Essentials of ConnectWeb at UCSB for Faculty

Whereís the page? The URL for most classes is http://connectweb.com/ucsb.asp

How do I get started? Follow these steps:

Before the quarter begins:

  1. Reserve a regular lab time.
  2. Go to the Instructional Computing scheduling page and sign up. The URL is http://srf.ic.ucsb.edu/.
  3. Tell me, James Donelan.
  4. Iíll have ConnectWeb create a class for you on the UCSB page. My email address is donelan@writing.ucsb.edu.
  5. Enter your students on the "Options" page.
  6. Begin by entering their names. The program will generate login names for them.
  7. Load the syllabus and the first assignment sequence.
  8. Youíll be grateful for everything you thought out in advance, and you can always change things later. Remember to put due dates on all the assignments.

On the first day of class and immediately afterward:

  1. Tell them about ConnectWeb
  2. . Students will want to know why youíre using it, how much it costs, and what kind of computing equipment or experience theyíll need to succeed in your class.
  3. Get their email addresses
  4. . Enter them on the "Options" page, so youíll have it all ready once they begin using the program.
  5. Send them all an email reminding them that the class meets in the lab.
  6. You can welcome them to the class and tell them anything else you want, too. Just make sure you check the "Send copy to email" box at the bottom of the form.

On the first lab day:

  1. Put the "Options" page on the big screen and ask for corrections and additions to the information.
  2. It saves a lot of time and trouble.
  3. Lead them through the login procedure.
  4. Have them follow you as you do it up on the screen, and switch to the student view as soon as you log in.
  5. Get them going on an assignment, and then help the stragglers.
  6. Somebody always walks in late or makes a mistake during the login. Donít worry about itójust get them going.
  7. Show them all the features, one at a time.
  8. Keep it moving, but donít overwhelm them with new information.
  9. Run an online discussion so they can ask questions.
  10. Doing this will help them get used to the program and enable you to solve any problems they may have right away.
  11. Remind them that the program costs $20 and that they must buy it online.
  12. Tell them about the trial period (the two weeks they have before the program must be purchased). By making it clear from the beginning that the program costs money, you avoid resentment and dissatisfaction later . A class discussion of the costs of computing and taking classes can help put the program in perspective, tooóitís relatively cheap and extremely useful.

Technical Problems:

What do I do if the computer acts up? Close the browser and re-boot the computer. ConnectWeb uses a lot of memory, and a re-boot usually cures the problem.

How do I log off and log on to another class? Shut down the browser and start it again. Make sure you shut down the browser every time you finish working with the program so that your account remains secure.

Does ConnectWeb ever stop working? On extremely rare occasions, something will go wrong at ConnectWeb central. Itís usually fixed within twelve hours, and they have never lost any information posted to the site.

How do I post assignments if I donít own Microsoft Word? Use whatever word processor you do own, but save the document as an html file. Itíll upload just fine.

Does this work with a Mac? Of course it does. The old Connect.Net didnít, but this version works with any computer that can run a relatively recent web browser.

What if it really starts acting strangely? Try hitting "refresh" up top. Try it again with the right mouse button (on PCs). Try clearing the browser cache (in the browser options, up top). Shut the browser down and try again. Shut the computer down and try again. Shut off all the computers and write on the chalkboard. Call it a day and go home.

Pedagogical Problems:

What do I do if itís not going well? ConnectWeb is a tool, like any other. Switch to Plan B, stop everyone and talk for a bit, or just take a break. Then think about whatís going wrong and what you want to do. Usually, thereís a relatively simple solution available.

Does using the program take more or less time than doing things the old-fashioned way? That depends on how much you use the program, and what you mean by "the old-fashioned way." In my experience, the program doesnít save time, but it does give you more and better tools to teach your class.

Why should I use this program? It gives you more options for teaching, and it helps you stay in contact with your class more easily and more effectively.

Why should students use this program? They get more feedback, more instruction, and better organization of their assignments than they would otherwise. They can track their progress more efficiently and get assistance more easily, too. They never lose the syllabus, the assignment, a corrected paper, or your email address.

Tricks for Specific Features: (Theyíll make sense once youíve used the program for a while.)

How can I put links or complicated formatting into an assignment? Create it in MS Word or as a web page, then upload it using the "upload" button, rather than by typing it directly into the window on ConnectWeb. The program will preserve your links.

How do I return all the papers at once when Iíve graded an assignment, rather than returning each paper as I finish grading it? Grade each assignment, but donít click "finished grading" until you want to return it. When youíre done with all of them, go to each one and click "finished grading." (Yes, itís a pain.)

How can I post something for my students that isnít an assignment? Use the "Create Assignments" page and post it as if it were an assignment, but change the "Paper due" option from "Yes" to "No." Itíll be in the assignment list as a link, but there wonít be a space for them to post papers.

How can I see new postings to an online discussion without posting something new myself?

Put the cursor over the discussion area, click the right mouse button, and then "refresh." The part of the page with the discussion postings will reload.

Back to Jim Donelan's Course Page