Tagged: summer

My Revised Online Summer Intensive Course

This summer, I’m teaching two online courses at CUNY Queens College.

  1. Media Technologies, between June 4 and June 27
  2. Contemporary Media, between July 2 and July 26

I’m following a similar structure from the past, which I have described before on this site. Each course includes twelve modules, and for each module students will have to complete the following:

  • read an assigned chapter from the textbook
  • watch a video lecture of a narrated slideshow
  • take an online quiz consisting of objective questions

After four modules, students will take an exam consisting of subjective questions that they will have five days to complete.

In the past, I used to release module consisting of a video lecture and a quiz for a course topic and would have them due the following day. But having read a blog post by Anastasia Salter about “Rethinking the Online Summer Intensive,” I rethought my own online summer intensive courses. I didn’t quite go as far as Salter who released all the modules at the beginning of the course. Instead, I wanted to strike a balance between giving students the flexibility of completing work on their own schedule but also provide some structure where students won’t feel overwhelmed.

I kept the daily release schedule but changed the daily deadlines for quizzes to a weekly one. Everyday between Tuesday and Friday, I will post a recorded lecture and a quiz. But instead of making them due the following day, I’m providing students some flexibility and allowing them to submit the four quizzes by Monday night. That gives students at least three days to complete their quizzes. They can either keep apace completing a quiz per day or they can procrastinate and binge the weeks’ material.

And I’m also setting up twice-weekly office hours via Google Meet, which I’ve only used once, but I think is a tremendous improvement over Google Hangouts.

I didn’t implement her other changes, such as the 100-point grading scale for the whole semester. I understand the appeal of a “progress bar,” but how would I account for getting ten quizzes and three exams to add up to 100 points? That would require granting students four points for a quiz of at least ten questions.

Apologies for the Cobwebs

Yes, I’m still alive! No, I haven’t abandoned this website.

With only three posts since Memorial Day weekend, I know it looks bad, but I will be posting again soon. The summer months, while certainly not boring or uneventful, did not find me with much to share with the world.

But summer is over, and I will be back to sharing again, including a few backdated posts.

Media Technologies, Summer 2016: A Four-Week, Online Course

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As the school year winds down, some students are looking to get a jump on earning some credits over the coming summer.

I will be teaching an online version of Media Technologies at CUNY Queens College this summer. For four weeks in July, between July 5 and July 28. Much like the winter session course I taught in January, this course will be asynchronous and entirely online.

Media Technologies surveys twelve communication technologies. Rather than schedule lectures at a specific time that students watch online, I am emphasizing asynchronous, self-directed study.

For each media technology, students will…

  1. audition a short introductory lecture that explains the topic and emphasizes impacts of that technology on the society that adopted it,
  2. read a chapter from Irving Fang’s textbook Alphabet to Internet and a condensed version of an article from the fifth edition of the anthology Communication in History,
  3. complete a quiz on the material.

After covering four topics, students will be required to take a midterm exam.

Rather than use Blackboard or some similarly bloated learning management system, the syllabus is available on the open web. Anyone is welcome to audit the course, but submitting assignments requires a Queens College login to access Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom.

The winter course was a success, and using prerecorded video lectures has worked well in the spring sections. All the students completed the class: that doesn’t happen in the face-to-face courses where absenteeism is a problem. For the spring semester, I used the prerecorded online lectures to “flip” the classroom, and students have been very receptive and complimentary about the recorded slideshow presentations. For these reasons, I’m largely reproducing what worked in the winter session and spring semester for the summer course.

Finally, if you’re taking this course, you can get cash back on your textbooks. Shop through Ebates and buy your books from QC’s Textbookx.com store to get cash back on your textbook purchases. Not a member of Ebates? Sign up and get a $10 cash bonus.

Visit the course syllabus

The above links to Amazon are an affiliate links. If you buy something through those links, I will earn a commission fee.

Why 2015 Was the Best Year in the US since 2009

Get out your perpetual calendar and look forward to 2020. That’s because in five years, we will experience a similarly awesome year as 2015.

Two thousand fifteen was the best year ever because major US holidays fall on days for maximizing vacation time around the summer and mid-winter holidays.

The colloquial summer season in the United States, when most everyone plans their vacations and such, starts on the Friday before Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day. In 2015, the unofficial summer season was as long as it could be: a full sixteen weeks.

  • Memorial Day is always the last Monday of May. In 2015, Memorial Day was on May 25, which meant that the colloquial summer started on the earliest possible date, Friday, May 22.
  • Labor Day is always the first Monday of September. In 2015, Labor Day was on September 7, which meant that colloquial summer ended on the latest possible date, Monday, September 7.

