As we enter the new 2020-21 school year we are faced with a new educational challenge in the name of online learning. This unprecedented move will require a dedicated effort to ensure you are effectively continuing on with your educational progress. I’m fully committed to this goal as I hope you are too and hopefully we can make this a successful school year and maybe even return to the classroom soon.

    There are some terms that I want to discuss to avoid any misunderstanding about online learning and to alleviate concerns about exactly how this will happen. There are two terms you will often hear, synchronous and asynchronous teaching or learning. In both modes we are separated by distance.

    Synchronous—learning takes place in real time, that is we will interact with each other using Cisco WebEx (more on that later). This interaction will take the place with me through online discussion, presentations, lectures and webinars to name a few. We can ask questions of each other to clarify issues. The feedback and interaction is immediate and takes place in real time.

    Asynchronous—learning takes place at different times. In other words, you will have prerecorded video lessons from me, email exchanges between you and me and other instructional materials and assignments posted to Cisco WebEx. In this mode there is no real time interaction.

    Cisco WebEx—is Cisco Systems Inc., proprietary system. This system is used in industry for meetings, team collaboration and education. You will find similarities to Zoom which a number of teachers will be using. WebEx is very secure and raises the bar for delivery and team collaboration. You may be asking yourself why are we using Cisco WebEx?  The curriculum for my classes is provided by Cisco Systems Inc. It is fully online 24/7 and WebEx is part of the Cisco ecosystem.

    There are two major components for Cisco WebEx, WebEx Teams and WebEx Meetings. WebEx Meetings is a cloud-based app that provides video conferencing and online meetings. WebEx Teams is a cloud-based app for continuous teamwork also with video conferencing, meetings, group messaging, file sharing and white boarding, of which all can be saved to the cloud. You most likely will be assigned to work in teams, WebEx Teams will serve you well.

    Logging in—the ground rules when you are logging in:

    1. Use your legal first and last name. Attendance is important and we must get it correct.
    2. Mute yourselves upon entry.
    3. Your camera must be on.
    4. Use a virtual background but make sure it is appropriate and does not violate good netiquette or IHS/FUSD district policy.
    5. Sessions will be recorded.


    SchoolLoop—will be used for all e-mail communication. In order to keep parents informed, you can expect me to cc: them in our correspondence. If there is a situation where your educational progress is below standard, I will also include admin. This is done to ensure we are all on the same page and equally important, to ensure your satisfactory progress. Parents can also view your progress on SchoolLoop. I have been using SchoolLoop for posting assignments for quite a while. I will continue to use it for your assignments. File format for assignments is pdf. If you do not have a pdf editor, there are a number of free editors online.

    Hardware & Online Resources—through no fault of your own, there may be students who do not have access to hardware, service provider or other factors which impedes their ability to actively participate in online learning. Please don’t hesitate to contact me by email. We can still try to get you the necessary resources or alternative measures to participate. But the important point is to let me know immediately. Something to keep in mind, in these challenging times where a parent may have lost their income due to COVID-19 which may be a cause for insufficient resources is not an embarrassment and I will always respect your right to privacy.

    Attendance—is very important. Your attendance will be taken directly from your login to the Cisco learning platform. One thing to remember is that simply logging does not necessarily constitute attendance. You must actively participate. March 16, 2020, grades were based on Credit/No Credit, this will not be the case for the 2020-21 school year. You must attend on line classes and letter grades will be given. The weighting factors identified in the course syllabus will be used. Remember the Participation weighting factor will require your active class participation.

    Cisco Accounts—although we will be using SchoolLoop for assignments and email, SchoolLoop email is a closed email system and will not work for signing up for your Cisco account which will give you full access to the curriculum. The same can be said for your fusdk12 email account. Therefore, I will need from each of you your yahoo, or other email account. This does not apply to returning students.

    Other things to consider—Cisco Webex Teams and WebEx Meetings:

    Before you start 

    1. Gather your materials: device, papers, and pencil/pen. 
    2. Find a spot without distractions. 
    3. If it would not be appropriate in the classroom, it is not appropriate in the meeting. 
    4. Login on time.   

    Important privacy issues

    1. Do not screenshot or record anything during the meeting.   
    2. Do not share the link with anyone that is not in the class.

    Joining the meeting 

    1. Click on the link or call in number will be provided to you
    2. Your name will show on my side when entering
    3. Mute yourself by clicking on the bottom of the screen.   

    Using your mic 

    1. Unmute yourself when you want to talk, then mute again. 
    2. Select the mic button on the bottom of your screen 
    3. Pause for a moment to allow for the audio delay. 
    4. Talk normally.  
    5. Do not have side conversations. The mic will pick up other noises in the room.   

    Using your camera 

    1. Select the camera button on the bottom of your screen to turn it on and off. 
    2. Try to look at the camera, not your screen when you are talking.  

    Stay engaged 

    1. Nod or do “thumbs up” when others are talking. 
    2. Try not to do anything else when you are participating in the meeting. 
    3. Use the chat, but think before you type, just like you would think before you talk. 
    4. Raise your hand to share ideas, and the teacher will ask you to unmute yourself.
    5. Take notes on paper or in a doc during the meeting.   
    6. Always behave as if your camera and mic are on.  You may have a "hot mic".  

    In summary

    These are challenging times and there will be a lot of questions but in order to make online learning successful we need to work together. We need to be respectful and patient with each other.

     Don’t be afraid to ask questions and I will do my best to answer. If I don’t have an answer I may ask you to research it, I will guide you. If you are too shy to ask a question during synchronous class time, send me an email and I will either respond back or bring you up on live online to clarify the answer which at times is easier, or you may feel free to ask a classmate. You will find in this industry, no one person has all the answers that is why often times we work in teams and are in a continual learning mode. The most important thing is not to try and go it alone where you get to the point of being overwhelmed and start to lose interest.

    Your success is very important to me. Often times I get emails or personal visits from former students who have taken my classes and expressed their appreciation for their success. I can only teach and guide you, but you have to make it happen. I am always willing to listen and help.

    There are some of you who may say well I don’t intend to be in hi-tech. I’m going into agriculture, Arts, Media & entertainment, Fashion etc. I guarantee you every one of the 15 industry sectors are impacted by technology and you may be called upon to conduct or participate in a technology project. Never lose sight of that.

    And finally, there are teachers that I remember who left me with words of wisdom and guidance. I remember them to this day. I want to be that teacher for you, and that my friends is why I am here. I’m not in it for the income, I’m in it for the outcomes. Let’s have a good year.