Online with
Louise Ripley

 
Teaching Policies
Communicating
For all courses taught by M Louise Ripley

 

Teaching Policies

Ground Rules

Communicating

Grades

Tests

Warranty

FAQ

Access to Computers
If you do not own a computer capable of handling an online course, you can still take an online course by using computers available to you on campus as a York student, or publicly: 
There are on-campus computing facilities available at the Computing Commons in Parking Structure ll. The Computing Commons is open 24 hours a day - 7 days a week. There are no speakers at these open labs; students have to bring their own earphones.
For more information about on-campus computing visit York University's Computing and Network Services Website. If you have any technical non-course related computing questions you may contact York University's Client Support Services by phone (416) 736-5800, by email helpdesk@yorku.ca or you may obtain assistance in person at Room 101, Computing Commons, Parking Structure ll.
Public Computing Options: Internet cafes, public libraries and other facilities (for example kiosk stations) are open to the public provide alternatives for access.

email 

When I'm emailing You
You must have and access a York University student (or employee) email account to participate in an Internet course. I will not support your not accessing this account as acceptable grounds for any appeal. If you have private email, you may have the YU account forwarded there, but you must have access to your YU account. Even in on-campus courses, it is to your advantage to get connected. I can readily access the list of YU accounts of students in classes I teach, and I often send out reminders of such things as test dates and papers due and notice that marks have been posted. I cannot do this for private email accounts. Activate your YU account; you're entitled to one; you've paid for it. 

If you have sent me an email and you've not heard back in more than 12 hours, check whether the problem is with your server; I rarely take very long to answer email and if you haven't heard back from me there is probably a reason. Check that you are registered for my course (i.e.: you are writing to the right professor), check that you have told me what course you are in and who you are (I'm usually teaching more than one course and I don't always have time to go hunt you down if you don't identify yourself).

As much as possible, I try to avoid the use of computer jargon, acronyms, and emoticons, but I do use one -- the sideways smiley face with glasses  8-)   to try to soften a comment or indicate that it's a joke, although I'm careful about humour on email; it can backfire easily. 

When You're emailing Me

Tell Me Your Name 
This should be obvious but apparently it's not from the volume of email I get saying "Hi, I'm your student" when I have literally hundreds of you in different courses. Write your name in the body of the email at the end of your message (or get your computer to do a signature file) 
Tell Me What Class You're In
In the subject line of your message and in the body of your message, put the number or name of the course you are taking with me (3120Q, 2200Q, 3210A).
Tell Me What You're Talking About
Put something meaningful in the subject line (e.g.: "Please explain Hunt's Dichotomies", not just "Hi."

Getting your name on emails you send (this set of instructions comes from a student in one of my Internet courses; mine is set up automatically at York so I cannot personally verify how this works)

In your email system on your computer: 
1. Click 'Options'.
2. Go under 'Your Information' and click on 'Personal Information'.
3. Click on 'Edit your identities'.
4. From here you may edit an existing identity or create a new one. I suggest editing your 'Default Identity'.
5. First choose if you wish to have your name on ALL outgoing emails (much easier) or just on SOME.
6. If you wish to have your name on ALL outgoing emails then choose 'Default Identity' from the menu 'Your Identities'. Fill in the following address. I advise you against changing 'Your Reply-to: address:".
7. If you wish to have your name on SOME outgoing emails then create a new Identity. Do not choose anything from the 'Your Identities' menu. Fill in the rest.

The assumption here is that you have never created another identity, 
therefore you have no secondary identities (anything but the default) to edit.

8. Once you have completed steps 6. and/or 7., Click on the 'Change' or 'Create' button. Whichever is available to you.
9. If you have chosen to only have your name on SOME outgoing emails then when you click on 'Compose' or 'Reply' before you send the email you will have to change your 'Identity' field to the identity you created simply by selecting it on the pull down menu.
10. If you would like to check that your identity was properly created you may send yourself a message.

Not Contacting Me
While I maintain there is no such thing as a stupid question, for many matters there are people you should contact instead of me who can answer your questions better than I: 

lshelp@yorku.ca for technical problems

One technical hint -- for any trouble on any page, first try the "refresh" or "reload" button or Control F5. Also try resetting your browser: clear your temporary internet files (Netscape calls it "cache") and reduce the number of days you keep pages in "history." 

