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Learning & Teaching Online Workshop

Friday, April 6th: 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Teaching WRD Courses Online, with Tricia Hermes and Erin MacKenna Sandhir.

Session Notes:

“…everyday texts such as personal notes, brochures, advertisements, and reports. We interact with these sorts of texts all the time: We sort through junk mail, we correspond with coworkers, we flip through magazines and newspapers, we skim over promotional literature, we ponder legal and medical reports, we surf the internet, and so on. Everyday written texts produce a variety of responses in us: We may be incensed by the language of an advertisement, puzzled by a colleague’s memo, or amused by a bulletin-board posting; we may feel threatened by a medical report or suspicious of a brochure’s promises; or we may quite simply ignore some texts— this, too, is a response. In each case, the text is an impetus for our active response.”

“Everyday texts are ubiquitous and play a significant role in our exchanges with others in social life. Their complexity and their consequences, however, do not often receive close critical attention. No matter how mundane we may take these types of texts to be, they all:

  • Exhibit complexity in terms of the linguistic resources we draw upon to make and understand them
  • Perform critical rhetorical functions for the participants involved
  • Powerfully summon and propagate the social orders in which we live

— Glenn Stillar: Analyzing Everyday Texts: Discourse, Rhetoric, and Social Perspectives. Sage, 1998.

[Sample] Course Policies:

Teaching and learning online are not easier than teaching and learning in face-to-face environments; it’s not more convenient, necessarily, and in some ways it’s more demanding: you need to be organized; you need enough self-motivation to check in regularly and to ask questions when things are unclear; you need to pay close attention to deadlines. In online courses, a good portion of responsibility for meaningful learning shifts from the front of the classroom (me) to where you’re sitting (you), where it belongs:

  • This is not a “self-paced” course, so be sure to pay close attention to each week’s deadlines and other requirements. You need to plan to spend a couple hours per day to stay abreast of the reading, writing, editing, and discussion activities. 
  • You’re responsible, as I am, for responding to e-mails or forum posts within 24 hours. 
  • Should you be planning to travel during the course, it is your responsibility to plan ahead in order to have computer and internet access: Starbucks, FedEx stores, hotel lobbies, etc.
  • If you are ever confused about an assignment, reading, or course activity, contact your instructor on the Course Questions forum ASAP. Don’t wait. 
  • The revision processes that occur between your first and final iterations usually requires attention to several elements, including revision — that is, “re-seeing,” “re-thinking,” (re-vision) — mechanics, tone, and arrangement, and assessment criteria will include an evaluation of your initiative and follow-through in the revising process.
  • Save all drafts and versions and always back up your work. This is good practice in general, but very important in writing courses, as you receive course credit for documenting drafts, versions, and iterations.
  • Each major assignment must be completed to receive a passing grade in the course. Deadlines are negotiable only in cases of a documented medical emergency; without prior arrangements, late work will be marked down one letter grade for every day it is late.

Self regulated learning

“At one time or another, we have all observed self-regulated learners. They approach educational tasks with confidence, diligence, and resourcefulness. Perhaps most importantly, self-regulated learners are aware when they know a fact or possess a skill and when they do not. Unlike their passive classmates, self-regulated students proactively seek out information when needed and take the necessary steps to master it. When they encounter obstacles such as poor study conditions, confusing teachers, or abstruse textbooks, they find a way to succeed. Self-regulated learners view acquisition as a systematic and controllable process, and they accept greater responsibility for their achievement outcomes.” (Zimmerman, 1990.)

Session Description:

We have a small collection of correspondences with students from our online courses (anonymously) that we would like to share on Friday, and that we think can help to characterize the shifting roles and kinds of situations that online faculty occasionally encounter. We’d like to begin, in writing-workshop fashion, by asking “How would you respond to these emails?”

Interestingly, we could just as easily receive these kinds of emails in our face-to-face classes as well, but we want to use this opportunity to think together about the role of technology (in general) and e-mail (in particular) in our online work. Other possible productive outcomes:

  • As part of our ongoing Teaching Online D-WRD series, this will be a good time just to check in and to ask about problems, challenges, opportunities, new assignments, methods, strategies, etc.
  • To look ahead to any specific D2L tool and feature workshops – quizzes? Grades? Video? Something else?
  • Revisit critical and rhetorical interface issues – both human and technological – and how we can establish a rhetorical presence that can lead to increased student engagement
  • Sugary treats.

Infants and children are always welcome at D-WRD sessions!