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Kickstarter™ for Undergraduate Research Projects

posted: 7.18.12 by Nedra Reynolds

In a recent post, Andrea Lunsford posed the question, “Are Undergraduates Researchers?”

A number of academics are asking related questions, especially in light of the need for more experiential learning opportunities, and I share her faith in the abilities of undergrads to “carry out meaningful research.”  This faith is also shared by members of a CCCCs panel this past spring (Session A.13), where a team from UNC treats first-year students, right from the start, as researchers who plan, collaborate, propose, and present.  In a far more modest attempt, I have tried to make my own undergraduate research assignments more “authentic” by sharing my institution’s Undergraduate Research Award Application and asking students to “pretend” that they are applying for this funding.

The problem lies, of course, in the “let’s pretend” model. Students don’t act like researchers because they aren’t doing it “for real”—and they know it. So I’ve been wondering for quite some time how to create a more urgent or well-defined rhetorical situation  . . . and then I got an email asking me to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign. 

Founded in 2008, Kickstarter is a “funding platform for creative projects”; it facilitates online crowd-sourced funding.  It’s likely you have already received an invitation from someone you know who is attempting to raise money for a project or cause.  My niece has been successful using Kickstarter to fund a trip to Alaska for research on wildlife predators (she and her team are graduate students who asked for $10,000), and a friend’s daughter has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a production of performance art (to the tune of $3,000).

To be successful on Kickstarter, researchers, artists, or producers must be able to tell a story about why this result or product or experience is necessary, desirable, or worthy of support.  Stories are best told (these days) using multi-media, so a combination of video, text, and images, as well as background information and a timeline are effective.  As one blogger outlines on Tumblr, a funded project on Kickstarter needs to have several components, including a video and a precise budget plan.

The next time I teach “Introduction to Research Methods,” I’m going to incorporate Kickstarter.  I think it could provide authenticity that other research assignments are missing, and students might be motivated by the competition for backers. Kickstarter does not fund projects unless the funding goals are met by a certain deadline, and in some ways, the accumulation of backers would be more meaningful than any comments or grades an instructor might give.  Are you familiar with Kickstarter, and do you know any writing instructors who have incorporated it into their courses?

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Revisiting and Revising Portfolio Keeping

posted: 6.20.12 by Nedra Reynolds

The reviews are in! And if all goes well, another resource for writing teachers (one close to my heart) will be available next year: a third edition of Portfolio Keeping: A Guide for Students and its companion Portfolio Teaching: A Guide for Instructors. First launched in 2000 and revised in 2006, these booklets are supplemental texts for a portfolio-based writing course with an emphasis on choice, variety, and reflection. A six-year interval between editions offers plenty of time to identify patterns as well as to involve a number of writing teachers who have used these texts or have devised their own portfolio approaches.

Revision is motivated by thoughtful readers, both real and imagined, and in this case I am fortunate to have heard from twenty-two “real” reviewers who addressed dozens of questions about these textbooks and shared information about their institutions, students, assignments, and technology support. Reviewers ranged across different types of institutions and were evenly divided between those who have used PK and PT in their teaching and those who have not. Unsurprisingly, reviewers want far more coverage of electronic portfolios in the new edition, but they also seemed to value the compactness and organization of these booklets, as well as the tone. It’s great to hear that there’s a lot to keep as well as a lot to change. I’m excited to begin, mostly by creating fresh new Taking Stock exercises, by adding several new examples or scenarios, and by thinking longer and harder about how to teach reflection—the most challenging piece of any portfolio-teaching puzzle.

Sitting down and discussing the twenty-two reviews with the Bedford team was also extremely valuable, reinforcing for me how talk (as well as reading) precedes and accompanies my writing tasks. I’ll be interested to see how much our collaborative conversation stays with me in the weeks and months ahead as I work on turning good ideas into a coherent draft.

It’s also exciting that the third editions of PK and PT will be integrated with Bedford’s new E-Portfolio tool, due out for class-testing this fall.

Even though the reviews have been collated and analyzed, I’m sure other Bits readers would join me in encouraging you to post stories about your portfolio successes . . . or flops! We’d love to know how your portfolio practices have changed, especially in light of new technologies.  And if you are familiar with Portfolio Keeping or Portfolio Teaching, it’s not too late to weigh in with what you do and don’t appreciate about these two volumes.

