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Helpful Tips for your MFA Program


Helpful Tips and Classroom Etiquette 

This is not an all-encompassing document but a condensed sheet that you can refer back to

or print out and use for future reference.


Registering for Classes From the Calendar, click on the class. A new window will open up to the class, simply click the "JOIN" button. Note: The option to Subscribe is not available once the class begins however you may still be able to join the class by posting a request to the facilitator on the class Welcome page.

All Courses have a Course Page that lists the readings, requirements and assignments for the class. Once you have joined a class or beforehand if you click to it from the calendar, you can access the Course Page by clicking on the NAME OF THE CLASS, a SECOND TIME.
From the Registration Page, run your mouse over the Course Name in large print. You should see that it is a link when it changes to UNDERLINED. If not, then look down the page a couple of lines, the name of the course may be repeated in smaller text. Each registration page has a link to the course page. Click on the name of the course with the link and you will find all the materials needed for that course. If the readings are provided that is where they’ll be posted.
That is also where you can get a general idea of the assignments required for the course. However, at the top of the course page, you’ll notice a blue banner that reads:
Note: Course assignments are general guidelines regarding what you can expect. The actual posted assignment may vary, based on class size and a number of other factors, at facilitator discretion.
So always check your facilitator's assignment post in the classroom before beginning your assignment.

Developing Good Practices: Most of your classes will require reading and all will require understanding the class requirements before posting assignments. Read the pinned posts in the classroom as soon as possible. Sometimes the lesson will be posted the night before. Ask questions. Start right away to give yourself time to write, rewrite, and if needed edit/rewrite again to make sure you meet the requirements. The sooner you post, the more help and feedback you will receive. If you are brand-new, you might want to glance at the posts and feedback of more experienced students to help guide you - but it is important that you write and post your own feedback in the class before reading the other comments. It’s easy to let another opinion influence your own. Soon you will be comfortable enough to jump in first.



-Click on the “Subscribe” button just below “Category Header.” This ensures you will receive email notification of all new posts, so you’re always on top of your class activity.
-Pay special attention to every post that is marked with a blue pushpin or similar marker. That symbol indicates it is from your moderator or facilitator. These will always be the top posts and contain information you will need for the class.
-The classrooms are for Assignment instructions and posted work. All questions or comments are welcome but should be posted in the appropriate place designated by your moderator/facilitator. This keeps the classrooms organized. For instance, if you have questions about the course in general or classroom guidelines, you might post them on the Facilitators “Welcome Post” if there is one. If you have questions regarding the assignment, post them on the assignment post.

-To return to any of the Key Points or reading materials, click on the Course Page link in the classroom, found just below “Category Header.”

Formatting: Most writers prefer using their own programs to write out their assignments i.e. MS Word, Google Docs, etc. However, when you Copy & Paste your post, to the forum, most formatting will not copy over. That may include paragraph breaks, italics, bold, colors, and the like. You will have to redo those formatting options using the Formatting Bar just above the post box. Important: Be sure to hit “Preview” before you submit to ensure it looks exactly as you intended.


Formatting Bar (Far left panel)

(Bold) (Italic) (Underline) (Strikethrough) (Subscript1) (Superscript2) (Text Size ) (Text Color) etc.

Enlarging Your Posting Area: In the bottom right corner of the Message Box where you post your assignment, you will see small diagonal lines. If you press your cursor on those lines and drag downward, the box will expand for easier viewing and editing. For more info see the Video lesson posted Here.

Feedback: Standard class minimum requirement is four feedbacks each week including one full line-by-line critique. A moderator/facilitator may, however, amend this in some way specific to the needs of a particular course. Be sure to check for that in the moderator’s Welcome Message or Assignment Post. If you are unsure of how to leave feedback for your classmates, see the Guidelines for Workshops and Classes 

Tracking your Feedback: After you submit feedback to your classmate’s post, scroll down the page. You will see a row of buttons (bottom, left): “Reply Topic”, “Subscribe”, and “Favorite”. Click on Favorite. Your page will refresh. When you return to the Main Classroom, you’ll see a gold star next to the feedback you just completed. This is the perfect way to track your feedback.
Note: Once you have “Favorited” a post, you will receive notifications every time someone comments on that post. This is beneficial while the class is running. You may need to know when your facilitator or another classmate responds to your comments or feedback.
But once the class has ended, you will want to “Unsubscribe” from all posts in a classroom. See the Unsubscribe option under “Recordkeeping” for more info.

