Fall 2019

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Welcome to English 180 Introduction to English Composition for fall 2019!

I'm Colleen Harmon. If you're reading this, you're considering taking my class or have already enrolled. So you'd probably like to learn a bit more about it.

In addition to general information, I've included information for those of you who have enrolled in the class about when to log in and why that first entry into the course is important below, at the bottom of the page.

What You Should Know

This course starts August 12th and finishes December 13th. It's a semester-length, online course. There are no face-to-face meetings; instead, you will complete reading, writing, and other assignments entirely online.

In addition to reading and writing exercises, we'll have interactive activities each week, such as back-and-forth discussions about popular issues or writing topics. So you should expect to sign into the course four or five days a week. The times you sign into the course are flexible, which is a great feature of online learning!

You may be wondering what kind of assignments you'll have. Assignments include forum discussions where responses vary depending on the lesson. Other assignments such as readings, drafts, quizzes, or essays may be due each week. As a result, you should allow about eight to ten hours a week to complete this course successfully. Sometimes, you may need more time to complete longer reading, research, or writing assignments.

Because this class is completely online, it's important to participate regularly by replying to discussions and submitting assignments. If something comes up that keeps you from participating, please reach out to me. I'm here to help if I can.

Contacting Me

The best way to contact me is to use the Canvas Inbox (on the far left), which looks like a letter being dropped in a mailbox:
Canvas Inbox

In the Canvas Inbox, click the pencil icon Canvas Inbox Pencil Icon to compose and send an email to me. I will generally respond to your emails within 24 hours on weekdays.

If you're not in Canvas, you can also reach me by Cuesta email at colleen_harmon@cuesta.edu. 

Course Environment

This online course uses Canvas, a web-based Learning Management System (LMS), as the learning platform. Canvas contains the course content, and you can maintain your own file collection in Canvas. (Click your account and then files.) Canvas also offers discussions and groups in which to collaborate. We'll be using those in this class.

Accessing Your Course

Prior to the Monday that classes start on August 12th, you will receive an email at your my.Cuesta.edu address providing you with a reminder that the class will be starting along with log in procedures for Canvas. You can access Canvas by signing into MyCuestaLinks to an external site., then clicking on the Resources Tab, and then clicking on Canvas in the Online Learning Channel, or by typing the Canvas address (https://cuesta.instructure.com/) into your browser’s address bar.

If you are not familiar with logging into Canvas, please refer to the Canvas Quick Reference GuideLinks to an external site.. Once you’ve signed into Canvas, you will be directed on where to get started. Be sure to read all the directions on the course home page.  

If you are having difficulty logging into Canvas on August 12th and need assistance, please email me or technical support immediately at this email address: support@my.cuesta.edu. It's important to sign into the course on the first day of the term to keep your spot in the class.

Online Learning

Part of taking an online class is the convenience it provides: you can log in at any time of day and access your course wherever you are as long as you have Internet access. The downside is that there's no professor at the front of the class reminding you of due dates and assignment submissions. So it takes a certain amount of self-discipline and a generous portion of time management to be successful in an online learning environment.

If you have never taken an online class or this is your first experience with Canvas, it's a good idea to review Cuesta’s orientation to CanvasLinks to an external site. videos and Canvas student tutorialsLinks to an external site.

Think that online courses are easier? Or that you can work your way through the course at your own pace? These are a couple of myths about online learning. To learn more about such myths and how to work around them, I encourage you to watch this ten-minute video below. It covers the ups and downs of online learning and discusses ways for you to be successful:

For different file formats of the video, visit Introduction to Online Learning text, video, and audio versions (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

You can gauge your readiness to be an online student by reviewing the Online Readiness ResourcesLinks to an external site. to take a "self-assessment”. This site contains many resources that are designed to help you understand the basis for an online class and the skills necessary for success. 

Regular Effective Contact Policy

This course requires regular and effective contact among all students and the instructor for the full period of the course. We will achieve this level of interaction and participation in the following ways:

  • weekly class discussion and homework forums
  • weekly readings and written responses
  • interactive writing workshops
  • viewing of short video lectures and content
  • writing and assessment of a series of essays
  • quizzes and surveys

Course Description

The official course description states: English 180 provides an accelerated alternative to the English 099 and English 156 sequence that focuses on development of reading, writing, and critical thinking skills necessary in college-level composition, with individual attention to paragraph and essay structure, sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. This course is four units.

My take on it: You're here because you want to strengthen your college reading and writing skills. Many or most of you plan on taking English 201A English Composition next, so you're interested in learning as much as you can in this introductory course. This course will strengthen your reading and writing skills by offering you plenty of opportunities to practice. As long as you practice, your skills will be stronger by the end of the course.

Strengthening your reading and writing skills is a lot like strengthening your stamina or strength. You can do either with practice. So come prepared to practice and don't be afraid to make mistakes (as we all do). Think of this as your English gym! You'll start with the low weights first, build some muscle, and then move on to the heavier weights.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completing this course successfully, according to the Course Outline of Record, the Student Learning Outcomes state that you should be able to:

  1. Develop college-level essays as a process that involves pre-writing, drafting, and revising.
  2. Write essays that have a clear thesis, supporting claims, and explanations of evidence that demonstrate critical thinking.
  3. Critically engage a variety of texts through evaluation, analysis, and synthesis of information.
  4. Demonstrate sentence-level fluency.

