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General Questions about the Class:

General Class Q&A


How do I email the professor?

The best way to reach me is by email. To email Prof. Keely:

TO: skeely@clark.edu
FROM: your Clark Student Email address (your @students.clark.edu only!)
SUBJECT LINE: be descriptive and include the course number (e.g. "Math 100 - quiz 3").
BODY OF MESSAGE: include your full name
I teach several online classes and can get hundreds of emails a day. Abiding by the format above will assist me in locating your records and assure you a quick response. I don't want to miss a single one of your important messages!

Always use your Clark Student Email when emailing your professors. (See FAQs - Clark Student Email.) Note that I will only reply to your Clark Student Email and to no other email address.

Guidelines for Writing an E-mail to a Professor is a useful blog post especially if you are new to email communications in an academic setting.

What are the professor's office hours?

See contact Prof. Keely for contact information, class schedule, and office hour times. I am generally available to meet online during online office hours or on-campus during campus office hours and I may also have hours scheduled in Math Help Center (an on-campus drop-in center for math help).

Online office hours are held in Twiddla, a live chat room with white board. It is free, easily accessible from any browser (on a computer or mobile device), and does not require an account. Schedule and link to room at web.clark.edu/skeely.

If you can't meet during a scheduled office hour or if it is summer term (when I teach as an adjunct thus not contracted to hold office hours) I may be able to meet for a real-time online chat. Email me to arrange an appointment time.

When is the professor online/offline? When can I expect a reply?

I am active in online classrooms and on the discussion boards 80+ hours a week. I keep the class informed of any schedule abnormalities through class announcements via Twitter.

EMAIL: I check email continually throughout the day (and often night) 6 days a week. I will reply to (properly sent, see above) email usually within a few hours, certainly within 24 hours. I do not check email on Sunday.

DISCUSSION BOARDS: I am on the discussion boards at least once (usually 2-3 times) a day 5+ days a week. I try to take Sunday and Wednesday off the boards.

I typically post mini-lectures and examples to the boards by Monday morning and again by Wednesday morning each week. I read every discussion board post within 48 hours, but do not respond to every one. When feasible I try to give other students time to respond before I weigh in.

Starting in week 3 (by which time students should be taking a more proactive role in class) there may be discussion board threads to which I do not respond at all unless they contain a specific question or glaring error. Also, I may never add comment to messages posted at the end of the week (i.e. on Saturday).

OFFICE HOURS: I hold office hours online in a live chat room that has a whiteboard. It is free, easily accessible from any browser (on a computer or mobile device), and does not require an account. Schedule and link to room at web.clark.edu/skeely.


To what time zone do the deadlines refer?

All deadline due times are Pacific time.

What time is meant by a midnight deadline?

A "midnight" deadline means 11:59 pm that evening. For example, "due by midnight Friday" means "due by 11:59 pm Friday evening". (I know technically this is imprecise, but I'm adopting the colloquial use of "midnight" here.)

What day of the week is the end of the week?

When grading class participation a "day" is from 12:00 am to 11:59 pm and a "week" is from 12:00 am Sunday morning to 11:59 am on the following Saturday afternoon. Note the "dead zone" below.

What is the "dead zone" and how does it affect CPRs?

The 12-hour period from noon to midnight Saturday (12:00 pm to 11:59 pm) is considered a "dead zone" in that messages posted to the discussion boards during this period are NOT eligible for class participation (CPR) points, attendance, or online presence. This time is used by the professor to double-check and record class participation points for the week and update the gradebook.

What happens if I have technical difficulties and miss a deadline?

Late work earns zero credit!  Tests, CPRs, DQs, etc. cannot be made up even in the event of technical difficulties. So, don't procrastinate just in case! If any class web goes down for a significant length of time, I might extend deadlines, and if so, will inform you via private email, but that is extremely rare.

Also see What happens if I get locked out of the quiz?


Where is the Class Calendar?