Moderator or Facilitator Posts: Always hit the “Thank You” button for any posts from your Moderator or Facilitator. This acknowledges the Post has been read. Also, feel free to reply to those posts with any questions or requests for further information.

Classmate Posts - Thank You: It is polite to click the Thank You button for most relevant posts and feedback. It’s nice to acknowledge others’ work and assures your classmates that you are at least reading their posts.

Karma: You’ll also notice a Karma: – / + box below each classmate’s photo or avatar. You have the ability to add Karma once per day to your peers here at WVU. It’s just a fun thing we do to acknowledge a great story, a helpful feedback, a kind word, and especially when someone is struggling and just needs a boost of “happy.”

Obviously, the (-) minus sign detracts from that person’s Karma. Fortunately, this is a very rare thing to happen. Please consider it only for the most egregious offense, i.e. behavior outside the realm of acceptable which would be worthy of notifying the moderator for example. This is not for disliking content, disagreeing with an opinion; political, social or otherwise. See next topic for reporting protocols.


 Classroom Behavior 


Violence or Profanity:
If your story contains any sensitive topics, please indicate it in the Subject Line of your post (after the Word Count) as a general courtesy. A simple "Warning: Language" will suffice.

Inappropriate Behavior: Under no circumstances will we tolerate “bad behavior” in the classroom. Here are some examples.
· Personal insults against another member, including the use of pejoratives
· Racism, sexism, including imagery or “humor” disguised as such
· Profanity used toward a classmate
· Pornographic images or links
· Inflammatory behavior, i.e. deliberately provoking controversial political or religious arguments

Also remember please, we have students from all walks of life, from many other countries, with different morals and beliefs. Telling a story from one’s perspective is understandable. Advocating a controversial point of view is not.

As is the case in any academic program, plagiarism will not be tolerated in WVU classrooms.
Random plagiarism checks will be performed in all classes at the discretion of the moderator/facilitator. This is done in the interest of the integrity of the coursework and out of consideration for all other students.
If you suspect a classmate of plagiarizing their work you should contact the course facilitator. Do NOT confront the student directly.

In the case that any of you feel a post is inappropriate as shown here, your first step is to report it to your moderator. This should be done through the Private Message system. (See heading below). If you are unable to reach your Facilitator or feel that a post is in opposition to WVU's rules of conduct, you can use the "Report to Moderator" button. At the bottom-right corner of the post, just above the buttons shown below, you will see a smaller separate button named “Report to moderator”. 

PLEASE NOTE: Use this button only for the most egregious offense and ONLY AFTER you have first contacted your Facilitator/Moderator.

Replying to posts in the classroom 

When you go to reply to a classmate’s post you’ll find a number of options. Let’s look at them one at a time.
Quick Reply - Reply - Quote - Edit - Moderate - Delete

"Quick Reply" Is a way to leave a quick short message in the classroom. It does not offer any formatting options. Use this to say "Well done" or "Thank you" to a classmate or to leave a short message for your facilitator. For example, if something has come up and you will be behind in posting your assignments or feedback, etc.

