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Dr. Mark Jordan ~ ENGL 2311: Technical Writing

What's Nicenet?

Nicenet is a bulletin board on the World Wide Web. It is not part of our Web site; it is a non-profit service offered to college and high school classes. It is not a chat room and it is not live, so there is no need for everyone to be online at the same specific time. This maintains the freedom of personal schedule which is often one reason you are taking this course as a web course in the first place. However, despite not being live chat, when you post a message within our class section, all your classmates simultaneously receive that message, though they will not see it until they check Nicenet again; additionally, all messages are shown together within whatever assignment or area of the site we are using for that particular assignment, meaning that you can easily refer back to an entire class discussion and "mine" it for information or ideas.

We will use Nicenet in several basic ways:

  • As a place where I can make announcements about assignments and so forth without reloading my website. Depending on what seems to work best for a given group of students, I sometimes post assignments and reminders on Nicenet as well as on my Assignments Calendar. (Keep in mind that to see full details of assignments, you will still need to access my website Assignments Calendar.)
  • As a discussion area where we will have asynchronous classroom discussions. "Asynchronous" means that not everyone will be online at once, so responses are not immediate. It is like email in that responses trickle in over several days, but unlike regular email, when you use the Conference function, everyone on the class roster will receive your message. Usually, I will allow about one week for such a discussion to take place on any given topic. Be forewarned that students have a very strong tendency to ignore these conferences until the last day or two, at which time they get very busy. I would much rather see students participate in a less rushed, more measured way.
  • As a place where you may submit drafts of the text portion of certain assignments. This is especially handy if I want you to write several paragraphs on some topic, as a minor grade in itself, perhaps leading up to your major essay or other major assignment. If sent to Nicenet, these papers can be read by everyone in the class; this creates a sense of a real audience which is lacking in a traditional classroom. In essence, you are publishing your writing on the World Wide Web. However, it will not be possible to submit finished assignments, or even complete drafts, because of the inevitable loss of formatting features. It most, it will be a forum for text only.
  • As a place for you to publish your research findings to share with class members. I normally use this function on at least one of the major assignments.

An important note: Private email such as questions you wish to ask me personally, rather than address to the class as a whole, will be responded to more quickly if sent to me directly via personal email, rather than through Nicenet.

Registering on Nicenet

You will need to register on Nicenet to use it in any of the above ways. These discussions make up part of your participation grade, and occasionally I may also choose to count such a discussion as a minor assignment in itself. To register, follow these steps:

(1) First, read this note:

IMPORTANT: Remember the exact way you enter your user name and your password. If you don't remember them precisely you won't be able to sign back on. (Spaces and capital letters do make a difference.) You may also be asked for your email address during registration. Lastly, please do not sign on anonymously. I require all messages to be identifiable as to their authors. So if you sign on anonymously, you will have to remember to "sign" each message manually. By contrast, if you give your real name upon registering initially, then all your messages are automatically attributed to you.

(2) If you have not already done so, send me a personal email message answering the 18 questions on the Getting Started page so you can get the Nicenet class key from me. You will need this key code in order to register for the correct class. My class is listed as ENGL2311.web.

(3) Once you have the class key and have decided on your password, please click on the URL below and follow the instructions on the screen.

Here is the Nicenet URL: http://www.nicenet.org/

After you list your email address during the registration process, the Roster function of Nicenet will automatically list all members of our class along with their email addresses. This will allow students in the class to communicate with each other as much as possible, even outside the boundaries of the assignments. I encourage this sort of communication because it can build the familiarity with each other that makes it more comfortable for you to collaborate with one another on assignments. If you fail to list your email address, your messages to your classmates will not bear your name. I strongly prefer that all our class discussion be personalized rather than anonymous.

Feel free to use the Personal Message function. However, please realize that any messages you send as personal messages can only be read by the person who receives them, so please do not use personal messages in regard to any of our assigned class discussions. Your entries should be posted as regular messages that the whole class can read. If you want to communicate with me, use personal email, as I mentioned above.

How often should you check Nicenet?

If we are having an assigned discussion or other Nicenet assignment, I would prefer that you check it every weekday. 

 

Using Nicenet: How To Make an Original Entry in a Nicenet Conference

The following instructions will make more sense if you first register, then explore the various functions and areas of the site, and then return to this link and read below about how to make an original entry and how to make a response to an entry within a particular conference I have created there on Nicenet. (The very first conference you will make entries for is the one asking you to "publish" a brief paragraph or two describing yourself and your circumstances.)

(1) Sign in with your user name and password.

(2) Click "Conferencing" on the left side of screen to enter the area set aside for class discussions.

(3) Select the topic you want by clicking the appropriate word.

(4) Select "Post Message to [topic name]".

(5) The message window appears.

(6) Enter your name in the "From" box.

(7) Enter the message in the message box. If you are sending brief messages as part of a class discussion, you can best capture the "feel" of an oral discussion by composing directly into the message box. However, do be mindful of what I said in the Email section about how easily one's tone can be mistaken in email.

If you want to make a more considered response, or if you are writing a brief paper of several paragraphs such as I described above, you may want to compose it offline in your word processor program, copy it, enter Nicenet, create a message, then paste your paragraphs into the message box.

(8) Finally, click the "Post New Message" button near the bottom to send your message.

Using Nicenet: How To Make a Response to Someone Else's Entry

(1) Go to the Conference and topic you want.

(2) When you reach the chosen topic, make sure you are looking at the full messages, not just a list of the titles. (Click "View Entire Messages" if you see only the titles.)

(3) Read all the messages and find the one you want to respond to.

(4) IMPORTANT: Click "Reply" at the bottom of the message when you're done. DO NOT click "Send a Personal Message to...."

(5) The message window appears.

(6) Fill in an appropriate subject or title in the top box.

(7) Compose your response into the text box.

(8) Click the "Post New Message" button at the bottom.

(9) There is no need to enter your own name anywhere. However, if you are responding to what another specific classmate has said, you should mention that person's name in the body of your message, being mindful that unless you do that, no one will know who you are responding to. Forgetting to do this is a common oversight for those who have never used electronic conferencing.

 

Welcome ~ Getting Started ~ Policies ~ Syllabus ~ Nicenet ~ Email ~

Assignments ~ Chapter Summaries ~ About Me ~ Links

 

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