(by GraceAnne A. DeCandido, for my graduate classes at Rutgers 8/2009)
1.The Long and Winding Road: Taking a class online is more work than an in-person class. You have to read more and faster, interact with your classmates more, log in almost daily to see what is going on, and keep up.
2.We Can Work It Out: Everybody has a life. In online classes, these lives tend to be even more complicated. Many of my online students have children or elder parents to care for, part- or full-time jobs, chronic illnesses of their own or of family members. No matter what accident or crisis has befallen you, I can guarantee at least two other students this semester are suffering through it, right now.
3. Eight Days a Week: We work asynchronously, but not alone. Work needs to be completed and shared within its unit and section dates, but when you do it is up to you.
4. I’m Looking Through You: An online course in literature requires intense reading and thoughtful responses. It is not, however, a therapy session nor a confessional. Think carefully about personal stories and how they relate to the book in hand.
5. Don’t Let Me Down: Your lack of planning does not constitute your instructor’s emergency. The class is available 24/7, the instructor is not.
6. Things We Said Today: You will probably get to know your classmates and your instructor better than you could ever do in a face-to-face classroom.
7. Getting Better: Know what technology will be used, and learn how to use it. Make sure you have your own email address and that it displays your name. Be comfortable online.
8. A Hard Day’s Night:This is a graduate course. Spelling, grammar, usage, and style all count, as they would in any written assignment on the graduate level. This is not a place for IM, texting, or other abbreviated methods of communication. The exception to this rule is live Chat.
9. Here Comes the Sun: Practice netiquette. Practice courtesy and good manners. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” says Philo of Alexandria, and I say it, too.
10. Yesterday: In an online class, you can see the whole arc of the semester from the beginning, and see your own arc of understanding and knowledge and even wisdom unfold before you. You can share that with your classmates. It is made of awesome.
I have said #5 in some fashion since I started teaching in 2005. It’s wonderful advice for all students, in-person or online. Thank you for sharing your words of wisom.
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