Welcome to Small Group Communication!

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bees clustered on top of golden honeycomb

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. The class also meets the same oral communication requirement for transfer to state colleges as Public Address, so you'll participate in two live team presentations to the class (virtual for the online class; in-person for the SLO classes), which require approximate equal speaking time among members, 3:00 minute minimum per speaker.


What's This Course Like?

Before we go any further, you should know this is an accelerated 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 in-person 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 an accelerated 9 week class beginning Monday August 12th ending Friday October 11th.

Find The Section Number You're Interested or Enrolled In

IMPORTANT: All courses are 9 weeks beginning Monday August 12th ending Friday October 11th. This means a much heavier workload than a full term class because we're squeezing 18 weeks into 9!

Section 72937 100% online: We meet via Zoom every Tuesday morning from 9:00 - 11:50 am. These are mandatory meetings you'll attend with your camera on and face visible (hey it's a communication class!). There are no required in-person meetings ever.

Section 72938, combination in-person & online (hybrid): We meet every Wednesday at the SLO campus from 11:00 am - 1:50 pm. 

Section 72939, combination in-person & online (hybrid): We meet every Thursday at the SLO campus from 11:00 am - 1:50 pm. 

All Classes are Flipped Classes

Jon Bergmann, one of the Flipped Classroom OG's, gives a brief introduction to what it is

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. 

*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 as nonverbal context and connection is part of the course learning.

All other teaching and learning occurs through modules in Canvas, Cuesta's learning management system. This includes narrated PowerPoint 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. 


Accelerated 9 Week Class (but essentially 8 instructional weeks)

All classes, the 100% online (72937) and combo online/in-person (72938 & 72939) classes are accelerated courses ending October 11th; since our last week is not an instructional content week, it's essentially a full semester course squeezed into an 8 week class for instruction. This means you'll have more weekly module work than in a full semester class and a tighter timeline for completing assignments, tests, etc. These classes are more like quarter term classes than semester term courses.

What Students Say About What The Class is Like

Check out these student testimonials. These are short (most less than 5 min.) descriptions of how Spring '24 students describe what the class is like. Scroll within to view all posts!

In-Person Hybrid Flipped Class

Online Flipped 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 class on a community service project.

Outside of Class Team Meetings

You'll meet with your 210 family team for a minimum of once a week for an hour at a day and time determined by your group beginning around the 2nd week of class (when we form the groups) to collaborate on a community service project. You will have about 20-30 minutes of class time for team collaboration, but that won't be sufficient.

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 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 delivering instructional content during our live zoom sessions--those are for questions & assignment 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 the 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 (all classes)

For our digital textbook, Working in Groups by Engleberg & Wynn 7th edition, you have two options:

Option one: rent it from the Pearson site for $10.99 a month or $43.96 total (you'll need to opt out of the first day program) OR

Option two: This textbook is part of Cuesta's first day program, but you may elect to opt out. If you can't afford to pay right away for the book or use financial aid, this option will attach the fee to your MyCuesta account. You'll sign up for your account through our Canvas course the first week of class and the textbook fee of approximately $70 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), your account will not be charged. 


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.


Illness Safety for the Online/In-person Class

For the classes that meet in-person, I require students experiencing symptoms of illness such as coughing, sneezing, sniffles, sore throat to stay home. Beyond Covid, there are other highly contagious illness that may sicken others and it's important to be considerate of others' health risks.

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 class? 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 and is worth the same points as the major tests.

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.


 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:  If the class is full, 1) get on the wait list and 2) email me for an add code the first day of the semester.  I will not add students after the first week of class. I will give priority to students in the order of the waitlist. All students 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 Conduct Links 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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