Distance Education Welcome Letter

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POLS 202/CRN 71652

Instructor: Anika Leithner

Contact information

Email Address: anika_leithner@cuesta.edu

Phone Number: N/A

Office Location/Hours: Zoom office hours to be announced

Instructor Contact Expectations: 

The best and fastest way to contact me is email.  I will generally respond to your emails within 24 hours during weekdays only.  During busy times of the semester, the response time may increase to 48 hours.  On weekends, I will do my best to get back to you ASAP but I cannot guarantee an expeditious response. 

Course Environment:

This online course will be using a Web-based Learning Management System Canvas as the method to disseminate information. Canvas provides the framework for the course including PowerPoint presentations, student data files, the tools to receive and send course materials, and a grade book. Using the communication tools, you can communicate using e-mail, and you can share materials and ideas with other course participants via the discussion forums and groups.

This course will be fully online with asynchronous instruction. You will spend most of your time working asynchronously on weekly modules and other assignments. I will offer a weekly OPTIONAL Zoom meeting to check in and discuss course materials, if that is something students would like and benefit from.

Class Opens / Accessing Canvas:

Prior to the Monday classes start (08/17/2020), you will receive an email to your my.Cuesta.edu address providing you with a reminder that class will be starting and log in procedures for Canvas, the learning management system (LMS) used to deliver course content. You can access Canvas by logging into MyCuesta, then clicking on the Resources Tab, then clicking on Canvas in the Online Learning Channel, or by typing the Canvas address (https://cuesta.instructure.com/) into your browser address bar. Do not bookmark / favorite the canvas site after your login, or you will get an error message next time you try to log in. You must access the canvas log in directly.

If you are not familiar with logging into canvas, please refer to the Canvas Quick Reference Guide.Links to an external site. Once logged into Canvas you will be directed on where to get started. Be sure to read all the direction on the course home page.  

If you are having difficulty logging into Canvas after [Enter Date] and need assistance please email me or technical support at this email address: support@my.cuesta.edu

Online Learning: 

If you have never taken an online class or this is your first experience with Canvas, please be patient with yourself. Online classes are not inherently easier, although they may be much more convenient for many students. You should expect to spend at least as much time, if not more on this course as you would on a course that meets face to face. Since there is no lecture component, much of this time will be self-directed and there will be a substantial amount of reading, viewing, studying, and writing required. This course is completely online using Canvas; all coursework (discussions, assignments, quizzes) is submitted online. There are no face-to-face meetings.  Please be prepared to spend 8 - 12 hours per week on coursework for this class


  • First, go to the Online Readiness ResourcesLinks to an external site. to take a "self-assessment”. There are many resources that were designed to help you understand the basis for an online class and the skills necessary for success. (If the tutorials do NOT describe you, then taking this class online is NOT for you and I strongly suggest that you drop the online class and enroll in a traditional classroom section.)

Regular Effective Contact Policy:

Regular and Effective Instructor Contact will be met through weekly instructor initiated threaded discussion forums; weekly announcements to students; timely and effective feedback on student assignments; email, phone or messaging to individuals; and virtual office hours.

I will try my best to respond to e-mails within 24 hour of receiving them (except on weekends and holidays). Please plan to check your e-mails at least two to three times per week. I will be sending regular reminders and updates about the course, particularly on Monday mornings to remind you what you need to work on that week.

Course Description

Presents an introduction to the institutions, operation, and policy outputs of the American political system at the national, state, and local levels. The structures and functions of American government will be explored in the context of their historical development and their relation to political power and interest today.

For the official course description and course outline of record please go to CurricUNETLinks to an external site.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should:

  1. Have obtained knowledge about the structure and operation of the political institutions of the United States and other countries.
  2. Have acquired the knowledge and understanding needed to make valid generalizations about the American political system.
  3. Be able to analyze how personal and group advantage is pursued within the structures of the American political system.
  4. Be able to think critically, clearly, and dispassionately about political problems, rather than emotionally.
  5. Have learned to weigh political problems and dilemmas in the American historical and cultural context.
  6. Have obtained the civic skills and humane ideals requisite for responsible participation in the political and social life of democracy.
  7. Have obtained an understanding of the American system of democracy so as to exercise the franchise intelligently as responsible citizens.

Text Book and Materials

We will be using a free American Government textbook published by Rice University. Here is the link to the online version: https://cnx.org/contents/nY32AU8S@5.1:SjdU64Og@9/IntroductionLinks to an external site. (Once on their website, you can also download the whole book as a PDF, if you prefer.)

Please note that this textbook does not cover all the content we will be discussing this semester. Additional information will be provided during class, so please be prepared to take notes as some of the exam questions will be based on lectures as opposed to the textbook readings.

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 on the Canvas Navigation 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.

Your learning environment is best accessed from a desktop or laptop computer, using Firefox or Chrome.  This may solve your problem!  Please review the browser requirements and minimum computer specificationsLinks to an external site. at:


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 such as extended time on exams or other resources. Please contact the instructor as soon as possible so that you can receive appropriate accommodations in a timely manner. You should also contact DSPS (Disabled Student Programs & Services)Links to an external site. at 805-546-3148 or

College & Course Policies:

Academic Honesty Policy: [Identify your course specific academic honesty policy]. In addition to my course policy, please note all students attending San Luis Obispo County Community College District at any district site 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. at:

Add / Drop Policy: [Identify your course-specific add/drop policy] In addition to my policy, please review the Cuesta policy for drops

Waitlist Policy: [Identify your course-specific waitlist procedures]. In addition to my course specific procedures, please review Cuesta’s waitlist procedure and instructionsLinks to an external site.:  

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