MATSE 81
Materials in Today's World

Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions about MATSE 81? Check here first to see if you can find the answers.

General 

When are office hours?

By appointment. My experience with this course is that it is extremely rare that anyone drops in to visit me in my office. Typically I answer questions from students through Canvas mail, direct email, the general discussion boards, and the lesson discussion boards. However, when an email does not suffice, I try to reserve W 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM and Th 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM on my calendar for MatSE 81 appointments. I ask that you contact me ahead of time to reserve a time. If one of these two time slots does not work for you please suggest other times that you are available. In addition, please let me know if you will be visiting my office in N156 Millennium Science Complex on the University Park campus, wish to set up a phone call, or set up a Skype call. I want to be as accessible as possible for one-on-one time with you.

Where is your office?

Prof. Redwing’s office is N156 Millennium Science Complex. It is best to set a meeting time before hand. We can also meet electronically with anyone. 

How should I contact the instructor of the course?

If you are asking a general question (asking for clarification of a course policy or asking a question about course content), please post it on the discussion board for general discussions. That way the question can be answered for everyone. If it is a personal matter, please email the course instructor directly using Canvas conversations or PSU email.

When will unpublished Lessons be posted?

They will be posted soon. This course is newly developed and currently we are adding new course content each semester. We will be sure to let everyone know when that content is available.

I have a disability and need accommodation. What do I do?

First off, welcome to the course. We strive to engage everyone with a welcoming and accommodating course that is available to all Penn State students, regardless of ability.
In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

I, as a conscientious individual, have tried to ensure that the course content is accessible for people who need a variety of accommodations. Unfortunately, content on the web is always changing and there may be things we could do differently to better meet the specific needs of a particular community. If you have any comments about the accessibility of any of the content in the course, please share it with me.

I’m a current/former member of the Armed Forces/am the spouse of a member of the Armed Forces, and need accommodation. What do I do?

First off, welcome to the course and thank you for your service. Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Discussion Boards

Do I need to participate in the "Lesson XX General Discussion" boards?

No. The General Discussion forum for each Lesson on Canvas is intended to be a resource for everyone to collaborate in learning about each lesson's content. Please post any questions you have about the videos and book there. But participation is not required.

I found a great image/video online that would contribute to our discussion that I want to share. What should I do?

Share it! Just be sure, if it isn’t your original content, that you cite your source. If you don’t cite your source, it is a violation of the university’s academic integrity policy.

What citation style should I use to cite sources?

No particular citation style guide is required, but be sure to include the web address and access date. Here’s an example:

Tabby cat and a white ferret cuddling in a hammock
Cuteness!
Source: http://metro.co.uk/2015/10/16/meet-komari-the-adopted-kitten-who-thinks-... Picture of a tabby cat and a white ferret cuddling in a hammock. [Accessed 8/1/2016]

I took a great picture/video that relates to our discussion and want to share it with my discussion group. Can I share it? Do I need to cite it?

Yes, please share it. Just let us know you took it, so we don’t wonder why it lacks a citation. Like this:

Beautiful, very soft black cat laying down outside with a blue leash on its neck.
This picture of a beautiful, very soft tortoiseshell cat on a blue leash was taken by me. (This is my cat Ceebie)
Source: Anna Domask

Can I disagree with other students/the instructors on the discussion boards?

As many of the questions may not have a definitive right or wrong answer, respectfully challenging previous comments, including my own, is acceptable. Posting should not including harassing or foul language of any kind. Nor should posting include comments or questions wholly unrelated to course content. Conflict in an online course can actually be a very good thing, but if someone writes something that feels offensive to you, contact the instructor immediately.

Canvas and Personal IT Issues

I am having a problem with Canvas. How should I try to fix it myself?

The first thing to do if you're having a problem with Canvas is to try a different browser that has just been opened and/or clear the cache of your current browser and restart it. Here are instructions for clearing the cache for eight common browsers. We recommend having a back-up browser that you rarely use (and therefore has little cache) that can quickly be deployed if you have a problem in the middle of an assignment.

I had a problem with Canvas that isn't fixed by restarting my browser. What am I supposed to do?

Contact Canvas IT. We have no control over Canvas. Take a screen-capture of any error message you get: it helps IT diagnose the problem and it’s the only way we will even consider letting you retake/take something late for IT issues.

Canvas/a computer/the internet messed up my assignment. Can I retake it?

Not likely. Canvas errors are built into the grading of the course. It’s why we drop 2 of the 12 lesson quizzes. But take a screen-capture of the error message, immediately send it to us in an email and we might let you work on something late.

Lesson Quizzes

How long do I have to take the lesson quizzes?

The quizzes are untimed; you have from the time the quiz is available until the due date. Just make sure to submit your work before the due date.

Can I work with my friends to complete the lesson quizzes?

Sure.

I’m not sure about question XYZ. What should I do?

Post an open ended question about the topic on the discussion board. There is a discussion board for open questions associated with each lesson on Canvas. One of your peers or one of the instructors will help you. Please pose your question as a general one, and don't ask "Which is the right answer..."

What do I need to read for each book quiz?

Each book quiz covers one or two chapters of the e-book, as listed on the course website and Canvas. The easiest way to navigate to the desired chapter is via the navigation bar in the e-book reader. We have also listed the page numbers for the required chapter(s), so you can double check that you read the correct material. These page numbers refer to the page numbers for our custom e-book and not the original book. 

