picture of a teacher's desk with an apple

Welcome to our online course. 🙂

College and Career Success 124
Becoming a Successful Online Student
Section 4417
Spring 2023
(from 1/17 through 2/10)

Riba Taylor

Reaching me
You are welcome to try to reach me at home by phone between 11am and 1pm Monday through Wednesday (Pacific time) at 760.641.7029. Since this is my home phone, please call me only during the proffered times. Thanks.

We can arrange for phone or private online meetings via Zoom at any other time if you’d like my input or help regarding your work in the course or if you have any concerns you need to address. Or, if you’d just like to talk a bit informally, I’d be happy to meet you in the Chat room of our course site or make arrangements to speak on the phone or via Zoom. If the above times don’t work for you, please send me a private message in Canvas and include your preferences. If you’d like to arrange a phone or Zoom meeting, please include your phone number and three good times. Thanks.

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The best way to reach me electronically is by Private Message in Canvas. I will check these often, and it’s easier for me to help you when I am already inside Canvas. But here is my email address if you need it for any reason:

This course explores the theory and practice of successful online learning. The course familiarizes you with the course management system used for online courses at Mendocino College and many California community colleges (Canvas) and offers practical guidance and hands-on experience in a variety of approaches for increasing your online learning success, including topics such as learning styles, study skills and time management.

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Student learning outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1) Navigate the Canvas classroom, including locating and submitting information.

2) Follow written instructions for accessing course content, submitting assignments, taking tests and participating in online discussions.

3) Identify their own learning style and corresponding methods for strengthening learning.

4) Understand and employ basic time management skills.

5) Recognize the importance of a set of behaviors that increase success and decrease stress for the online student.

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Required texts
There are no required texts for this course. All of the required reading is available through Modules in the course site.

picture of students sweating over their grades!

You will be graded in this course on several short assignments, quizzes and discussion postings. You will receive full points for all work that meets the requirements of the task and does not contain excessive errors (such as spelling and grammar). Most tasks are worth between 50 and 100 points. You will be able to repeat quizzes one or two times in order to achieve the score you are happy with. So, there is little to keep you from earning an “A” in the course unless you simply don’t complete the assignments.

Canvas will automatically keep track of some of your points, but most will rely on my manually entering them. I will do this as quickly as possible, usually just after the due date.

Final grades are calculated on a straight percentage basis (90% and up = A, 80% = B, 70% = C, 60% = D, below 60% = F). To calculate your grade at any point simply divide your total points by the total points possible, and this will give you your percentage. I recommend doing the math periodically throughout the course.

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Because you are not attending a traditional face-to-face class, there are no exact requirements for attendance. However, I expect you to “show up” in our virtual classroom often. I recommend daily login for checking messages and keeping up with your work.

In my experience as an online student, checking in more than once a day during the week—even if only for a few minutes—has been the most effective way for me to keep up with the discussion messages without becoming overwhelmed. Plus, the more often I check in, the more engaged I feel, and the more I enjoy the class. Then I plan larger chunks of time for completing the rest of my coursework.

For this class, I’ll ask you to develop the habit of checking the following every time you log in:

Recent announcements (on the home page or in Announcements)

All new posts in the Questions and Comments discussion thread

Private messages (via your Canvas inbox)

My time commitments to you

I’ll visit our online classroom at least once each day, Monday through Friday, to answer any questions posted in the Questions and Comments discussion thread and to reply to private messages. If I’ll be unavailable for any of these days, I’ll always try to let you know ahead of time by posting a note in the Questions and Comments thread. My bottom-line commitment is to be sure to check in once on each of these days, though I often check a number of times throughout the day, particularly in the afternoon and evening. I won’t generally be visiting the course site on weekends or school holidays.

When I visit the course site, if my time is limited, I always respond to questions in the Questions and Comments discussion thread before answering any private messages since the discussion posts affect the class as a whole.

Plan to look your work over early in the week so you can get your questions asked with time to spare for any needed back and forth between us.

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Open communication
I encourage you to bring me any questions or concerns that may come up for you during the course. If you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, worried or bored—tell me about it. I am happy to schedule a time to talk over the phone, and you can send me a private message whenever you like or call me at home during the hours stated at the beginning of the syllabus (under Office Hours). If you don’t understand my comments on your work, please ask me. If you think I missed something or the grade you received doesn’t adequately represent the quality of your work, tell me about it.

I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping me informed. I try to be both fair and reasonable, but if I don’t know what’s going on with you, there is very little chance I’m going to be able to address your issues or concerns, much less help resolve them.

