I didn't reply to the entire list, because I'm not sure how
my techniques will work since this is the first semester that I'm
But, here's what I plan to do.
1) I setup the course so that 25% of their grade consists
of postings to the "Discussion" list on WebCT. I have
very clear parameters on how often and how long their postings
need to be. A total of 3 weekly postings, at least 1 original
and 2 replies to other postings, on 3 different days of the week.
In other words, they can't post all 3 postings on one day.
IF the postings are late, or not done at all, they won't get
credit for them (unless they have a doctor's note, funeral,
etc...that they can document). If the postings don't follow
the guidelines, they'll only get partial credit. They must be
3 paragraphs long, 3 sentences per paragraph, or a total of at least
9 sentences per posting. No longer than 15 sentences. I also choose
the topic for the week, and list it on the calendar and in an e-mail
message to the class. Later in the semester, I'm going to ask the
students to choose a topic for the week, and use their suggestions.
This is the same
technique and procedures I use in when the course meets face to face,
except that I use their attendance and participation as 25% of their
grade. Of course, in the
attendance policy, if they miss more than 3 classes, we can withdraw
them from the course. I make it very clear the first day of class
that I intend to follow this policy to the letter, and I do.
2) Secondly, I have a clear timeframe for assignments which I also employ.
Assignments are given weekly, and due by midnite of the Sunday of that
week. Again, late assignments won't count, so they would get a zero
for that grade. Since assignments count as 50% of their grade, I urge
them to get them in on time. In rare instances, I have given some
slack in this area: health problems or family problems which prevented
them from doing the assignments or getting them in on time.
3) Thirdly, I encourage them to e-mail me, or each other, for help or
This is only the second week of classes, but the Discussion list is
working out great so far. Most are posting beyond their 3 required
postings, and really carrying on meaningful conversations. I post the
discussion topic for the week on the calendar and in an e-mail sent to
the entire class. For those who have not contributed yet, I have
allowed a one week extension due to the new nature of this format for
some, and to get those who are just ignoring it to get motivated.
However, I plan to send out an e-mail tomorrow or monday, stating that
after a certain cutoff date, their grade will suffer severely. No
extra credit allowed.
Also, twice a week, I have an hour and a half "live classroom e-mail"
session. Basically, on two nites a week, I sit at my computer, and this
is time that they can e-mail me with questions or issues, and get an
instant reply. It's different than a chat room because I don't have to
sit there the entire
90 minutes, but instead work on other things and check my e-mail every 10
minutes or so. So far, this is working fine. It's not a requirement, and
only about 25% have taken advantage of this arrangement, but those who have
are really appreciative of having my undivided attention at these two
sessions twice a week.