August 16, 2022

From Gerald R. Lucas

Packback Feedback for ENGL 2111 Online, Week 1

One week down in ENGL 2111. Between both sections, there are nearly 60 students registered, so I will do my best at getting evaluations and feedback to you, but I appreciate your patience. As this is the first week, my evaluations are more generous, but I do have a few expectations for your posts each week. Here’s a breakdown of those expectations and the grades for this week.

  1. First off, the introductory post was graded separately. However, this counted as one of your required posts this week.
  2. Therefore, you should have posted one question and one response about the subject matter this week: epic poetry. If you posted two responses, that’s fine. If your grade is lower than expected, you likely did not post enough. Don’t worry about it too much; you’ll have plenty of time to make it up.
  3. Pay attention to your curiosity scores for your posts. In general, I use these as letter grades for your contributions, so you really do have the opportunity to score as high as you want. Don’t like the score, edit and revise.
  4. Last-minute posts received lower grades. This is a discussion forum, so people working only at the last minute are not really contributing to the conversation. See the suggested timeline on the schedule for when you should be posting.
  5. Be sure to proofread your posts before submitting them. I recommend the Editor’s Checklist for this.
  6. Additionally, you should have already read and been quizzed on Writing in the Liberal Arts. This page teaches that the titles of epic poems should always be italicized, like Homer’s Odyssey. However, many of you neglected this convention. This is a key literacy of writing about literature and must be practiced. You might review that document again for other writing conventions.
  7. Sources should not be from reference web sites, like Wikipedia or Britannica; sites like Spark Notes are also dubious.[1] Also, just posting a URL at the end of your post is problematic, as it seems to indicate that your entire post was written elsewhere. You should clearly indicate within the text of your post where you use the source. I’m not going to be a big stickler on this point, but better posts will always cite sources clearly. Also, I know Packback software doesn’t make this intuitive or easy. (See Digital Citation.)
  8. Finally, later posts that repeat what was said earlier will earn fewer points. Yes, the longer you wait to post, the more work you will have to do to earn the necessary points.

Posts this week ranged from the perfunctory to the focused and creative. The more interesting posts will always be specific and not try to cover everything. Sometimes it’s clear that assigned readings remained unread before posting; this is always a bad idea. Remember: since we do not meet face-to-face, you do not have the luxury of in-class lectures. This background material is in written form on my web site and through linked materials, like videos. In addition, it’s up to you to find further quality sources to help in your understanding of these texts. Unfortunately, online classes often require more and consistent work than do face-to-face ones, but you knew that already, right?

This week, we will look at The Epic of Gilgamesh. I will post seed questions today or tomorrow to help guide your reading and analysis.


  1. I’m not saying these sites won’t help. in your understating of the material, but they should not be cited. The best sources—books and journal articles—require a bit more digging.