What, in short, would be your ideal textbook for teaching writing with portfolios?


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“Guinea Pigs”? Really?

posted: 5.16.12 by Nedra Reynolds

Along with all of you, I’m looking forward to a change of pace as the demands of serving over 1,800 students in 90+ sections give way to (a little) more unstructured time.  One of my summer projects is to begin work on the 3rd edition of Portfolio Keeping: A Guide for Students and Portfolio Teaching: A Guide for Instructors.  Waiting for reviews of the 2nd edition, published in 2006, I’m excited to dive back in and incorporate what readers and users want in these guides to writing portfolios.

As I begin work on this new edition, I would like to see our first-year writing courses (finally) make the shift—program-wide—to electronic portfolios.  While most of our instructors require electronic submission of the final portfolios, these are simply word-processed documents delivered electronically, which saves paper, but as rhetoric and composition specialists have firmly established, eportfolios are not simply paper portfolios uploaded into a digital placeholder.  Navigation is a non-issue with traditional page-turner portfolios, but it becomes crucially important with (genuine) electronic portfolios because reader/users have choices of where to go next.  In addition, most eportfolios benefit from a dominant theme or metaphor, and digital portfolios welcome a variety of media—and, in turn, require design decisions in how to deliver each medium.  A few of our instructors are asking students to produce eportfolios, especially in our upper-division courses, but I believe that it’s time to ask all first-year writing courses to conclude with the production of an electronic portfolio.  It almost feels like we’re behind the curve if we don’t make this change.  

I know many Bits readers (and bloggers) adopted e-portfolios quite some time ago, and I’d love to know if you have any suggestions for trying to get “buy in” for this change from instructors—because I’m getting some push-back!  The concerns raised seem to be two-fold:  1) instructors have enough to do to without learning a new program and 2) students have enough to do without learning a new program!  Still, I think it’s important for students to practice using similar tools to those that are taken for granted in many professional or organizational environments. Isn’t learning a new writing-based technology part of what we should all be doing?

I’ll admit that I am almost constantly in search of the next great tool for writing classes.  I have class-tested the writing class Course Management Systems of three major publishers and most recently, the online review program “Eli.”  Students who have taken my classes for the last four or five years have been asked to adapt to some kind of online learning environment that we are all learning and class-testing together.  Recently, however, students in our Writing & Rhetoric major have complained (more or less off the record) that they feel like “guinea pigs” when they are asked to use new online learning technologies for only one class, for one semester.  My guess is that they would like to see some continuity or stability:  learn it once and done.  It would be great to offer them that, but I also believe that navigating new online environments is good for our brains!

Still, in paying attention to their concerns, I realize that I must be doing something wrong if students feel somehow “victimized” instead of feeling like valued participants in a grand experiment!  I want them to see that faculty are engaged with them in an exploration of online opportunities for learning and sharing.  As we consider (mandatory) electronic portfolios for our first-year writing classes, I would welcome suggestions about how to make students feel like part of an important process rather than feel inconvenienced or frustrated.



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After the Fact: Published Writers Reflecting on Process

posted: 5.1.12 by Nedra Reynolds

Campuses, coffeehouses, and bookstores have long been places to hear writers read from their recent work.  It’s customary for readings and book signings to mark the occasion of a new publication—opportunities both welcome and celebratory—but it’s far more common to hear finished passages rather than to hear about the labor of producing them.

What I have come to appreciate about the process movement, in its earlier days, is the effort to bring the work of daily-grind writing into the light.  When Donald Murray, for example, began sharing his daily routines, strategies, and habits as a writer—as a journalist, novelist, poet—many composition scholars became convinced that the more we can know about how things get written, the better we can work with our students.  In fact, I think that the true paradigm shift occurred when composition studies began to turn to working writers to discover what writers do in the act of writing.  More recent changes, too, like assigning genres beyond the essay extend that disciplinary turn to “real” writing.

