Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 6 Reflection

By Week 6 I was hoping that my online students would be adjusted to our class' module and schedule of work. Unfortunately, only a few have seemed to grasp the open-ended-ness our our module--that all work must be completed by Friday at 11:59 p.m.

In the Achievement Requirements (AR), which students read Week 1, I explicitly explained how I expected students to approach each week's work and how to appropriately divide up that work. Unlike other online classes that give each task a due date, I explained in the AR that students should do the work according to their schedules and to approach a schedule like so: Monday for Lectures, Reading, and Quizzes, Wednesday for Discussion Boards and Wikis, and Friday for Blogs. But still the majority of students seem to have a hard time understanding each week's work (even though the organization of tasks are the exact same EVERY week and they perform these tasks EVERY week) and completing assignments by Friday at 11:59 p.m. It seems like students are picking and choosing what work they "feel" like doing. This is problem I have been addressing since Week 1, but to no avail.

To address this issue, I have sent individualized emails further explaining (strictly but kindly) my expectations to students who are having a hard time completing the work. When that didn't seem to work, I sent group emails (again in an authoritative tone that was stern AND encouraging), not naming students who weren't doing work but calling attention again to my expectations, hoping to get everyone on the same page. And when that hasn't seemed to work, I wrote an authoritatively detached email (that I also posted as an announcement) that students who fail to complete ALL of the week's work will be considered absent, and three absences will result in a portfolio not being submitted and an NR grade in the class.

I'm frustrated I had to resort to a "threat," but I can't figure out how else to motivate certain students in an online class setting. I can't understand why some of these students are in an online class, but they don't want to do the work of an online class.

For the ENG 112 course I am creating, I'm going to more strongly and clearly state my course expectations. Not only in the AR but also I plan to create a screen capture of a week's module, explain how to manage the module and break it down into times, and demonstrate how to use all of the Web 2.0 technologies like creating a blog and using a blog as well as how to use a wiki.

Some of my students are still resisting the wiki. I've revised the wiki assignments twice and even included a how-to video on wikis, and still there is resistance.

Am I using "too new" of Web 2.0 apps? I don't think so. I always thought my students were way more techie than me. But I may be very wrong.

Or I may be seeing that the resistance to these new technologies is a resistance to change in distance education and/or a resistance to students comprehending that online classes aren't "easy" or "no- brain-ers."

When I do become frustrated, I think about what I would change and how I would change and jot down the ideas so I can carry them through in my 112 class.

And I say to myself, "Thank God ENG 111 Online is a pilot course..."

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