April 23, 2009

Here is the course syllabus for EWRT 1Az ONLINE[1]

Instructor:  Mr. Jonah Hoyle

Websites: https://catalyst.deanza.edu + www.turnitin.com + www.noredink.com

Office hours: Tuesdays, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.[2]

Required Books

All required texts will be available through the course homepage in Catalyst.

Course Description + Objectives

In this class you’ll practice reading closely and actively, and you’ll refine your ability to write effective and compelling personal, persuasive, and analytical essays. We’ll cover the basics—how to structure an argument, craft a strong thesis statement, and support said thesis statement with quotations from relevant and reliable source material—but the overall objective of this course is to deepen your appreciation of the writing process and to ensure that, as a reader, writer, and critical thinker, you’re ready to move on to upper-level college English.

The Work Load

Four essays, including one that will require you to conduct research, as well as a “timed writing” final. You will also be expected to post to discussion forums, complete grammar exercises, and to submit peer reviews by specific dates.


Essays:   ~ 70%

Other:     ~ 30%

At the end of the quarter, I will determine your grade as follows:

Total points you’ve earned/total available points (e.g. 316/356 = 89%=B+).

You’ll be able to check your grade on individual assignments, as well as your overall course percentage, at any time. For the discussion forums your grades will appear initially under the “Grades” tab in the “Administration” sidebar in Catalyst, but once each forum expires, I’ll transfer those scores to Turnitin, which will serve as the definitive grade book for the course.

Discussion Forums

Traditionally, this is a discussion-based class. I try to maintain that dynamic in an online format, as discussion is key to the writing process: it’s a way for you to ask questions and to test out ideas, even if you’re not quite sure what it is you’re trying to say. What I want is for you to stretch your ability to articulate your thoughts. That said, I must give you a grade at quarter’s end, so I’ll attempt to quantify your discussion forum contributions–see the file entitled “How I’ll Evaluate Your Forum Participation” for more on this. For now, just know that if you fail to post during the first week of the quarter, I’ll drop you from the course. After the first week, I may drop you from the course if you fail to log in for any 10 day period. 

Late Work

Each week’s discussion forum will close at midnight on Sunday. All forum posts are time/date stamped, so yours won’t count if you post after midnight. You will submit all your essays to Turnitin.com on or before the assigned date/time—if you miss the deadline, you’ll be unable to submit the assignment without emailing me with an explanation.

Essay Grading Criteria is posted as a separate document (see homepage). As we proceed through the course, I’ll expect your writing to improve. Essay assignments will be structured so that you’ll have adequate time to develop your essay—to post ideas to our forums and do online peer review with your classmates—before the due date.

Revision is a key part of essay writing, so you should be revising continuously as we move through the process of composition. However, I don’t allow revisions once I’ve graded the final version of your essay. Because we spend so much time working on outlines and drafts, and because you have access to additional writing support services like Smarthinking and the WRC, the final version of your essay should represent the culmination of your writing process and therefore your best attempt to complete the assignment.

Make-Up Work + Extra Credit

Often, when we’re nearing the end of the quarter and a student realizes that her grade is lower than she’d like it to be, she’ll email me asking if she can do “make-up work” to raise her grade. The answer, invariably, is “no.” This is because this hypothetical student is essentially asking me to do the extra work of reading her “make-up work” because she didn’t do her work when it was assigned. I have enough work to do already. Submit your work on time and spare me the emails.


In its most basic form, plagiarism is copying text from a source without citing the source or putting the copied text in quotation marks. But there are other forms of plagiarism, including self-plagiarism (submitting work you’ve done for another class) and inadvertent plagiarism. If Turnitin catches you plagiarizing, you’ll get a 0 on the assignment and I’ll report you to De Anza’s office of Academic Integrity. But even if Turnitin doesn’t catch you I may, if I’m suspicious, give you a contingent or temporary grade on an essay–usually a 0 on a draft or 50% credit on a final version–until you email me with a satisfactory explanation. If you’re unsure about whether or not you’re plagiarizing, just ask me before you submit your essay.

If you’d like additional help with your writing, the Student Success Center offers free tutoring, workshops and drop-in tutoring. De Anza also provides free access to Smarthinking, an online tutoring service. Since this course has 60+ students in it, I won’t be able to provide the kind of individual feedback on your drafts that many of you will need in order to pass the class, and in many cases I’ll recommend you visit the WRC if you’re on campus—there’s nothing like a one-on-one session with a certified tutor to get the help you need as efficiently as possible. If you work with a tutor, please include your tutor’s name and contact information at the beginning of your essay. I generally won’t contact your tutor unless there seems to be a communication problem or you’re way off on an essay prompt. In these cases, it’s good for me to be able to talk with your tutor to better understand where you’re coming from, so we can all work together to get you the help you need.

Finally: Before you continue with this course, you should ask yourself if an online English class is really the best way for you to improve your writing. To succeed in an online learning environment you’ll need to be a motivated, self-directed student; you’ll need to be comfortable using computers, as you’ll likely need to troubleshoot minor issues and have access to a couple of different browsers; and you’ll need to be able to use the discussion forums in place of a face-to-face classroom experience. If you do decide to stick with this course, you must commit to a full twelve weeks—you won’t be able to read ahead and complete all the work in half the time, as I’ll unveil reading and writing assignments week by week. Your grade at the end of the quarter will reflect my assessment of your writing ability, as measured by the cumulative scores on your major essays, as well as your commitment to the class over the full twelve weeks of the course, as measured by the consistency with which you hit deadlines. Ultimately, online learning is much more “competency-based” than a face-to-face class. This means that it tends to work well for students who’re already competent writers and less well for students who’re still developing a basic understanding of how to write college-level essays.

Finally 2.0: I will not write recommendation letters for students in my online courses. As much as I like to think we’ll get to know each other over the next three months, I can’t say for certain that you are who you say you are.

Finally 2.1: Although I don’t assign group projects here in 1Az, the level of discourse in the forums and the give/get of peer review depend very much on the commitment each of you brings to the class. You’ll be graded individually on every assignment, but when it comes to determining your final grade, I factor in the extent to which you helped or hindered the overall success of the class. This whole enterprise is essentially a group project, in that sense, so let’s work together to make life and learning a little less painful. If we do, we might even manage to have a bit of fun along the way.

[1] For legal reasons: I reserve the right to change anything on this syllabus.
[2] Since this class is exclusively online and operates in asynchronous fashion, the designated “office hour” is an anachronism—I include it here for technical/legal reasons. I will be online every Tuesday between 10-11 a.m. (as well as most days during the a.m.), so you can post all course-related questions to the Logistics Forum and I’ll get back to you ASAP. If your question is personal and you’d rather not share it with the class, you can always email me.