The fully online, 8-week format is intense. However, there are proven and successful programs which run in this format. The key is to prepare, be organized, and focus your learning. To help you do that, we have developed this guide. Please see the following links to determine readiness to learn online:
Commit to a Schedule
An 8-week course is extremely accelerated. You are expected to complete 2 times the amount of contact hours and work that you normally would in a regular semester during this time frame. The best way to complete all the work and stay on top of deadlines is to come up with a schedule for yourself. Commit to logging into the course every weekday and one day over the weekend for at least a half an hour. If you work best in the morning, plan to wake up early and log in before work. If you work best in the afternoon, find a secluded space at work or at a coffee shop to work on your lunch hour. If you work best at night, plan to complete your work after dinner. You may need extra time to complete projects and coursework. This time frame should be set aside like a meeting- it should be unbreakable and it should be completely yours. A firm schedule such as this will be a huge part of your success.
Keep in Contact with your Instructor and Classmates
It is difficult to recover from any missteps in an 8-week online course. Keeping in contact with your instructor will help to keep you informed of your progress. If you are working on a group project, you are required to keep in touch with your teammates. There are plenty of ways to communicate and collaborate online. Always stay in touch and never turn down an offer for help.
Field Experience and Practicum
If you are in the master’s program leading to NYS certification, some of the courses have a dedicated field experience and/or practicum. Since the program is online, you are responsible for cultivating the relationships necessary to successfully complete these requirements. You will see assignments helping you to time manage this in the course, but ultimately, meeting these requirements will fall on the student. Your faculty member will receive the contact information for your host school and teacher from you, you will facilitate any online collaboration via Skype or web conferencing, and will complete any paperwork or assignments associated with the fieldwork or practicum. If you are a local student, and we have partnerships with schools in the area, we may be able to help, but again, the responsibility is ultimately the student’s. There can be no exceptions to this requirement if you are seeking NYS certification. It is strongly suggested that you begin to cultivate these relationships as soon as you decide to apply to the program. Please see the Field Experience and Practicum Handbook for the program for more specific information and requirements.
Our courses are delivered in a learning management system (LMS). At the writing of this document, we are using one called ANGEL, but there are others. They have some elements in common, which will be important to you as a learner.
- Landing Page-This page will have all your courses listed on them. From here, you enter the course you want to work on at that time.
- Course Home Page-Once you enter the course, you will be on the course home page. What is vital here is the area for course announcements. You should check these each time you enter the course.
- Content-You will see a tab, either along the top or side of the page, which offers you the content of the course. You will spend a good deal of time in this area.
- Course Information-This area will hold the syllabus, rubrics, etc. It’s very important you get into this area of the course as early as possible-even the week before the course opens.
- Watering Hole or Lounge-This is a cyber café of sorts. It’s a place where you can share good news with your peers, photos, job news, etc. It’s your space and your instructor may just pop in here once in a while.
- Questions and Answers Discussion Board-This is where you can ask and answer questions from the group. Your instructor will check this often.
- Modules or Weeks-The look and feel of each class very uniform so that you can easily move from one 8-week class to the next, with little time spent on navigation. Your faculty member will personalize the course in some ways but this basic navigation will be uniform. At the writing of this document, our courses are organized by Module. Typically, a module runs for one week. In some cases, you may have modules that run for more than one week. Once inside the Modules, you will see the following:
- Introduction-This is a short introduction to the Module. This may be text, video, or other content.
- Resources- This is where your required and added resources for the Module will be listed.
- Discussions-This is a very important, vital area of the course! Here is where you will demonstrate your learning of the new content. As you will read further on in this document, you will have very defined participation requirement in all courses in this program. There is also a rubric for discussions (in the Course Documents folder).
- Deliverables or Objectives-Here is where you will read the directions for your weekly work, and turn in that work. You may or may not have a Deliverable in each Module.
- Next Steps-This page is a place where your faculty member can give you a “heads up” of upcoming larger projects/papers. For example, in this program you will have to apply new strategies to a live learning situation. Even if you are on summer break, or not currently teaching, you will have to plan and work out a way to work with live students (your own children, neighborhood children, local church group, Cub Scout group, etc.). This area helps you to plan for that.
Our courses are graduate level, accelerated, and fully online. As stated earlier in this document, this takes a particular motivation, self-direction, and work ethic. Along with that, the leadership of this program has outlined very specific expectations for learners, including rubrics for all assignments and discussions. Students should read the sections below carefully:
Participation requirements are clearly stated in the course and must be followed. While they are detailed below, it’s important also to note here that checking your Canisius email daily is imperative while in this program.
- For help synching email to a smart phone-http://www.canisius.edu/students/gmail.asp
While your faculty member will communicate most often via the LMS and the announcements, checking your Canisius email should be a daily practice.
