June 3, 2008
Can you read now? How about now?
One of the important skills needed for taking on line courses is reading comprehension. Without excellent reading comprehension skills, you are kinda screwed, because most of the course is reading your textbook and discussing the material there. You don’t get a lot of lecture time, though with advances in storage and bandwidth at my college, I am working on putting up lots more small presentations. Even in live courses, you need to be able to read and discuss ideas from the textbook(s). We didn’t assign this stuff for our health, guys; we assigned it for yours.
A big red flag for lacking this skill is not being able to read and understand the syllabus. Now, granted, my syllabus has turned into a three-page nightmare plus outline of topics. There is a lot in there, but there is a lot in three pages of the textbook, too. I include all sorts of important things in there, like how to navigate the class, when the exams and assignments are due, how to submit them, etc.
Additionally, we are now entering week three of a summer class. If you haven’t figured this stuff out by now, you’re in trouble. Yet every semester, this is the week I get snowed in with emails to the effect of “I didn’t know this was due!”, “When are the exams due?”, and “Why did I get an “F” for participation?” In the summer, I often get the addition of “I have to be out of town during Exam Week. What should I do?”
SI usually send back polite if brief replies with appropriate answers giving them the information they need and reminding them that the syllabus addresses these issues. I have some students who take issue with the reminder, but after all, that syllabus isn’t for my health…
As for the extra summer request for being away during the exam week? There is only one choice: “Arrange and alternate proctor, or drop the class.”