My Dream Course
My Dream Course avatar

My dream online ENG 100 course would be organized in Canvas using the pages feature in a week-by-week structure. I would either make each week’s main page available one at a time, or I would make the current week’s page the home page. I like the idea presented in our discussion that suggested using the same icons consistently to help students easily identify the type of materials (discussions, assignments…), so I would incorporate these on my pages. The weekly content would also be consistent in its approach; that is, the week would start with a short video lecture establishing that week’s goals. It would then be followed by a reading assignment, a short quiz, and an initial post to a discussion, which would all carry a Wednesday evening deadline.  By Sunday evening, the students would need to respond the required number of times to the discussion and submit the week’s writing assignment (or revision of a writing assignment or peer review if that was the assignment).  Exceptions to this scheme would be for the incorporation of group assignments that might necessarily work differently. The only new tools I would need are ScreencastOmatic to create the video lectures and Zoom to enable a synchronous discussion or for use with a group project. I would hope that the students would experience this linear structure as easy to use and clear to navigate, helping them successfully complete ENG 100.

Equity and Accessibility Issues
Equity and Accessibility Issues avatar

I don’t currently teach online for Miracosta, so I will address the issues from the standpoint of what I currently do in my f2f ENG 100 course that I would try to implement online.

I find up-to-date articles and assign one or two every week which provide food for discussions and for short reflective personal essays. Some other of these weekly articles are used to exemplify rhetorical patterns such as argument and cause/effect and are used not only for their content but for analysis. To supplement the readings and spark discussion, I also include videos such as TED talks.

I have grouped examples below of some of the articles and how I use them.

Race Issues:

“Why are people still racist? What science says about America’s race problem” This article is used for background and a whole class discussion, and I could easily see this being used in an online discussion. It is also paired with the next article below which leads to the writing assignment.

“Unconscious Prejudice Worksheet” This is an anonymous online quiz that students need to complete before the writing assignment.  Many students have commented that they never realized their own prejudices before taking the quiz because the survey goes beyond race to looking at their feelings about many groups such as people with various abilities and body types.  This self-analysis writing assignment could easily be used online.

“Four Perspectives on Removing Confederate Monuments” This article is an example of an argument that is used in groups—each group has to take a perspective from the article and present an oral argument from that perspective to the rest of the class. This activity could be used the same way in an online group discussion.

Immigration Issues:

“Why Your Economic Argument against Immigration Is Probably Wrong” This article is  used in groups which need to provide an analysis of the argument using the model of analysis from our text, So What? The Writer’s Argument, and could be used the same way online. I have found it interesting to listen in on how the various groups see this particular argument.

“What happens during a deportation raid in the US? Activists and undocumented people describe the chaos and terror of predawn deportation raids taking place across the US” This article personalizes the topic and provides an example of pathos in a way that leads to much discussion and could also be used for an online discussion.

Beyond first day introductions and other cursory interactions, I now have one-on-one meetings with students that carry points for attendance. In this meeting I not only go over essays in a way not possible with mere written comments, but I also engage them in talking about their lives by noting issues they have raised in their writings. I know some students only do it for the points, but I feel it is important to engage them personally.

From a previous week in this course, I found Curry’s short film clip analyzing a student essay on video most helpful, and I would definitely use that approach for the longer essays in an online course.

I also found Dr. Wood’s address very valuable because it contained suggestions to implement in classes that benefit not only undeserved students but all students. His recommendation of virtual office hours seems to be a way to carry on my meetings with my f2f students into the online environment to provide the support he was advocating.

From the article “Examples of Effective Practices” the ideas of developing online courses with accessibility and inclusion in mind along with the suggestion to offer instructional materials in more than one medium seem important to plan for and  implement. Also I have found that considering that students may use mobile devices to access the course materials impacts both online and f2f class sites.

Collaboration avatar

Thanks Janette for your great video.

I thought you stated what many of the scholarly articles stated, but your explanations were clear and provided a good framework and advice, so thanks.

  1. Buy-in

It seemed to me that your advice of getting students’ buy-in was an important thread throughout all the literature since many online students might expect and prefer to work alone. It may even be the sole reason they have chosen to attend online classes, so I think your ideas of preparing them right away from the course description and syllabus would be important for everyone but especially for the loner.

  1. Clear expectations

I must confess that that when things fall flat in my classes, I have to take responsibility for not having clear expectations of not only the outcomes but how they will reach them. Also having clear expectations for students you won’t see f2f becomes crucial since you won’t be able to do a spur of the moment correction. I would think that this step might take quite a bit of time to prepare and might get better over time when the pitfalls become clearer.

  1. Start small

I felt more reassured by your advice to start small and build up from peer reviews and discussions which are a part of every course to larger types of group work.

A f2f group assignment that I would consider migrating to an online composition course is actually a pre-writing activity. I have come to feel that preliminary research and pre-writing activities can help students organize and write better essays, so I would carry this philosophy online.

I prepare the students by mirroring the following process in class on a different topic. Their assignment is to do general research on the assigned topic with the end product being a random list of 25 phrases or terms they jot down while reading and bring to the next class.

The in-class groups of about 4 students then take the random lists and cluster like items together into two shorter lists, leaving out what doesn’t fit. They then create a general category name for each of the two clusters.  The topic I’ve used for this is an essay on the effects of school bullying, and after the clustering of ideas, the student groups have come up with such organizational patterns as short term/long term effects, physical/psychological, victim/bully, or others. Their group work continues with organizing the sub- items in the two clusters in order to group ideas together and create a logical flow—they have actually roughly outlined the body paragraphs. The group then comes up with a working thesis sentence that works for their organizational pattern, and together they draft an introductory paragraph. Their assignment for the week is to write the body paragraphs using the organized list of ideas, adding what is needed, and backing up their ideas with research.

The following week, the same groups do a peer review of each member’s resulting essay.

I think that the changes that would need to occur to move this to an online course would be a video of my initial mirroring demonstration. The preliminary research and creating the random lists would remain the same, but the lists would simply need to be shared in the groups I create.

It seems that what I can do in a 4 hour f2f class would need to be broken down into pieces so that each student in the group can contribute to the process through Google docs and small group discussion.

Tools to assess student writing
Tools to assess student writing avatar

In the past, I have tried using macros for electronically submitted essays. However, for the most part, I found the text in macros felt too generic or repetitive, and managing the macros more difficult than simply typing individual responses to students. I am excited to learn about new tools for use in future online sections of composition courses that others share in this blog that offer a better way to provide feedback improving the quality and perhaps the number of responses to student writing.

Because I just started using Canvas this semester, I was happy to learn about tools provided in Canvas that were included here in the bibliography. Specifically being able to email a student directly from the grade book is something I will use in my campus course, but I can see how important it would be online for immediate feedback with ease of use for the instructor.

I currently use rubrics for assignments, but I’m not sure how much students actually review them before submitting an assignment, so I think Warnock’s suggestion of electronic rubrics would also help students realize what’s expected and then how that resulted in the grade they received.