It is expected that students entering this program understand how to avoid plagiarism by citing properly. Canisius College has support in place to help students review how to cite, and faculty are able to help you perfect the technical aspects of citing, but it is the student’s responsibility to avoid plagiarism and to understand what constitutes plagiarism. Please see the links below for added information:
- Academic Integrity- http://www.canisius.edu/integrity/
- Tutorials for Students- http://www.olc.canisiuscampus.net/ed-tech-tutorials/ed-tech-tutorials-for-students
- Netiquette- http://www.olc.canisiuscampus.net/ed-tech-tutorials/ed-tech-tutorials-for-students/Netiquette
It is imperative that you understand how to be a good, respectful online citizen. Review netiquette requirements (step 3) on our Readiness web site (http://www.canisius.edu/readiness). Even though your faculty and peers are not face-to-face, it is expected that you will treat them with the same respect as you would in a traditional classroom. This includes any electronic communication such as discussion postings, chats, blogs, wikis, and email messages. Avoid writing all in capital letters-which is like screaming to the reader. When emailing your professor, make sure you identify yourself and the class which you are taking with them. Do not assume they can recognize you from a non-Canisius email address and use your Canisius email address in all communications.
While you will be using many types of media in this program, you will also turn in basic Word documents. The recommended setup includes:
- Internet access (Broadband is recommended)
- Windows XP/Vista/7 or Mac OSX with virtualization software (like Parallels with Windows OS)
- 2 GB of RAM minimum
- 40 GB of hard drive
- Speakers, headphone, and webcam
- Portable media for storage (thumb drive)
While Canisius does have a help desk and technology support (http://www.canisius.edu/its/help.asp), it is expected that an online student can perform basic technology troubleshooting from their home/office. Students are also expected to meet deadlines for all work and technology “glitches” do not constitute a reason for late work without penalty.
Discussions are an integral part of your online learning, and for that reason, the program defines both quality and quantity requirements.
- Quantity-Students are expected to minimally post three discussions a week. The initial discussion posting is due by Wednesday of the current week. Two more postings are due before the end of the week, on Sunday. Please note that those students seeking an exemplary grade should aim to participate on at least three separate days. In other words, posting on Wednesday, then getting back in only on Sunday to finish participating may not earn you an exemplary grade (see our quality requirements).
- Quality-We hold high standards for participation at the graduate level. Our rubric outlines this clearly. Students must do much more than simply share experiences or post basic “agree” postings. It is expected that students will also back up their opinions and choices for strategies and classroom decisions with high-quality research in full APA format. Minimally, the three mandatory postings should be well-crafted, cited, fully developed, and in proper English.
When turning in a paper, it is expected that you will use an APA paper and title page template. You can locate these online. Even if turning in a lesson plan, please use an APA paper template.
- Naming Convention-Your faculty member may indicate how they want you to name your paper via the Deliverable directions. Generally speaking, you should always begin your file name like this: LastnameFirstinitial_assignment name. This will help you to organize your files, portfolio, etc., and will also help your faculty member to return papers in a timely manner.
- Quality-Our rubric defines quality clearly. Please note that graduate level work in this program, will earn you a B level grade. To earn an exemplary grade, you must go well above and beyond, and aim for the exemplary markers on our rubric. Not everyone can or will do that each week! It is also expected that students will grow in this program, both in content acquisition and application, and in graduate-level thinking and writing. Your faculty members are adept at helping you grow and will not “hand out” A level grades to each person. Again, you must go well above and beyond to earn the exemplary grade.
- Turnitin.com-Your faculty member may ask that you submit your own papers to TII each week. They may also choose to do that for you. Please read the announcements and emails carefully for the faculty member’s policy on this. No paper will be accepted for credit until it is run through TII. If faculty require the student to run their own papers through TII, they will consider the paper late until you do so. The use of TII at Canisius is in the spirit of improving writing, not “policing” students, and it’s in your best interest to use this tool to do so. For example, you may correctly cite throughout your paper, but your TII percentage may be high, due to excessive citing and quoting. While this does not constitute plagiarism, since the paper is properly cited, it may constitute a low-quality paper due to lack of original thinking. Once you see your TII Report, you can revise your paper accordingly.
There is a defined late policy which all faculty members will apply. While Canisius faculty are caring and concerned, it is imperative in a distance program, and an accelerated program format, to have a fair and equitable late policy which is applied consistently. All our students are busy, hard-working, adult students, with complex lives. Therefore, the late policy will be applied to each student fairly and consistently. If a student has an emergency, such as a long-term illness or a family emergency which will keep the student from working in the course for longer than a week, they should contact their advisor immediately and may need to take an incomplete in the course. Other emergencies, such as short-term illnesses, a hectic work schedule, technology glitches, travel for work, etc., will be subject to the late policy. Please note that other situations, such as travel for leisure, family celebrations, holidays, etc, do not constitute a viable reason for late work and it is still expected that you will meet the course expectations or be graded accordingly. If you are subject to this one week, it should not make or break your entire grade for the class. Again, “stuff” happens, but, due to the accelerated nature of the course, it’s in the students’ best interest to move along with the class and not fall more than a couple days behind-even when an emergency arises.
Your faculty and leadership at Canisius care about you. This late policy is put into place for your best interest. Experience tells us that students who get behind in an 8-week online format, often do not recover. It is for this reason that we strongly encourage you to keep up as best as possible, even when facing minor emergencies and difficult weeks. You may have to “take your lumps” on a late assignment one week, but again, it should not make or break your entire grade for the course. Generally speaking, if you are a conscientious student and keep up with your work, when faced with a difficult week and subject to the late policy, you will recover just fine in terms of grades.