Your online classroom (in your CMS) is organized into weekly units or "blocks" as shown below. Click the "Study Unit #" to go to the Class Calendar for that unit's material.

What are the "Lesson Notes"?

I have Lesson Notes for each topic in the course linked from the class calendar. These notes contain a brief overview of the topic, objectives that serve as a checklist so that you know all that you should learn before the quiz, some important terminology, and sometimes some supplemental resources or readings. They help to guide you a bit through the topic of the day. If you don't want to read them you don't have to but they are there just in case.

BTW, the lesson notes have generic numbers. They are not necessarily the same number as the section in the e-text. They are topic based and intended to be independent of any specific textbook.

What exactly is the homework in this class?

This class has NO graded homework assignments or traditional homework. Instead points are earned from class participation (CPRs on the weekly discussion board), quizzes, and exams (see Math Online Syllabus - Points Chart).

However, success in mathematics requires regular practice, so you should work daily practice problems. I recommend that in each section you work the tutorial exercises suggested in your MyMathLab Study Plan until you achieve "mastery". Take advantage of the self-help features such as "show me an example" and "help me solve this". But these exercises have no due dates, are not graded, and do not earn points (directly). See What is the "Study Plan" in MyMathLab?

The time you invest in regularly practicing problems will pay off on the tests which have the same type of questions written in the same format. You are all adults with complicated schedules (the last thing you need is "busy work"). You know that in order to succeed in a math class you have to find the time to actually work math problems on a regular basis and I'm not going to "force" you to do that. Whether you do or not will be evident on the quizzes!

Tell me about the worksheets. Do I have to do them?

Worksheets with (sometimes challenging!) practice problems may be made available approximately once per chapter (linked from the class calendar). The worksheets are optional practice problems that can be discussed freely in the "worksheet thread" on the discussion board (and thus provide opportunities for mathematically substantive CPR points).

The worksheets won't open.

The worksheets are in PDF format. See My computer won't open the link to a PDF file for help.

If you get a "file not found" error then the worksheet likely is not available yet or no longer available. W
orksheets will likely only be available for a few days in order to encourage their being discussed mid-week.

Are there any extra credit points available?

No. Students are expected to complete the content as required by the course curriculum and syllabus. It is considered a higher-ed “best practice” to grade all students in the course on the same assessments uniformly. Therefore, I do not offer nor accept formal extra credit assignments. Be consistent in your work throughout the course, earn the points available, and you won't need extra credit :)

What do A,B,C letter grades really mean?

A = Clearly stands out as excellent performance. Accomplishes far more than the minimum requirements. Has unusually sharp insight into material and initiates thoughtful questions. Integrates ideas previously learned from this and other disciplines. Anticipates next steps in progression of ideas. Rarely makes any mistakes. “A” work is of such a distinguished caliber that it could be put on reserve for all students to review and emulate.

B = Grasps subject matter at a level considered to be very good. Accomplishes more than the minimum requirements. Is an active listener and participant in class discussion. Articulates subject matter well both verbally and in written form. "B" work indicates a high quality of performance and consistently solid work. Earning a "B" should be considered a high grade.

C = Demonstrates a satisfactory comprehension of the subject matter. Accomplishes the minimum course requirements and objectives. Communicates the subject matter at an acceptable level for a college student. Has a generally adequate understanding of all basic concepts. "C" work represents average work and is the most common grade earned.

What is the difference between "attendance", "online presence", and "participation"?

Attendance in class means logging into your CMS class and reading the discussion board postings. You must do this at least 3 days per week to avoid grade penalties. Online presence means making your presence known to the class by posting messages on the main classroom discussion board regularly. See Math Online Syllabus - Attendance and Online Presence Policies for details.

Participation is a graded component. It involves making specific contributions to the class discussions (see CPRs in next question) every week.

Whereas you are penalized for neglecting attendance and online presence, you are rewarded for regular class participation which earns you points :)

What are the class participation requirements (CPR) and what does substantive participation mean?

