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General Qs about Class, Materials, & Class Participation (CPRs):

General Class Q&A

How do I email the professor?

The best way to reach me privately 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 identifying you as a current student, locating your records, and assure you a quick response. I don't want to miss a single one of your important messages! I will only reply to your Clark Student Email and to no other email address.

Always use your Clark Student Email when emailing your professors. (See FAQs - Info about Clark Student Email Accounts.)

As a back up to email you can "message" me through WAMAP, but I do not check messages as often as email so don't use messages if you need immediate attention (eg. requesting a quiz get unlocked).

Keep your academic communications professional and polite. You are expected to treat your classmates, your professor, and all college employees with respect and civility. 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 open office hours?

See Contact Prof. Keely for contact information, class schedule, and open office hour times.

SUMMER term: I do not hold scheduled open office hours. (I teach as an adjunct thus not contracted to hold open office hours, but see * below.)

FALL-WINTER-SPRING terms: I hold regular online open office hours some of which may be conducted from on-campus. See my schedule.

ONLINE open office hours are held in Twiddla, a live chat room with whiteboard. It is free, easily accessible from any browser (on a computer or mobile device), and does not require an account. See schedule and link to my virtual meeting room at contact.sallykeely.com.

(*) If you can't meet during a scheduled open office hour or if it is summer term I can meet for an online live chat by appointment. Email me to arrange an appointment time.

Note too that tutors are available to assist you on-campus in the STEM Help Center and online (eTutoring.org).

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

I am here to help you be successful. While not available 24/7, I am active in online classrooms 60+ hours a week and available via email six days per week. I keep students informed of any schedule updates through Class Announcements via Twitter.

EMAIL: I am available to students via email Monday through Saturday from at least 8 am through 10 pm. I will reply to (properly sent, see above) email usually within a few hours, certainly within 24 hours. I try to not check email on Sunday.

DISCUSSION BOARDS: I am on the discussion boards reading and responding to posts at least a couple times each day Monday through Saturday. I try to take Sunday completely off the boards.

I typically post mini-lectures and examples to the boards by Monday morning and again by Tuesday 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. DQs will be graded (and the thread opened for further conversations) within 48 hours of their due date/time (usually much sooner).

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) so don't procrastinate.

Open office hours: See FAQs - Prof's open office hours.

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 (early) Sunday morning to 11:59 am (before noon) on the following Saturday afternoon. Note the "dead zone" below.

What is the "dead zone"? Can I post during it?

Each week of CPRs has a 12-hour period considered a "dead zone" in that messages posted to the discussion boards during this period are NOT eligible for class participation, attendance, or online presence. (You can post, but the posts won't count for CPR points.) Posts made in the dead zone might not get a reply. This time is used by the professor to double-check and record class participation points for the week and update the gradebook.

The dead zone is on Saturday from noon to midnight (except in the last week of class - see class calendar).

Why do CPRs for the week end at noon?

Fall/Winter/Spring: The primary reason for the noon deadline for CPRs (class participation points) is that when it was set at the same time as the quiz deadline a lot of people posted near that deadline and these posts tended to go unread. They were not contributing to the ongoing conversations, engaging the class as a whole, or helping anyone prepare for the quiz. So I moved that deadline a few hours up to encourage people to post while there was still time for others to respond before the end of the week. I do realize this is not the most convenient time for everyone, but after years of trying various deadlines, the noon time seems to be the best for the collaborative nature of the class as a whole.

Summer term: Everything is compressed in the 8-week term, so this FAQ may not be applicable.

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 class announcement, but that is extremely rare.

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

Does this online class meet 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 runs 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.

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.

If you want direct access to the Class Calendar without having to enter your classroom at that particular moment, every week/unit is linked from my website for your convenience. Go to Math Online Web >> click the CLASS CALENDARS tab >> click the DUE DATES CHART for your course.

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. If you don't want to read them you don't have to but they are there just in case.

Note: The lesson notes have generic numbers which do not (necessarily) match the section number in the e-text. The material matches, but not the number. Lesson notes 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 textbook 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!

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 How can I access MML after the class ends?.

Why isn't there any extra credit points available?

College 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.

