Taking an online course can be a great experience, but there are some things that will help you navigate the experience a little easier. Keep these things in mind as you work through this course this semester.

  • An online course is not easier than a face-to-face course. While there are many advantages (schedule flexibility, work at your own pace, etc.), there are responsibilities that are much more important in an online course.
  • Make sure that you check the site at least three times during each week. One of the advantages of working in a networked environment such as this one is that changes can be made easily. While I will not change any of the basic requirements for the course, I will make every attempt to adapt what's going on in the class to meet the needs of the group and of individual students. So stay up-to-date.
  • Make sure that you post regularly to the Discussion area. If you just post once and then don't read any of the other student posts and respond to or analyze the other things that are going on in the course, you will not get much out of the course.
  • Some of the work we will be doing we will be posting and sharing on the Wiki. All of this information can be read by anyone on the Internet. Therefore, keep in mind that while we will be writing for more specific audiences, knowing that anyone can view the work may affect some of the decisions you make.
  • You all have different levels of experience with technology tools. The work in this course can be accomplished in many different technological ways. You need to be open to learning what the options are and then decide what technology resources you want to use. As long as you complete the work and focus on the rhetorical issues involved in writing for networked environments, you will do well in this class. Some students who have a lot of experience with these technology tools will be able to make more advanced projects, but you will be assessed on how well you apply the concepts, not whether or not you have the most advanced technology skills.
  • Because students do not have access to the same resources and because student learning styles differ, I will let you decide which tool to use to develop your projects. The responsibility for knowing how to use these tools, however, is up to the student as this course is not designed to teach how to use specific software programs. I will be glad to help you individually with how-to issues and I will point you to where you can get help with the how-to. If you do not address these issues and wait until the last minute to try to both learn a program and create a project, that is a decision you make and I will not adjust grades because you are having trouble with a certain program.
  • If you have computer problems during the semester, you are still required to meet all of the requirements and the deadlines for the course. I see this as being similar to your car breaking down when you are taking a traditional face to face class. You would not (should not) miss class because your transportation is broken. You would make other arrangements until your car is fixed so that you can still get to class. The same applies with your computer. While I am certainly sympathetic to computer problems (It happens to me too.), you should have a backup plan for those times when this happens so that you can still get your work done when it is due. There are many computer labs available on campus, and the library may have computers that can be checked out.
  • My best advice. When you first get started in any online class, for the first few weeks, click on every link and scan over everything. Until you are confident where everything is and how it works don't skip stuff. You never know when the path through the course may veer off a little and you don't want to miss any important components.