Eiland's Online English Materials

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This is your brain.
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This is your brain on English.

A Word to the Wise Concerning This Course

The success rate in my distance ed. English courses could be better: the failure rate is significant (but improving), as is the drop rate. Much of the failure rate is due to the format of the class (see below)...and a greater responsibility lies with the expectations and habits of students. See Grade Change Request Form for more details. My job is to make sure the material is presented well; yours is to actively attain and retain it. I want you to understand the reasons for failure or success in this course so you can make a rational choice as to whether this class is for you.

  1. Many people who take this class are enrolled because it is the only ENGL 101 or ENGL 103 open... that is not a good reason to take this particular class. You should take this course because you are a motivated, technologically informed student with access to and working knowledge of the hardware and software required for a class like this.

  2. English is hard. Writing English in a thoughtful, meaningful discussion of moderately complex literature, for some, is very difficult. If English is difficult for you, taking a course in which you are largely self-directed and teacher/student contact is limited is not recommended.

  3. The technical aspect can be daunting, even frustrating... but it is your responsibility. This especially applies to e-mail. See Your Responsibilities for more details.

  4. Distance education requires your initiative. If you don't stay in contact through chat, message boards, email, and even office and telephone contacts, you will fail.

This is not to say people can't do well in the course: many do, some much better than students in traditional classes. These students have several things in common:

  1. They keep in contact. They check their email every day. They send me an e-mail every week or so to let me know they are still there. (Any problems should be directed to me through e-mail.) They engage in chat, either synchronously (live) on the predetermined dates and times or asynchronously through message boards. Not only does it keep them in touch, it also is a portion of the grade. They come by my office or call if they need to. And when they get lost, they ask questions.

  2. They contact other students. They engage in chat. They use the message board to contact other students and to make observations about the content of the course. They post rough drafts on the message board in the form of RESPONSES. And they ask each other questions... and get answers.

  3. They keep up with the work. They read the assignments, read the stories, read the discussion questions in Questions for Reading and Writing, and read the content on the assigned web sites off of the I-Net Reading List. And when they get lost, they ask questions.

  4. They keep the papers and tests coming in. They pick up their papers and work on them to make them better. They read old tests and my corrections to improve their work. And when they get confused, they ask questions.

  5. They follow instructions. They pay attention to things like page count and MLA formatting for quotations and works cited. They pay attention to requirements for content including the use of literary terms and even things as simple as writing on the work that was assigned.

  6. They care enough to ask me for help. They utilize the writing café. They utilize the tutoring center. They ask questions during chat. They contact me by e-mail or during my office hour and ask for help. Most often, I can.
But those students are the exception right now. I would like to make them the standard. Consider what you are getting into, and if you decide you to stick with it, follow through. Know the deadlines. Pay attention to developments. Keep in touch.

Please be aware of the new wait list policy at Citrus. Students who attempt to add a full course are now automatically wait-listed on Wingspan by the school (not the instructor) and will be added automatically in the order they attempted to add the course as spaces become available (up to the day before classes begin). However, once the semester has started, that list becomes null and void, and instructor will control add process.
That being said....

If you'd like to add, there are some basic things that you should do, no matter whose class it is. These tips will help you not only to appear organized and thoughtful, but also maximize both your and your instructor's time. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • When you send an e-mail, identify yourself with your name and the specific class... not just the code number, but the specific class such as English 103 or a Math 101 and the dates and times or distance ed as applicable. Keep in mind that most instructors certainly teach more than one class and many times they teach more than one section of a particular course. Simply saying "I want to add your class" or even "I want to add your math 103" is not enough information.
  • Include the following information in your e-mail.
    • your first and last name
    • the course name and number
    • the date and time
    • the semester
  • Send it from the e-mail address that you will check and you expect to be using. That way all they have to do is simply reply to you.
  • Make sure you're sending the correct e-mail to the correct instructor. There's nothing less impressive than an e-mail which asks an English instructor for a history class.
  • Also keep in mind that a long story not necessarily going to sway them. Until the school comes up with an automated system of wait listing, most instructors are going waitlist people according to when they were contacted. It is always a good idea to ask or to check their website if they have a different policy.
  • If the class you require is a distance ed course, keep in mind that many times the instructor will have to wait at least into the first week of regular class to figure out who is attending and who's not before they can add people.
  • Also keep in mind that a distance education course does not have unlimited enrollment. For courses that require the grading of a paper or handwritten tests, the workload is the same whether there are people in a classroom or people online. Your instructor will have his or her limits. Respect them.
  • If the course is on campus, make sure that you still show up to class the first day and identify yourself as someone who has contacted the instructor by e-mail in advance. That may get you to the front of the line that is sure to be forming outside the room.
  • Wait for instructions. Harrassing the instructor with repeated requests is not necessarily going to help you. It might have negative consequences.
  • Expect nothing. Competition for classes is fierce, and until the economic situation changes for Cal States and other universities (as well as job retraining), community college classes will be impacted with students, and those who have priority are likely to hold on to their classes more because they know that getting a different class is unlikely.

© T. T. Eiland, January 1998
Last modified: January 25, 2012