This blog post is part of a series to help you build an online course quickly. It is for people who are preparing to launch their third trimester in course that they thought would be F2F but will begin instead as an online course, those looking ahead to intensive May terms, and those who had planned to teach in person in the summer or fall but now find their F2F classes will be online. To follow along, begin by framing your course, selecting your materials, and choosing your assignments. We now shift to writing the policies for your syllabus? Why–given that writing your assignments is actually more important? Because, in a worst-case scenario, you can start a course without the assignments written, but you need to have your syllabus available to students BEFORE the first day of class so they see if it’s a good fit for them.
Below I’ve included the policy I include for classroom interactions and recording. Feel free to use them word-for-word if they are helpful.
Classroom interactions: As college students, your communication with others in this class should be professional and polite. Even when we disagree strongly, we will focus on the content of arguments, not evaluations of other people’s character. We will use language that is respectful, “play devil’s advocate,” engage in “sea lioning” (insisting that others provide academic evidence for their argument when we ourselves have access to it), or repeat our points after we have made them. To encourage respectful interaction, students are unable to revise or delete their comments on discussion board, so think carefully before you post. For this reason, I encourage you to read the discussion board assignment early in the unit, think about it for a few days, and then return to write and revise your answer before you post.
More guidelines about posting etiquette are on the discussion board assignment; you are obligated to adhere to them. Students who do not may be prevented from further posting and will instead complete an alternative assignment.
If you see something inappropriate on discussion board, please tell me. I’m not able to monitor posts as they arrive, so I rely on students to alert me if a post violates our classroom standards.
Recording class content: It is a violation of copyright law and may be a violation of FERPA (if you include student-related content) to share recordings or images produced in this or any other class without explicit permission from the instructor. Students in violation of this will be charged with an academic misconduct violation [hyperlink to handbook]. While I encourage you to discuss what you are learning in this class with friends and family members, you may not share recorded lectures, notes that I have written, or other content I have created without my written permission, and you may NEVER share comments or other content written by your classmates. This is a violation of the trust in our classroom as well as copyright law.
Above, a scene of street fighting and chaos. The Spy, Episode of the Siege of Paris of 1871 by Jean Baptiste Carpeaux. Disrespectful interactions and spying violate classroom norms–and maybe copyright laws and FERPA.