Guide to the Course

Structure of the Course, Resources, & Deadlines

Before we dive into the first assignments and start getting involved with discussions of socialism, capitalism, etc., let’s take a look at how this course is structured, what types of work you’ll be expected to do, and when you’ll need to do it.

Where to Find Assignments

First you need to understand where to find things.  Basically there are two websites that you use in this course:  the LCC Desire2Learn (D2L) website for this course and this website (

We will use the LCC D2L website for things that cannot be public. D2L is used primarily for quizzes, final exam, unit 1 forum, and grade reporting. When you take a quiz, you must go into D2L and take it there.  You can find the gradebook there as well.

For content and discussions you can come here to There are links in D2Lthat will direct you here, but you may find it easier or faster to just bookmark this website and come directly here.  Your readings, a description of each unit’s assignments, and our discussions will be here.

A note about discussions:  Each unit will have a “critical thinking question” or other similar piece of information that you will be required to comment on.  This will be done here at the compsys.econproph site on a page in each unit.  Please be aware that comments on these discussions are limited to students registered in the class, but that the comments are visible to the general public.  Please keep this in mind when you are composing your comments.  You are effectively speaking in public and your words, grammar, and tone should reflect it.

There are two resources that are available in both D2L and this website.  Links to the syllabus are available in D2L and here. The course Schedule is available both at the D2L Schedule tab and here under the Home tabThe Schedule is very important. All due dates are listed there.


The course is divided into 8 “units”.  Each unit has a deadline.  There’s approximately 2 weeks for each unit, although Unit 1 is a little less, and Units 2 and 4 have a little more time. Be sure you aware of due dates by checking the Schedule page.

In general each unit will require you to do the following:

  • Readings:  You need to read both material I’ve written and some assigned readings from either the Maddison book (see syllabus) and/or material I’ve linked to on the Web.  Directions for readings and the material I’ve written will be available on this website under the tab for each unit.  In addition, it is a good idea to regularly check my blog for postings of news items relevant to this course.  You can either go to directly (note it is a different site than this one – .com vs. .net) or postings from that are specific to Comparative Economic Systems are linked under the Home > Jim’s Blog tab here.
  • Media:  Most units have some kind of assignment to watch a video(s) or listen to an audio (MP3).  Links to these resources are listed on this website under the tab for each unit.
  • Discussion:  Each unit will require you to read, think about, and comment on a particular “Critical Thinking Question” topic.  These questions will be available in each Unit on this site. Remember the note above about these discussions being publicly available. Your participation in these discussions will earn you points towards your grade.  The points will be shown in the D2L gradebook, not on this site since that is private information. Up to 10 points are available for each Unit’s discussion assignment.  In general, students who make a serious, thoughtful attempt to respond to the question will receive the full points.  However, trivial, non-serious, or late comments will receive fewer points.  Points for discussions will be posted in the D2L gradebook a few days after the due date.
  • Quizzes – Each Unit has a quiz.  Quizzes are administered online in D2L.  Each quiz may be attempted 2 times with the highest score counting towards your final grade.  There is no penalty for retaking a quiz.  A list of topics that will likely be on the quiz is available under each Unit’s tab on this site.

In addition to the above requirements, there are four other assignments.  These assignments will be due during the second half of the course.

  • Book Reviews (2) – You will choose two books to read from a list of recommended books.  The list of recommended books will be posted during the second or third week (Unit 2).  Your assignment will be to read each book and provide a book review/summary/commentary on the book for the other students.  More information on this assignment will be provided later.  Your book review will be electronic.  You will create a post on this website which will show up under the Reviews tab.  Other students will comment. Book Reviews will be due in Unit 5 and Unit 6. Each review is worth 50 points which is 10% of the total 500 points in the course.
  • Essay – In Unit 7, near the end of the course, you will prepare and post to this site an essay.  The essay will require some research about a particular issue/aspect of the economic systems in 2 or 3 different countries.  Again, more information on this assignment will be provided later.  This essay will be due at the end in Unit 7. The essay is worth 10% or 50 points.
  • Final Exam – You will take a final exam worth 100 points (50 questions) during Unit 8, the last two weeks of the course.  The exam is online in D2L.

The reviews and essays are due during the second half, Units 5-7.  Because of this, the readings and media assignments are heavier during the first half to balance the workload.  This means the quizzes for Units 2-5 are longer and worth more points than quizzes in Units 5-7.  The quiz in Unit 8 is really just a feedback survey form for which everybody gets full points if they complete it.

Why the Two Websites?

You might be wondering why two websites? Why not just put all the material in D2L? Well, there are several reasons.

  1. It’s an experiment to see if WordPress (the software that powers this site) provides a better structure for content than D2L.  It is likely to be much easier to maintain the site than if it were in D2L.
  2. It’s a lot easier for me to maintain the site and update it from semester to semester.
  3. I’m in favor of making educational resources open and available to the public.  This WordPress site allows me to do that.  But to receive credit for the course, students still  have to be registered with LCC and take assessments (quizzes) in the closed system which is D2L.  D2L’s closed system also protects FERPA-sensitive student information such as grades.
  4. In addition to learning about comparative economic systems, students will gain some initial experience in how to post and operate a blog.  Blogging is actually  incredibly easy and it is increasingly the way in which academic debates, work place discussions, and public discussions are held. It’s a valuable skill to have. Being able to blog is a valuable skill.

Finally, notice the course is a little front-loaded. Units 2 and 3 have more stuff to read and view and more questions in the quizzes.

A note on deadlines:

You really need to look at the detailed Schedule. All deadlines listed there mean 11:59pm at the end of that day.

I know this sounds like a lot of work and when read for the first time, it may appear daunting. Don’t be discouraged. You’re not doing it all at once. It really boils down to readings, viewings, research, and some moderate writing. Students in the past have found it interesting and the word “fun” has even been used.  I’m looking forward to having you in the course.




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