ETAP 777: Methods of Qualitative Research in Education (Fall, 2004)

Guidelines for WebCT









Policies and Procedures for Online Discussions

General Information. Throughout the semester we will be using WebCT for online discussions that, ideally, will grow out of and extend our in-class discussions. If all goes well, these online discussions will enable us to extend our collective inquiry beyond the limits of our weekly class meetings and help shape the focus of the course.

WebCT also will be the vehicle for distributing and discussing the critical review essays. You can also access electronic reserves through our WebCT site.

Since we will use WebCT exclusively for conferencing and sharing texts, you won't need to use any of the other capabilities of the program. The course web site will serve as the primary source of information about course assignments and policies.

Guidelines for Participation. You should log onto the site at least once each week (before our Tuesday class meeting) to review any messages that have been posted to our bulletin board and to engage in ongoing online discussions. There are no length requirements for your messages, but you'll be expected to contribute in a substantive way to ongoing discussions or to provoke discussion by raising questions or commenting on course-related issues, class discussions, course readings, etc. Once the critical reviews begin to be posted to the WebCT bulletin board each week, it will be essential that you log in to review those before each class meeting.

Grading. Your participation in our course-related online discussions will be worth a possible total of fifteen points. You will earn 15 points for this assignment by logging onto the course WebCT discussion board each week, reading all posted messages, and posting at least one message every two weeks (for a total of 6 messages during the semester) that contributes substantively to our online discussions. Fewer points will be earned you post fewer than six messages during the semester, fail to log in regularly, or post extremely brief messages that do not substantively engage course issues.

Instructions for Accessing WebCT

[Note: Complete instructions and information about WebCT are available at the CETL web site at]

To access our course discussion list on WebCT, simply go to, then follow these steps:

  1. Click "Logon to My WebCT" and you will see a dialog box that requests your Username and Password. Enter your Username and Password. (Information about your username and password will be provided in class, or you can go to the CETL web site mentioned above. Note that you will need a SUNY-Albany Unix email account in order to be able to access WebCT.)

  2. Once ou are logged in, you see the "My WebCT" page. This is a home page that will allow you to access all of your WebCT courses.

  3. Now click the listing for ETAP 777. You will be taken to our course WebCT site.

  4. Once you are at our course WebCT site, click on the icon labeled "Communication Tools". You will see a new page with new icons. Click the one for "Discussions." That will take you to the discussion list. The screen will now change, and you will see a chart indicating the number of messages posted to our class WebCT forum as well as the number of messages "unread" by you. To access the discussion list, simply click "Main." You will see an index of messages that have been posted to our discussion list, and you can read each message by clicking that message or by clicking the heading for the thread in which that message appears.

  5. To post a message to the list, click the link labeled "Compose Message" in the small command bar that is directly above the chart. A new window will open up, and you can type your message in the main box. Note that when you click a message, a new window will appear. Once you are finished reading that message, simply close the window, and you'll return to the main index.

  6. Note that if you wish to respond to a message already on the list rather than post a message on an entirely new topic, click on the "Reply" button that appears above the message you wish to respond to. You can also click on the "Quote" button; if you do so, your new message will include the text of the message you are responding to. Once you've clicked "reply" (or "quote"), a new screen will appear, and you can type your message onto that screen.

  7. When you're finished typing your message, you can look it over by clicking on the "Preview" button. When you're satisfied with your message, click on the "Post" button. You will then return to the discussion list screen.

    Note that you can write your message offline using a word processing program (such as Microsoft Word) and then paste it into the box in WebCT when you're ready to post it.
  8. To exit the discussion forum, click on "Home" at the top of the frame on the left side of your screen. That will take you back to the WebCT home page for our course. From there you can return to our course web site or go elsewhere on the web.