For problems with your YorkU email account: helpdesk@yorku.ca  
For help with PC's: Help with PC's or: PCGuide
For Help with Internet Basics
For administrative problems akadms@yorku.ca or your home faculty
For Help Setting up email Accounts
friends in the class or group members - for questions that are clearly answered in the course kit but you haven't read it. For Internet courses, try writing someone you've "met" in the Discussion Group

Don't write me about technical or administrative problems because I won't know

who gets you a MAYA account
why your name isn't on the registration list
who programmed the York library system
when the Admin Studies office can see you
where the "ANY" key is

Don't write to ask me something that you can easily look up in the index. There are hundreds of you and only one of me. I recognize that you are stressed and busy and nervous about course requirements, but it simply is not a good use of my limited time to answer questions like, "when is the assignment due?" when your course syllabus tells you that. Save for me the academic and course-related questions that you still have after first looking carefully in the course materials and reading the text; then in your email, tell me what steps you have already taken to find it out. Don't write and say, "Please explain Hunt's Three Dichotomies Model." Write instead and say something like, "I've read the section on Hunt in the Introductory Learning Unit and I'm still not sure why Hunt calls that a dichotomy."

Don't write me for clarification on assignment instructions unless something is so clearly impossible that you believe it to be a typing error on my part. I give you a lot of direction, but beyond that, you are university students and part of your learning task is figuring out how to do it. If I have not told you how to do it, it just may be that it is part of your job to figure out how to do it. Read your course kit instructions; read your textbook; talk to your fellow students.

Do NOT write me privately to ask, "Will you have questions about Shelby Hunt on the test?" I do not provide private hints and suggestions about assignments and tests to individual students; there's just no way it could be fair for me to do this only for some students, and yet I am constantly amazed at the number of students who ask for this privilege (98% of them are male, interestingly). If you have a question about the assignment or a test, ask me publicly. This applies to in-class questions and to the online Discussion Group. If you write me privately with a question that I think might benefit the class, I will post my answer publicly along with your question. This is the equivalent of an in-class situation where you ask me at break about Hunt and I say, "That's a great question, could you ask it when we all get back in class?" 

Don't write me on my private email unless you really need to "talk" to me privately. This might include things like explaining about a conflict with a due date, or just writing to tell me something that you wouldn't want to say publicly, just as you might stop after class to talk with me about something. I am busy, yes, but I'm never too busy to chat with a student, in the office or on the email. Just don't try to use me as your personal guide through the course; there are literally hundreds of you and only one of me. 

Don't write me without telling me who you are and what course you are taking with me. Often I simply cannot answer your question if I do not know who you are. 

Don't send me email with an attachment and nothing in the body of the message. Anti-virus protection recommends never opening an unsolicited attachment. I just hit delete. If you have something to say to me, say it in the body of the email. If you are sending an attachment as requested in a course, tell me in the body of the email what you are sending. 

Don't send me ANY cute pictures of kittens, pleas for contributions to funds for starving children and disaster relief, human rights petitions, inspirational religious messages, or jokes. My email is a crucial part of my teaching tools and there's just not enough time in the day to also handle what really is junk mail.  

Don't Phone, Use email -- Reach me by email rather than telephone because I don't answer or respond to my office telephone. I have a learning peculiarity which makes the phone difficult for me. Never leave an important message on the phone mail-box and later claim you "told me" because my phone message specifically tells you to email me instead. 

Discussion Group
In an Internet course, the Discussion Group replaces a number of things, including in-class discussion, announcements from the professor, test and exam review, questions about the course that would normally be brought up in the classroom or in office hours.

As the professor, and in accordance with my teaching philosophy, I also am an active participant in the Discussion Group. I do not just check weekly to see how many times you have posted a comment. I'm there right from the beginning to guide you through the Waving Hand Exercises (named for the waving graphic that accompanies each exercise and which relates to the concept of the raised hand in a traditional classroom), to answer your questions, and to help you understand if you are headed in a wrong direction.

A major purpose of the Discussion Group is to give you a chance to talk about what you are learning in the course in terms of your own personal experience in the field. For example, in Introductory Marketing, one Waving Hand exercise asks you to go to a coffee shop and sit and observe in terms of Peter Drucker's Five Questions for Marketing; the unit on Networking in the Gender Issues course asks you to go out and have coffee with someone you've been wanting to meet to talk about your career. In both courses, you then will write about your experience and post it to the Discussion Group. Since some of the course assignments require you to write about what you learned about the subject matter by engaging in the discussion, you should start participating in the Discussion Group early, post your answers to the Waving Hand Exercises and answer the postings of other students. Keep up with it, and get yourself engaged in exchanges with other students. Some assignments may ask you to recount exchanges you were involved in, and if you weren't involved in any, you will not have anything to write. Read postings from other students and write back specifically to that message (this is known as "feeding your thread"). It is your responsibility to get yourself engaged in this part of the learning process. Questions from the Waving Hand Exercises and the Discussion Group often show up on tests as well. Your  contribution mark or your mark on assignments that require the use of the Discussion Group also depend to some extent on your participation in the discussion, as evidenced by my records of your number of postings. 