For fans of summer like me, this was much better than 2014 when summer ended on September 1, and better than 2010 when summer started as late as Friday, May 28. Those years sucked!

It was also great because Independence Day, July 4, occurred on a Saturday. Most everyone I knew observed it on July 3, granting many workers a comfortable three-day weekend.

The winter holidays were similarly charmed. This past year Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, December 24 and December 31, respectively fell on Thursdays while Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fell on Fridays. That allowed many workers to have two successive four-day weekends! Take three days off in between, and you could have had with eleven consecutive days off. Not a bad way to end this great year.

I first noticed this in 2009, and I looked forward to it every year since. Usually, these kind of years occur every seven years or so, but we have two leap years coming: one in 2016 and another one in 2020. That will accelerate the frequency of this kind of year.

It will happen again in four short years: in 2020. That’s plenty of time to plan an extended summer vacation or midwinter getaway. Or both.

Happy new year, everyone!

Pour Over Iced Coffee

Although I much prefer cold brew for hot summer days, there are days that I cannot wait fifteen hours to brew coffee. I need coffee right now, and I’ll settle for iced coffee. If you’re unsure about the differences between cold brew and iced coffee, let’s distinguish between the two as follows:

cold brew
coffee brewed with cold or room-temperature water for an extended period of time, between twelve and fifteen hours, and then diluted with ice water.
iced coffee
coffee brewed hot at a higher concentration and then served over ice cubes.

I prefer the sweet and complex flavors you get with cold brew. It’s much easier for me to identify the coffee’s “notes,” such as vanilla, caramel, chocolate, etc. It also lacks the bitterness of hot brewing, but you do you have to wait about half a day to extract those flavors. However, when you’re out of cold brew, and the mercury is hovering around 90°, as it is today, pouring hot coffee over ice cubes will do just fine. Also, there’s been backlash against the cold brew craze, which exploded on the coffee scene about four years ago, and some are returning to pouring hot coffee over ice cubes.

The folks at North Carolina’s Counter Culture coffee produced a video for making iced coffee.

Their recipe, posted on their website, uses 30 g of coffee, 335 ml of hot water, and 165 g of ice. I adapted their recipe to brew two small iced coffees, using a Chemex with the following measurements:

  • 40 g of coffee: Bella Vista (Antigua, Guatemala) by Tonx
  • 450 ml of 195° filtered New York City tap water
  • 220 g of ice

While I was glad that I had chilled coffee without resorting to buying it from the local coffee shop, for at least three dollars a pop, I’m glad there will be cold brew tomorrow.

Dog Days

Notification issued on 8/21/13 at 12:03 PM.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for New York City until 11:00 PM tonight. Active children, adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. For more air quality information visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/

With a week before my first class starts, it’s nice to know summer isn’t over yet.

Yeah, it’s Hot. But it’s Better than a Blizzard!


With the weather reaching 100° last week, people complained and pined for winter. That attitude has always made me laugh a bit because I remember these same people fondly anticipating warmer weather, even a summer heat wave. Well, here it is!

Snow on Vernon Boulevard

As an outdoor guy, I have a strong preference for the summer since we can’t really play softball or go for a long bike ride when there’s a foot of snow on the ground, now can we?

Summer Cocktail: Cold-Brewed Coffee

A mason jar full of cold brew coffee

During last summer’s heat wave throughout the Northeast, I didn’t want to turn on the stove for anything. Not even to make coffee. That’s when I turned to cold brewing coffee. After nearly a year of finessing the process, here’s what I do today:

I prefer using blends rather than single origin coffee beans because they have a more complex flavor profile. At first, I was using expensive coffee beans, which were great, but I found that even inexpensive beans, such as Joe’s blend from Trader Joes ($4.99 for a 12 oz. can), worked just as well. Moreover, I would recommend using light roasts, rather than a dark roast, to allow the natural flavors of the bean to come through.

Using one of those giant 64 oz. mason jars, add coarsely ground coffee. To get the 9:2 ratio that everyone recommends, fill it with coffee ground so that it reaches halfway between the 250 and 500 ml. lines on “metric side” the jar. Fill the rest of the jar with water, stir aggressively, and cap the jar. For the next few minutes, shake the jar so that the grounds don’t settle in one place. Place jar in refrigerator for about 13-15 hours. Using a strainer with a fine mesh, filter the coffee into another large jar. The resulting mixture needs to be diluted with an equal amount of ice water.

The coffee should have no bitterness and should bring out the flavors of the beans. It in fact is so sweet that you don’t need to add milk, sugar, or anything to “soften” the brew. The first time I had this, it was the most delicious coffee I had ever had. There really is no going back to hot-brewed coffee in the summer.