Test Your Knowledge

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After reviewing the Instructor Guide sites, test your knowledge. The following vignettes present examples of some challenges you might encounter as an Extension instructor.

Backup Systems

Muriel Best is retired from the Federal Reserve and now teaches multiple classes at Extension. Her presentations feature dozens of policies and regulations for which she uses an overhead projector and a transparency collection developed over her 30 years of professional life. Ten minutes before the beginning of class, she discovers the bulb in the projector has burned out. . . .

Question: What would you consider to be Muriel’s best options? (Please select one)

  1. Instructor Best announces her intent to post the evening’s handouts on Canvas for later retrieval.
  2. Having remembered to program this number into her cell phone, Instructor Best calls the AV/ Hotline at (310) 825-4131 to request a fix.
  3. Instructor Best decides not to wait, and launches into other material at the appointed hour.
  4. 1, 2 & 3 are all correct
The best answer is 4.

Redundancy reduces risk of an overall system failure due to a single component failure. Making use of Canvas is encouraged and might have presented a save in this situation. Had Muriel had her slides on Canvas before the class, she’d have been able to use a more reliable and in-place PC/projector configuration. (She resolves to upgrade from the transparency- overhead technology and will contact the Office of Instructional Enhancement for a quick consultation on conversion.) But this doesn’t matter, because. . .

. . .as it turns out, the AV team was able to have a working overhead in place just 15 minutes into the first hour of instruction. But she didn’t really need that, because. . .

. . .she had launched into alternate material. She decided to open with what had been planned as a post-break exercise, so now wasn’t dependent on the projector until well in to the second hour, if at all. Muriel never experiences performance anxiety. She was ready to tackle material planned for the following week, something she’s always ready to do in case her class cuts through her standing lesson plan faster than expected. By projecting an uncanny ability to defy Murphy’s Law, it’s no wonder she’s a master teacher and recipient of multiple teaching awards.


George Petruno teaches online for the first time, after having twice taught successfully in a traditional classroom. The enrollment number is low – only 10 – but the program director “green lights” this online course at least in part because it holds an important place in a certificate curriculum. At the outset, a couple of students are vocal in their misgivings, noting they thought there would be more students in the class. One announces his intent to withdraw…

Question: What would you consider to be George’s best response? (Please select one)

  1. George could point out that an online format can favor a small enrollment since he can spend more time working with each student.
  2. George could curry favor by agreeing with the students, then deploy a blog to prompt the students for their marketing ideas so the next time the class runs, “it will run better.”
  3. George could share his marketing suggestions and concerns with the program rep or program director.
  4. 1 & 3 are correct.
The best answer is 4.

Leadership sometimes calls for going against the grain and choosing a positive message. Nobody wants to follow a pessimist. Instructors who resonate with students’ negative first impressions are often surprised when they see blow-back on their evaluations. In the end, students want to hear what works and see things fixed, not hear their instructor groan that things aren’t working. A decision to go with a low enrollment class would not have been made had there been doubt about it working and working well. If the sunny side of your mountain isn’t apparent to you, contact your rep for an honest appraisal of your situation. And do share those marketing suggestions and ideas with your program rep and program director. They are wholly committed to your success and the delivery of a quality experience to our students.


Mark Jackson is teaching a new course in nanotechnology for UCLA Extension. Over the years he has compiled his own e-mail list of professionals, including a number of faculty at UCLA who are colleagues and friends. He knows of several excellent online forums where he would like to advertise this new course. Mark is eager to help with marketing this course, and wants to jump-start the effort. He sent an email to his program rep to ask about next steps, but got an “out of office” message. . . .

Question: What would you consider to be Mark’s best course of action? (Please select one)

  1. Sends his program rep a detailed email congratulating him on his vacation, and requesting an approved advertisement to be blast from UCLA Extension, and to be sent to members of his personal e-mail list. Mark asks to see final copy of the ad, attaches a draft and his email list to his message, and copies his program director.
  2. Mark decides to act immediately by copying the UCLA Extension logo and website links into an e-mail he has composed, then sends it to all on his personal e-mail list.
  3. Mark posts the ad that he developed in various online forums showing his own photos of Royce Hall and the UCLA campus. His rep will thank him for saving a step, and he will make clear he doesn’t expect a photo credit.
  4. Mark copies e-mail addresses from the UCLA Campus Directory and sends his ad directly to folk with these addresses.
The best answer is 1.