"Reply" This is the choice for most classroom posts. It offers the ability to add BOLDItalicsUnderlineStrikethroughText Size, and Colored Text along with Paragraph styles, bullet lists, alignment, etc. Feel free to play with these options in your posts, then click on "Preview" to see how they look. (You can always cancel before hitting submit if you mess things up, so no worries, Right?) :)

"Quote" This will bring up your classmate's post in its exact format, including their name at the top. It is a great way to leave inline feedback. Just put your cursor wherever you want to leave a comment and click on a Color so your text stands out from theirs. One note: Once you hit Quote and the post comes up you will want to delete the very first bracketed text with their name. It will look like this:
[ quote="KareninMO" post=410672 ] - Otherwise, the entire post will come up in italics. Which might be fine but if you want to add something in italics, it won't show up in the "quote" reply. Also, at the end of the post delete the closing [ quote ]

"Edit" You have a limited time period to edit a post. Always read your post over immediately after hitting submit to make sure it looks the way you want it to and that there are no typos, etc. You can do this as many times as you like, as long as it is within 15 - 30 minutes after you hit submit. The edit option will timeout after that and if you need further editing you'll have to contact your facilitator.

"Moderate" This option is for administrative use only.

"Delete" You have a limited time period to delete a post. To be used only in emergency circumstances. For instance, if you post an assignment in the wrong classroom. Or if you accidentally hit Submit in the middle of posting. (Of course, you could use edit for that) ;)

At the End of Class 



WVU has a simple way for you to keep track of your completed courses. It is by using the Add Record button.

Make it a habit to add the course to your record after the final day of class when you know you have completed all requirements.
At the top of most WVU screen pages, you will see these hyperlinked headers:
Menu - Course Manager - WVU Social - Forums

Clicking on or hovering over Course Manager will show you the links to Add Record and View, or Edit Records. It is a simple process and takes only a minute or two. If you need specific help, please reach out to a moderator, facilitator or if you are in the MFA or other Certificate program, your advisor.
NOTE: This is different from subscribing to a course. If you click on "My Courses", you will see a list of all the courses you've registered/signed up for You will know this because at the top of that list of classes it says "Your Subscriptions" Do not confuse this with your completed courses. The ONLY way to get credit for a course is to add it by clicking on the Add Record link.

Unsubscribe Options
Once a class has ended and you have added it to your Completed files, you’ll want to “unsubscribe” from that class. Otherwise, you will continue to receive notifications even when the class starts up again the next year.

To remove classes from your Notifications: at the top of any WVU forum page, you’ll find a bar of teal buttons. They read: Index - Recent Topics - No Replies - My Topics - Profile - Forum - Help – Search - Course Manager.
Click on PROFILE. That will take you to your Profile page. Once there, you’ll see another list of tabs directly to the bottom-right of your avatar. Click on the second tab labeled: “SUBSCRIPTIONS
The top half of the page shows the “Courses” you are receiving notifications from. The bottom half of the page shows the “Topics” you are receiving notifications from. Click in the box on the far right side of the page for each topic that you no longer wish to receive notifications for.
Scroll to the bottom of the page. At the far right, below the list, is a drop-down box. All you will be able to read without clicking on it is, “CHOOSE AC” – Click on that box and choose “UNSUBSCRIBE SELECTED
Once you’ve done that, you will not receive email notifications for any of the topics you “favorited” or classrooms that you subscribed to, as long as you checked the box before hitting Unsubscribe. If you find there you are still gettig notifications from classroom or topic that you have completed, repeat this process.

Private Message Notifications: You can set your notification so that you receive an e-mail notification when you have received a Private Message. This is helpful if you are not logged in to the WVU site.
Click on “Private Messages”. Scroll down to "Settings".
Choose the first- “E-mail notification of new messages.” Then Save.
Looks like this:
E-mail notification / Receive e-mail notifications of new private messages.
⦿ E-mail notification of new messages
◦ E-mail notification when offline
◦ No e-mail notification
◦ Don't send notification of replies.

It's all so much better when you are engaged and 'present', working with your classmates, and trusting the assignments are specifically designed to hone your skills. So stretch your imagination. Challenge yourself to try something new. It will benefit your writing.
So, work at it.
Really work at it.
It'll feel good when you do. ;)

Please forward any suggestions for this list to your Advisor, the Staff Advisor or Class Facilitator/Moderator.
Staff Advisor: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Watch here next issue for tips on inserting pictures, video, emojis, links and more! 


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