First Week



Interactions with the students prior to the start of the course and during the first week are highly important to the success of the course.  Indeed, the 70-30 rule indicates that 70% of the facilitator’s time and effort should be allocated to this crucial time period.   The icebreaker discussion prompt is designed to be a friendly introduction to the discussion forum.  It allows the students to begin building a community as well as to learn how to post to the forum and interact with other students.  Additionally, the prompt can give the facilitator insight into the students technological abilities, their interest in the course topic, background, and goals for the course.

The pre-course email is an excellent opportunity for the facilitator to welcome the students to the course and begin setting up the expectations for course success.  Additionally, the email can give the students an idea about what will be needed to be successful during the first week and give them ample time to prepare.  Often courses are very short and the first week is crucial for getting acquainted with the course as well as beginning to learn content, an overwhelming experience at times.   It seems that a balance is required between giving the students information about the course and not overwhelming them before the course even begins.  Getting students past that first week and ensuring they will not drop the course unnecessarily is of the utmost importance.  However, giving students information that will allow them to accurately determine their level of competency and whether the course is right for them is also important.  It seems like more research into the pre-course email would help make this determination.

Introductions Discussion Prompt: Science at the Movies

Please tell us a little about yourself, what you are hoping to gain from the course, and describe your favorite movie that contains anything science related.

Please start a new thread with your answer and utilize an informative title.  Also, be sure to sign your posts with your name and location and remember to post your initial response before midnight on Wednesday EST.  Please review the rubric and send me any questions you have about the discussion requirements.  I will send you some non-graded feedback at the end of the first week to help you hone your discussion skills for the rest of the class.  You will need to respond with value added responses to at least 3 colleagues and log in 3 times throughout the week (beginning, middle, end) to achieve an exemplary score.


Welcome Email

Hello Everyone,

My name is Dr. Maria and I am your facilitator for the upcoming course, Understanding Modern Biology (Bio110). In Brief, I am a scientist passionate about education. I am excited to be working with you and looking forward to learning from you and your experiences! The course will officially begin on September 5th but there are some things of which to be aware and to complete prior to the start of the course:


  • A digital version of the textbook will be freely available to you, but if you would like to purchase the textbook here is the title and ISBN:
  • A copy of the syllabus has been attached.
  • We will be setting up an ePortfolio during the first week of the course, but feel free to create your portfolio site ahead of time to help you be well situated during the first week.  WordPress (powerful but better for experienced users) and weebly (highly user friendly) are great free sites to check out but feel free to explore your options.
  • We will be doing a little icebreaker at the start of the course to get to know each other and I am sending you the icebreaker question so you can start mulling it over:

Introductions Discussion Prompt: Science at the Movies

Please tell us a little about yourself, what you are hoping to gain from the course, and describe your favorite movie that contains anything science related.

Be sure to check out my introduction in the discussion forum on Sept 5th.

Complete Prior to Start of Course:

  • If this is your first online course at the University of Wisconsin Stout or you would like a refresher then you must complete the online orientation (link provided).


Please let me know if you have any concerns and I will assist you.  I am here to help you be successful in the course.

Looking forward to working with you,

Dr Maria

Shrewsbury, Mass



Maria Guillily, PhD