If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable for any reason about a particular message posted by one of your peers in the discussions or the manner in which it was written, by all means address it directly and kindly within the discussion thread. If you feel unsure about doing this, do please send me a private message about it. Because the discussions are primarily for you, I won’t always be checking them closely. So, I’ll appreciate a timely heads-up if something “untoward” seems to be happening. And I am always willing to give you my take on something or to intercede anytime that may be needed.

On a lighter note, I enjoy communicating with my students, and it doesn’t need to happen only when something has gone awry! Please feel free to send me a private message or call me to let me know when you’ve enjoyed a particular task or learned something valuable or just got a chuckle out of something in our online classroom. Small connections like this are important for all of us, I think. So please don’t ever worry about “bugging” me, whether it’s good or bad, large or small. I like hearing from you.

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Attitude and academics
Plagiarism or other forms of cheating are (of course!) unacceptable. When copying something word for word, or when rephrasing ideas from someone else’s text, you must cite your source. If you use someone else’s words or ideas without citing them (even only a couple), you are committing plagiarism and may receive an “F.” Other disciplinary action may also be taken.

Equally unacceptable is any “behavior” that is disruptive or has a negative impact on the class. I expect everyone to treat each other with respect and as much kindness as we can muster. In the online environment, this should be easier to do because we have the advantage of being able to think about our words before we send or “speak” them. (I talk about this more in the Netiquette section of the Getting Started module. It’s important to me.) If I feel your behavior is unacceptable, I may need to step in to “correct” you, or I may need to “speak” with you privately before you can continue to participate in the class. I don’t anticipate this needing to happen, but I feel it’s safest to alert students to this possibility ahead of time, so there are no surprises.

Dropping the class
If for any reason you stop attending class, please remember it is your responsibility to drop the course. I would also recommend you follow up by requesting a printout of your schedule from admissions and records to verify the drop has been implemented. If you don’t drop the course, you’ll automatically receive an “F.” If you don’t drop, your name appears on the final grade sheet, and I have no other option at that point but to complete the “bubble” for an “F.” No one is happy in this situation (not me, not you, not Admissions and Records), so please take the time and be responsible for your own transcripts. Even if you’ve only attended the first days or weeks of a course, don’t assume the instructor is going to “take care of it” for you. You might luck out once or twice, but eventually it will catch up with you.

Other college support services
We have marvelous student support at Mendocino College, and I urge you to make the effort to benefit from what is offered. We have an extensive and amazing program for students with disabilities (including testing and support for students with learning disabilities), a terrific group of academic advisors in the counseling office (including special, qualified counselors who provide free personal counseling to students to help with mental/emotional/growth issues) and a wonderful library and learning center (with face-to-face and online tutors and study groups). These are just some of the student services offered, so please be sure to check these student services out on campus or via the college website. Or check with me or with the Instruction Office for more information.

If you are registered with the Disabilities Resource Center (DRC), they will let me know what sorts of accommodations you might need for my course, and I’ll be happy to discuss these with you, as well. If you want them to be able to freely discuss your specific issues and needs with me, please let them know. (I believe there’s a form for this permission.) Remember, too, the DRC can also offer wonderful support in a number of ways.

Students with disabilities who believe they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. The DRC phone number is (707) 468-3031, and they are located in Room 1000 on the Ukiah Campus (Counseling Office).

Encouraging a fair and safe experience
This college and this classroom are dedicated to providing an atmosphere that affords everyone—regardless of race, culture, ethnic background, gender identification, disability, age or sexual identity—the sense of feeling safe and of being treated fairly so each student will have the best opportunity to learn. If you feel you have been treated unjustly, or are having an experience that in some way impedes your ability to feel safe in the academic environment, please let us know so we can do what we can to help. I’ve already encouraged you to bring any problems you might be having in my class to me, and I echo that again here. (If need be, we can get assistance from other campus support services to help us resolve any concerns.) For issues you are unable to resolve directly with an instructor, you can contact the Dean of Instruction in the Instruction Office, and for any other concerns, please contact the Dean of Student Services in the Counseling Office.

The most important thing to all of us who work at the college is that you have a good experience and are motivated to continue your education. We really are here to help. Please give us every chance we can to do just that.

A demanding but rewarding class
This is a demanding class, and I am an ogre about sticking to the requirements and deadlines. It’s demanding, but it can be a fun, challenging, rewarding, heartwarming, eye-opening, entertaining and growth-filled experience for all of us. I’m glad you’re here. I look forward to working with you throughout the course.

illustration of a teacher at her desk (with apple and stack of books!)