Friday, June 19, 2009

Week 2 for English 1102 on Blackboard

Two weeks down, six weeks to go. This week marks the first week that students start researching for an actual writing project. They'll be choosing a statistic, and using that statistic to generate research.

Every week should begin with an announcement that gives students a peak at what will be expected of them not only this week, but next week. Students need the big picture to help them manage their time.

Because some students are still waiting for books to arrive and there are others who are registering late, I am allowing students another week to complete the week 1 assignments. I'm explained that this will not be the norm so that they understand that deadlines do matter.

My announcement includes a checklist of all the assignments they will work on this week. I've also created two, three-minute podcasts to further explain upcoming work. The first podcast explains Project 1, which will be worked on over a three-week period), and the second podcast presents a more in-depth look at the work they'll specifically complete this week.

Because this is a research-based course and students need to generate sources before they complete assignments, I constantly remind them to work ahead.

Later in the Week
I emailed students encouraging them to create some Google Alerts for their Project 1 assignment. I also sent emails to the two students who registered late. This is a slow week for me as I've put everything in place and am standing by for students to turn in their assignments. Since work is coming in at a slower rate than I'd like, I sent an email mid-week reminding students of deadlines and when discussion boards will close for good.

Jumping on Student Questions
One of my students emailed me because he was confused about an assignment. There was a document added to the Blackboard site, but the link was hard to see because it appeared at the top whereas the View/Complete assignment link was at the bottom. Thankfully, I was online and able to get back to him within 30 minutes (rare for a Friday evening.)

I checked out the grade book to see if anyone else had turned in this assignment yet. (It was due that evening.) No one had, so I posted an announcement pointing students to the assignment location and sent a follow-up email with the attached document.

No matter how much we prepare for these online classes, there are always bumps in the road that we need to act on quickly so we don't lose or discourage our students.

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