Checking my class lists today:
English 0492 (16 weeks) has 15 students, but can enroll up to 20. I am expecting some students to enroll late, as this has been a trend in this course for years.
English 1102 (1st 8 weeks) has 22 students and filled several weeks ago (also expected with this research writing course — I often have at least 10-15 requests from students to add them to an already full section).
My other 2 sections (English 0482 and English 0492) start later in the semester (February 15th — 12 weeks). Today is an intense day of advising students and checking if they are enrolled in the “right” courses based on prerequisites, placement test scores and certificate or degree requirements. We use MyAccess as our database to store student records and I click on links for students’ test scores, unofficial transcripts and additional information in order to get a sense of why they enrolled in my English course. I send out a flurry of all-class e-mails and “Welcome to College of DuPage!” greetings on the Announcement Board today hoping each student will log in and start looking at the course materials.
One of the challenges in building and launching an online course is timing the assignments and due dates accordingly since I have multiple starting and stopping dates this term. Sometimes it feels like nailing jello to a wall as I try to coordinate all of the courses in a pace that keeps students motivated throughout the semester.
I designed English 0482 and English 1102 myself — building the course materials over several months, choosing textbooks, supplemental materials, YouTube links and producing video vignettes to anchor each unit. I am a visual learner and believe that online instruction should involve splashes of graphics and color from our collection of virtual paintbrushes. If online courses only offer text as the main source of information I think students will tune out (even those students who are avid Kindle readers). Online teaching is an opportunity to think outside the box and make the screen come alive. After all, this is the portal of communication — why not make it as appealing as possible? As teachers we have the creative freedom to gather our own materials based on our department’s course objectives. I pour a tremendous amount of time into course design and am constantly trying new ways to engage students in an online environment.