Develop, write, engage, and demonstrate. You'll have several opportunities to practice each of these activities, and the skills you build while doing so will prepare you for further college reading and writing, whether you're writing about Shakespeare or the latest Supreme Court decision.

Diversity and an Open Mind Matter

In this course, you’ll be reading and discussing texts written from different perspectives and writing about controversial topics, and you’ll have opportunities to share ideas about these topics in discussions, peer feedback, and in other assignments. It’s important to treat each other with respect when sharing ideas and providing feedback. Respectful communication helps to lay the foundation for a welcoming, diverse learning community. Diversity allows us to learn from each other and find the best answer to the challenges our society faces—and to find the best way to tackle a topic in an essay. I hope you feel welcome in this course to participate fully, sharing your ideas and learning from your peers. If you ever feel not welcome, let me know either directly, using Canvas Inbox, or anonymously using one of the course’s surveys.

Textbooks and Software

There are no required textbooks for this course. Except for the texts you choose for upcoming assignments, all of the required readings are provided online in Canvas.

You read that right: zero textbook costs! So there's no books to buy.

However, you couldn’t go wrong with a good college writer’s handbook, such as The Little Seagull HandbookLinks to an external site. written by Richard Bullock and published by Norton.

The software you will need on your computer includes Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't have it, download Adobe Acrobat Reader. It's free!

You'll also need either Office Word or access to Google Docs and Slides. No Mac Pages documents will be accepted. Note that you may export your Mac Pages documents into a Word document format before submitting your assignments.

Technical Support

Cuesta students are encouraged to direct all technical support inquiries to support@my.cuesta.edu. If you are having issues with Canvas, you should contact the Canvas Support Hotline at (877) 921-7680 or click on the help button in the Canvas menu, which looks like a question mark in a circle , to report a problem.

If you are having difficulty viewing the course or logging in, it may be because you are not using the correct url (https://cuesta.instructure.com) or you are using your phone or using an unsupported browser.

This online learning environment is best accessed from a desktop or laptop computer using Firefox or Chrome. Please review the browser requirements and minimum computer specificationsLinks to an external site. for more information.

Technical requirements

  • Fairly recent Mac or PC with a current operating system.
  • Current browser (Firefox or Chrome are preferable; Canvas works best in Chrome).
  • Internet connection, preferably broadband (for viewing online videos).
  • For Canvas-specific requirements:
    • Screen Size
      • Canvas is best viewed at a minimum resolution of 800 x 600. If you want to view Canvas on a device with a smaller screen, Canvas recommends using the Canvas mobile app. However, the mobile app isn’t as functional as the Canvas course website.
    • Operating Systems
    • Mobile Operating System Native App Support
      • iOS 7 and newer (versions vary by device)
      • Android 4.2 and newer
    • Computer Speed and Processor
      • Use a computer no more than five years old when possible
      • 1GB of RAM
      • 2GHz processor
    • Internet Speed
      • Along with compatibility and web standards, Canvas has been carefully crafted to accommodate low bandwidth environments. However, audio-visual files may run more slowly on lower bandwidth connections.
      • Minimum of 512 kbps
    • Screen Readers

Nota bene: While Canvas has a mobile app, the mobile app is not as fully functional as the Canvas online course available on a laptop or desktop browser. You must have access to an internet-connected laptop or desktop computer browser in order to complete this course successfully.


This course is designed using an accessible Learning Management System, and course materials have been created with ADA compliance in mind. If you have a disability and might need accommodations in this class, please contact me immediately at colleen_harmon@my.cuesta.edu and Cuesta DSPSLinks to an external site. at dspsinfo@cuesta.edu or (805) 546-3148.

Course and College Policies

Please note all students attending San Luis Obispo County Community College District at any district site, including online, and when representing Cuesta College in any off-campus activity, assume an obligation to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner compatible with the Student Code of conduct. Please review the Cuesta College Student Code of conductLinks to an external site..

Academic Honesty

Please review the Cuesta College Student Code of ConductLinks to an external site. for the policy governing academic honesty.

Add and Drop Policies

Please review the Cuesta policy for adding and dropping courses.


You should plan on signing into the course four or five days a week. 

Authentication Policy

Authenticating student identity will be conducted by using the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). Canvas requires each student to log into the program using a secure login and password to access the course.

Waitlist Policy

Please review Cuesta’s waitlist procedure and instructionsLinks to an external site..  

Additional Policies

Recommended Skills

Because this is an online course, it’s important that you have some basic computer skills. These include the following:

  • Basic computer skills (word processing, e-mail, file management).
  • Basic internet skills (use of browser, searches, uploading/downloading files, capturing images).
  • Familiarity with discussion forums.
  • Familiarity with Office Word or Google Docs (Mac Pages will not be accepted, though you may export your Mac Pages document into a Word document).

If you have reviewed this information and registered for this course, please log into the course no later than Monday, August 12th, 2019 at 10 p.m. (PST). This will keep your spot in the course. Cheers!

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