Mark will want to check with his department before beginning any marketing efforts or deploying information pieces that mention UCLA. He understands his program rep is entitled to take vacations, and he considers that fine line between eagerness and anxiety – recalling that his rep has always been covered over vacations. He need not worry. A copy to his program director will ensure any urgent matter gets addressed.

Uses of the UCLA logo, names, web addresses, images of its buildings, and employment titles are strictly defined, controlled and subject to audit. The name University of California, UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles and variants are the property of the state of California and require permission for use. Even well-intentioned individual instructor efforts to help promote courses will likely result in a finding of improper usage.

A Bad Fit

Kirsten Palermo teaches a Saturday workshop that is to meet on the UCLA campus. She counts seats for 25 students, her roster shows 30, and 40 have shown up to the first of four class meetings. One of her students points out that the room next door is twice the size, the door is unlocked, and there’s nobody inside. . . .

Question: What would you consider to be Kirsten’s best option? (Please select one)

  1. Kirsten decides to lead her students to the larger room next door.
  2. Kirsten recalls her college days in Cambridge and the Boston subway. She resolves to take charge. She announces that seats will be for paid students first, that visitors and wait-listed students must all take the floor or stand in the back. In response to a question about students with disabilities, she suggests that able-bodied male students yield their seats to women, senior citizens, and students with disabilities.
  3. Kirsten calls the AV/Hotline at (310) 825-4131 which she has stored on her cell phone for just this kind of situation.
  4. Kirsten decides to borrow chairs from next door so that every student has a seat in the room. She’ll remember to return the furniture at the end of class.
The best answer is 3.

If the room isn’t right, make the change but with the informed guidance of the Helpline staff. They have access to reports that show where all classes are meeting from which they can likely find an empty, right-sized room. The front desks of our off-campus centers will also know where everything is meeting within their buildings. Taking your class next door without making that call – or taking “spare” chairs from next door – might work, but perhaps for no more than an hour if a class assigned to that space shows up. Not all classes start at the same time.

Be wary of B. The suggested remedies here are fraught with issues you need not address. By directing how the seats are to be taken and who gets the linoleum, you open yourself to complaints of discrimination (sex and age) or an ADA-complaint for a forced, public disclosure. The Boston T posts signs to encourage civil behavior, but doesn’t send its leadership in to make seat assignments after a Sox game. Better for Kirsten to simply suggest that attendees “hold on” while a sanctioned, temporary room assignment is explored and made. She might even consider taking the class outside, weather permitting, while a new room assignment is resolved.

Capacity issues and double bookings are rare occurrences, which is why reporting the problem to your rep will be important. He or she will fix the problem in time for your next meeting.

Grade Reports

Melvyn Daestrom teaches an elective course in an Extension certificate program. Three weeks after the last class session, he and the program rep both receive a notice of late/missing grade from the Records Office. That office has received a complaint from three students. . . .

Question: What would you expect Melvin’s response to be? (Please select one)

  1. Melvyn tells his rep the notice was likely sent in error. He asserts his latitude to submit grades through the end of the next quarter, but he’ll hurry even so due to his commitment to good service.
  2. Melvyn agrees to pick up his pace. He recalls he is expected to post grades no later than one day following the last class session, a source of some irritation.
  3. Melvyn agrees to hustle up. He recalls he is expected to post “as soon as possible” and in no case later than two weeks following the last class session. Melvyn is late, and takes his notice as a mild but deserved rebuke.
The best answer is 3.

Instructors are expected to submit grades as soon as possible after the end of class. At two weeks, a submittal is considered late. For those teaching online, a further opportunity to provide narrative feedback is presented in Canvas. Here, speed is also a consideration since students will lose their access to their class shell at four weeks.

The class where Melvyn dawdled had three students who stood for tuition-reimbursement from employers, contingent on presentation of proof they had passed. So without the grade, their reimbursement was delayed, and without the reimbursement their planned enrollment in Melvyn’s next class in the sequence couldn’t happen. Due to low enrollment, his next class canceled. Not unlike the old adage about nails, horseshoes, horses, battles and wars.


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