Communication Protocols

There are 5 subsections: 



Software Conventions

I am working on a PC-based platform (currently, an NT system with Microsoft Office Pro 2000).  Obviously, you can read the Web using any platform.  But you will find that some of the units have spreadsheet templates embedded within them.  These templates are downloadable, if your software can use or convert Excel spreadsheets.  You will find a highlighted hyperlink within the text; click on it and your Web browser (I use Netscape) will begin downloading it for you.  If you cannot download it, you can construct your own templates (the formats are all given in the unit), although you will probably find it time-consuming.


You should send your assignments to me as attachments in an e-mail.  My preference is for a Word document in PC format.  If you do not use that software, then attach it as a text file (preferably an “.rtf” file to preserve as much of your formatting as possible).  Most e-mail software has an icon for attaching files; clicking on the icon calls a prompt which asks you to specify the drive and the name of the file you wish to attach.



E-mail and Bulletin Board

We will mostly communicate in this class through e-mail (one-to-one or, sometimes, one-to-many) and the Discussion section in D2L (one-to-many).  In the first week of the class, I will send a group e-mail to everybody welcoming you to the course.  Save this e-mail!  You can then reply to it (and copy the reply to all recipients of the original e-mail) if you want to send something to each of us, or you can refer to it for the e-mail address of any one of your classmates (you can also get the same information from D2L).  I will, from time to time during the course, send announcements to each of you using group e-mail.


The Discussion section on D2L is a place to post messages (just like a physical bulletin board) that are addressed to anyone who might have some response (but you don’t know exactly who that might be).  This is the place to post your puzzlement as you try to work through a particularly obtuse description in one of the units (obtuse?  Moi?!)  Or to post your “Eureka!” when you tumble to a new insight.  Or to ask for help as you try to track down some data, or for someone to partner with you on an extended exploration of one of the assignments.  Or….  But you get my drift.


I will monitor the Discussion Board, but I consider it primarily your space and will not necessarily participate in it.  I will try to respond to my e-mail at least daily during the week, but sometimes when I am away from the office I cannot easily get access to the ‘Net and I may be offline for a few days (I will let you know when that is going to happen).  I will also try to check my e-mail at least once during the weekend, but my family are permitted to invoke their right to see me at least some of the time. 



Student Profiles

A class is more than just reading the notes and doing the assignments.  Often we learn more by listening to each other puzzle through an issue, or from seeing a pattern in how each of us individually is reading (or maybe mis-reading) something, or from struggling to express our ideas to a diverse group who come to our ideas with different styles and levels of comprehension.  If this is going to happen, we will have to create a sort of virtual community—we will have to be introduced to each other, come to know each other, and then come to trust each other (at least, if any of us is going to risk exposing our ignorance to the rest). 


As a first step in this direction, each of you will create a profile, a self-portrait as it were, on the Web.  The profile should include your picture, your e-mail address, and as many particulars as you think are helpful for your classmates to get to know you.  If you already have a resume or a portfolio on the Web, you may use that (if it has a picture); or you may create something specifically for this course.  As MSU students, you all have the opportunity to create your personal webpage on the University’s server.  My portfolio, by the way, is at .


The easiest way to get a digital photo of yourself is to download a portrait from a digital camera.  Or you could scan a favorite photo into your computer.  If you don’t have a scanner (I don’t, but then I still listen to vinyl records), you can use the one in the multimedia lab in the University’s Academic Computer Center (free).  If you can’t get to campus, any photo shop these days (including Target) has the ability to convert photos to “.jpeg” (as web-based pictures are known). 


To complete this unit, your second assignment (I will come back to this in the “Assignments” section) will be to send the address of your profile to everyone in the class.  “Here’s lookin’ at ya.”



Assessment (both ways)

 You are concerned with my assessment of your work, because it will eventually be transformed into a grade for this course.  I am concerned with your assessment of this course because I am learning from it just as you are (both about how to teach applied analysis and about how to teach on the Web).  It is important that our assessments focus on outcomes as well as perceptions—effort counts, but so do results.


We both have e-mail as one channel for our assessments.  This has the advantage of being direct, but you might feel it lacks the advantage of anonymity.  I will use one-to-one e-mail whenever I am discussing your individual performance (i.e., anything related to grading) unless you request that I communicate it in some other form (such as by letter or telephone).  And I would be glad to receive directly your comments about the course and my role in it. 


But I will also provide an anonymous survey site on D2L at the end of the course.  This site will take your comments as data and dump them straight into a database—it is completely anonymous.   Teaching is hard enough when you have to interpret the body language and facial expressions of students arrayed before you (what are they thinking in the back row?  And why are they sitting way back there?).  But teaching on the Web is a real exercise in “mushroom management” (you know—keep him in the dark and feed him horse manure).  Think of the anonymous survey site as the virtual equivalent of body language.  There are 3 questions I would particularly ask you to consider:

·        How well is this mode of teaching/learning working for you?

·        How well is the teacher taking advantage of the opportunities this mode of instruction offers?

·        What future applications do you anticipate for the particular unit you are studying?  (In other words, What are you going to do with this in real life?)





Each unit has a “beginning” date listed on the Calendar.  You can do your work on any schedule to which we agree (more about this in the “Assignments” section).  But I ask that you use the Discussion Board primarily to discuss the unit that is current at the time.  Otherwise, the Board will become clotted with a complex skein of threads before we get halfway through. 


Also, the course must eventually come to an end.  I will do everything I can to stay current with your e-mail messages during the course.  When the course is complete I would still welcome your questions and comments and new insights (nothing is more gratifying to a teacher than evidence that learning is continuing after the class is over), but I may not be able to be as prompt as I once was.




© 1996 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 11 March 2005