Issues in Using the Internet in Instruction

Psy 501 - 2 graduate credit hours

Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY, USA

Rules are the solutions to yesterday's problems.

All information at this web site pertaining to the course, including policies, is subject to being changed until the first day of the semester. When you examine the site to decide whether to take the course, please understand that specifics may change. Check the date at the bottom for currency.


What does the course cover?

Survey of principles and techniques of college-level instruction via the Internet. Students create an Internet-based course or create/modify administrative policy to bring it into alignment with Internet instruction.

Prerequisites: College level instructor or administrator. Must have E-mail, Internet access and access to a web site for posting assignments. Permission of instructor is necessary for enrollment. For more details see initial information page at Use of course software is acceptable and even encouraged because of its ease of use.

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What will I learn in the course?

Course Objectives: Students will

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Who is likely to succeed in the course?

The person who maintains a regular schedule of working on the course and who is eager to interact with others around the course topics.

On-line learners should NOT expect to be learning in isolation. The more you share and discuss on-line, the more you will enjoy the class. I expect twice weekly and even daily interaction, either with me or with other students, using any of a variety of tools, such as E-mail or a discussion board. If the on-line student desires, face-to-face or telephone meetings are great. Regular interaction helps you be successful.

In general I keep required synchronous and face-to-face meetings to a minimum to maintain maximum scheduling flexibility for the student.

I would enjoy the opportunity to meet you during the first two weeks of the term if it is convenient for you. Please schedule an appointment. (I have two offices so finding me by chance is unlikely.) If coming to Bowling Green is a burden, let us schedule a phone call-- I can call you to save you the long distance charge.

Students with disabilities who require accommodations (academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids or services) for this course must contact the Office for Student Disability Services, Room 445, Potter Hall. The OFSDS telephone number is (270)745-5004 V/TDD.

Please DO NOT request accommodations directly from the instructor without a letter of accommodation from the Office for Student Disability Services.

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Who is the Instructor and how do I contact her?

Sally L. Kuhlenschmidt, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology          Director
  Cravens Ground Floor
Department of Psychology Center for Teaching and Learning
1 Big Red Way 1 Big Red Way
Western Kentucky University Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY 42101 Bowling Green, KY 42101
Contact me Contact me
  FAX: (270)745-6145









Other Course Contact Information

Time Zone: Central

Contact me
Please put the course number in the subject line (Psy 501) whenever you E-mail me. Otherwise, I may miss your message in the mass of mail that I receive. You are my top priority. Help me pick you out.


Office Hours: You can typically reach me most quickly via E-mail.
I am most likely in the Psychology Department late afternoons and evenings (and weekends) or afternoons Tuesdays and Thursdays, and at the CTL on Monday and Wednesday. Fridays I may be either place, but more likely in Psychology.

I respond well to scheduled meetings, either in person, by phone or via live chat. I have an administrative appointment as Director of the Center for Teaching & Learning and it sometimes results in unavoidable meetings during scheduled office hours.

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What materials do I need to succeed?

Required Readings and Materials

Special Materials

The student needs to be able to use E-mail and access the Internet reliably and on an every other day basis. The latest browser verison is recommended, preferably Netscape or Internet Explorer. I usually work in Netscape and on PC's so I tend to report directions for that environment. If you are operating under another system (e.g., Macs or IE) I'll need your help in adapting. Let me know if something doesn't make sense.

I avoid requiring specialized equipment or software. What I post can be accessed by a browser version 1 or 2 behind the most current one.

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What are the Course Policies?

What are the grading policies for the course?

This is a Pass/Fail course. Those who participate in weekly discussions and prepare a web site consistent with the guidelines (listed at the end of the course) will pass. Completion of weekly assignments (found at the end of each of the weekly commentaries) will result in your fulfilling the guidelines. There are two tiers of guidelines, a simpler one for weekly contributors and a more detailed one for occasional contributors. Occasionally a person needs a different sort of project. Speak with me.

Contributing to course discussions is an ongoing Assignment.

On occasion you will see assignments labeled "Instructors" or "Administrators." You are only expected to do the task associated with your goals for the course.

I provide some activities, such as self-graded quizzes, (labeled "Activities" or "optional") which are, cleverly enough, optional.

Notification of Course Grade

When you have completed the course and I have reviewed your creation and am ready to assign a grade, I can notify you of the grade in an E-mail, with a copy to the Correspondance office person who is responsible administratively for recording the grade.

As E-mail is NOT a private medium, I need your permission to forward your grade to you personally by way of E-mail. The student information form (, linked on the home page or in the Course Information section of the Blackboard/CourseInfo site, provides you the opportunity to tell me how you want to receive your grade.

If you don't want it E-mailed, it will be available in the typical manner that grades are announced by WKU.

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What happens if bad weather or the like interrupts the usual class activities?


In the event of a local emergency that results in loss of connection (a technology breakdown, typhoon, dust storm, hurricane, earthquake, war, etc.) do your best to contact me by any means once it is reasonable to do so. If circumstances permit, continue to make reasonable independent efforts toward course completion as per the syllabus.

It would be wise to arrange a back up plan for Internet access in case your primary computer fails. Libraries may offer a terminal, for example. For WKU faculty, the Center for Teaching & Learning has several computers with Internet access for instructors only (hours 8-4:30). Western tends to do maintenance tasks on the weekends so you may experience periodic outages, particularly Sunday morning.

What is appropriate "Classroom" Behavior in an On-line class?

Common courtesy as explained by course netiquette ( or see Course Information in the Blackboard/CourseInfo site) and the rules on page 112 of Porter will serve as guidelines for behavior in the class. Please review p. 112. Another guide to on-line behavior is: Net User Guidelines and Netiquette (

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How does Academic Honesty change on-line?