I also use the Discussion Group to send such things as reminders of due dates, notice of when marks are posted, notes about upcoming lectures or guest speakers in on-campus courses, and to review for tests and exams. For this reason you must access your account regularly.

Here is a testimonial from a recent student in an Internet course about the value of participating in the Discussion Group. While working full time and raising children, the author of this quote also managed to earn a mark of A in the course:

Now that I have finished this course, I would like to offer some wisdom and encouragement for success in this course to future fellow students. Please participate in the discussion forum. It will not only contribute to higher grades in the assignments, but it will also assist you in remembering the course material for the exam. If you make a conscientious effort to regularly post Waving Hand Exercise responses to the discussion forum, you will find that this application of theory will improve your ability to laterally exchange this theory in different marketing situations. Posting replies to your fellow students will also generate interesting viewpoints for discussion and will enhance your learning of the material. Participation is the key to success.  Good luck to all of you. I hope you will enjoy this course as much as I did. 
--TY

And another:

It is one thing to sit and study terms and theories from my textbook, but it is a totally different experience to actually discuss what a certain term or theory is, and how it is used in the world of marketing. Through this assignment, I have come to appreciate [the Discussion Group] greatly because I realized the advantages and benefits of having other students and my professor to discuss the course material with, for a greater understanding. I am finding that I am more active in discussions during the second half of the course than in the first half. By reading everyone else's different viewpoints and responses on one single issue, everyone has more understanding of the topic, and can expand their thinking. This type of discussion gives me a little taste of what kind of marketers I will probably be competing with or working with in the future.

I don't use Learning Space or Quick Space because they regularly crash on me and are otherwise too frustrating, so there is no chat room for any of the courses I teach. You are free to set up chat rooms on your own with such facilities as MSN, but the only Discussion Group for which you receive any credit for participation is the official full-class Discussion Group.

Netiquette
As in any society, there are rules that govern behaviour on the "net": the Internet and its web pages. Many of these rules are just the same as in any other society and can be summed up in the rule found in most all religions and societies. The Judeo/Christian version is called the Golden Rule:

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You

For courses I teach, they also include the Rules of Behaviour as laid out in the Ground Rules Policy Pages of my Course Kits.

In addition there are many rules that pertain to things that are specific to the Internet, therefore the term "netiquette."

Some Basic Rules of  Discussion Group Participation and Postings

Virus - Get Protection!
Don't do ANYTHING on the internet or email before installing an ant-virus programme on your computer. You would not have unprotected intimate communication; don't expect your computer to. Try Norton Utilities or Mcafee. 
Identify Yourself 
If your yu account is still set up with only numbers (i.e.: you haven't changed your "handle"), be sure to put your name somewhere in your posting, either at the top or at the bottom. Otherwise we can't tell who you are and we can't write back to you using your name, which is one of the best ways to begin to feel at home in the course - when people are addressing you by your own name.
Identify Your Message
Put the name and number of the Exercise you are responding to in the Subject box.
Inverted Pyramid - New and Important Stuff First
Put your own message at the top of a response, and say in the first 2-3 lines what you really want to say. Many people read only the first lines of messages so get your point across quickly. Put the material to which you are responding at the end of your message. 
Behave yourself! Always, always, always remain polite. All messages are logged and kept in a record, so think before you write anything you would not say in front of your mother or your Great Aunt Augusta. Rules About Behaving in Class also apply to Internet classes.

Be aware that if you write electronic communication to me that is in any way threatening or harassing, I will forward your communication to my Director, Dean, and/or Union; no subsequent claim to privacy of communication between us will be held as valid in such cases. I receive very few of these kinds of communications, but when I do, I deal with it quickly by calling in the authorities. 

Nothing is "Private" or Confidential on the Web
Recognize that there is almost no such thing as "privacy" in the world of the web. When sending email, assume that anyone anywhere may read it, because email is easy to hack into. While the Discussion Group is supposed to be a closed system, open only to those enrolled in the course, it travels through the Internet and so, although it is unlikely, it is possible that someone from outside might be able to read what you write. My advice is to never write anything that you would not want the world to read. This is actually true eventually of all writing. In doing research for my novel, I was reading personal letters from an American Civil War general to his wife, critical of his commanding General from 130 years ago, that I am certain he never intended anyone else to read.  