Class Participation is a major part of your overall grade. The success of this course is reliant on the interactivity on the weekly discussion boards. Much of the learning in our online classroom occurs through discussions on these board. For full participation points you must actively participate on the discussion board throughout the week. Please refer to the Math Online Syllabus - Participation for details regarding the class participation requirements (CPRs).

A "substantive" message is one that is relevant to the class and significantly advances the discussion. For a more detailed definition of substantive and one of "mathematically substantive" please refer to the Math Online Syllabus - Substantive.

Can you provide suggestions for substantive messages? Examples of messages that are NOT substantive?

Suggestions for substantive messages: Typical substantive discussions ensue around the class readings, LQs, posers, worksheets, text problems, and real-life applications of course material. Some specific suggestions: If a classmate posts asking for assistance with a problem, post back the correct steps with explanation. If someone posts a solution for which you can provide an alternative approach, share your ideas. If there is a problem that didn't work out for you, then post the steps you took and ask for help on the rest of the problem. If you found a problem challenging but eventually figured it out, then share your steps and thought process. If you found something in the readings particularly pertinent, then reiterate it in your own words -- others may have missed it or did not interpret it as you did and would benefit from hearing your perspective.

You may find my document Discussion Board Posts in an eLearning Mathematics Class: Examples and Tips for Success helpful. It shows specific student posts and what made them substantive or not.

Examples of messages that are NOT substantive: Messages that are basically showing support (including study, testing, or math anxiety tips) but do not contain mathematical content. Messages that essentially duplicate a previously posted comment/solution. Messages that basically say "I agree", "Me too", or "Thanks", or those that ask "How do you do #15?" without including the steps you have tried so far. Posting to a thread for which it is clear that you have not read all the previously posted messages in that thread. Routinely posting all on one or two days without interacting throughout the week. Posting for what appears to be just for the sake of making points (e.g. routinely posting problems in the last few hours of the week). Starting a thread and then not following-up on any questions in reply to your post. Lastly, logistic (e.g., Where is the assignment?), technical (e.g., How do I download ...), or social messages (e.g., Happy Birthday!).

How are posts categorized as substantive or not?

Labeling a message as "substantive", "mathematically substantive, or otherwise is solely at my discretion. As I read the weekly discussion board posts I record in my gradebook a code:
-- S for substantive (a message that advances the thread significantly),
-- M for mathematically substantive (showing complete accurate mathematical steps),
-- R for regular (supportive messages, thank-you's, other miscellaneous posts),
-- X for posts that do not count toward CPRs
-- ^ for relevant direct reply to another student in a thread/subthread you did not start

I'm looking for two S's, one M, one R, and one ^ from each student each week for full CPR points (assuming you posted on 3+ days). Posts are marked (S, M, R, ...) as I read them and CPR scores posted at the end of the week per FAQs - Grades & Gradebook.

Can I reply to an existing thread or do I have to start my own?

CPR points can be earned by posts that are replies to a post/thread made by the professor, replies to a post/thread made by another student, or in thread that you yourself start. The idea is to simply have a conversation about mathematics problems just as you would in a group discussion in an on-campus mathematics class.

Why does this class require participation on the discussion boards?

As in a my on-campus classes which involve daily group work, my online classes are designed on a collaborative learning model with the discussion boards at its heart. For the class to be successful every member should read and contribute to the discussions at least every other day. This is your class and it is you that can make it all that it can be. Your online learning community needs regular feeding ;-}

Discussing mathematics on the boards enhances your critical thinking skills, a major goal of the College's quantitative requirement and in my professional experience the most beneficial aspect of the online learning environment. Explaining a problem to a classmate is a good way to clarify the problem solving process in your own head.

Employers ask college faculty to provide opportunities to solve quantitative problems collaboratively to prepare students for a changing work environment where team work and shared workload are major components. Employers find those graduates who attain these skills to be better critical thinkers and problem solvers even when the job is non-math related. The discussion board component of this online class allows you to practice those skills in a supportive team environment.

