A student taking ASL 2 at a state university
in California  writes:
Dear Dr. Bill,
I Have been yelling at my computer for an hour and a half. I was doing the
homework for your class, when my computer decided to "update." I am now
unable to get into the college's computer system to complete the homework
and submit my answers. I keep getting this "Internet explorer has detected a
problem with the web page" blah blah blah, I have even tried to put the
computer on safe mode hoping that will fix things, it didn't. Is there any
way I could get a twenty minute extension tomorrow during class to finish
submitting my answers. If not I understand, I should not have procrastinated
and waited until 10:00 to finish my homework... Anyhoo... see you in class
- "Mary Smith"
Yup, you are right. You should not have waited until the last moment
to do the assignment.
If I were to extend the deadline imagine the damage I'd be doing to
your subconscious mind.
I'd be setting you up for a lifetime of procrastination and begging for
Wouldn't want that now would we?
Best for you to take advantage of this opportunity by yelling not at your
computer but rather at your subconscious mind to get busy and finish future
projects ahead of time.
But thank you for sharing with me your absolutely classic student
procrastination email. I think I'll change the name to protect the innocent
(?) and post this one somewhere.
- Dr. Bill
[Note to readers this next email exchange took place back in 2003! Sort of
fun/interesting to see how things evolve. - Dr. Bill]
In a message dated 5/13/2003 6:54:25 AM Central Daylight
Time, A student writes:
<<Dear Dr. Bill,
I just wanted to remind you that I do not yet have the book. I am waiting
for it to be sent to me (I have ordered it). Please let me know what will
happen if I can't get the work done by May 19th.
I am also a bit concerned about getting the rest of the work done. I will be
moving in June, and my house is already being packed up, little by little. I
am not sure how much longer I will have access to the internet at home, and
do not have access at work (I'm an itinerant, so I'm on the road most of the
day). Should I drop the class, or will you be able to give me more time if I
need it? Please just let me know, so that I can make appropriate plans.
Think of this class as a Monday / Wednesday / Friday class meeting two hours
each period. Even though it is "online and self study" it is a full 3-credit
hour course that you are taking as part of a condensed summer session.
You mentioned having limited access to the Internet. For this course, you
only need about an hour of Internet time--and that is only to submit your
quizzes. Reading these emails is a good idea but generally necessary only
for those who have questions about the material they are studying or are
seeking some clarification or accommodation as you are.
I "may" set up an Internet version of the midterm and final, but regardless
you may still do the midterm and final like the students did last semester:
as a paper based test under the surveillance of a proctor.
#1. Download the quizzes and print them off. Then staple them together fold
them once and stuff 'em in your book. When you are going around doing your
itinerant teaching duties, take the book with you and work on the quizzes.
Here is the link to download the quizzes: (private link)
#2. Then, every time you are around an Internet connection, log on and go to
[private link] to take a quiz or two.
#3. As you read the text, make notes in the margins regarding what type of
research paper you want to do. Then work on it a little bit every week.
#4. Do so well (90% or better) on the quizzes, midterm, and final that you
don't even need to write a research paper to get an "A."
Note: Regarding the quizzes: I'm suggesting you take the quizzes closed
book, but I'm not going to be anal-retentive about it. If you take the
readings quizzes open-book that is okay, but know that the midterm and final
will be closed-book, closed-notes, and proctored so if you have been taking
the quizzes without really sinking the information into your memory
banks--it may come back to bite you on the closed-book midterm and final.
You indicate that you have ordered the book. You didn't indicate when you
ordered the book. That is a slight issue. An "A" level student would have
ordered the book back when I first suggested it (Subj: ASL Linguistics Re:
List of Brownsville Students for ASL V Date: 4/3/2003) That was a month and
10 days ago. So, if you ordered your book by, say, April 17 (within two
weeks of my suggesting it), and it still hasn't arrived, then I can see a
cause for additional leniency regarding deadlines. On the other hand, if you
delayed ordering the book and recently scrambled to order it, then I think
we ought to stick with the policy as outlined in the syllabus: (Late
submission policy: Points will be deducted for tests and assignments turned
in late. Assignments turned in (emailed) after 12 midnight of the day they
are due will receive 50% credit. Assignments that are substantially late
will not receive credit.).
If I were a student who had delayed ordering a book that was necessary for a
course for which I wanted credit, I'd consider borrowing a book from another
student. I'll post a list of all the student's addresses at the bottom of
this email so you can pursue that option if you'd like.
Your other option, of course, is to indeed drop the course. It doesn't
affect me as your instructor either way because as of this writing, I'm not
being paid to teach you guys. The person "over the course" basically asked
me to do it as a favor and I said "sure." I share that with you so you will
understand that my next bit of advice is not self-serving but a genuine
effort to give you good advice:
You are busy now. But chances are you have been busy in the past and will be
in the future. We are all busy. The department is offering you this chance
to take the course via distance education. I designed this course I and own
the online aspects of the course: the quizzes, tests, syllabus, wording of
the proctor information, wording of the research paper instructions, and
here since I've completed my coursework. I don't know if the department will
ask me to teach this course in the future or not. (But I'm sure it will be
offered in some form by a competent instructor.)
Linguistics is a tough course. Some people would probably succeed much
better in a brick and mortar classroom environment. Other people, (busy
people), may do much better in a distance education / independent study
environment. You have to ask yourself whether you want to take this
opportunity to hunker down and get it done, or give up and hope to try again
at some later date and in a fashion that may be even less conducive to your
busy lifestyle, e.g., videoconference, or classroom instruction.
In any case, I wish you the best and want you to know I'll work with you in
any way so long as it allows me to maintain the integrity of the course.
You can learn
American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University ™
ASL resources by Lifeprint.com © Dr. William Vicars