Don't be left with egg on your face. Remember that when you write to the Discussion Group it goes to EVERYONE in the class. Don't write things that you don't want the rest of the class to see. Smarmy comments about lazy-good-for-nothing work-shirking group members come to mind....
Short & On Topic
Write short clear messages that are polite, reflective, and focused. Don't ramble on; people have lots of messages to get through. Reflective means you take some time and think about what you're going to say. This isn't the place to share your innermost secrets; hundreds of people are reading. It's an academic forum, not group therapy. But don't go too far the other way; one of the great things about Internet communication is that we seem to be able to share in ways we often can't in person. 
Refer to Past Messages
State clearly what you are responding to. If someone writes to ask when I will be posting grades, I try not to answer, "soon" but rather to write, "I'll be posting grades as soon as I've finished marking." That way the reader can quickly know what I'm talking about instead of having to scroll on down the page to find out what "soon" refers to.
Keep Discussion Relevant to the Course
Write only things that are relevant to the course; this is not a place to find out if someone else is taking your Accounting course, knows a good Fusion Cuisine restaurant, or is dating your sister; there are many people receiving these messages and they must be course-related. But again, we allow a little leeway here because often interesting threads do develop out of a purely course-related discussion which are valuable to your ultimate lifetime learning, not just to the specific course. Because this kind of discussion is so valuable,
I have provided a topic called "General Course Questions and Comments" specifically so that you will have a place to talk about issues not always directly related to the course.
Use Your Special Group Discussion Areas for Group Correspondence
In courses with group work, you are set up with a special Discussion Group Area just for your Project Group which you should use to communicate with each other. You may also choose to use email or MSN; the Discussion Group Counts are programmed to account for this.
Don't Send Unsolicited Attachments
There's a higher potential risk of viruses in attachments and many people, I among them, just don't open them. Unless specifically instructed to (e.g.: sending an assignment) don't send attachments. Especially do not send "cute" or "funny" attachments; they are often virus-ridden and even if they're clean, they take a lot of time to download. Don't send ANYTHING to do with lovely generous selfless offers aimed at collecting money for orphaned orangutans or widowed watchmakers; 99% of the time they are hoaxes. 
Don't Post Entire Articles
Posting to the web is considered publishing, and by the laws of copyright you cannot post an entire article on the web. If you find something that is relevant to a course you are taking, you may post a summary of it, or a few quotes from it, or a link to the article if it is on the web, but you may not post the entire article. 
Ask For Others Too 
When you ask your question, there are probably 17 other people out there wondering the same thing. By asking it  publicly, you do two things: you enable me to save valuable teaching time in answering only once publicly, AND you make 17 people feel not so bad that they didn't know. Don't be ashamed to ask a question; I think more highly of students who ask than of those who sit silently, pretending they know when they don't. 

I have adopted the following set of rules from courses taught by my friend and colleague Dian Zorn, as I find them helpful in establishing a good atmosphere for internet learning:

Code of Conduct

By using the interactive areas of this site, you agree that you will not post any of the following material in chat rooms or other forums:

 

  Any communication that is intended to harass, belittle, humiliate, threaten or cause embarrassment to a fellow student.

  Material that contains vulgar, obscene or indecent language or images.

  Material that defames, abuses or threatens others.

  Statements that are bigoted, hateful or racially offensive.

  Material that advocates illegal activity or discusses illegal activities with the intent to commit them.

  Unauthorized copyrighted material.

  Advertising or any form of commercial solicitation.

  Material that impedes or otherwise prohibits communication; disrupts the discussion. 

Communicating in a chat room or on message boards is different from face-to-face communication. Only the words are seen, not your facial expressions or tone of voice. Please pay careful attention to how you use your words.

Remember that the words you enter in a burst of passion or indignant anger will be there for you and everyone else to see, sometimes long after those intense feelings have passed. That's not meant to discourage spontaneity, but just a friendly reminder of the long-term existence and effects of what you post.

You may, from time to time, find yourself in disagreement with someone else's opinion. At times like these, please keep in mind it's safer and more polite to take issue with the comments rather than the person.

Statements or postings that violate the above terms will be deleted from postings upon discovery. While we may attempt to notify you if we move or delete a post, we are under no obligation to do so. Depending on the nature of the violation, the Course Director at the discretion of the Deanís office may terminate a studentís access to the website.

 

York University, Toronto
© M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.