Question: What is the GoPost Discussion list and what is required of me for the class?

Answer: The idea of the discussion list is to provide a forum for students to think about and talk about issues of interest to the class in Environmental Science.  Each student will be required to make at least TWO posts to the class discussion list during the course of the quarter:  GoPosts can take the form of (1) a QUESTION related to Environmental Science or (2) an ANSWER which adds to the resolution of a QUESTION initially posted to the list.  Don't duplicate QUESTION topics, but do add to the existing conversations by posting additional material, including additional questions, under existing topics.

BE SURE TO CHECK THE SYLLABUS FOR EXACT DUE DATES.  The deadline for your first post will be around the middle of the quarter; the deadline for the second post will be closer to the end of the quarter. You can make as many posts as you want, but at least two in total must be posted.  We will use the UW GoPost system, which can be accessed by using the URL on the class page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure that your GoPost shows online. Don't just assume that it posted correctly. MAKE SURE that the GoPost did post to the site, and check it a few times during the quarter, particularly immediately before the due dates. Ideally, take a screen snapshot of the post, and keep it. This could be your only proof that you indeed did make a post that contributed to the online discussion if it isn't there when we download the posts to grade. Otherwise, you will need to submit a late GoPost for a reduced grade after the due date.

Logon with your UW NetID and password, and follow the instructions.  Post as often as you want, but make sure your posts are high-quality (as well as CIVIL), since many students will read them.  Each post will be graded on a scale of 0-100% at the end of the quarter.  We will use the best two posts to determine your discussion post grade.  The quality of your posts on the discussion list will determine 25% of your overall grade.  See below for the grading criteria we will use.

Question: What makes an Acceptable Discussion Board GoPost?

Discussion boards are designed to allow students to have high-quality conversations about topics of interest in an ethernet world.  We want thought-provoking questions and well-rounded, thorough answers.  In order to receive optimum grades for a question post, try to steer clear of questions that can be answered from a textbook.  Instead, try to get people to think about facts in the context of their personal values.

An example of a bad question would be:

Example1: Unacceptable Discussion Post Question

"How is a rainbow made?"

Why is this a bad question?  It does not cause the reader to think through their current value judgments and discuss their VIEWS and OPINIONS upon a topic.  The question can be answered verbatim from a textbook with minimal thought in regards to how the topic actually affects their daily lives.
An example of an acceptable question would include:

 "Norway's fisheries minister this week said allowing tourists to hunt seals could help the country combat an overpopulation of the animals that is hurting the fishing industry. What do other people think about what the fisheries minister said? Should tourists be allowed to hunt seals to help a human industry? Can the revenue from hunting actually be used to protect the seals? Lots of information at : http://www.www.html"

Why is this better?  This topic brings up several issues that will be discussed in class later in the quarter.  It also addresses the issue of how we should go about trying to fix problems we have created.  There are MANY points one could address in an answer to this question, from the focus on tourism as a quick fix to the use of human meddling to fix a problem created by human meddling.  This question also forces fellow students to think about their own personal values in the context of an issue that is outside most people's personal realms (ie-outside of the PNW borders).

For examples of much better discussion post question, see the bottom of this page.

Answers to questions will be graded in a similar way, mostly for context and content.  A very good answer will not only include references to facts but will also discuss one's opinions or value beliefs in regards to those facts, such as whether you believe a statistics quote is accurate or whether you feel a certain fact tends to be distorted by mainstream thought. An excellent question will be unique, likely very timely, and show an excellent use of words to provoke thought and response. If you repeat a topic that has already been posted, you will still receive credit, but the best grades for questions and answers are reserved for topics that have not been covered. This requires you to check the previous GoPosts before you start your's.

You can use figures and images in the post, but do not attach files. These do not work well for a discussion list, can contain viruses, and will not be read or considered in grading.

I have two examples of bad answers for the discussion board.  The first is to simply cite sources where others may go for information.  Simply stating:

 "Go to this web site for great information on (ENTER TOPIC HERE)"

will not receive great marks.  Secondly, simply agreeing with a previous answer without fully developing your own thoughts will not suffice.  An example of this would be:

 "I agree with what (NAME) said. That fact is completely bogus."

For an example of an excellent discussion post answer, see the bottom of this page.

You will receive the best grades for the best developed questions and answers. Please state an opinion if you have one, but support it with as many facts as you can. Citing other links, newspaper articles, and other sources in such a way as to improve your post will give you the highest grade possible.

Note that it is very difficult for a student to earn a nearly perfect grade. Remember that a 94% is higher than a 4.0 (with the normal curve applied). It will be very hard to justify a grade higher than a 94% unless your work is truly outstanding and you can demonstrate that to me. This is the University of Washington, and outstanding writing, ideas and assimilated material are the norm, and graded accordingly. If there is a single grammatical mistake, your submission may not receive an "A". Your opinion in your original submission is great, but unless you have substantial environmental science concepts in your work, it doesn't merit a high grade.

