Online Courses

Before you move forward with any online or hybrid/blended course, I suggest that you complete the short survey prepared by the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center (TLTC) to help you in your decision to pursue online learning.

Some of you may be unfamiliar with an online learning environment. While the subject matter is generally the same as a face-to-face (F2F) course the differences in platform and delivery are frequently a challenge for some students. Online courses require you to be self-directed and organize your work differently than your previous experience in F2F classes. Online does not mean less structure or work. It is not an “easier” course than one offered in a F2F environment.

It is important that you consider a number of factors before you enroll in an online or hybrid/blended course. Those factors include time management skills, learning style and technology skills and access. Online learning anticipates that you are an active learner … someone who is motivated, self-directed and stays on task. If you prefer a more traditional lecture style learning environment where you use class meetings as an organizing structure to complete your assignments then an online course may not be the best choice. In my experience, considering these factors is an important prerequisite to enrolling in a course that offers an online or hybrid/blended learning environment.

You do not have to be physically present in a classroom or attend at a set time, or place, to take one of my online courses. There are no scheduled class meetings in my online courses. If you are enrolled in an online course, you need to be self-motivated and stay on task. All of our course interactions will occur in the cloud using Teams and Blackboard. That said, however, you will have assignments that must be completed when due. We will use Teams as our primary communication and collaboration platform. Please DM me in Teams if you need to reach me or have a question. We use Team for our video conversations, when necessary.

If you are concerned with your comfort level with an online learning environment, please DM me in Teams. I am happy to discuss your concerns.

Deliverables

Reading

You will have reading deliverables for each class meeting … they must be completed before you arrive for class. If you are not prepared for class it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for you to engage effectively in our class. If you consistently do not engage effectively in class discussions it will have a negative impact on your performance and, therefore, my assessment of your performance. Your success in our course will require you to actively participate in the discussions that we conduct in person and in the cloud. The difference between engagement in a F2F and an online course is really about the platform.

Writing on a Digital Platform

Many of you may be unfamiliar with writing in a digital platform. Since this may be the first time that you will work in a digital platform I suggest that you review Professor Gerald Lucas’ essay, Writing Top Ten, as a starting point. If you are unfamiliar with the appropriate way to source your digital writing, and most of you will be, please review his discussion of Digital Citation for additional guidance on citation when using a digital platform. Since the correct use of hyperlinks will be important to your success in our course discussions I recommend that you consider his advice on using links in your digital writing.

When you use digital platforms to support your submissions you must incorporate multimedia (audio, video and images) in all of your writing deliverables. It is important for you to transition from thinking in terms of text on paper to a text+ environment. As Bo Ren suggests in his essay Why I Believe in Text,

“The future of text is going to be text+ (text + multimedia e.g. photos, videos, gifs, podcasts etc). … readers and users want text+ for a faster, more immersive, gratifying consumption experience. Multimedia stories are the future of text.”

If you have never used Teams before, visit the Microsoft Teams for Education – Quick Start Guide and video training for Teams.

Writing and Research

Many of your course deliverables will involve research and writing. Those assignments will also require that you meet both content and form requirements. I describe the requirements of each deliverable in terms of minimums to provide you with the opportunity to exceed those minimums. Most deliverables involve the use of digital platforms to deliver the content you have developed.

The content requirements are straightforward. You must provide a thoughtful, substantive and well-reasoned submission that draws upon the course readings and materials and that details your perspective and analysis of the implications of the issues raised in the question(s) posed. It is also important that you address the ethics issues raised by the assignment. You must also include sources sufficient to support all aspects of your submission.

The content requirements represent a significant expectation of performance. I may set a minimum requirement for the number of sources used in your submissions. I expect that your sources will be sufficient, both in quality and number, to support the breadth of analysis that I have described above.

The form requirements are equally straightforward. These form requirements are generally described in terms of a minimum word count and the use of live, in-text hyperlinks in lieu of footnotes/endnotes (please see Writing on a Digital Platform above). When you use digital platforms to support your submissions you must incorporate multimedia (audio, video and images) in all of your writing deliverables.

My assessment of your submission will be based upon the extent to which you meet the minimum requirements as to content and form required by that particular deliverable. You can improve your prospects for a strong outcome by exceeding the minimum requirements of the deliverable, i.e., expanding the scope of your content and analysis of the question posed, including addressing potential ethics issues, broadening the scope of the sources used to support that content and analysis, and meeting the form requirements outlined above.

It is important to remember, though, that if you simply meet the minimum requirements the result will be an average grade.

Writing deliverables will be completed using a digital platform unless otherwise specified. Please see your course syllabus for the specific assignment requirements.

Do not post a Word document or Google doc unless the deliverable specifically requires it.

Connectivity

When taking a quiz or exam, please be certain that your broadband connection is reliable and stable. My students in past semesters have occasionally experienced connectivity issues. In the past, this type of connectivity problem arises as a result of an interruption in your connection (a hiccup in your broadband connection) to Blackboard or where the test has opened in a new tab or window. When that happens your connection times out in the first tab/window while you are working in the second. That has the same effect as the first possible cause … your connection to Bb is interrupted. Your quiz/exam stays active in the second tab/window but stops recording questions because the connection was interrupted due to the timeout in the first tab/window. Your best option is to be sure that your browser opens the quiz/exam in the same tab/window where you originally logged into Blackboard.

Most frequently connectivity issues arise when using Wi-FI particularly when using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. It is best if you avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots when taking a quiz/exam. Be certain that your Wi-Fi connection is strong and stable. I suggest, if possible, that you connect your computer directly to your Internet source (router) via an Ethernet cable. This should assure that you have a stable connection while completing the course assignments.

If your connection is interrupted, I suggest that you exit Bb, login again, try to reenter the same quiz/exam attempt and finish the quiz/exam.

When Will I Have Access To The Course Materials??

All course materials will be available at the ShannonWeb course site, the Bb course site and our Teams workspace. I generally make those sites live seven days before the first day of class so that you can complete all of the required pre-course deliverables. I will notify everyone when they are available.

Where Can I Find My Grades?

Grades on each deliverable will be posted to the My Grades folder in Blackboard. Please visit the Deliverables page in your course syllabus for more information about the weights ascribed to each deliverable.