Week 16 – Who are our students?

I find this week’s information very valuable. I had made certain assumptions regarding who my online students are and their respective technical abilities. This semester I have one particular student who sends half a dozen or so emails daily arguing about literally every word and concept in the entire course. This experience had definitely clouded my view of who my students REALLY are in my online course. This persistent student is not the norm, but one type of student that one can encounter in the online environment. I don’t believe this student would be as argumentative or confrontational in person. The readings this week have helped me quite a bit, especially in reference to this particular student.

Who did I think were my online students?

Like Julie, I too have a few Moms re-entering school while juggling their responsibilities at home, and who additionally  hold  jobs besides their parenting  job. I know this since my first discussion forum is a ‘get-to-know-you’ forum where students post introductions and ask and answer questions I pose on the mechanics and standards for the course.

When Julie instructed us to pause and consider who we thought our students were, I jotted down the following:

1) Transfer-minded, tech savvy 20-somethings

2) Working-adults

3) Students who think this is an easy A

Number 3 might seem to be a strange answer, but I have taught the history of rock and roll for many years now and it is often perceived as course to take for an easy A out there amongst the college student body.

Trust me it is not an easy course, especially online. This perception may be just the nature of rock and roll and the social and pop cultural stigma surrounding this art form. Many students are often surprised when they do not automatically ace the first exam without having studied or even opened the text book or lessons.

What do I think are my student’s expectations in my online course?

1) Well I touched on this above a little. I do think some of my online history of rock students have an expectation that this course will be an “easy A” for them.

2) I believe students expect to be treated fairly and have their questions and concerns addressed in a timely and respectful manner.

3) I do believe students have an interest in the subject matter and have an expectation of learning more about the history of rock. (maybe I’m in a fantasy world)

What do I believe are their challenges

1) Getting acquainted with and comfortable with the layout of the course or LMS for the course can be challenging to some students.

2) My course has many writing assignments. Every semester I see very poor writing standards from students. For my course a challenge to some students is the ability to write at an acceptable college level. Although I provide many resources for assistance in this area, students who enter college with poor writing abilities are at a definite disadvantage in online courses like mine. I do disagree with “College Students on the Web” authors in their suggestion of lowering the language on the web. I feel strongly that the web should move in the opposite direction, especially in online college courses. The bar should be high for writing standards in college, but we should provide resources for those students who are not strong writers.

3) Another challenge for the busy, working, multi-tasking student is being able to schedule and organize their lives so they do not miss deadlines. There are multiple areas of my online course where due dates are posted, and as I have added more reminders each semester I have noticed an increase in students meeting the due dates for assignments in the course.

Thoughts on the readings

The reading “College Students on the Web” really opened my eyes to my misconception that online students are mostly tech savvy. Also pertinent to my course was the section on ‘Play vs. Work’. This may be part of the perception of a course such as mine on the history of rock music. Although I do experience mostly the goal oriented college student, there are those who crave a play atmosphere. This might help explain the perception that some students have that my course is an easy A.

One suggestion from the readings I wish I could implement is a search box in my online course. All the readings at some point pointed out that the second highest online activity is using a search engine. This is second only to email. I wonder if recent studies will find that social networking will surpass searching. Since I use a LMS for my course I don’t believe I have the ability to provide a search box. I will inquire with my tech support though and see if it is a possibility. I can definitely see how this would help many students.


The tech support for my campus provides a well organized and frequently updated FAQ for tech questions. The following FAQs are specific for my course and are based on the questions students have asked in past semesters. Thanks Lisa for sending me directions on creating FAQs with links to answers. Laura’s Open Office video was also helpful as well. 🙂


Where can I find the discussion forum dates?

Do I have to provide citations for the writing assignments? If so, how should they be formatted?

Can I re-take a quiz?

Which pages should I read for each section of the course?

What happens if I miss a due date?

I participated in the discussion forum. Why did I only receive 5 out of 20 points?

How long should my writing assignments be?


Where can I find the discussion forum dates?

There is a link in the first screen of the course titled “Grading for Discussion Forums and Date” where you can find the dates. Or you can click on the calendar on the right side of the course to see upcoming important dates.

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Do I have to provide citations for the writing assignments? If so, how should they be formatted?

Almost all writing assignments for music 114 require citations. Please provide them at the end of your submission. Any format whether it is MLA, Chicago or Turabian is acceptable as long as your sources can be verified.

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Can I re-take a quiz?

Yes, you can take non-listening quizzes twice. Only the most recent quiz is kept, so if you score well the first time you should probably not attempt a second try. All of the quiz attempts are randomized. You may not see the same questions for each try.

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Which pages should I read for each section of the course?

The page numbers in the text that correspond to each week are located at the top of the weekly window right underneath the dates.

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What happens if I miss a due date?

There is one opportunity to make up a missed writing assignment. The link is located near the very bottom of the course. There you will find the details in case you miss a writing assignment.

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I participated in the discussion forum. Why did I only receive 5 out of 20 points?

The highest number of points possible for a single entry in a discussion forum is 5 points. You are encouraged to post multiple times with new insights as well as responses to other students’ posts.

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How long should my writing assignments be?

Your writing assignments should be long enough to answer all the questions posed in the assignment completely and in a manner that conveys your comprehension of the material. Each assignment will vary in length, but a good guideline is to be sure you answer each question in detail.

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3 thoughts on “Week 16 – Who are our students?

  1. Laura says:

    This was a great post! I could tell that you have been mulling over the information this week. I am curious to hear what you find out about adding a search bar within a CMS. I wonder if that will come out in a newer version of some of the CMS’s used today. It would be helpful: I agree. I know that I use the search bar in the discussion area of my online course a lot. That is also available for students. I wonder how many use it.

  2. criscrissman says:

    Good question about how social networking may give searching a challenge as #1 Activity now, Jean.

    I was going to share about the search function for forums in Moodle, but Laura beat me to it 😉 It’s a really handy tool for students and teacher!

  3. Julie Vignato says:

    Some of my students as well are expecting the easy A. Your #3 didn’t surprise me at all. I wonder if this is a partly generational expectation. They quickly learn though that work and effort is what is required for the A. I think for some we might be their first introduction to the real world.

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