With my busy schedule, I don’t attend “readings” as much as I would like to, but yesterday my department sponsored a reading, discussion, and book signing by a brand-new book author, Stephen Frater, who is a writer-in-residence at my university, teaching a special topics’ course on “The Art, Craft, and Business of Non-fiction Writing.”  Frater, always a voracious reader and a World War II buff, had a career on Wall Street and then worked for 20 years as a staff writer and columnist for The New York Times Company.  In his very first book, he shares a genuine as-yet-untold story.  Hell Above Earth:  The Incredible True Story of an American WWII Bomber Commander and the Copilot Ordered to Kill Him (St. Martin’s Press, 2012) has already shot to the top of the charts in military aviation history, and it has been described by several critics as “riveting.”

Just as riveting for me and for some of the students in attendance was what Frater shared about writing the book.  He called it, for example, “by far the hardest thing I have ever done.”  When a student asked him to elaborate, he talked about the five million military documents that are now online and the hours he spent absorbed in them; the months it took him to convince one of this principals to meet and talk; the importance of having mentors; and the countless decisions about organization and effort involved in achieving a satisfying “narrative arc.”  Knowing there were aspiring writers in the room, he shared much of what he learned about the enormous and absorbing task of “writing a book.”

Among other resources available out there for writing teachers, published writers willing to talk about process are extremely valuable.  As I was reminded yesterday, I still have a great deal to learn from those who make their living by writing: those who toil at the craft every day, much like we toil at the craft of teaching every day.

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Stepchild Grows Up, Leaves Home, Keeps Moving

posted: 3.7.12 by Nedra Reynolds

In 1971, James Kinneavy opened his A Theory of Discourse with this observation: “Composition is . . . clearly the stepchild of the English department . . . (1).

Kinneavy wouldn’t recognize today’s “stepchild,” who is now leading the way on many campuses around the country toward more experiential learning, more connections with “the 4th C” (George and Trimbur), and more interdisciplinary research and teaching.

About ten years after our writing program left the stepparent of the English department and became an independent academic unit, about eight years after we began delivering an undergraduate major, and about two years after we were officially renamed a Department of Writing and Rhetoric, my colleagues and I are poised for yet another shift, as we become one of six academic areas joining together in a new Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island.

Initiated by Dick Harrington, an alumnus with a vision, this school aims for national distinction in cross-disciplinary research, innovative curricula, and civic engagement.  It’s an opportunity for Communication Studies, Journalism, Film Media, Public Relations, Library and Information Studies, and Writing & Rhetoric to work collaboratively on global connectedness and interdisciplinary teaching. For practical reasons, in an era of scarce resources and increasingly accountability, it’s a chance to build strength in numbers. Although I have been involved in the planning for a few years now, it’s exciting to see it all finally coming together, as we begin to plan the actual spaces in which we will do much of that collaborative work.

As we looked at models of schools of communication around the country, we didn’t see many (if any) that included an undergraduate degree program in writing and rhetoric or professional writing. Almost all of them have journalism or communication studies at their core. So it’s particularly exciting that those of us in rhetoric and composition studies get to think anew about our mission, our collaborators, and what’s possible in writing studies when researchers and teachers surround themselves with tools and approaches to media and messages unimagined in most English departments.

Our founding director, Dr. Renee Hobbs, arrived in January from Temple University, and we are thrilled to have her leadership, her vision, and her energy. Author of Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action (pdf), Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning, and a number of other publications or projects, Professor Hobbs brings to URI her background in media studies, education, and telecommunication and a passion for giving students what they need to succeed in increasingly digital and global environments.

You can watch the Harrington School promotional video here, but I also want to note that many other colleges and universities are, of course, treading similar ground in efforts to reconnect with communication colleagues, expand experiential-learning opportunities, involve information studies, combine resources, or otherwise to “think big.” It would be great if Bits readers could share examples of initiatives underway on their own campuses or report where their own “stepchildren” are thriving now.

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Excited about Eli: “Better Writing Through Review”

posted: 2.8.12 by Nedra Reynolds

Almost a year ago, I contributed a Bits post on Online Peer Review.  Since then, my search for the best online peer review software has continued, and I wanted to update Bits readers about what I’m trying this semester.

After three or four years of experimenting with publisher-sponsored online peer review systems, some of my colleagues and I tossed around the idea of developing our own software, but the costs are prohibitive, and the development and testing stages would take many moons. It was a daunting prospect.

