Navigating online courses

Posted on September 13, 2019


ONe of my rather many duties is helping students register. Sometimes they’re reluctant to register for an online course but schedule or “it’s the only section open” mandate it.

I tell them that one of the other things I do is help people figure out their online courses — that no, I can’t do the work for them and I might know nothing about the content, but I can help them figure out what’s needed.

Sometimes they take me up on it. Yesterday a student was stressing about grades; there was a paper with all sorts of assignments with points, and two places with scores. I helped with finding where the teacher had given feedback, and we discerned that the 33 33 100 indicated 33/33 100%….

Another student really brought home to me more subtle challenges. This is a 101 course and the online information was *full* of statements about what the student had to do to use access code and software with “instructors in this course will not provide technical support.” “You need to have a *new* copy of the book and the code…” Student inquired at bookstore who gave the kind of answer they’d give if different teachers were doing different things… I realized that okay, this might be one of those online courses that a teacher had taken on already “made.”

The student emailed the teacher and came in even more confused… well, turns out that all the strident stuff was about MindTap and this teacher was using a Cengage book but … MindTap wasn’t part of her plan. (I wish my role was such that I could give a screaming nudge towards OER — it’s a 101 course!)

We found the stuff of stuff and directions for papers and figured out okay, looks like the task of the week is get the book, read the chapter, take the quiz, and figure out a plan for the 3 2-page papers. I could say “oh, this paragraph means the teacher doesn’t want you to Google about that time in history and copy stuff. It’s about thinking and applying what you know.”

It’s a good thing when they leave feeling like yes, they can get this stuff under control when they entered feeling stressed and overwhelmed… I reflect that some folks have resources for that guidance readily at hand but … others don’t, especially first-generation college kiddos. And still others would have gotten “help” that would be about doing the Google Copy Stuff.

Yet another student seems very very motivated to succeed but a tad reluctant to believe the requirements for that… hoping the motivation part wins…

… but (update,the student is back) when I hear “I don’t know this at all!” so I guide through thinking about the words that aren’t exactly the same to get the answer… and then the next one no help’s needed because “that one is already on the internet” (as in exact words)…

Posted in: Parkland College