Welcome to Small Group Communication!

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Hi there awesome student! Welcome to my welcome page haha. I hope this will help you learn more about the class and decide if you want to enroll in it or help you know what to expect if you've already decided to join me :). 

Why Bees?

As Meredith May explains in her book The Honey Bus, A Memoir of Loss, Courage, and a Girl saved by BeesLinks to an external site.,  bees are a remarkable example of the ultimate in teamwork. Each bee fulfills their task in living for the greater good from the field bees and the drone to the nurse and queen contributing to what May calls the "collective strength." Bees also switch tasks when needed demonstrating flexibility towards whatever the hive needs in various circumstances. And bees are excellent communicators! (through dance and wing vibrationLinks to an external site.)

 

What's Small Group Communication About?

This course is about learning the communication theories, methods, and skills that will help you to be an awesome team member and leader. We'll cover topics such as group development, group member participation, diversity in groups, listening, leadership, decision making & problem solving, conflict, and more. 

 

What's This Course Like?

Before we go any further, you should know this is a flipped classLinks to an external site.. The flipped classroom is a teaching/learning model in which students engage in online module instruction on their own; in-class time, whether synchronous in the Zoom classroom or the actual classroom, is devoted to activities, projects, or discussions—not lectures. The classroom is turned into a studio where students explore course concepts through discussion and interactive activities. We are a late start 16 week class beginning Monday, January 30th.

100% Online, Section 32540: We meet via Zoom every Thursday from 4:00 - 5:50 pm. These are mandatory meetings you'll attend with your camera on and face visible (hey it's a communication class!)

Combination in-person & online, Section 32537: We meet every Wednesday at the North County campus in Paso Robles from 11:00 am - 12:50 pm. Our combination online in-person class begins Monday, January 30th.

How does that work for this class?

For both the 100% online and combo online/in-person classes, class* is for discussions, activities, team presentations, and time for your family team to connect. I'll also go over key assignments, allow Q&A time for module learning, and check in with teams' project progress and team process. Note: the combo in-person/online class may be converted into meeting virtually at the same day and time at any time based on a whole lot of potential Covid new variant factors that are currently unknown.

*For the 100% online class: Video Participation. Video participation with your face visible is required for all class sessions--no audio only participation. This is a communication course. We need to see and hear each other.

All other teaching and learning occurs through modules in Canvas, Cuesta's learning management system. This includes video lectures, curated YouTube clips, text study guides--questions you'll answer using the textbook, assigned readings, weekly multiple choice quizzes, and various other individual and team assignments. 

 

What Students Say About What The Class is Like

Check out these student testimonials by hovering into the space, scrolling, and clicking on the video you want to watch. These are short (most less than 5 min.) descriptions of how Spring '22 students describe what the class is like. These are from the combination online/in-person class. The 100% online is not much different except you interact in Zoom breakout rooms rather than an in-person classroom. When Fall '22 students complete their video posts, I'll include those here.

Accelerated 16 Week Class (but essentially 15 week)

Both the 100% online (32540) and combo online/in-person (32537) classes are late start courses beginning two weeks after the start of Cuesta's full semester; with Spring Break and since Finals week is not an instructional content week, it's essentially a 14 week class for instruction. This means you'll have more  weekly module work than in a full semester class.

 

What Else Should I Know About the Class?

Learn by Doing:

I'm a big believer in experiential learning. Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.~Chinese Proverb. There is only one way to truly learn something and that is to do it. This means you'll be practicing what you're learning by participating as a group member, project manager, or assistant project manager in the same group throughout the semester on one or two major projects.

Outside of Class Team Meetings

You'll meet with your 210 family team 1x a week for minimum of an hour at a day and time determined by your group beginning around 2nd week of class (when we form the groups) to collaborate on one or two major projects. Typically, you won't have time to hold a full team meeting during our class session. 

100% online class teams will meet virtually or may choose to meet face to face or in combination IF all group members live locally and agree.

Combo online/in-person class teams will meet face to face at the start for a few weeks and may later choose to meet virtually or in combination.