Then we learned last fall that well-known researchers in rhetoric and composition studies at Michigan State University—after four years of development—have a product ready for class testing. Eli™ is a Web-based application designed to teach students to be better writers through online reviewing. Designed in partnership between the WIDE Research Center at Michigan State University and Red Cedar Solutions Group of Okemos, Michigan, Eli collects, sorts, and assesses reviews of writing.

What’s the difference between Eli and other products in the big composition marketplace? Designers—MSU rhetoric and composition professors Jeff Grabill, Bill Hart-Davidson, and Michael McLeod—put the emphasis squarely on reviews. Decidedly not a CMS, Eli focuses only on reviewing but also allows for a great deal of flexibility about how the reviewing unfolds. Among its features, of special note is the support it gives instructors who want to teach effective reviewing behaviors as well as its automatic, yet personalized, collection and aggregation of data about reviewers and reviews. This 3:33-minute video from 2010 provides a succinct overview of Eli and is worth watching to understand the innovation.

Through Bedford/St. Martin’s and with the assistance of Nick Carbone there, we were included in a class test for this spring semester, and we have six sections of Writing & Rhetoric piloting Eli. If all goes well, we plan for a bigger rollout of Eli in the fall. Here’s what I like so far: the instructor controls the review process, from populating the groups (sizes and members) to setting up the criteria, which is not unusual as these programs go. But in Eli, instructors can choose the types of responses, and student writers can rate their reviews. The data that Eli provides to instructors and programs is, we suspect, going to transform writing instruction at our university. I’ll keep you posted on responses to using Eli, and please leave a comment if you are trying it, too!

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No Superman Required: Working with Underprepared Writers

posted: 1.11.12 by Nedra Reynolds

Coinciding with the arrival of 2012, I watched Waiting for Superman, a 2010 documentary that I had been meaning to see for ages. I’m aware of the debate about the film’s accuracy, agenda, or fairness, but what struck me most was the depth of yearning for good schooling. The film captured what seemed to me like genuine, intense longing for unique or enriching educational opportunities.

This portrayal of a desire for a good education made me think differently about a trend from this past fall semester, where I met with a number of writing instructors who were concerned—or even shocked—by the poor quality of writing they were seeing in both early and revised drafts. Hardly carefree, this generation of traditional-age college students holds down jobs, acts as caretakers for family members, commutes long distances, and fulfills internships as well as community service commitments. Dedicated and determined, many of them nevertheless come to college underprepared for the demands of academic writing.

While the majority of today’s college students probably did not come from failing schools (as Waiting for Superman defines and portrays them), there’s no doubt that schools from a variety of neighborhoods—for whatever the complicated reasons—are graduating students who may not have the skills to succeed in college courses.

Anecdotally, even though my university claims to have upped its game in admissions this year (admitting students with, for example, higher SAT scores and better grades than in the recent past), my colleagues are sharing with me passages of writing that are glaringly inadequate. These are not English Language Learners, but the struggle to “invent” academic discourse (Bartholomae) is painfully evident on the page or screen. No doubt, students are coming to us having mastered a wealth of literacies—many of them emergent from new technologies—but it’s difficult to honor students’ rights to their own languages when they don’t recognize sentence boundaries, have command of syntactical patterns, or follow conventions of punctuation and capitalization. Writing teachers need some strategies for serving these students, strategies that acknowledge everything from failing schools to tweets and texts and screen culture.

Even if research did not tell me this, my gut would: exercises, worksheets, and quizzes (even if they are online and so-called interactive) are not the answer. If Bits’ readers are also wondering about solutions, approaches, or starting points, I think a first step is to understand what we really mean by college-level reading and writing (rather than assuming we know what it is or will know it when we see it). The collection of essays What Is “College-Level” Writing? (NCTE 2006) opens that urgent conversation, a conversation that continues with a case study titled The Community College Writer: Exceeding Expectations (SIUP 2010).

Those who have begun to participate in this conversation might be interested Bob Yagelski’s new book,  Writing as a Way of Being (Hampton Press, 2011). In it, he argues for writing as an ontological act, a way of being rather than a pursuit to pin down meaning. Yagelski’s goals are to transform composition’s focus from “the writer’s writing” to the writer writing—which, when you think about it, is quite different. As we ponder how to respond to the crisis in education (and Yagelski provides considerable data that it’s real), composition does need some new ideas. His proposal—for students to learn from writing rather than to learn to write—is one most faculty may find difficult to understand. It seems to challenge everything we believe about the teaching of writing. But that is precisely Yagelski’s point.

