Protocols are guidelines or ground rules which will help your online course experience run smoothly.

Welcome to English 11B. Before you start this course there a few things about this course that you should become familiarize yourself with before we start. The structure of this class is a format called Blended Instruction. A Blended Instruction class is a class where face-to-face instruction (traditional) is combined with an online component. You may be asking yourself why is this class structured in such a fashion? There are many reasons.


  • There is an increase in online instruction at the college level.
  • Students will have access to an almost a limitless number of resources.
  • Students will be able to easily access missing notes, videos, and activities.
  • Students will partake in discussion groups. One of the major goals of this course is for students to engage with each other and the instructor in discussions. During the class, we will have many opportunities. The online component gives another opportunity via discussion forums.
  • The face-to-face component will NOT be 5 days a week of lecture; we will use this time for discussion, notes, and most importantly, activities.


The following ground rules will help your work in this course to go more smoothly. Please carefully review these expectations and follow them.

  1. Academic integrity will be appraised according to the student academic behavior standards.
  1. Be an active participant. Complete all readings, participate in discussions, and complete activities on time. Late assignments impede feedback and the work as a whole. Respect the invaluable time of others by managing your time effectively.
  1. Keep up with the reading. You have quite a few chapters, modules, discussion postings, and e-mail messages to read for the class. Students who keep up with the reading tend to do much better in this kind of class than those who do not.


  1. You are required to make every effort to work effectively and promptly with others in your groups. Fair criticism of your failure to work effectively with others will significantly affect your collaboration and participation grade.
  2. Be prepared to work as hard in this course as you would in a fully face-to-face course. On average, students who take blended learning classes spend 5-6 hours a week doing class work, the same amount that you would spend in a traditional class.
  3. Test your technology prior to participating in any new activities.
  4. Check your course site often before you come to the class meeting. Some instructors might choose to send updates via email, while others might post announcements that you will only see by logging in to the course management system and accessing your course. For activities that require prompt feedback, your instructor might expect you to access the course and participate online before you meet face to face.
  5. Schedule regular times for your online activities. Don't wait until the due date or the day before face to face meeting to check your course site.
  6. Pay attention to due dates and don't expect your instructor to remind you when deadlines are approaching.
  7. Make sure that you come to class prepared. The instructor may do weekly posts with information or activities that you need to complete before you come to the face to face meeting; check your course site often. 


E-mail will be an integral part of this course. Make sure you:

  1. Check your e-mail at least twice per week (more frequently is better).
  2. Be patient. Don’t expect an immediate response when you send a message. Generally, two days is considered reasonable amount of time to receive a reply.
  3. Include “Subject” headings: use something that is descriptive and refers to a particular assignment or topic.
  4. Be courteous and considerate. Being honest and expressing yourself freely is very important, but being considerate of others online is just as important as in the classroom.
  5. Make every effort to be clear. Online communication lacks the nonverbal cues that fill in much of the meaning in face-to-face communication.
  6. Do not use all caps. This makes the message very hard to read and is considered “shouting.” Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation (you may want to compose in a word processor, then cut and paste the message into the discussion or e-mail).
  7. Break up large blocks of text into paragraphs and use a space between paragraphs.
  8. Sign your e-mail messages.
  9. Never assume that your e-mail can be read by no one except yourself; others may be able to read or access your mail. Never send or keep anything that you would not mind seeing on the evening news.

Note: Review the Netiquette


Discussion Forum Guidelines

An important component of this course is collaboration with your peers. To encourage discussion of course content with your classmates, several discussion assignments have been created. These assignments were designed to give you an opportunity to learn from your peers and talk about your own thoughts and ideas about different material covered in the course. The following guidelines were created to help you better understand just how to approach these assignments and work through them with your peers.

  1. The first assignment will allow you to feel your way through a discussion forum. This assignment will allow you to share information that will allow you to get to share information with your peers.
  2. Take the discussion assignments seriously. It is important that everyone attempt to participate in group discussions, and participation should involve posting not only your own thoughts about an assignment, but responding to what your peers have to say. It is important that you respond in timely manner. Remember that if you wait until the last minute to post a thought, or idea, others will not have time to respond.
  3. Participation in discussion groups counts toward your grade. It is a good practice to always check the Discussions multiple times during the week.
  4. Your responses should be well thought out and have substance. Responses of "I agree," “I don’t know either,” “Who cares,” or “ditto, “Yeah, I agree,”  are not acceptable. They do not add to the discussion, they take up space on the Discussions, and they will not be counted for assignment credit.

