Aloha and welcome!
For an overview of what it takes to succeed in an online course, complete the SŌL (Success for Online Learners) orientation. Submit the SŌL module completion certificate for a 10-point bonus. (See our schedule for the deadline.) If you completed the module in a previous semester or class, email a copy of the certificate to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, be sure to review the syllabus and the semester schedule. In the syllabus, pay special attention to the grading policy. In the schedule, be sure to read the requirements for our FD5/Final Exam.
The schedule for the first week or two is quite intense, so be prepared to plan and work ahead. We have a lot of ground to cover early in the course, but once we’re past our first paper, the pace will lighten substantially.
The following are some FAQs:
Q: Will we have any on-campus meetings?
A: No. This class is completely online, so no face-to-face (F2F) meetings are scheduled. This means that you can complete this course from literally anywhere in the world where you have internet access.
Q: How will we share our drafts (WordPress Blogging option)?
A: You’ll be pasting your drafts in our Laulima discussion forums for submitting them. You’ll have the option to set up a WordPress blog to publish and share your drafts with classmates and me. Drafts published in a personal WordPress blog will receive a 10-point bonus (5 pts for Review Draft, 5 pts for Final Draft). (Photos and videos can be added to your drafts for bonus points.) The first step is to register for a free WordPress blog. Click here for basic instructions.
Q: What is the emphasis in this class?
A: The emphasis is on your ability to write and review drafts — your own and your classmates’. For each paper (except the last), we’ll be writing two drafts: a review draft (RD) and a final draft (FD). The RD isn’t a “rough draft.” It should be as close to the final product as possible. Twenty percent of your course grade will be determined by the quality of your RDs, and another 20% by the quality of reviews that you write for classmates. Fifty percent of the course grade will be determined by the quality of your final drafts (FDs). See the scoring/grading criteria. In my evaluation, I will also refer to the peer ratings/comments that you received on your RD. Thus, be sure to consider your classmates’ assessments to improve your FD. The remaining 10% of the course grade will come from your discussion posts and performance on quizzes.
Q: Will late work be accepted?
A: Because our emphasis is on the peer review process, all review drafts (RDs) must be submitted by the scheduled deadline. Each student will be submitting three reviews. If an RD is late, classmates will have less time or no time to complete their reviews. See our late policy.
Q: What will the emphasis be in our papers?
A: The required readings and videos provide information about the topic for each paper as well as insights into specific writing techniques. Two of the techniques that we’ll be emphasizing in every paper are description and narration. Narratives allow us to incorporate our personal observations and experiences in our drafts, and descriptions transform our words into vivid images. The bottom line is, we’ll need to master these two techniques that are at the heart of effective writing.
Q: How can I contact you?
A: The best method is email at email@example.com. (Don’t use the email that’s built into Laulima to contact me.) I check my email 16/7 and will usually respond within 2-8 hours — including weekends, evenings, and holidays.
Q: Can we meet in person or over the phone?
A: This class is completely online. Thus, all meetings, including teacher-student conferences, will be conducted online. Also, since many if not most students have family responsibilities, hold full- or part-time jobs, and are spread out over Oahu and the Neighbor Islands and, sometimes, in the continental U.S. and the rest of the world, no face-to-face (F2F), in-person, voice (phone), or synchronous conferences will be held. All private communications will be online via email. This policy might, at first, appear to be a disadvantage, but the upside is that we can communicate 16/7 anytime-anywhere via computers, tablets, and smartphones. Furthermore, it means that you can take this class from anywhere on this planet and participate in course work at a time of your choosing (as long as you meet the completion deadline). If you require in-person or synchronous conferences with a course instructor, consider registering for a blended course, which combines both online and F2F (face-to-face) meetings. You can always enroll in completely online courses at some time in the future when you’re confident in your ability to learn in this exciting yet challenging new medium of instruction.
Q: How will you communicate with us?
A: Besides our course websites and Laulima, we’ll rely heavily on our UH email (hawaii.edu) accounts so be sure to log in daily for announcements (e-blasts) and private messages. A Twitter account is optional, but it is a simple and effective way to stay on schedule. At the beginning of the course, I’ll make an effort to email or tweet deadline reminders. You can follow these tweets at https://twitter.com/jimkcc or @jimkcc. You can also see them in our class blog (in the right sidebar). I sometimes tweet quotes from student comments in class discussions. I use one Twitter feed for all my classes so pay attention to the course number at the start of tweets. “All” means the tweet is for all classes. I’ll also be emailing Secrets (to Success in English) to you. These are brief notes to help you with whatever we’re working on at the moment. By spending a few minutes reading these, you’ll greatly improve your performance. These secrets will also be archived on our course Padlet site at tinyurl.com/y5kmxwd9.
Q: How can I succeed in this class?
A: Observe. See and understand that an online class is fundamentally different from a traditional F2F class. Perhaps the most profound difference is that no one is standing in front of you telling you what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. But the good news is that all this information is accessible 24/7 via your smartphone, tablet, or notebook. Read. All guidelines and directions. Reading is like turning on your headlights on a dark road with no streetlights. Reading and following directions is the single most important key to survival and success. It doesn’t have to be tedious or time-consuming. By logging in throughout the day for brief or longer sessions, you can easily keep up with the workflow. With mobile communication devices, you can do it from anywhere at any time.