The lottery scenes in Waiting for Superman are hard to watch. Ideally, such scenes will lead to inspiration and the pursuit of fresh or novel approaches or big, bold ideas for working with underprepared college writers.

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Get Copies and Pass Them On!

posted: 12.7.11 by Nedra Reynolds

Last week I received my copies of the seventh edition of The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing. This new edition has joined the previous ones on my shelf; it’s the green one that still has a stiff spine, a flat cover, and unmarked pages. I thought I would follow up on my post from last year (“What Are Bibliographies For?”) with two hopes for this new edition and ways users might make sure that its pages become tattered and its cover worn.

1First, I hope that writing program administrators and veterans in our field will ask their Bedford reps for copies of this new edition, and hand them out to instructors in their programs who might not know about it or who might not have access to their own copies. This book should be widely distributed, and our faithful Bits readers can help with that campaign! The book is a resource targeted to everyone who teaches writing. I have already identified a first-year graduate teaching assistant who will receive a copy from me, not because she needs it but because she will love it and use it.  Especially since they might be partial to reddit© or or other social lists, new teachers of writing should also be introduced to this book—simply so they know that it’s out there and available. Some users will prefer to flip through the pages than to go online, and it can be more convenient sometimes to reach for a book on a shelf. A former colleague and beloved mentor gave me a copy of the very first edition when I was a brand new writing center director with an M.A. degree. That first edition made me realize that seeking a Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition was indeed possible. If you mentor someone who is a promising student of the teaching of writing, who values pedagogy, or who sees teaching as intellectual work, please give them a copy!

My second hope is that those who are teaching Writing about Writing courses (following the lead of Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs) will investigate ways to incorporate The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing into their courses. The book seems like a good fit, if only to establish that bibliographies are one way of writing about writing.

Finally, I hope that users of The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing—especially those who are familiar with earlier editions—will participate in conversations about the new edition: what works and what still needs work? Maybe you are really happy to see new sections, like “Service Learning, Civic Engagement, and Public Writing,” but maybe you also wanted to see a section dedicated to, for example, writing and the environment. Perhaps you are disappointed that an article you admire has not been included, or maybe you have a suggestion about organization. Bits was made for this kind of interaction, so I hope you’ll comment here with your thoughts. Bibliographies are made for users, so let Jay and me know how you have used it and how it worked.

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The Long, Slow Revolution, or What’s Taking So Long?

posted: 11.9.11 by Nedra Reynolds

For the third fall in a row, I am asking students in a secondary English education course to produce a multigenre research project, ala Tom Romano. For the third fall in a row, students look at me blankly as I introduce this project, and then, after they have seen some models, they get very, very excited. In a few weeks’ time, I will be reading and enjoying researched writing different from anything these writers have tried before.

Inevitably, as we embark on this multigenre research journey, someone will ask, “How come I have never heard about this kind of writing?  How come none of my other teachers have assigned this?” This question also comes up when I assign Ken Macrorie’s I-Search; Suzanne Rubenstein’s book, Go Public; or even when I suggest that they might (take your pick) use first-person, use humor, quote song lyrics or a sitcom, play with different fonts or formatting, write in a form other than five neat and tidy paragraphs, or ignore formal documentation for sharing source information—a suggestion that I’m not the only one making! (See the very recent “Citation Obsession? Get Over It” by Kurt Schick.) I find the question “How come this is the first time I’ve heard of this?” difficult to answer, but legitimate.

For these English education students, my fall course is the only one in their curriculum that focuses on methods of teaching writing. Following it, they begin student teaching at area middle and high schools, but many of them are working now in the schools with cooperating teachers, and it’s typical for them to share anecdotes, fresh from their experience: one reported, for example, that her cooperating teacher started a unit on the research paper with a lecture and a worksheet on MLA documentation style. While hearing that makes me sigh and makes Kurt Schick shudder, it’s not the teacher’s fault. The system is stacked against innovative teachers and in favor of testing companies. But when students arrive at college believing that one should never use “I” in writing college papers, I wonder where we are in this so-called revolution in the teaching of writing.