Add something new and justify your position.  Instead, say, "Yes, but we also need to consider…" Or, "I don't agree because…"

Here are a few ideas of possible responses:

  • If you don't agree with a post, support your disagreement or ask for clarification.
  • If you feel the discussion is helping, state why.
  • If the discussion is confusing, ask for help.
  • Cite all quotes, references, and sources.

5. GRADING: For each discussion assignment, you will receive a total of 10 points: 3 points for posting your own thoughts about the assignment by the deadline, 3 points for each meaningful response to a peer (for a total of 6 points), and 1 point for posting a brief summary of what you learned and what you still have questions about.

6. Be a good participant.  Interact professionally and carefully during online discussions. A good participant will first and foremost be respectful of and courteous to others. Make sure that you respond in a professional manner. Profanity or other comments are not acceptable. Remember that I will also participate in the discussions. Have fun!! J


  1. If you want to send a personal message to the instructor or to another student, use e-mail rather than the discussions (see above E-mail Protocols).


  1. Be patient. Don’t expect an immediate response when you send a message.


  1. A helpful hint for use with both discussions and email — Compose your message in your word-processing application in order to check spelling, punctuation, and grammar — then copy and paste your composition into email or the discussion. This also saves online time.
  2. Try not to become upset or angry with something someone has posted. Often, it is not the author's intent to upset others or to communicate an unkind tone. If a posting invokes these kinds of feelings, wait twenty-four hours, and then respond. The posting will generally look very different the next day.
  1. Respect each other’s ideas, feelings and experience. Be courteous and considerate. It is important to be honest and to express yourself freely, but being considerate of others is just as important and expected online, as it is in the classroom.
  2.  “Subject” headings: use something that is descriptive and refer to a particular assignment or discussion topic when applicable. Some assignments will specify the subject heading.
  3. Use the “reply” button rather than the “compose” button if you are replying to someone else’s posting so that the reader knows what you are responding to.
  4. Avoid posting large blocks of text. If you must, break them into paragraphs and use a space between paragraphs.
  5. Frequently check the discussion boards and appropriately respond.
  6. Focus on one subject per message and use pertinent subject titles.
  7. Avoid capitalizing words since it is generally viewed as SHOUTING and should be used sparingly to highlight a point.
  8. Keep the posting short and to the point. To make it easier to read, break up text into paragraphs with a blank line between paragraphs.
  9. Although acceptable to incorporate humor, use it carefully. The absence of face-to-face cues can cause humor to be misinterpreted as criticism or flaming (angry, antagonistic criticism). Use emoticons such as :) or ;) when appropriate to let others know that you are being humorous. There are several websites that list commonly used emoticons .
  10. When quoting and responding to other learners postings avoid step laddering or messages that contain "quotes in quotes," since they can quickly become confusing as to what you are communicating. Extract only a few sentences that accurately represent the statements to which you are responding.
  11. Alternate between quotes and replies or comments to those quotes.
  12. Spellcheck your writing and consider your tone before posting. In some cases, you will not be able to modify your comments after you post.
  13. Add your comment in the right place. If you're responding to Jane Doe's comment, make sure her comment is the one you see when you click the "reply" button.
  14. Change the subject line of your post to something that reflects your specific contribution.  This will make it easier for people to follow up on discussions that are of the most interest to them. 
  15. Don't use capital letters to emphasize text. This is equivalent to shouting in person and it can make text difficult to read. To emphasize a word, phrase, or idea, use italics, bolding, or place an asterisk *before and after the text*. 
  16. Avoid offensive language, off-color jokes, and personal attacks. Make comments about ideas, not people. Respect your fellow students. Many online activities require student-to-student interaction. Be respectful of others' opinions and contributions.



“Netiquette” has evolved to aid us in infusing our electronic communications with some of these missing behavioral pieces. “Emoticons” and other tools have become popular and I encourage their use when it will add to the clarity of your communication.

: -) = happy, pleased
: -( = sad, displeased
: -O = surprised
>: -| = angry

Netiquette continues to evolve and I am sure that we will have constant additions to this growing language. The important thing to remember is that all of the “cute” symbols in the world cannot replace your careful choice of words and “tone” in your communication.


Also, back up your files: “My hard drive crashed,” “My modem doesn’t work,” and “My printer is out of ink.” These are today’s equivalents of “My dog ate my homework.” And these events really do occur and they are inconvenient when they do. However, these are not valid excuses for failing to get your work in on time.





Last modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013, 12:00 PM