Class notes: Own-Horn-Tooting, pt. 1

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My final requires students to write a “scrupulously correct business letter” in which the student is encouraged to:

“weigh in on any subject as long as it expresses an opinion about some aspect of this class. You may offer your impressions of the quality/difficulty/amount of work you’ve been asked to do in this course, the job I’ve done as your teacher, opportunities to improve our use of the online milieu or learning technologies, what you enjoyed/appreciated about this course &c.

I get evaluations from the university, but the comments submitted in Assignment #6 come from students who are told the entire quarter to divorce their written work from their identities. These letters represent a chance to finally open up and be opinionated, if not just understood. Hereunder are excerpts from some submissions, offered in the way of a healthy dose of own-horn-entootment:

I was apprehensive to take another online class. I have had several bad experiences with classes on Blackboard. It was a nice surprise when I realized that you class was quite a bit better than most. We were never made to try to meet group members who live on the opposite side of the pass, or show up for a “digital lecture” at a specific time. It seems like you fully understand how an online class should be run.” -C., Accounting.

“In the past I have had a very negative opinion about online classes in general, and I am so relieved that this class was nothing like any previous online class that I have taken. Assignments were graded in a timely manner, feedback and progress was given on every assignment, and the professor understood that we have more than one class. I especially liked that our course load was easier during the weeks of midterms when it seems that we have tests, assignments, and projects in every class all due at the same time. This was noted and greatly appreciated.” -N., Health Sciences

“Nothing in this class felt like busy work. I appreciated how everything built upon each other and previous knowledge garnered from each assignment was necessary to complete the next one. 
Your immediate feedback on each assignment was helpful to make sure I was on the right track with my writing. The subject matter and target audience remained the same for assignments 3-6, therefore feedback was important and I benefited greatly from it.” -W., Food Sciences/Nutrition

“Another aspect of the class that I thought was effective that I am still not sure why many of my other teachers do not do it is sending us feedback on our work. Just doing homework is not enough for me it helps me to get feedback from the teacher on what aspects of my assignment were done correctly and what I need to do in order to improve it.” -B., Business

“Between discussion boards and weekly assignments I felt more like this was a normal class and it helped me to remember to keep up the reading and work… Also, I really appreciated that the assignments were all connected so even though there was a lot of research to do one week we were able to use that information on every assignment for the rest of the quarter.” -K., English

“…I began to see finishing the quarter as insurmountable. With the understanding and kindness that has been communicated by you…I soon learned to gain a better regard for my capabilities and recognizing when I should attend to personal matters. I would like to thank you for your input and all of your help. I also have learned many ways in which I can improve my writing skills at work and in my personal life. Your encouragement was paramount in my success with completing this phase of my scholastic goals.” J., Sociology

“…despite being an online being, you were in fact concerned with not only our learning but how we were doing in the class as well. Sometimes in online classes it is hard to see a person behind the Blackboard, but you did an exceptional job of creating a persona that the class could trust on both judgment and compassion.

“To sum it up, I would definitely recommend this class to any other writing majors as a staple to their careers. Also I want to reiterate how appreciative I am for all the work you put into making this course important to everyone, and being a real person instead of a machine that we talk to every day.” E., English

And a complaint, which resolves itself in a satisfactory manner:

“The class tended to be less structured than a normal class, so I had to rely on my own planning skills to make sure I was on top of the assignment schedule. I often found myself remembering about an assignment only a day or two before its due date, or in the case of assignment six, forgetting about it entirely. This is my only real complaint about the class, and like I mentioned, it really is my own fault. I suppose you could say it was a good learning experience.” J., Film Studies

A good bunch of students this quarter.

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