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Learning Web 2.0

My students are not as tech-savvy as I assumed. No only are they not on the bleeding edge of technology, they suffer from the standard inattention that all students have.

Online courses aren't as forgiving as "traditional" courses, which means the normal problems students have become more serious. For example, not reading an assignment calendar in a "physical" classroom can result in a late paper, but the student generally has several ways to at least get partial credit. Online, my course accepts late papers for two days... and that's it. Done. The paper is no longer merely late -- it is a zero.

In a traditional class, my reminders would be verbal. Online, they are "announcements" that most students don't seem to read. Reminding students to check the calendar doesn't seem to take hold. Assignments are missed anyway.

The online system requires Java for some features. When a student was having problems uploading files, she waited to tell me until after the assignment was late. If students worked ahead (I can dream), then this problem would have been solved in advance. But, most students procrastinate. Online, if something goes wrong, that's a much bigger problem.

I have done what I can to help students be more aware of how the system works, what the deadlines are, and where to locate supplemental materials. As my wife reminds me, there is only so much I can do.

No wonder students struggle online — you do need more initiative and discipline. It's a tough lesson for some students. We'll have to see how the zero grades influence the class.


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