--this is not the usual Plagiarism statement, read on

Intellectual property is a slippery concept on the Internet because copying of text and visual materials is
  1. condoned by the culture and
  2. many people are unaware that the copyright law has become more stringent.
  3. It is also very easy to download or copy materials.
As a result, persons (including educators) violate copyright law and infringe on intellectual property, often without realizing it. For example, forwarding someone's E-mail message without permission may violate several sets of standards (including legal ones). Until we get a chance to discuss these issues in more depth, err on the side of caution. Consensual standards are gradually emerging. In the meantime, there are no certainty's.

Do not copy anything (including photos and images) from anyone for your class projects unless the creator gives explicit permission. You may print a single copy of my commentaries for your personal use. You may quote short passages if you give me credit. You may use ideas and facts. You may copy html code without fear of censure. However...

This is my formal notice that you do not have permission to make multiple copies of my materials or, in any other fashion, to copy my materials beyond the single printout for personal use.

As I am in the role of model to other teachers, I'm taking a rather conservative position on the issue of intellectual property.

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What does attendance mean for an On-line class?

It is up to you to structure your time to complete the material. I am able to observe in the course software the hours and amount that you visit the course. You will find it helpful if you also track your hours. I am interested in knowing how you are working.

I have provided a schedule sheet on which you can track your hours. Obtain your schedule sheet from: or check under Course Information in the Blackboard/CourseInfo site.

Based on reports from prior students, I recommend that you

  1. Select about two to three regular times weekly that you will work on the course. Consider this the equivalent of a face-to-face class time, not to be changed or shortened except in extraordinary circumstances.
  2. Find an environment in which you can work without interuption. In face-to-face classes, that is done for you by the assignment of rooms. On-line, you must do this for yourself.
  3. Record the times you work and report them to me if it helps you stay on track.
  4. Spend a maximum of two hours at a sitting on the course. Stop when the time is up. (Overworking can make you reluctant to pick up the books next time.)
  5. Be patient with yourself while you learn to structure your time in this setting. It typically takes several weeks to find out what is working for you. Praise yourself for puttin gin the time, even if you feel you didn't accomplish much at first. First learn how to set aside the time, then learn how to make it productive.

Why twice weekly? The literature on learning suggests that several small lessons are more effective than one large one in achieving learning. You may certainly visit more often than twice weekly. I don't recommend coming less often and some assignments will assume at least two visits.

It helps me to know the actual times you work because later I arrange a few synchronous or live-chat sessions and need to structure them around your availability. A second reason is that the Internet instructor is a facilitator of the student. I can more effectively help you if I know what your patterns are.

It helps you to structure your time if you have recorded the data. Humans typically mislead themselves about how they spend their time (either over or underestimating). Recording at the time you actually do it gives you a more accurate view.

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How can I most effectively study for an on-line class?

I assume that most of my current students have never taken a course over the Internet and are interested in exploring that experience. Some study skills from face-to-face courses will carry over, such as actively thinking about the information. (After all, our basic biology/options for sensory input and concept processing don't change just because we use a computer).

Some new skills will be needed, such as learning how to read on-line.

And some old skills will interfer with learning in this new medium. (Specifically, "trying to be thorough" will work against you).

I hope you will actively discuss with coursemates the effective and ineffective study strategies that you discover this semester. You may wish to keep a simple diary of your studying experiences to better help your future Internet students.

Sharing Information and Time Management

I am delighted to have a class of the best and fastest learners available (educators). I know you are a dedicated group willing to take risks and excited by the possibilities of instruction via the Internet or you would not be taking this class.

Educators do tend, however, to be perfectionists. The upside of precision is that tasks are completed with excellence. The downside may be hesitancy to share works in progress and spending excessive time in creation.

Web course construction can become a time sink. There is always something you can do to make your site communicate better. One skill of Internet instruction is learning to limit the quest for perfection and to move on to the task of teaching. A good mantra is "Keep it simple, sage." (Also known as KISS).

Sharing your working drafts with others is a fast and easy way to improve your course. I hope we will together create an atmosphere in which people are eager to share their drafts. That will require people to be careful and clear in what they convey to each other.

Communication by text lacks the nonverbal signals which smooth everyday communication. When sharing opinions, edit your messages several times for meaning and nuance. On the other hand, don't worry about your grammar and spelling in the discussion groups. It is more important that you contribute ideas and opinions than that you do so perfectly. On the Internet we all have to work harder to establish the interpersonal connections that enhance education and motivation.

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Syllabus business


Because of the nature of this course, I occasionally have visitors to the class. (If it makes you feel better, they are persons more interested in my behavior than yours.) My "chain of command" of administrators (department head, etc.) may visit. I encourage them to do so in order that they might evaluate my job performance. Sometimes support personnel need to access the site to help me do something. I will let you know if someone will be present for substantial reading (as opposed to fixing a line of code).

As you can see, a web course offers a different degree of privacy/ publicness than does a traditional course. I am informing you about visitors before we begin so you may choose appropriate actions. I will construe your continuing in the course as permission for visitors to come. I anticipate that they will be most interested in my behavior (not yours) and I will be careful in whom I give permission to enter our space. It is rare to have a visitor (twice in four years).

Syllabus Business

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Course information continues with General Internet Policies (at another webpage: Within the Blackboard Course Site, you can move to the next link in the Course Information section.

Psy 501 Information | My Home Page | PSY | CTL | WKU 

Contact the author with comments or questions about this site by following the directions at this page (which will open in a new window.)

Website created: December 1996. Page Created: January 18, 1998. Last Modified: August 13, 2002.
All contents © since 1996 by Sally Kuhlenschmidt. Copy only with permission.