If you have any questions in regards to the Discussion Board Assignment that is not addressed in this email, please do not hesitate to write to us at:

eschelp@u.washington.edu
 

Example2:  Better Discussion Post Question

Topic:  Management of our National Parks

Given that we are all enrolled in this environmental science course, I would suggest that it can be safely assumed that the majority of us are relatively aware of environmental issues. However, sometimes saying that you think forests should be conserved isn't enough. There are decisions to be made regarding how you think forests should be conserved, and whether or not that includes using them for profit and resources.  Take Gifford Pinchot and John Muir. Both were conservationists and naturalists who devoted their lives to forestry. However, they had very different views and even had quite the battle over President Theodore Roosevelt between them.
Gifford Pinchot was the first Chief of the US Forestry Service and was interested in conservation through sustainable natural resource management. His ideas acknowledged that people needed to use nature in order to survive and the institute bearing his name that exists today finds ways to help people earn an income and provides goods for many from the forests while continuing to preserve them.

John Muir was a naturalist and conservationist who was the first president of the Sierra Club. He has been called the “Father of our National Parks”. He was a wilderness explorer and writer who devoted his life to keeping the wild just that, wild. He believed that natural areas should remain the way that God made them and so untouched by humans. One of his many successful projects was the creation of the Yosemite National Park.
While both men are highly regarded for helping to conserve our national forests, they had different approaches to the problem that persisted throughout their lives and into today. Whose method of conserving is better and why? Do you think all of our national forests should follow one belief system? How should we decide? Are keeping areas pure and untouched worth it? Does keeping the forests "pure" mean that humans cannot use them? Can we really conserve a forest and still use it for profit and resources?

Pinchot: http://www.pinchot.org/
USDA Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/ “caring for the land and serving the people”
Muir: http://www.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/
Sierra Club: http://www.sierraclub.org/
You can read about issues related to Washington state’s forests here: http://www.wflc.org/


Example3:  Better Discussion Post Answer

Topic:  Drilling for oil in Alaska

In my opinion, this is a question about morals along with respect to wildlife and land. I believe in doing everything possible before wildlife is harmed. Even in my everyday life, I am compulsive about this philosophy/value. This may sound crazy to some, but I save bugs from my house compulsively, and when I was little, I would move worms off my patio before I played basketball so that they wouldn’t get squashed. Hopefully that gives you an idea of where I am coming from.
I think we must first ask ourselves if everything possible has been done before we invade natural land and wildlife. Also, even though there are 12 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, what happens when this oil is gone? Are we going to then invade more land and wildlife? We cannot just simply be concerned with “the now”. We have to look toward the future.
As far as defense for not drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, there are many species’ lives along with their natural habitat that would be altered/destroyed. Wildlife management experts are concerned that the oil drilling could affect the denning of pregnant polar bears along the shoreline, the musk oxen could be driven from their habitat, and the grizzly bears will once again be incompatible with the oil camps during the summer. Grizzlies were often shot or relocated when they became too intrusive in the Prudhoe area.
Most importantly, if there is drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 130,000 caribou of the Porcupine herd will be strongly affected. They migrate each spring onto the coastal plain to calve. They travel 400 miles around the mountains to the plain just so that they can give birth far away from their predators. After giving birth, they then forage on the greens that spring up from the 24 hour sunshine. If this drilling occurs, wildlife experts are afraid that this will be disrupted.
Also, some argue that drilling for oil on the refuge would only make a dent in our dependency on other foreign oil imports. This would leave our economy and way of life just as exposed to extreme changes in worldwide oil prices and supply. The bottom line is that we can't drill our way to energy independence.
While the effects of the drilling on wildlife are unknown, the magnitude could be enormous. Imagine if you were the caribou, grizzlies, or the polar bears, and suddenly your home was destroyed. To some, that view may seem extreme, but that is what I believe and how I feel. If humans are not able to figure out ways to survive, why do we have the right to destroy other wildlife and habitat? Out of all the education and new technology, there has to be a way for us to create fuel for our lives without interfering so strongly with our natural world. The rest of the natural world is depending on us. The land and wildlife that are still alive today are precious, and we should do all that we can to preserve what is natural. My answer is NO to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Information can be found at the following sources:
http://www.savebiogems.org/arctic/
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,98984-3,00.html
http://www.nrdc.org/land/wilderness/arctic.asp
http://www.sacredland.org/endangered_sites_pages/arctic.html


Example4: What makes an EXCELLENT Discussion post?

There is no specific formula here. In a discussion list, an excellent post depends as much on the context it was posted in as the content of the post itself.

Some student in the past have expressed that if they follow the instructions, they expect a perfect grade. Please don't think this. It is very difficult for a student to earn a nearly perfect grade. Remember that a 94% final percentage grade (including any "curve" which is applied) is a 4.0, the highest grade possible for the class. It will be very hard to justify a grade of 94% or higher unless the GoPost is truly outstanding and you can demonstrate that to me. This is the University of Washington, and outstanding writing, ideas and assimilated material are the norm, and graded accordingly. If there is a single grammatical mistake, you will not receive an "A" grade unless we make a mistake in grading ourselves. Your opinion in your original submission is great, but unless you have substantial environmental science concepts and support for that in your work, it doesn't merit a high grade.

Remember that if you examine your GoPost later and aren't happy with it, you are welcome to post again until you think you have done your truly best. That is what we are hoping to see from you.