Through a Discussion Board thread on Blackboard I created called "Virtual Cafe," I met all of the students enrolled in my ENG 111 Online Class.
Most seem nice, diligent, and eager to learn in an online environment. Though I have two students who showed up the "first day" to introduce themselves and didn't complete the rest of the week's coursework.
To make sure each student knows where they stand in the class, I crafted weekly progress reports and sent them to the students via email. Obviously, I wrote a very firm email to the two who didn't complete their work; I explained the importance of doing the work and the repercussions for not completing the work (which is portfolios aren't automatically submitted, which means not completing work could result in not passing the course). In my progress reports to the other students, I praised them for aspects of the class they are succeeding in and suggested one way they could improve their online participation.
Based on their Discussion Board posts regarding the Discussion Questions, I feel their responses are a little on the brief side. So most of my suggestions on the progress reports asked the students to develop their ideas more with specific examples and support.
I particularly was excited to read the students' blogs. Each week I give students a prompt to respond to on their own blog. Then on Sundays, I read their blogs and comment on them. Again, the posts to the blogs seem a little on the short side, but it is the first week. I think students will start posting more when they get into the throes of the semester and have more to respond to.
In terms of the workload of teaching online, I find that as long as I stick to a schedule, I don't feel overwhelmed. I check the Discussion Board and Gradebook on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and this task normally takes me an hour or two depending on how many comments I make or how much work students have posted. Then I worked Sunday morning for about 2 1/2 hours, documenting all of the work that was completed by the due date (Fridays by 11:59 p.m.), writing progress emails, and commenting on blogs and Discussion board posts.
Overall, I'm really pleased with the work I'm seeing, and I look forward to reading the students' essay within the upcoming weeks.
To view some of my students' blogs, check out these links:
Creations by Rose