This class is designed to Quality Matters standards and adheres to best practices for online STEM courses which include a strong asynchronous discussion component.

I have nothing substantive to add. What should I post to earn participation points?

The discussion board is a collaborative-learning forum where we discuss mathematics together interactively. It is like being in a learning team or study group in an on-campus math class where students and instructor have supportive relevant discussions about mathematical concepts, processes, and problems. Just as your comments in a face-to-face group would significantly add to the discussion, so should your posts online. Just as during a face-to-face conversation you would be thinking about what you might say to add to the discussion, do the same as you read the main board threads. I trust that you do have something relevant to add. For motivation see Why does this class require participation?

For examples of substantive/unsubstantive posts see Can you provide suggestions for substantive messages? Can you provide examples of messages that are NOT substantive?

The bottom line: It is your choice to post or not, to earn the full participation points each week or not. But the effect of not substantively posting regularly hurts the class collaborative learning experience and your grade in the long run. Why not make the most of this opportunity? You can do it! This class is only as successful as you make it!

What are the minimum number/type of posts I must make to earn full participation points?

Making the full class participation points each week is not hard and the level of activity required not only will help you be more involved in the class but will increase the level of collaborative learning which is the key to a successful online class!

The minimum expected of you is to post 4 messages to the week's discussion board over 3 days per the Class Participation Requirements (CPRs). Here is an example that would earn the full points:

  • Sunday post a substantive message (perhaps a content-relevant comment about the material coming up that week, or helping a student with a question from last week's quiz).
  • Tuesday post another substantive message (perhaps a relevant reply or a pointed follow-up question to a classmate -- one that advances a thread's discussion, or participate in an LQ) -- AND post an unsubstantive message (e.g., a quick kudos to another student).
  • Thursday post a mathematically substantive message (one where you show the complete accurate mathematical steps to a problem -- perhaps the solution to a worksheet problem, helping a classmate with a textbook problem, providing an alternative solution method, or the first few steps of a problem on which you yourself are stuck).

Viola, that would fulfill your requirement for the full 10 points! Even replacing one of these substantive messages with a quick "thanks" or "good job" could earn close to full points. Also see Can you provide suggestions for substantive messages? Can you provide examples of messages that are NOT substantive? How can I see just my posts to check how many I have made this week?

Can I just post some worked-out problems? Is that mathematically substantive?

Just posting worked-out problems is not likely to be relevant to the class, thus not substantive. (In fact a slew of them starts to seem annoyingly like "busy work".) We can all already see worked out problems in the e-text.

The goal of the discussion boards is to interact with the class in a manner similar to a study group. So there are ways to post a worked-out problem that is substantive. Think about how you might discuss problems collaboratively in a study group.

For instance, perhaps there was a practice problem you worked that you struggled with and eventually worked out and you can share your thinking (e.g. what tripped you up, how did you get over the stumbling block, a tip for avoiding it in the first place). Or share a creative solution method as an alternative to the traditional approach taken in the textbook. Or share your thinking of how to approach the problem (even if you at first had a false start but then tried a different attack - why didn't that first way work?). Or perhaps best of all post a related question to the class (not just a math problem but something that is likely to engage the class in discussion). These types of things can be useful to everyone!

What etiquette guidelines must I follow when posting to the class discussion boards?

When posting a message to the class discussion boards use good threaded discussion "netiquette" such as:

- Focus on one subject or problem per message.
- Use appropriate clear subject lines.
- Reply to messages within that thread and start new threads for new topics only.
- Keep purely social conversations on the student lounge board.
- Be professional, courteous, constructive, friendly, and supportive. Think before you hit send!
- Avoid using all caps since it is generally viewed as SHOUTING.
- Use humor carefully. The absence of face-to-face cues can cause statements to be misinterpreted as criticism or flaming.
- Using emoticons such as :) or ;-} may help you express your feelings.
- Flaming (angry, antagonistic criticism) will not be tolerated!!! Let's all treat each other with respect.
- Give credit where credit is due. Cite all quotes, references, and sources.
- Do not include religious or political statements or references in your message including your signature.

