1. E-mails
  • As indicated in the syllabus, e-mails must always be written in a professional format. This means they must begin with a proper opening (Dear Instructor... ) and closure (Sincerely... [and your official name]). Otherwise, you may not get a response.
  • If you have e-mailed me outside the designated e-mail days, it may take some time to respond to an e-mail.
  • E-mails are never accessed via mobile devices. This means an e-mail can only be read after logging into a desktop computer, which is never a 24/7 deal. That is why certain days of the week have been designated as e-mail days--see the syllabus to find out what days.
  • When sending an e-mail, in the subject-heading you must always indicate (a) what class you are in, and (b) what the content of the e-mail is about.
  • Whenever you send me an e-mail about an issue you must quote in your e-mail the relevant sentence or paragraph from the syllabus, or announcements on the class home page, or the test instructions, or this page, depending on what the issue is.
  • Do not send me e-mails on matters I have already dealt with in (a) the syllabus; (b) announcements on your class home page; (c) rules for tests/quizzes; and (d) information on this page. You, most likely, will not get a response.
  • Two days during the week have been designated as e-mail days. (See the syllabus.) 

2. Video File Format

  • For a small number of you, after downloading a file, it may not play on your particular machine because of the file format (HEVC encoded). This applies only to the few HEVC encoded files. For solutions click here.

3. Skipping Information on the Class Home Page
  • (a) Links to homework, and other critical information on the class home page never gets removed. This also applies to older announcements.
  • (b) Therefore, develop a habit of ALWAYS, always, always, looking for a scroll bar on the right hand side of a screen, and if present use it (before you do anything else) to make sure that you do not miss anything from that page.
  • (c) Regularly visiting the class home page for announcements and assignments is absolutely essential in this course--see the syllabus.
  • (d)  It is your responsibility to to keep track of test dates, announcements; etc. (I think there are quite a few free apps out there--such as Google Calendar--that can help you keep track of appointments. No?)

4. Options in Multiple-Choice Questions
  • (a) The correct/incorrect options are fixed; they cannot be changed. Just because you chose an incorrect option does not mean everyone else chose the same option too. <--Read this sentence again.
  • (b) In extremely rare instances, there may be a question where everyone gets it wrong. However, even in such an instance it does not necessarily mean there was anything wrong with the options that were presented in the question. It may simply mean that everyone did not do the relevant homework (yes, this does happen); and hence they tried to guess. (See also next point.)
  • (c) It is possible that in some rare instances a question may still be problematic in some way (e.g. wording). To take care of the possibility of such instances everyone will usually (not always) receive a certain number of bonus points when the FINAL score is computed on the basis of your preliminary score. In other words you would do not have to get all questions correct in order to get a 100% on a test. In this scenario, the number of bonus points will depend on length of test, difficulty level of homework material, etc.
  • (d) Going over the tests. First, note that the test you took is not, as a whole, exactly the same as the one everyone else took--some questions will be the same, but others not. Second, if this is an online course, for reasons of academic integrity, a test cannot be posted or sent out once the test is over. Third, however, if you would like to do a zoom meeting to go over your answers, that is possible; though I will not give you the answers. I will only tell you which questions you got wrong and you will have to go back and look up the material for the correct answers. (This is not a math class--if you understand what I mean.) Please note that I will also look up the data on if and when you have been doing your homework, and what kind of questions you have been getting wrong. The latter strategy will give me a very good idea if you did the homework at all, and if so, how well you did it.
  5. Failure to Finish Tests / Missing Tests
  • (a) To begin with, first go through the Rules for Quizzes/Tests/Exams available via a link on the class home page. Check out the forensic steps that have to be taken, in order to discourage cheating. Some students, after seeing the questions on a test and realizing they are unprepared, will claim they had a technical glitch in completing the test by temporarily disconnecting their internet. (Yup. dishonest people are everywhere.) They will then request a re-take of the test. This is not only cheating, but it is totally unfair to other students.
  • (b) In this course, it is not technically possible to open up a test, once it has closed, for any user who fails to do/finish the test for any reason.  It would require a make-up test (if you are allowed one), which would require construction of an entirely new test. Repeat: If you are allowed to do a make-up it will always require construction of a new test. Why? Because, in this course, once a test closes on Blackboard, it is no longer possible to re-open it because tests, per school academic honesty recommendations, can not be open-ended (in terms of date/time/questions). (Not all instructors appear to know this.) Therefore, if, in the rare instance, you are allowed a make-up it will not be available until toward the end of the semester (yes, you can stay on my case about this)--this will also allow me to look at your course performance in general for the entire semester.
  • (c) If you miss a test because of a health issue (or some other legitimate sounding reason), I may require that you provide me with credible evidence. However, the preceding make-up policy will still be applicable.
  • (d) Please also note that university rules require that if I give a break to one student I must give a break to all students. Very often this is simply impractical.
  • (e) Reminder: As per course syllabus, no incompletes will be given in this course.