As far as I can tell, many of the preservice teachers in my class this fall have had a number of advantages in terms of formal literacy, but only one or two have been given the kind of invitations to write that I used to assume were standard writing-class fare. My students think the I-Search is a new idea, but Macrorie’s book was first published in 1984. They are surprised to see the publication dates on the articles we read for our Jigsaw discussion on multigenre research projects—1999, 2000, 2003, 2004—which predate their high school years. When they ask the “How come?” question, they are having genuine insights (I hope) into how capital “s” School works to keep the five-paragraph theme, the traditional research paper, worksheets, and other “nonforms” of writing in place (Larson, College English, 1982).

The stories we share in this class serve to remind me that not every language arts teacher has participated in the National Writing Project or reads English Journal regularly or attends NCTE. My students also firmly believe that they won’t get to teach writing the way I do—and they are probably right. Their most pressing concerns are about passing a standardized test for certification—and about preparing their own students for different (but the same) standardized tests. They can recite the Common Core Standards, but they had never read a Billy Collins poem.

I’m still convinced that in the late 1980s, I was living and learning in revolutionary times, and I feel privileged to introduce preservice teachers to “alternative” writing assignments—although I wish they were more mainstream than alternative—and I wonder if there’s more that college writing instructors can do to speed things up.

I would love to hear what Bits readers think about What’s taking so long? Especially if you see a way forward!

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Teaching Online for the First Time: A Reflection

posted: 10.12.11 by Nedra Reynolds

My online summer course has been over for several weeks now, and I’m ready to report to Bits readers that my experience was . . . decidedly mixed! I had been on the fence about teaching online, but I had such a good experience in an online teaching fellows seminar that I was excited to dive in, with new tools in my kit. The class was Travel Writing, a perfect subject matter for online delivery, since so much of travel writing occurs in the form of blogs or digital formats that enable photographs. A 300-level course for general education, this class is popular and is usually fully enrolled each time it’s offered. Since I had used Sakai in a number of my face-to-face courses, I felt confident with the system.

As I shared in a post from last spring, I followed much of the advice I received from veteran online faculty. I made a point of being “present,” I aimed for redundancy, and I tried to provide plenty of scaffolding. In the end, some students produced some excellent work . . . but why did it all feel so dissatisfying?

3I truly missed looking at faces, especially when some students did not upload a photo to their profile. And while most writing teachers could do with fewer students, I wished for a few more. The class was fully enrolled initially, but soon dropped down to thirteen, which for me, made it almost too small for lively interaction and multiple perspectives. Since only about half of the students were truly engaged—by that I mean making almost daily contributions—a “flat” feeling persisted throughout the ten weeks.

My biggest adjustment (or the part that threw me the most) had to do with deadlines. Only a handful of students actually met them, and I heard nothing from those who were missing deadlines—no explanation. In face-to-face teaching, I’m pretty flexible about deadlines; if students let me know what’s going on, I don’t take points off for late projects if there’s a reasonable explanation, including technical difficulties or having to work late. But in this online class, it was as if students had never heard of deadlines; I got the sense that they didn’t even realize the deadlines existed or were meaningful, which was particularly frustrating for peer review, when others couldn’t complete their work until drafts were uploaded. One student, who was doing quite well, completely disappeared for two solid weeks—without a word. If I had given zeroes for late work, most of the class would have failed! As it was, grades were unusually low, with several barely passing. And yet, I didn’t hear one word of complaint about the low grades, whatever that means.

Something tells me I’m not the only one dealing with some of these issues. For example, just a week ago, I was cc’d in a message from an experienced online instructor to his students, most of whom had missed the first deadline. He warned them of the consequences of not keeping up with the material and asked them to “get to work.” In addition, students who are enrolled in online courses typically do not fill out our institution’s standardized teaching evaluation at the end of the term—the response rates are terrible. Does that mean that online students simply aren’t as invested in their educations? Or can it be explained in very practical terms—that students who choose online courses tend to be working full time?

Although I am convinced that a sense of community can be and is created online all the time, some element of community was missing. What ingredient did I forget?  I’m hoping to hear from some of you, Bits’ readers! Does or should teaching online mean that we de-emphasize deadlines? Or how can we better prepare students for the demands of online learning?

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