Course Policies

A course syllabus is a contract between students and their instructor. As a result, this section sometimes takes on a litigious tone. Before we get to that language, I want to acknowledge that I know my students here at SIUE: you have lives, you often have full-time jobs, and you have homes and families that need you. Things happen. Let me know what those things are, and tell me how I can help. Above all, I want you to succeed. The policies below are where we begin, but policies always have exceptions when the reasoning is good.

Online Course Policies


This is an online course that condenses fifteen weeks of a regular semester’s content into five weeks—that means A LOT of reading and writing. In a normal semester, you’d ideally spend nine hours per week preparing for class and completing major assignments outside of class. Mathematically, then, you should devote twenty-seven hours per week to this course.

Online courses are not for everyone! You will need to be extremely self-motivated and log onto the course’s WordPress blog and Blackboard site several times daily. You’ll also need to be proactive about carefully reading all of the assignment guidelines and information provided online and asking questions as needed. Our blog is set up to notify you each times someone posts a comment; you should maintain an active presence on the blog and respond to posts and comments from Wednesday through Sunday. You will also be responsible for commenting on other students’ final projects drafts. I will use BlackBoard to track your grades, send you voicemails, and upload comments on your work. Make sure that you have all of the technology you will need to complete the course.

I am a professor of English literature, not a tech support specialist. If you are having trouble with BlackBoard or WordPress, it is your responsibility to solve those issues. For BlackBoard, you may contact ITS. WordPress has an extensive support community through which you will likely find the answers you need. It is absolutely imperative that you check the blog and Blackboard regularly during these five weeks. Failure to do so is equivalent to non-attendance. If you miss more than 3 blog deadlines (including primary posts and/or commenting) you will fail the class.

Writing in an Online Community

The primary delivery method for this course is a blog where you will write within a community of other writers and readers. As with social media outlets, you should use the proper discretion. It is up to you to determine how much of your life you want to share with your classmates; use good judgment. The blog is not open to outside viewers.  As is true of our in-class interactions, you must maintain a high level of respect and professionalism when posting on the blog. Always use students’ usernames in responses rather than referring to them with their full name.

Please proofread your work and use the tools for organizing your posts described on the blogging page.  Your writing may remain on the blog after the course is over. You, however, have the ability to delete your posts and comments from the site at any time. I will not delete your WordPress account until the next iteration of the course has begun.

Understanding the Schedule and Updates

The schedule tab provides tentative dates. I reserve the right to change dates  based on student progress. All updates will come in the form of a WordPress post and an update to the schedule. I may also post reminders or tips to WordPress. Is is your responsibility to stay abreast of all updates and tips—this is why it is essential that you log onto WordPress regularly during these five weeks.

A Word about Getting in Touch with Me and E-mail Etiquette

E-mail is always the best way to get in touch with me; do not attempt to reach me via phone, especially during the summer. I check my SIUE e-mail account Monday to Friday from 9:00-5:00. You can expect an e-mail response from me within twenty-four hours, unless you e-mail me during the weekend. In turn, it is imperative that you check your SIUE e-mail account during these same times. Because of the way that Blackboard operates, I can only communicate with you via your SIUE account. I ask that you follow a few simple e-mail courtesies, as well; please provide a subject for your e-mail, and be sure to end the e-mail with your full name. In addition, if you would like to chat about your course progress, or receive additional feedback from me in real-time, you may e-mail me to set up a Google Hangout.

Participation and Late Policies

Reading and discussion participation through commenting are absolutely mandatory. This is a course based on ideas: if you are not prepared to participate, debate, and respond, then you will not be meeting the most basic conditions for passing the class. If a student has a problem with participating on the blog and misses more than three scheduled deadlines, he/she will FAIL the course. Late work will be penalized. In general no extensions will be granted within 24 hours of a due date. I am very flexible if I receive advanced notice, so do not hesitate to contact me if you need me to adjust a deadline.


It is the policy and practice of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to create inclusive learning environments. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or to accurate assessment of achievement—such as time-limited exams, inaccessible web content or the use of non-captioned videos—please notify the instructor as soon as possible. Students are also encouraged to contact Accessible Campus Community and Equitable Student Support (ACCESS). The ACCESS office is located in the Student Success Center, Room 1270. You can also reach the office by or by calling 618-650-3726.

Mental Health

Dealing with the fast-paced life of a college student can be challenging, and I always support a student’s decision to prioritize mental health. Students have access to counseling services on campus (Student Success Center, 0222). Make an appointment by visiting or by calling (618-650-2842).


Any paper with your name on it signifies that you are the author—that the wording and ideas are yours, with exceptions indicated by quotation marks and citations. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of others’ words or ideas. Professionals in English studies adhere to Modern Language Association (MLA) style guidelines to avoid plagiarizing others’ academic achievements. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University offers helpful descriptions and samples of MLA style, the citation method we will use for this course. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville specifically states that: “The University recognizes plagiarism as a serious academic offense. Plagiarism, the act of representing the work of another as one’s own, may take two forms. It may consist of copying, paraphrasing or otherwise using the written or oral work of another without acknowledging the source, or it may consist of presenting oral or written course work prepared by another as one’s own.”  **Students who plagiarize will fail the course and be reported to the Provost.

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