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How do I communicate with instructors?

Students attend classes from all over the world in 24 different time zones. Lessons are scheduled on a week-by-week basis, but there are no specific times of day when students or instructors must be available for “class hours” or “office hours,”  Rather, students, instructors and teaching assistants participate on a continuous basis, around the clock, throughout the period of the course.

Students post questions via the course discussion board, so all students benefit, as opposed to private individual student/instructor dialog. Instructors will check the discussion board at least every other workday, usually more frequently — for both instructors and students, one of the great attractions of this online format is that you need not attend the course at any particular time of day, which means some time may elapse between a posting and a response.

There is a “Need Help?” contact form in every course – you can easily reach either the teaching assistant with a question about your own work, or the course administrator for questions about course access, payment, etc. Emails sent to these links are seen only by the course administrator or TA.

Asking Questions About Data That Are Not Part of the Course

You may have personal or work data that you want to ask the instructor about. Sometimes this offers the opportunity to discuss the course topics in the context of real problems faced by students. At other times, it may involve complexities that are more of a digression and distraction to other students.  If your data are a suitable illustration or extension of one of the course topics, the instructor (at his or her discretion) may use them. When you supply your data, please also furnish permission from the appropriate authority for the data to be publicly shared. If your data cannot be shared publicly, or if your problem requires a more involved analysis that goes beyond the scope of the course, you also have the option of seeking a consulting arrangement. Some instructors will do this, others will not – contact for details.