In fact, sometimes students enroll in an online course and never do a single thing in the course. They don't enroll in the Blackboard site (online course management site), they don't submit assignments, they don't respond to email, and they don't drop the class by the drop deadline. They're like ghosts-- present in name only. Of course students who behave thus (a lack of behavior, really) have to receive a failing grade even though they could have avoided such simply by dropping the course by the 12th week.
Then there are those who complete a few assignments, but quite doing so at week 4 or 6 or 9. A few even do all the work, but fail to turn in the course portfolio or the final paper or fail to take the final exam-- thus disqualifying themselves for a "completion" or a "pass." As much as I encourage and empower (I really don't like that word-- too ambiguous) and cajole, students just don't finish-- some of them anyway. What's up with that?
I've thought some this summer about what to say (write) to students who will be in my online classes. I always send a cheery, informative, and encouraging (though realistic) email message which spells out what they'll need to do to be successful in the course. I've wondered if I should tell students that half of the class will likely disappear or stop participating before the end of the term. Would that help them see how seriously they should take the course requirements? Would it strengthen their resolve to step up and do they work? Or would it give them an easy out?
"Dr. Draney said half of us wouldn't finish. I guess I'm in that half."
What do you think? Have you taken an online class? How did it go? What motivated you to do well? What kinds of communications about expectations did you get from your instructor(s)?