated way that gets you somewhere metacognitive. That is, I'm asking you to think about and evaluate all of your projects this semester, and by choosing one of those projects to iterate, and then explaining that choice, you're thinking about how you learn through these projects. For example, many of you concluded your module videos saying things like, "It was hard, but it was fun, and I look forward to doing more things like this!" In that statement, you're identifying "fun" as a quality that enables your learning -- that's all I mean by metacognition. And now, for this final project, you just get to have more fun.

Some of you have asked for specific criteria, and like I've said, there are none other than the goals you set for yourself. Make choices and set goals that seem appropriate to you and explain those choices. Challenge yourself! Be bold! But above all, be honest in your self-assessment.

I've made a new Slack channel, "#showcase," which you should use to share and brag about this or any other favorite projects this semester.

Find Connection through Encouragement

In a face-to-face class, a sense of community often develops through the shared bond of struggling together on the same assignments. That's been a little harder to nurture in the online class, but I think it's happening. If nothing else, you can each be a supportive and authentic audience for each other as you each look back over your work.

As you consider what to iterate for your final project, you should review what you've done in the last few weeks. Your website is a good record of that activity. At the same time, take a look at other students' websites and posts in Slack. Find at least three projects or posts by other students in this class that you especially like, and leave the author a note of encouragement about that work. If it's a blog post, you can post your comment there; if it's in Slack, you can reply in Slack; you can even send an email or a Slack DM if you want to keep your words private.

If you're not sure where to start, check and see what others have been sharing in the #showcase channel.

I'm not grading these or counting these responses, but it's an important part of your participation in this class.

Tidy up your Wordpress(es)

Finally, and this is the more technical task for this week, you should review your settings and plugins in any WordPress installations you have, and consider making some common sense adjustments that will help you out in the long term.

By the way, many of you still just have one Wordpress installation in a subdomain you created for this class, but it's often a good idea to create a second installation on your homepage. This could be how you approach the "Mediated Metacognitive Meditation" project, because a revised homepage could considered an "iteration" of your DGST 101 blog.

Regardless of how many WordPresses you have or end up with, you're responsible for maintaining these sites. I'll make a video with a detailed walkthrough of the suggestions below (which I should note are strong suggestions), or you can probably figure out a lot of this by clicking around and seeing what happens.

  1. Double-check your Installatron settings for automatic updates and backup frequency. You want to make sure that your software (WordPress) stays up to date with security patches, but you also don't want it filling up your disk space with backups of itself. If everything is going fine, you usually only need one backup copy.
  2. Turn off comments on your front page. If you choose to revise your website for the final iteration, you'll probably end up with a static front page. By default, that page will have a comment section, until you disable it. That comment section is a magnet for spam, an invitation to trolls, and it really adds no value to your site. You should also consider disabling all comments on your site for the same reason.
  3. Install and activate some plugins that will help secure your site. Again, these are strong suggestions:
    • Akismet for spam protection. This is already installed by default but you have to activate and register it.
    • Wordfence for added security, detailed security updates, and things like DDoS protection.
    • Jetpack for analytics plus lots of performance tweaks like "Photon" for image caching, a "Contact" form, and a "Portfolio" tool.

These are all free and available through the WordPress plugin repository, and for the most part, their installation and activation is a smooth step-by-step process.

As usual, update us in Slack with your progress, any questions, or problems you've run into.

Your Final Grade

I haven't kept up with feedback as much as I hoped I would, but I have added comments and feedback to many of your Google Docs. (For those of you I haven't gotten to yet, that should happen today or tomorrow.)

After you've completed the other tasks for this week, the last thing you do this semester should be to reflect on and review all your work -- including everything you've shared on your website and in Slack -- and compose a final grade rationale as a short narrative about what you've learned this semester. Describe your biggest challenges and how you overcame them, and share whichever project you're most proud of or that you think will be the most useful going forward.

Review the learning outcomes listed in the syllabus and note how well or how much you think you have achieved the goals of each of those four outcomes.

Bearing all this in mind, decide what letter grade is the best expression of your work this semester.

After reviewing your work and your rationale, I'll either agree or disagree and assign your grade in Banner accordingly.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please let me know (via Slack, preferrably).