For the 100% online class: blend of AsynchronousLinks to an external site. and SynchronousLinks to an external site.

I will not be lecturing or delivering instructional content during our live zoom sessions--those are for questions & clarification activities, and team presentations. All instruction will be included asynchronouslyLinks to an external site. in the form of videos, your textbook, and any assigned readings of each module. (this is true also of the online/in-person combo class).

Check this out: This site explains advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous and synchronous learning. This class is a blend of both. Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning in Online Education.Links to an external site.

Textbook for either class

Our digital textbook, Working in Groups by Engleberg & Wynn 7th edition, is part of Cuesta's first day program. You'll sign up for your account through our Canvas course the first week of class and the textbook fee of $65.85 will be charged to your MyCuesta account. If you drop the course before the drop without a W date (within approximately the first 2 weeks of the semester), your account will not be charged. IF you can find a pdf of this textbook, 7th edition, you can opt out of the first day program the first week of class. Any print version you can find on your own will be ridiculously expensive, but if you create an account through the first day program, you will be able to purchase a print version at an affordable price.  

Accommodations 

This course is designed using an accessible Learning Management System and course materials have been created with ADA compliance in mind. I happily accommodate learning or physical challenges in accordance with Cuesta's Disabled Student Program and Services (DSPS)Links to an external site.. Be sure your accommodations are authorized by DSPS. Please inform me at your earliest convenience so I can work with you to meet whatever your need is.

 

Covid Safety for Combination the Online/In-person Class

Oh boy--where do I start :). Cuesta's in person classes adhere to the California Community College Chancellor's Office and SLO county department of health guidelines for higher education in-person class meetings. Instructors have some flexibility as long as they comply with these requirements and/or guidelines.

This situation changes rapidly. As of now, here's what's good to know: 

  1. Cuesta's vaccine or test mandate expired at the end of May '22.
  2. I am fully vaccinated, including boosters. 
  3. Vaccines are safe and effectiveLinks to an external site.; the best way to protect yourself and others from SARS-CoV-2, is to get vaccinated. Be aware of the misinformation campaign from the anti-vaccine movementLinks to an external site..
  4. Masks are welcome, not required. You may choose to wear a mask or not to wear one. Johns Hopkins offers great information about masks: Coronavirus Face Masks and Protections FAQsLinks to an external site..
    • I will provide disposable masks if you want to wear one but forgot to bring it
  5. The maximum amount of students enrolled will be 28 and could be less. All students will be required to attend in person at the scheduled day and time of the class. 
  6. You will be involved in small group activities interacting with others in and outside the classroom.
  7. If you are experiencing symptoms or test positive, you may not attend class.
  8. Covid self-testingLinks to an external site. is available for students on the both campuses.
  9. Our large classroom has double doors that open to the outside. The outside windows do not open. Some activities may occur outdoors, weather permitting.
  10. At any time, this class may convert to meeting virtually via Zoom at the same day and time depending on Cuesta or SLO county directives.

Note: There is some risk of illness involved in attending an in person class. If you prefer not to take that risk, there are sections of this course taught by other instructors that do not require attending class in person. Check out your options with Cuesta's Class FinderLinks to an external site..

About Your Instructor (Me)

Hey there! I'm Beth-Ann Dumas--students call me Prof. D or Ms. D. A little about myself: I’ve been teaching at Cuesta for over 20 years and teaching is more than a job to me; it is my passion and my calling. I once saw a saying that went something like this: find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. That’s how I feel everyday because I get to help you harness the immense power of team communication to make your own life and your world better.

My 2 priorities are to #1 help you succeed in this class and #2 facilitate your learning about the most important ways to contribute to a successful team as both a team member and leader.

Email Address:bdumas@cuesta.edu  I respond quickly when the Spring or Fall semester is in session. During Summer break I occasionally check email and begin checking it regularly the first week of August. During Winder break I occasionally check email and begin checking it regularly the week prior to the start of the Fall semester.

Tell Me About the Groups

How many groups? Assuming we're full, we'll have 5 family groups of 5 to 6 team members per group. 