6. Question about "Open-Book" Test Format

  • Are the tests open-book in this course? I would prefer they were not. However, because this is an asynchronous course, there is no way for me to prevent you from looking up material via your dumb phones. I am therefore remaining silent on this question.

7. Extra-credit

  • If an extra-credit test is scheduled then it will take the form of a regular test, and most likely it will be available during exam week after the last day of class. It may or may not be based on homework assigned during the semester.
  • Extra-credit means extra work for me; Yes? Therefore, in order that people take this opportunity seriously (instead of wasting my time), for the extra-credit test to count I may require that you get a minimum of a B+ on it, in which case the test will be worth two grade levels--as in, for example, C to C+ to B- equals two levels.
  • Alternatively, I may not ask you to get a minimum grade on the test, and instead I would use the score to replace the lowest score on your existing test scores (the assumption being that you will do better on this test than on any previous test).
  • Here is a question for ya: If you did not have the time to do the homework for the regular tests during the semester, how are you going to find the time for the extra-credit test?

8. Asynchronous versus Synchronous Courses
  • If this is an asynchronous course (see your syllabus for definition), with some possible exceptions, there will be no synchronous sessions via Zoom or some similar facility. (Office hours will be mainly via e-mail on the days specified in the syllabus. Zoom will be available with prior appointment, after first determining its necessity via e-mail.)

9. Accessing / Downloading the Homework.
  • As per course requirements in the syllabus, you must download all assigned homework. For starters, not all AV material is available via commercial channels, moreover (a) some of the assigned films have been "processed" specifically for this class in the sense that explanatory notes and other AV materials are attached to them; and (b) I need to be able to keep track of who is doing the homework. :)
  • For a small number of you, after downloading a file, it may not play on your particular machine because of the file format (HEVC encoded). This applies only to the very few HEVC encoded files. For solutions click here.
  • For a small number of you, a link to a homework assignment may result in a message such as  "We are sorry you do not have access to this service... blah, blah, blah." This will happen with assignment material located on Google Drive). First, this is a problem on your end, and it has to do with your browser and/or your computer habits. Second, here are some solutions to the problem.
  • All homework is accessible via the Homework Materials Depository link on the class homepage. Please explore the depository. (Reminder: learning how to navigate the internet in order to retrieve relevant and reliable information is part of the executive function skills that you need to acquire.)
  • A few of you may experience sound problems on some feature films (usually Part Two of a film), in which case please try the following steps: (a) First, check to see if your computer system sound is configured at its maximum within the operating system (Windows 10, Android, etc.). (b) Use your phone to stream that part of the film and see if there is any appreciable sound difference. (c) Check to see if the feature film only (Part Two) is available through other sources to which you may have access (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.). (d) If you are using the VLC media player (highly recommended) on your computer, configure the volume to the maximum. (e) If all else fails, send me an e-mail and I will try and reprocess the film (very, very, very time consuming). Yes, you guessed right: the sound will be O.K. on my end; otherwise I would not upload the film. Yes?
  • Do not contact me at the very last minute about problems with accessing assignments. I am not going to be impressed with your tardiness. You are supposed to access homework at the scheduled time, making it easier to resolve any problem you may have.
  • By the way, here is a thought that has been going through my head: some of you (or may be most of you) are into all kinds of social media stuff; and yet you are so super intelligent that you can't even navigate around your instructor's dinky website to locate class material. Man, what's up with that?