Remember that the class has a couple safety nets thrown in to help balance a bad week or two (lowest two quizzes eliminated, freebie CPR week, per syllabus). Be as consistent in your work throughout the course as you can, earn as many of the points available as you can, every point counts evenly, best of luck!

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 two days each 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)?

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. You are expected to actively participate in the discussions throughout the week (FAQ - meaning of "week"). To be eligible for full CPR points for the week you need 4 posts over any 3 days including both DQ and non-DQ threads. More details are Math Online Syllabus - Participation and in the following few FAQs.

What is 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!

Your goal should be to participate in the discussions approximately every other day. Starting in week 2, To be eligible for full CPR points for the week you need 4 posts over any 3 days including both DQ and non-DQ threads
per the Math Online Syllabus - Class Participation Requirements (CPRs).

Here is an example that could earn the full points:

  • Monday post a relevant comment or question in reply to one of the professor's examples/mini-lessons or contribute to an LQ thread. This post should be sufficiently relevant so as to advance the conversation, but does not have to be "substantive" nor meet any specific word count. This would count as a post to a non-DQ thread and earn an "R" tag.

  • Tuesday post a substantive response to the weekly DQ. This would earn an "S" tag. Your original DQ response is the only post during the week that must be substantive and meet the required word count.

  • Thursday post two fairly quick messages anywhere on the discussion board (DQ or non-DQ thread). Neither posts have to be substantive nor meet word count, but both should be relevant and advance the conversation so they would each earn "R" tags. For example: a reply to a classmate, a follow-up question/comment to one of Prof. Keely's posts, a new thread with a content-related question to the class, help a classmate with a question from last week's quiz in the "Quiz # thread".

Viola, that could earn the full 10 points! 4 posts (tagged S, R, R, R), over any 3 days, including posts in both DQ and non-DQ threads.

How are posts tagged as substantive or not (i.e. tagged S, R, or X)?

Tagging a message as "substantive" or not is solely at my discretion. A post gets tagged:

  • "S" for substantive DQ response. See FAQ: "S" tag for details.

  • "R" for a relevant post. Counts toward the "4 posts over any 3 days" requirement for CPRs. See FAQ: "R" tag for description.

  • "X" for posts that do not count at all. See FAQ: "X" tag for examples.

Your goal is to make a total of 4 posts (tagged S, R, R, R), over any 3 days, including posts in both DQ and non-DQ threads.

How do I get an "S" tag? What does "substantive" mean?

"S" stands for "substantive". "S" posts must satisfy all criteria (including word count) listed at Math Online Syllabus - Substantive. Your original DQ response is the only post that must be substantive. It is the only post that must meet word count.

How do I get an "R" tag? What does an "R" tag mean?

"R" stands for "relevant" post. Except for your original response to the weekly DQ thread, pretty much all other posts get "R" tagged. "R" posts do not have to be substantive and do not have to meet word count. "R" posts should however be relevant and advance the conversation. Examples of posts likely to earn "R" tag include: participating in LQ thread, asking a follow-up question in any of the professor's examples or mini-lesson posts, commenting on another student's post, etc.

Replies to other students in DQ threads (once the original DQ is graded and the thread opened up so you can see everyone's responses) can get "R" tagged, but again make sure they are relevant and advance the conversation. Try not to limit yourself to posting only in DQ threads though. The boards have lots of threads for discussion. Stay active in a variety of threads. Your classmates want to hear your ideas and feedback!

So, beyond your substantive response to the DQ, try to make three "R" tagged posts including at least one to a non-DQ thread (ie, any thread except the DQ thread) to round out the week for a total of 4 posts over any three days so you end up with S, R, R, R tags to max your potential CPR points.

PS. "R" tagged posts always get scored "0" points temporarily just until CPR grades get posted at the end of the week. See FAQ - Why is my "R" tagged post scored zero?

My post got an "X" tag. What does that mean?

An "X" tag means that post will not count at all toward CPRs, online presence, nor attendance. Only "S" and "R" tagged posts count toward CPRs.