[These guidelines were adapted from: Rinaldi, Arlene, "The Net User Guidelines and Netiquette", Florida Atlantic University, 1994.]

Can I "make-up" CPR points?

The discussions that go on in class throughout the week (and earn CPR points) are like discussions in an on-campus class. You can't add comments to a class discussion you missed after the fact, they wouldn't be relevant. So, no, you can't "make-up" CPRs.

What does "HTH" mean and other internet acronyms?

HTH = Hope That Helps. You will see this and other internet acronyms come up sometimes in class postings and emails. A useful site for looking-up internet acronyms with which you are unfamiliar with is acronyms.silmaril.ie/cgi-bin/uncgi/acronyms. Just type in the acronym like HTH and then hit "search for an acronym". acronyms.thefreedictionary.com also has a good list of common acronyms with search engine.


What can I do to avoid plagiarism in postings?

See the "avoiding plagiarism" box on the Clark College Cannell Library web at www.clark.edu/Library/Instruction/citing_sources.html. Be careful to cite all resources. Do not cut-and-paste into a posting from another source. Instead put the information into your own words.

What is the proper way to cite resources (including electronic) in postings?

A nice summary of the correct formats is available from the Clark College Cannell Library at www.clark.edu/Library/Instruction/citing_sources.html. You should follow either MLA or APA style citation formats. The Citation Machine at citationmachine.net/index.php uses a simple web form to help you format MLA or APA style citations.

Is it allowable to cite Wikipedia as a source?

No, not as an exclusive source. Wikipedia.com and other non-academic resources (ask.com, answers.yahoo.com, infoplease.com, etc.) may provide a jumping off place for your research, but you may not rely on these sites exclusively since the authors are anonymous and the information posted does not come under a formal oversight or peer-review process and thus may not be accurate. You are responsible for the accuracy of any facts you present and you should confirm the veracity of information you find on non-academic sources through further research and then include the corroborating site in your research citations.


Will the course materials be available throughout the course or be taken down?

Most of the course materials are available to participating students throughout the term. Exceptions include worksheets, formula sheets, and some handouts which may only be available during the week in which they are listed on the calendar.

The discussion boards will be available throughout the course. However, access to images housed off the Clark server or links to external sites cannot be guaranteed including examples that may appear to be embedded in a DB message but are actually links to external image files.

If I withdraw from the course can I still access the course materials?

No. If you withdraw from or stop attending the course your access to the CMS, MyMathLab, and all other course materials will be discontinued. See also Can I access MML after the class ends?.


Does this online class meet in when Clark College is closed (e.g., holiday, inclement weather closure)?

Yes, when Clark College is closed for a holiday or emergency (due to inclement weather, electrical outage, emergency situation, etc.), the online classes still run as usual and all due dates are maintained (no extensions). An excellent place to get updated emergency/weather closure information is www.pdxinfo.net.

Does this online class meet during Thanksgiving holiday week?

NO! Since this online class meets on two days in fall term when on-campus classes do not (faculty workday in October and Veteran's Day in November) then we can take two days off during Thanksgiving week to compensate. Those two along with the three days that on-campus classes already take off during Thanksgiving week mean we can take the entire week off and still meet the same total number of days that the college requires of all 5-credit classes in fall term. Doing so allows us to maintain consistent quiz deadlines from week to week (so you are less likely to miss a deadline due to an odd schedule).

So, during Thanksgiving week (Sunday through Saturday, see your class calendar for specific dates) this online class will be on a Thanksgiving holiday week during which there will be NO new material, no class requirements, no required participation, no assignments, no tests. You may post to the holiday week board but questions may not be answered in a timely manner (I will be offline most of the week) and posts will not count toward CPRs. Go enjoy your week off with family and friends and maybe do some review for the final exam.