Learn. It seems obvious, but the purpose of education is to learn, and some environments are more conducive to personal growth than others. In our lifetime, college will probably be one of the most stimulating. This is where our ideas and values, our sense of what’s real and fake, right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, worthwhile and worthless, will be challenged and changed forever. With every bit of new knowledge, we will change. Thomas Kuhn uses the term “paradigm shift” to explain what happens when an anomaly, a new idea, enters the picture and forces us to revise our views. Thus, look at the ideas presented in this and all our other course as potential anomalies, as keys to continually redefine our view of the world and our place in it.
Respect. In a college classroom, F2F or online, meeting deadlines is a sign of respect for your classmates. It says, “We’re all equal here. We all play by the same rules. I don’t seek or expect special treatment.1 I know you’re all overcoming tremendous hardships to submit work on time. I’m in the same boat, and I’m willing to work just as hard as you.” Behind every work submitted on time is an untold story of sacrifice, determination, sweat, and courage. Being on time is a sincere acknowledgment of those stories. (See the late policy.)
Anticipate. Be proactive. Know what’s ahead and be prepared. This means reviewing the schedule daily for the latest updates or changes and being a step ahead of due dates. Most of the dates on the schedule are deadlines. This means you need to plan, to determine the size of the task and the amount of time you’ll need to complete it. For some tasks, you may need to begin days if not weeks in advance, depending on your own personal, work, and class schedule.
Connect. (a) Bookmark our class websites for quick access. Information is updated often. (b) Bookmark our Laulima class page. With the Laulima app2, you can participate via your smartphone. (c) Bookmark some of your classmates’ blogs, especially those that seem to know what they’re doing. Learn from their example. (d) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org when you have questions. I’ll usually get back to you within 2-8 hours — often within an hour. (e) Log in to your UH mailbox (hawaii.edu) at least once a day for announcements and private email from me and your classmates. Engage. Our class is a social networking community. As a member, participate, interact with others by posting comments and sharing drafts. If you have privacy concerns, be sure to email me (email@example.com) early in the semester or even before the first day of instruction.
Self-evaluate. Perhaps the most difficult task in an online class is knowing how well you’re doing in terms of the daily coursework and in comparison to other students. In traditional F2F classes, you can see and talk to classmates to get a rough sense of where you are. In an online class, you can’t do this, at least not in the same way. You can, however, use the online medium to monitor your daily progress. You can do this on your own. Don’t ask me, the instructor, advisers, tutors, or classmates to do this for you. Assess your own day-to-day performance regularly by checking it against the guidelines. Are you following directions and meeting all the criteria? Check it against your classmates’ work in discussion forums and in their blogs. Use the best students as models. (You know who they are.) Does your work measure up? Read all tweets for your class. They sometimes include noteworthy student quotes from our discussions and, occasionally, kudos for exemplary work. Keep an up-to-date log of your performance in all the scheduled learning activities. Keep a close eye on, remember, and use feedback received from peers on your review drafts (RDs). In other words, unlike a traditional class, an online class provides a wide range of means to keep track of how well you’re doing without having to depend on others. Consider self-evaluation an objective form of introspection, a means to guide your growth not only in this class but for the rest of your life.
Care. Practice aloha. Be kind to others, and treat them as you want to be treated. Think twice before posting a comment that might hurt, frighten, or upset another person. If you’ve written an angry or sarcastic message, don’t click on the submit button. Save it and wait at least 12 hours. If you still wish to pursue the matter after you’ve cooled down, email the message to me. I’ll serve as arbiter if necessary. Make a distinction between positive and negative criticism. Master the art of giving constructive suggestions. Learn from classmates who are good at it. Don’t take criticism personally. Assume that your classmates are trying to help you. Also, remember that when you care for someone, you point out problems in their drafts that could hurt their performance. In this way, you help them. Remaining silent or saying that the draft is perfect when it’s not is deceitful.
Tip: If you’re publishing your drafts in WordPress and have an iPhone/iPad (or Android device), download the WordPress app. It will allow you to access and work on your own WordPress blog from anywhere at anytime. For my blog posts, I often compose on my iPhone while on coffee breaks. This means that you could easily work on your drafts directly in your blog via smartphone while you’re at the beach or having lunch. Save it as a draft until you’re ready to share it.
Q: How can I excel in this class?
A: We all have significant adults in our lives. Usually they’re people who care most for us, our parents or grandparents, but often they’re significant others, relatives, friends, educators, managers, ministers, or even people we don’t know personally. They’ve told us countless times, so the answers are no secret. Responsibility, kuleana3. Perseverance and patience, ahonui4. Diligence, pa’ahana5. The best part is that hard work never goes unnoticed. We all know it when we see it. To assure me that you’ve read this welcome message, email the keyword “aloha” to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the first week of instruction. The keyword should appear in the subject header. Leave the message area blank. This is a test so don’t share this information with anyone. I will randomly place similar tests in our readings, announcements, and guidelines.
1 The exception is for students registered with the college’s Disability Support Services Office.
2 Laulima App: Save the Laulima link on your iPhone desktop. You should see a blue and white icon. Clicking it takes you to Laulima’s mobile interface. If this doesn’t work, please email me – email@example.com
3 Kamaolipua, Diane, and Searle Wailana. “Kuleana Means.” Graceful Guidance, 22 Sep. 2012. Web. 24 May 2015. (WebCite alternative)
4 King, Serge Kahili. “The Healing Power of Patience.” Huna. Aloha International, 2003. Web. 30 May 2014. (WebCite alternative)
5 Apo, Peter. “32 Hawaiian Values.” Peter Apo, 2012. Web. 24 May 2015. (WebCite alternative)