Last updated 5/21/17 8:33pm
Aloha and welcome!
For an introduction to this course, please take a few minutes to watch this video. Next, read this message in its entirety. It won’t take more than a few minutes. Some of the information may appear to be routine, but read it anyway. You’ll find it helpful.
“Will we have any on-campus meetings?”
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.
“What is the most important thing I need to know about this class?”
Our class isn’t exactly like your typical online class in Laulima. The biggest difference is that all course information, including the syllabus, schedule, guidelines, resources, and readings, are on our class website and not in Laulima. Here are the links:
- ENG 200 http://eng200kcc.wordpress.com
- ENG 270B https://eng270b.wordpress.com
- ENG 273N http://eng273kcc.wordpress.com
However, we will use Laulima a lot. Primarily, we’ll use it for discussions, posts, quizzes, and submissions of links (URLs) to our drafts. Be sure to log in to both sites on a daily basis for the latest updates.
“What is the second most important thing I need to know?”
The emphasis is on you and your ability to write and review preliminary drafts. We’ll refer to these as “review drafts” or RDs. We won’t call them “rough drafts” because they should be as close to the final product as possible. Twenty percent of your course grade will be determined by the quality of RDs that you write, and another 20% by the quality of reviews that you write for classmates’ RDs. The rationale is simple: To write a quality RD and to write a quality review, you’ll need to know the assignment criteria. By learning and applying that criteria, you improve both your own and your classmates’ drafts. We’ll apply this review process to four of the five papers scheduled for this semester. The fifth paper will be our final exam.
The remaining 60% of the course grade will be determined by the quality of your final drafts, or FDs. I will evaluate the FDs based on the same assignment criteria. In my evaluation, I will refer to the peer comments that you received on your RD. Thus, rely on your classmates’ suggestions to improve your FD.
Bonus points (up to 100) can also be earned by performance in class discussions and quizzes.
“What is the third most important thing?”
The third most important thing is related to the second. Because our emphasis is on the peer review process, you must submit your RD by the scheduled deadline. Each student must submit three reviews. If you’re late, classmates will have less time to complete them. If you’re very late, they may end up with fewer than three, and that may impact their grade.
Also, because we’re relying on peer feedback, your RD must be reviewed by at least three classmates.
If you’re going to be late, you are responsible for informing the class via our Laulima group email about when to expect your RD. This is to ensure that at least three will stand by to help you. If you’re short three, you’ll need to email the class once more to ask for volunteer reviewers.
The bottom line is don’t be late.
“What is the fourth?”
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 you to incorporate your personal observations and experiences in your drafts, and descriptions transform your words into vivid images. The bottom line is, you’ll need to master these two techniques that are at the heart of creative writing.
You’ll be creating a WordPress blog as a means to share and showcase your drafts. You’ll be writing a minimum of four RDs and five FDs. All nine drafts must be in your blog by the end of the semester. Don’t delete any of them. These will serve as a record of drafts completed.
Despite what you may have heard, blogs are very simple to create. Go to wordpress.com (not wordpress.org) to get started. You’ll be able to set one up in a few minutes. One of the initial decisions you’ll have to make concerns the theme or appearance of your blog. There are dozens of options. I strongly recommend the theme “Twenty Ten.” It serves our purpose well.
Because we’re relying so heavily on blogs, your settings must be consistent with the class. The key settings are date and time (Hawaii time), privacy (discourage search engines), and permission to comment (set to allow anonymous posting). Carefully follow these guidelines. If you run into problems, don’t hesitate to email me with your blog username and password. I’ll log in and adjust the settings for you.
You need to know what a URL is. It is the unique address of every site (including blogs) on the web. The URLs for all WordPress blogs share a common format: http://yourblogtitle.wordpress.com. Replace “yourblogtitle” with your own blog title, e.g., http://johnz808.wordpress.com. The URL will allow you to share your drafts with classmates and me. If you don’t know the URL or share an incorrect URL, we won’t be able to review your drafts. If we can’t review your drafts, you won’t receive credit for them.
“How can I contact you?”
The best way is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. (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.
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 as well as 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 from anywhere in the world via computers, tablets, and smartphones at our convenience.
If you require in-person 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.
“How will you communicate with us?”
Besides our course website 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. I’ll be tweeting deadline reminders. You can follow these tweets at https://twitter.com/jimkcc or @jimkcc. You can also see the them in our class blog. (See the Twitter widget in the right sidebar.) I often tweet quotes from student comments in class discussions. I sometimes share interesting quotes from drafts, too. 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.
“How can I succeed in this class?”
1. 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.
2. 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 work flow. With portable communication devices, you can do it from anywhere at any time.
3. Learn. The purpose of education is to learn, and some environments are more conducive to personal growth than others. In your lifetime, college will probably be one of the most stimulating. This is where your ideas and values, your 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, you 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 your other course as anomalies, as keys to continually redefine your view of the world.
4. 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 acknowledgement of those stories. (See the late policy.)
5. 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.
6. Connect. (a) Bookmark our class website 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 email@example.com 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.
7. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) early in the semester or even before the first day of instruction.
8. Self-evaluate. Perhaps the most difficult task in an online class is knowing how well you’re doing in terms of the daily course work 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 often include noteworthy student quotes from our discussions and, sometimes, 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.
9. 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.
10. Tip: If you have an iPhone/iPad (or Android device), download the WordPress app. It will allow you to access and work on your own WordPress blog. 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.
“How can I excel in this class?”
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. Everyone knows it when they see it — including your classmates, me, and you.
To assure me that you’ve read this welcome message, email the keyword “aloha” to me at email@example.com 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.
Be sure to complete our Welcome Quiz in Laulima. In the left sidebar, click on Tests & Quizzes.
I’m looking forward to working with you and getting to know you this semester.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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)