Policies for Online-by-Design Courses: How to Get Help

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 policies that I recommend for directing students to who can best help them with their needs. This is designed to prevent them from asking you questions you can’t answer–which will in turn frustrate them.

How to Get Help: There are different resources for different problems you may encounter.  Be sure to contact the right resource to get help. If you contact the wrong person, this will delay getting your problem solved.

  • For help understanding a concept from the course, contact me via email.
  • If you have a question about an assignment requirement, like a due date, post your question in our Student Lounge, the forum dedicated to students answering each others’ questions, or email a classmate.
  • For technical problems with Blackboard, like not knowing how to upload an assignment, please contact the Blackboard Help desk at XXXXX.
  • For all other technical problems with online systems at the university, like how to access your grades, contact our Tech Help at XXXXX.
  • For help dropping or adding a course, contact your advisor or the registrar’s office at XXXXX.
  • For help locating resources for your research project, contact a research librarian by phone at XXXXX, email at XXXXX, or via chat by going to the library’s website [hyperlink].
  • For help finding a tutor for this class, visit the Academic Success Center’s webpage [hyperlink].
  • To improve your writing, set up an on-campus or remote meeting with a writing tutor from our writing center [hyperlink]
  • For help with food insecurity, visit our campus food pantry at XXXXX.
  • For an appointment with a mental health counselor, call our campus counseling center at XXXX.
  • If you would prefer to text someone regarding mental health, text NAMI to741741.
  • If you need to report child abuse in our community, contact XXXXX.
  • If you would like to talk to someone anonymously about domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Local students can also contact our city’s domestic violence shelter at XXXXX.
  • If there are other resources you need but don’t know where to find, please ask!

Volunteer Fire Department Painting,  Torrent 10, Hand Pumper

Above, an folk painting of 17 firefighters in their uniforms, standing on both sides of their handpump engine at their firehouse. Before Torrent 10 Obtained a Steam Pumper in 1864. Artist unknown. circa 1850-1860. Public domain.

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