The book has two sets of page numbers. What is the deal with that?

Because this is a custom e-book version of a published textbook, there are two sets of page numbers: The page numbers from the original book (a mostly san-serif font usually at the top of the page, but on the bottom of the first page of a chapter that has a red dot next to it) and the ones for our custom e-book (a serif font always at the bottom of the page that is closer to the bottom than the original page numbers). Most importantly, our page numbers are sequential while the original book page numbers are not: we are reading the book in a different order and we skip half the pages. 

Where can I access the videos for the video quizzes?

All of the videos are available through Canvas and not on the course website (for intellectual property reasons). Each lesson on Canvas has the content listed in the same order, with the video and video quiz listed last (followed by a discussion if there is one that week). In each Lesson, the reading/video assignments are left justified and the quiz on the content is listed below the assignment, tabbed once over to the right. Therefore, the video is the second to last item, marked with a page icon (because it is a link to the Canvas page hosting the video), titled "Video: XXX." 

Exams

Are there exams in this course?

Yes. Check the calendar on Canvas for dates.

I had a problem with Canvas. Can I retake/makeup an exam?

No. Consider taking your midterm/final on campus or somewhere else with a reliable computer and internet connection. Take a screen capture of any error messages you get: it helps IT and is the only way you will possibly be given an extension, but there are no guarantees.

How long do I have to take an exam?

Once the exam is opened, you have 60 to 90 minutes to complete it depending on the stated length of that particular exam. For a 90 minute exam, that is 90 minutes by the clock, not 90 cumulative minutes. If you open the assignment at 5:17 pm for a 90-minute exam, it is due 6:47 pm the same day. Ignorance of this policy is not a viable excuse for late work or improper preparation for the assignment.

When do exams become available to take?

Exams will be available for a few days during the week they are due. Check the calendar on Canvas for the exact dates.

Are the exams open book/open notes?

Yes. You are permitted to use any materials you need while you take your exams, but due to the timed nature of the exams I would caution you that extensive research to locate answers during the exam is not likely to be a successful strategy if used for many of the questions.

Can I work on the exams with my friends?

No. Take your exams individually without help from others. We have high standards of academic integrity and will not tolerate cheating of any kind, especially since all the evaluations are open-book.

When can I review my answers to the exams?

The correct answers will become available seven days after the due date. They are no longer available for review one week after that (two weeks after the due date).

General Assignments

Can I work ahead in the course?

Yes and no. Many of the lesson quizzes will all be available when the course begins, and others will be posted shortly. The exams have specific times they are available, each only for a few days.

I'm not sure about the answer to question XYZ in Lesson XX. What should I do?

Please post a question on the Lesson XX General Discussion Board. Please post it in a general way, and avoid asking "what is the right answer." Your instructor or your peers will help you understand the topic better.

I think one of the questions in Lesson XX is marked wrong and/or is worded confusingly. What should I do?

Please post your question/comment on the Lesson XX General Discussion Board. Some of the content is new this semester, and there may be errors/confusing questions. Let me know so I can correct the question and/or give everyone credit for the question. Worst case, I will explain to you why the answer is correct and everyone will learn a little something new. :)

Grades 

I missed an assignment. Can I make it up?

Likely no. Make-up work will only be allowed under the following circumstances: (1) if prearranged with the instructor; (2) if the result of a documented emergency; or (3) if the result of a significant, prolonged documented illness. Other excuses are not accepted for late work. Only significant, prolonged illnesses are a valid excuse for late work, and verification from a health care provider is required. Minor illnesses and other issues are built into the grading; it’s why we drop two of the 12 lesson quizzes.

Canvas had an error and my submission was messed up. Can I retake an assignment?

Likely no. Begin your lesson quizzes well in advance of the deadline, so if you have a problem you have time to correct the problem and finish your work. Consider taking your exams on campus or somewhere else with a reliable computer and internet connection. If Canvas has a problem, take a screen shot of any error message you get: it helps IT diagnose the problem and it’s the only way we will even consider letting you retake/take something late due to IT issues.

What is the best way to do well in the course?

Don’t miss deadlines, so you drop the lowest grades on work you attempted and not the assignments you forgot about. Start the lesson quizzes early so you can ask your peers/the instructors for help and to prevent IT issues from impacting your grade. Actively study for the exams. Don’t cheat on exams. Don’t cut and paste answers during exams.

What is the best way to fail the course?

If you want to fail the course, the best way to do it is not to meet the deadlines. The deadlines are firm. You are responsible for meeting all of them.

Is there extra credit?

No.
Seriously.
There isn’t.
Please don’t email to ask.

Is there a curve?

We don’t know yet. Please don’t email to ask.
The instructor of the course does his best to prepare evaluation materials that are clear and at an appropriate level for the course. However, despite my best intentions, unclear or overly difficult questions do sometimes make it into my assessments. For these reasons I reserve the right to adjust the percentages ranges for letter grades (i.e., curve the course) to provide, in the instructor's judgment, more accurate representation of the earned grades. In no case will the ranges be raised and any adjustment, if any, will be applied to all students and only determined after all course materials have been evaluated.
Again, don’t email me to ask. The answer will be “I don’t know yet.”

It’s the end of the semester, and I’m unhappy with my grade. Whose fault is it?

Yours. The grading is straightforward and most of the course grading is objective.