A post might get an "X" tag if:
- the message basically just says "Thanks", "Got it", "Good job", "I agree", or "Me too",
- the message essentially duplicates a previously posted comment,
- the message is a mostly just a study tip,
- the message contains whining or venting,
- from the message it is clear that you have not read all the previously posted messages in that thread, or
- it appears you are posting just for the sake of making points (e.g. routinely posting only in the last few hours of the week),

Posting just a worked out problem (see next FAQ) is likely to get "X" tagged or asking "How do you do #15?" without including the steps you have tried so far. Lastly, logistic (e.g., Where is the assignment?), technical (e.g., How do I download ...), or social messages (e.g., Happy Birthday!) get "X" tagged.

Can I just post some worked-out problems?

No, not in this class. Posting just a worked-out problem is not conducive to an engaging class discussion and is likely to get "X" tagged. (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.

However, if you have a question about, for instance, a study plan problem you are working on, sure post it so you can get assistance. (Don't post questions from open quizzes though, wait till after their due date/time to post to the "Quiz # thread".)

If you are going to ask about a study plan problem on the discussion board the best way is to start a new thread with a description of the problem in the subject line, e.g. "Section 4.2 finding LCD". State the entire problem and any starting steps you might have taken. Including a screenshot of the original problem is a particularly helpful. If you can describe what you are struggling with or where you are getting tripped-up. These types of things can be useful to everyone and engage the class in collaborative learning.

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?

All of Clark College's mathematics online courses require "at least 1/3 of the grade come from asynchronous discussion so as to enable frequent and ongoing quality communication and collaboration and to insure integrity of the work submitted and grade/degree earned."

As in a my on-campus classes which involve daily group work (active learning), 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.

PS. Even University of Phoenix Online, not well known for quality classes, requires 8 substantive posts over 3 days each week for class participation, so be happy that this class is half that number ;-p

I'm new to discussion forums. How do I contribute to the discussions in a way that builds our learning community?

Watch this short video for suggestions: Tips to help students better utilize online discussion boards.

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 discussion board threads. I trust that you do have something relevant to add. For motivation see Why does this class require participation?

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!

How are DQs graded? What does it take to earn full points?

Discussion Questions (DQs) are worth 4 points each toward CPRs with limited partial credit granted.

  • 4 points earned for responses that answer the discussion question, are properly posted by the deadline, and meet all criteria for substantive posts.

  • 3 points earned for substantive responses that are posted on time but contain an error (e.g. inaccurate statement, notation error, incorrect terminology, etc.) or notable omission.

  • 1 or 2 points earned for substantive responses that are posted on time but contain a major error, multiple errors, or substantial omissions.

  • 0 or 1 points earned for responses that are posted on time but do not meet the minimum word count requirement (per last bullet in criteria for substantive posts).

  • Late posts earn 0 points toward DQs, but are still eligible for CPR credit.
DQs will be graded within 48 hours of their due date/time (usually much sooner) possibly with comment provided in post's private feedback. After grading the thread will open for further conversations.

Can I post DQ responses late for partial credit?

DQ responses posted after the due date/time do not earn DQ credit, but are still eligible for "R" tag credit towards CPRs. Also, you can post a relevant reply to another student's DQ response to earn "R" tag credit toward CPRs for that week.

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 (or didn't attend) after the fact, they wouldn't be interactive nor relevant. So, no, you can't "make-up" CPRs.

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.]

New to online academic discussions? Here are additional Core Rules of Netiquette if you need them.

What does "HTH" mean and other internet acronyms?

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

What can I do to avoid plagiarism (including of images) in postings?

To avoid plagiarism you must cite all sources used in your post including graphics. Do not copy-and-paste into a post from another source. Instead put the information into your own words. See Clark College Cannell Library "Plagiarism and How to Avoid It" for more information. If you share an image in the classroom that you did not create yourself you MUST cite it's URL or original source.

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

A nice summary of the correct formats is available at Clark College Cannell Library "Citing Sources". You should follow either MLA or APA style citation formats. The Citation Machine uses a simple web form to help you format MLA or APA style citations.

Is it acceptable to cite Wikipedia as a source?

No, Wikipedia and other wiki sites are not academically viable and should not be cited as a source. Wikipedia.com and other similar resources (eg. 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 often anonymous and the information posted does not come under a formal oversight or peer-review process and thus may not be accurate. In fact a wiki page can be changed by anyone at any moment, further adding to its unreliability as a source. You are responsible for the accuracy of any facts you present in class 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.