The Care and Feeding
of Online Instructors
(Continued from 1)
Use a good quality virus detection program on your
computer! A virus checker that is operating in the background
should prevent you from catching or passing on a virus.
There was a time when I had a sub-standard virus program
and some infected files came in. That's bad enough,
but then inadvertently passing the virus onto other
students compounds the sin.
Never, ever, ever, ever plagiarize! There is plenty
of web content out there for quality research. It must
be acknowledged appropriately in your assignments through
footnotes or bibliographies. I once had an online MBA
student who had to write a paper on outsourcing of a
corporate function. She sent emails to other students
asking for their suggestions on how to get started.
Three days later, she submitted to me a paper of journal-grade
quality. After I politely challenged her on it, I never
heard from her again. She failed the course. Enough
Be timely! Deadlines are for a reason. You may have
to write your assignments, but we have to read them
all. However, it's more than reading. The instructor
is obligated to provide professional feedback and suggestions,
as well as a grade. Downloading and uploading take time.
When working from home, competing for computer and Internet
time with the rest of the family injects some stress
into the instructor's schedule (yes, we're human too!).
Late submissions, particularly those that arrive weeks
late, or are piled into the inbox during the last week
of the course, will only earn you animosity even though
your work could be exceptional.
Don't be reluctant to use humor! I teach economics
online. The reason I became an economist is that I was
very good with numbers, but didn't have the personality
to be an accountant! Occasional humor, without being
frivolous, can endear you to a professor, particularly
one who is grinding through e-papers in the dead of
night after a long day in the classroom or at the office.
Best to put your humorous comments in your e-mail message
and not in the body of your paper. Even a :-) is welcome!
I wanted to pass on to those of you who might choose,
or be required, to take a course in my subject area,
some good online resources available in the virtual
universe. One of my favorites is the economics site
John Irons has done an admirable job of assembling a
quality site and providing numerous hyperlinks to just
about any resource on economics that you could think
of. My other favorite, which is a bit more narrow in
scope, is the website for the Federal
Reserve Bank of New York. The New York Fed has excellent
information about the nation's banking system and the
Fed's role, and research on current macroeconomic issues.
Finally, paste the following checklist next to the
Okay, go ahead and punch "send!"
- Did I spellcheck my work and run it through a grammar
- Is it virus-free?
- Did I pay attention to the instructor's comments
on my last assignment and not make the same mistake(s)
- Does my virtual paper directly address the question
or topic that is assigned? Have I eliminated any ambiguity
and included enough detail to demonstrate my points?
- Did I read my work over carefully, and does it read
like I would speak the words?
- Will I remember to ask for an automated receipt
through my e-mail program, or ask the instructor to
acknowledge receipt of my assignment?
- Is this my best work?
Kenneth Maxey lives in Evergreen, Colorado and is an
instructor at Regis