How are the groups formed? Randomly by me except that I will be sure not to put students who share any kind of relationship in the same group (friendship, romantic, family, work, student athlete teammates) as alliances from the start cause problems. Other than your friends, you typically aren't able to choose the groups you end up with in the workplace for example, or in other kinds of organizations such as clubs, teams, and volunteer efforts. You're thrust into a group and you figure out how to work as a team together, which is what you'll do here too. Oftentimes, when we get to choose, we select people who are like us because that's who we're comfortable with, but that's not the best learning environment. You'll get to form a great collaborative team with all kinds of people and that will end up being a really useful experience.  

Is it the same group for the entire semester? Yep--it takes time to get to know each other, set up your group system, adapt to each other's personality, communication style, and group work tendencies. It also takes time to build cohesion, group identity, and synergy. Links to an external site.

What about flakes? I don't want to be one of the few doing all the work: There are several course structures and systems in place to mitigate this issue such as a group contract your group will create specifying how the group will operate, various roles & responsibilities and expectations you hold for each other and Group Rankings--this is an individual confidential assignment in which you rank your self and fellow teammates' efforts towards your group work and communicate climate. Anyone whose cumulative rank by other score portion of the grade is equivalent to a D or F will be removed from the group after the first project and will be ineligible to earn group assignment points. 

Communicating With Me & With Each Other 

We'll be communicating a lot in the class! We'll all be using Pronto, a social media app, to communicate with each other. You can post or answer a question in the class feed and also direct message each other. I'll post updates to Pronto and using Canvas announcements. Use the Pronto classfeed, email, attend my regular Zoom or in person student hour, or make a one-on-one Zoom appointment to communicate with me.  And of course, we'll be interacting during our class sessions.

Computer Equipment, Textbook & Technology

Computer Equipment: Review the computer requirements to be sure you have the necessary technology to participate in the class. Because of the interaction nature of this class, you will need a computer for much of the coursework—a phone will not suffice. Computer requirementsLinks to an external site. You'll also need a webcam with a built in mic.

Wifi Access: You'll need consistent wifi access sufficient to access Canvas and to participate in your team meetings and to attend class in the event we are required to convert to a complete online course.

Zoom: You'll need a free ZoomLinks to an external site. account.

Technical support: Go here for help with CanvasLinks to an external site.. But first try using another browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Course Operates on Canvas

This online course will be using Canvas to provide the framework for all aspects of the course. Once you register and I open the Canvas course--usually about a week before the semester begins, you will be able to access our course via Canvas.

Accessing Canvas:  You can access Canvas by selecting the Canvas tab at the top of the Cuesta website or by typing the Canvas address (https://cuesta.instructure.com/) into your browser address bar or through logging into myCuesta.

Online Learning & Class Work Time

If you have never taken an online class or a blend of online and in-person class or this is your first experience with Canvas, be patient with yourself. Online classes are not inherently easier, although they may be much more convenient for many students. Although we will meet in person, that time is used for group activities, discussions, and team presentations. Much of the online module work part of the course will be self-directed and there will be a substantial amount of reading, viewing, studying, and and practicing required. Expect to spend approximately 8-10 hours a week on this class.

NEVER  TAKEN AN ONLINE CLASS?

 It's important that you know how to participate in the class using Canvas. Consider enrolling in this free Canvas Tutorial: https://www.cuesta.edu/academics/distance/survey.htmlLinks to an external site.

Course and College Policies

Add/Drop Policy:  Email me for an add code Thursday or Friday prior to first day of the semester. You won't be able to use the code until the first day of the course (Cuesta's policy). I will not add students after the first week of class. I will give priority to students in the order of the waitlist. You must log in within first 2 days of the course, and also view the How our Class Works video.

Cuesta's Add Policy Links to an external site.

Please review  Cuesta’s Waitlist PolicyLinks to an external site. and instructions.

Also, check out Cuesta's Student Code of ConductLinks to an external site. and Student Computer Technology access AgreementLinks to an external site..

This Will Bee An Awesome Semester! 

Any Questions? Email me at bdumas@cuesta.edu. I check email occasionally over the summer and winter break.

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