Sunday, January 27, 2019

DR C's Academic Online Cruise: Week One—Instructing the Crew

To read the initial post about DR C's Academic Online Cruise, go HERE.



Day One

After the first week, instead of having 20 onboard trainees (students), there are twenty-five (25). Nice! There are eleven (11) males and fifteen (14) females. 

Preview book HERE
On the first day, I review the basics of college theme writing. Recently, some have had training on a 101 ship; for others, it has been a little while. So that no one will be at a disadvantage, this is the purpose of the review. I encourage they read Chapter 6 of the handbook, Bare Essentials, 18th ed. This will insure everyone has the opportunity to review the same material, not just via lecture but via written material, too. I recognize that some trainees need to depend on more than their notes; thus, actually reading what has been presented at a training session should help.

Then, to prepare my trainees for the Thursday writing assignment, which will be done in class, I discuss the topic and ways they may want to approach the topic. 

This assignment will be based on Chapters 1, 4, and 5 of the other text for this cruise, Linguistics for College Freshmen and Sophomores: Non Majors, Welcome! These chapters discuss the impact of language, the different registers, the manner in which people code switch to accommodate the requirements of their linguistic environment, and manners in which language is acquired. 

Preview book HERE
They are to write a five-paragraph theme on the following: Indicate the main message about language is conveyed in Chapter 1, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5 of Linguistics for College Freshmen and Sophomores.

They can bring any notes they may have placed in their texts or written in their notebooks that they feel may help them in the writing of the paper. They are not, however, supposed to have the paper written before coming to this do this assignment.

Also, in this first session, I distribute the regular “stuff”: syllabus and class policies. The third page of the policies has a section where each trainee has to print and sign his or her name acknowledging they understand and agree with the policies for this cruise.

I make it clear if anyone does not agree with the policies that she or he should not choose to continue on the cruise. Thus, I do not accept the signed policies until the second day that each person attends a session. I want to make sure they understand what they are signing. This class policies sheet serves as the “marriage certificate.” 
Also, at the very beginning of the meeting, I introduce how I plan to treat these cruise sessions. As I mentioned in my intro to this blog, I let them know how much I love being a trainer of “captains-in-trainee.” And this cruise will be the living and breathing metaphor of an academic marriage. 

Since I love what I do, I am committed to go into this marriage with my all. I am not naïve; no good marriage is without its rough waters; still, that does not mean there is a reason to walk out or try to get a boat and leave the ship and paddle back to the shore of single life. Of course, I see some with expressions of disbelief, amusement, and sheer quizzical engagement. 

I do ask them to answer on index cards, that I distributed, a few questions:

• Name
• Address (include zip code)
• Telephone number (include area code)
• Three things one wants to learn while on this cruise. If one does not know, she or he   
   should admit this. I let my crew know I respect honesty.
• Who was the crew member’s 101 captain and the grade received?
• What is the crew member’s first impression of his or her soon-to-be academic spouse, 
   Dr. C. This question is not asked until near the end of the first session.

I want to get to know them. I find the answers to these inquiries give me some basic knowledge of the individuals I shall be “married” to for the next sixteen (16) weeks. Also, while they are filling out the answers, I am trying to note certain aspects about each one of them so to remember their names. After all, how can I be a good spouse and I do not even know their names?😌

I look forward to telling you about what happened during the second week of the cruise.

Day Two

I have been working on improving my retention of trainees. And I have learned that the marital metaphor has been quite successful for me. Am I recommending it for all captains? No Way! One's personality and comfortability with sharing certain aspects of a captain's life and a true love for the profession will determine if such a metaphor will accommodate a captain's style of instructing others. It works for me and for many of my trainees. 

All of those with whom I had an initial "courtship" have returned. As a matter of fact, I have an additional spouse. At the end of the session, she signed the "marriage contract" (class policies) with no hesitation. Whee! We are on a roll 😌!


When one is teaching online, it requires a different kind of approach. So, I try to develop a community metaphor. I serve as the Academic Council Representative of this online Advanced English Composition 102 community. 

A week before the cruise began, I placed materials, syllabus, class policies, and an area to post argumentation topics for this course on Blackboard. This is when I have made access to the materials.

First, the online trainees see an announcement on Blackboard that contains a lot of information about the expectations for this session. They are the same questions that are for my onboard crew. The online trainees mail their answers to me. 

After receiving the answers, I send a "welcome" e-mail and attach an Orientation Test of 24 questions. The online trainees are to take the test and e-mail their answers to me. This test is based on what is indicated in the syllabus and its section entitled, "Key Directions and Details." 

The content of this aspect of the syllabus helps them and me know if they understand this academic community's requirements. Also, I make sure they understand at least 80 percent worth of the requirements. All online trainees must take the test again and again until they earn a minimum grade of 80 percent. This lets my online crew know that I am serious about wanting them to understand what is being presented.

Since all communication is digital, it is so important to keep in contact. They, also, are asked to answer the testing instruments that assess academic motivation and locus of control. I have placed these testing instruments on Blackboard.

This first week sets the tone for this advanced composition course. I try to make it very clear that there is no time to "get behind" on the work, tasks, reading assignments, and writing assignments. 

Whew! This is the end of a busy week. 

What do you think about DR C's Academic Online Cruise Ship? Tell us your thoughts in the comment box below this post. 

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