Dear Distance Education Students

This is a slightly-edited email that I just sent to a class of students in my online course that is  designed for graduate students who need to review (or learn for the first time) undergraduate music theory concepts. Course grades had been falling as material became more difficult. This course is made up of fourteen weekly lessons, each of which includes an activity, an assignment (self-graded with automatic release of a key upon submission), and a quiz. Quizzes are available all week, and must be done by midnight Sunday.

Dear students,

I see a disturbing trend: that most of you are submitting their assignments at the end of the weekly unit, and so aren’t making time for asking questions or for study before the quiz. Here’s what I found for the last five assignments:


As you see, pretty much everyone is doing their work on Friday, Saturday, or even Sunday. As I’ve mentioned, I am a parent of young children and am generally not available to field emails and moderate the comments board over the weekend, although I do try to do so as needed. To get the most out of this course, I strongly recommend this weekly work schedule:

  • Monday and Tuesday: Check your grade, review the recent quiz, and begin work on the week’s activity. This should take 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • Wednesday: Complete the activity and the week’s assignment. Formulate questions and post them on the comments board. Comment on other student’s posts and contribute to a discussion. This should take 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • Thursday and Friday: If you have a busy weekend coming up, take the quiz now while everything is fresh in your mind. If you have free time over the weekend, wait to take the quiz until Saturday in case interesting discussion comes up.
  • Sunday: Consider this late to take the quiz; you might get distracted by other work, an invitation to go out with friends, or a D2L snag like we had this weekend.

I wish you all good luck!

Dr. Silverman