10. Not Doing Well in this Course.
  • This is an online course, therefore, as indicated in the syllabus, you have to have a lot of self-discipline. Chances are you are not doing the homework exactly (repeat, exactly) as directed. See the syllabus and the Rules for Online Quizzes/Tests/Exams available via the class home page. (A question for ya: if you are accessing all the homework on the day of the test, or the day before, when did you get the time to do all the homework effectively, if at all? For example, if an entire film has been assigned, then it must be seen in its entirety. Trying to pick and choose scenes is not going to work. Additionally, you are required to watch the films TWICE with absolutely, absolutely no distractions--leaving a couple of days in between. Yes, I can check data on who is downloading the homework, and when.) Furthermore, I can also check your answers to test questions which will give me a really good picture of whether or not you have been doing your homework. For example, choosing an option on a test question about a fake scene in a film is a clear indication you never saw the film. Note: if you lie to me that you have been doing all your homework as per instructions and I find out that that is not true, I may eliminate all your bonus points. <--Read this sentence again.
  • There are are only so many hours in a day; so how many credit hours are you taking? Do you have a paid job? What does the syllabus say about this issue?
  • Compared to your other classes, this is a super easy class! However, not doing your homework at all in this class, OR doing it at the last minute, or not doing it as directed, is just not a good idea. For example, test questions will appear to YOU to be "very detailed." Years of teaching has taught me that when a student complains that she/he does not know why they are not doing well in a simple course like this one, even though (they claim) they are doing all the homework, what they are really saying is why do the shortcut tricks they have used in their other Gen Ed classes not working in this class.
  • If you are not a humanities/arts student then please remember you will have to use a different study strategy compared to the one you use for classes in fields such as engineering, math, biology, physics, and so on. (Think of what subjects you were good at when you were in high school.)
  • The amount of work you are being assigned in this class PER WEEK is relatively little; but if you wait to do it until the last minute you will find that it is too much. You will be overwhelmed! A reminder: I can access statistics that tell me, for example, who is downloading the films, when they downloaded them; who is streaming, when they streamed, how often they streamed, and who didn't do the homework at all.
  • Warning: Regardless of which race you believe you belong to, please do NOT racialize the epistemology on which this course rests. What does this mean in practice? The attitude that since this course deals with knowledge by and/or about black people it is not important enough to require diligence. <-- What does this word mean?
  • If your homework included AV materials (films/videos) did you take any notes comprising one or two key words as each scene changed. Why not?
  • The Rules for Online Quizzes/Tests/Exams has additional pointers on how to prepare for tests in this class. Have you looked at it?
  • Do you know what the "Lazy Student Rule" is? (Look it up in the Rules for Online Quizzes/Tests/Exams.)
  • Do you know what the "Internet Rule" is? (Look it up in the Rules for Online Quizzes/Tests/Exams.)
  • It is impossible, if you do the homework exactly as directed, to fail this course. A question for ya: if the statistical data on when (and IF) you accessed the homework in relation to announcements and test dates was investigated, what would emerge?
  • Yes, grades do matter, but not only for the reasons you think. Grades measure more than your mastery of assignments. They also measure executive function skills, such as conscientiousness—which includes such personality behaviors as “diligence, perseverance, and self-discipline” (which is also part of what constitutes “professionalism”). The teaching of executive function skills in schools and colleges, which is a very important element of education, is part of what is known as the "hidden curriculum." (See reading no. J(b) from  the Educational Success Packet--link on your class home page.)
  • Other students are doing well in this course; is there something you are not doing that they are doing?
  • If you are not doing well across tests that cover DIFFERENT films/readings, etc. then the problem could not be with the tests. Yes? Especially when others in class are doing consistently well across these same tests.