**Please note-- there is an orientation session offered free for all students who are taking online courses in the Spring 2004 semester. I strongly recommend that you attend. It will start you off on the right foot this term and will save you a thousand headaches later on in the year! The session is "Intro. to Online Learning" and will be held on the 21st, and the session will run TWICE, so just go to either (5:00-6:15 pm or 7:00-8:15 pm)-- both are held in Rennie Forum at PGCC. Check the PGCC website for more details.

Iím Professor Ross, your instructor for the next semester. Iíd like to discuss with you a little bit about what the class will be and what it will not be, so that we can all begin the term on the same page.

  1. This is not an online course that is like other online courses. The closest comparison to this class is the in-person version of Biology 101. Even if you are very experienced at taking online classes, you should be prepared for this class to be different in every way. You will need to participate several times a week, and there will be opportunities to interact with each other and Professor Ross both in real-time and through messages in Discussion Boards. This interaction makes up a huge part of your grade, so you will need to commit to particpating very frequently for the next few months.

  2. The course is a university-level Biology 101 course that is equivalent to the in-person Biology 101 course taught at Prince Georgeís Community College. I have taught the in-person version of this course for five years, and so am quite familiar with both the material and the pacing of the course. I love biology and hope that somewhere during this semester, you start to do the same!

  3. The course is a lecture and laboratory course. As such, you will be required to complete lab exercises in your own home, using some household materials, along with some materials you will need to purchase, as well as the items contained in the Laboratory Kit you purchased at the beginning of the term from the PGCC Bookstore. Be prepared to purchase a few small items during the semester.

  4. **Very Important** The course is not a self-paced class that allows you to work ahead on assignments. You are, of course, free to watch any lectures anytime you wish, since you'll own the CD-based lecture sets. However, assignments and exams are all tied to particular weeks, and so you will be expected to complete those assignments during the week(s) they are due. We will have ongoing discussions about topics we are covering, as well as virtual chat sessions and laboratory sessions that demand that everyone be working on pretty much the same material at the same time. Therefore, the class is paced to go along with this. What this means is that this course is not a flexibly-scheduled course, like some other distance learning courses. The nature of the material and the amount of the material make this necessary. You will need to have time set aside to complete ongoing assignments throughout the week, if you want to do well in the course.

  5. You can complete this course from anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection. However, please remember that there will be assignments for every week of the term, and missing a week of these is equivalent to missing a week of in-person assignments. Therefore, if you expect to be unable to work on coursework for a period of time in the middle of the term, this is not the course for you.More importantly, if you do not have DAILY access to a computer that you can use to work on the course, this may not be the course for you.

  6. Please also note that two of your exams will be submitted online. Your final exam will be completed in the Campus Assessment Center at PGCC. This is the only occasion when you will be required to come to PGCC during the semester.

  7. The class will take a substantial amount of time. Expect to put at least as much time into this class as you would an in-person class. A rough guide to this is that you should plan on spending about six hours per week on lectures and labs, along with about another six hours for studying and completing assignments. Please donít be fooled into thinking that because this class is taught online that it is easier than the in-person version. It is absolutely not easier.

  8. Online Biology 101 requires that you be very organized and plan your time well, so that you can score high on assignments and exams. Give yourself enough time to do well. Donít short-change yourself.

  9. This class is an opportunity for you to meet other people. Youíll be working in groups throughout the semester, as assigned by Professor Ross, which will allow you to meet other people who are going through the same experience of taking Biology 101 online! Use these new contacts to talk about ideas, problems, or just about anything you like. Sometimes itís easier to meet people online than it is in person, so if youíre shy, this might be your chance to make some new friends.

  10. This course does require that you take good notes on lectures and virtual chats. You should also get in the habit of making notes while youíre on the Internet, so that your research goes a little easier. Buy a 3-ring notebook and use it.

  11. Online Biology 101 will be a lot of fun, and I hope the most exciting course youíve taken in a long time.


See you soon online,


Andrew R. Ross