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Teaching & Learning Online: WRD202

From our AQ2014 workshop on syllabus and introductory language that helps orient students toward active, self-regulated participation and success:

Attendance policies

Think in terms of outcomes or competencies rather than attendance, as we cannot — or should not — attempt to control students’ log-in behavior. Materials to draw on as alternatives to the attendance problem:

  • 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:
    • 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, Kinko’s, hotel lobbies, etc.
    • The revision process that occurs between your first and final iterations usually requires attention to several elements, such as mechanics, tone, and arrangement, and grading criteria will include an evaluation of your initiative and follow-through in the revising process.
    • 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.

Habits of mind refers to ways of approaching learning that are both intellectual and practical and that will support your success in a variety of fields and disciplines. The framework identifies eight habits of mind essential for success in college writing:

  • Curiosity – the desire to know more about the world.
  • Openness – the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world.
  • Engagement – a sense of investment and involvement in learning.
  • Creativity – the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas.
  • Persistence – the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects.
  • Responsibility – the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others.
  • Flexibility – the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands.
  • Metacognition – the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge.

Finally, you can practically guarantee your success in this class by focusing on two goals:

  • Keep that definition of Technical Communication in the back of your mind — “a process of managing technical information in ways that allow people to take action” — and let it inform your thinking and writing. Your grade in the course depends on the reader-based writing, revising, and editing that you do, and a course portfolio at the end that reflects on your process and project. The more you can work and reflect on managing technical information that “allows people to take action,” the more successful you’ll be. You are encouraged to pick an issue for your project that is genuinely meaningful and important to you — something you care about — as that also helps to guarantee your success.
  • Never miss a deadline — not one, ever. That’s really the key. Never miss a deadline. Note in particular weeks 4-6 when we do peer reviews; deadlines are of great importance during those weeks. Our goal together: never miss a deadline. My philosophy about this kind of work is that we should lean more toward professional criteria than academic criteria in the planning and implementation of our projects — that’s more respectful of you anyway, isn’t it? — and so the first sign of real professional? Never miss a deadline.

Self-regulated learning

At one time or another, we have all observed self-regulated learners. They approach educational tasks with confidence, diligence, and resourcefulnessPerhaps 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.

The Wikipedia entry on self-regulated learning makes a connection to metacognition.