It’s Sunday morning. Is it wrong that I want to check my email? Beth and I do our best to unplug from work on Sundays. We typically work five-and-a-half days a week, and sometimes six. So we make a conscious effort to take time off on Sunday to relax and do something else besides work. Even so, I am often tempted to check my email.

I know many of my students do their homework on Sunday, and no matter how many times I suggest that they preview their assignments early in the week, I always get an email on Sunday with the subject “Help!” They are in a panic because they have an assignment due tonight and have a question or need help in some way to meet the deadline.

One of the things I have been fortunate to do is mentor new instructors. I enjoy working with new instructors to online learning. One of the things I suggest they do is set boundaries. Students may have 24/7 access to their course, but that does not mean they should have 24/7 access to their instructor. In many ways they do. We upload videos, post announcements, and respond to discussions which they will read next time they logon. Like our students, we instructors need to have some downtime, too, to unplug, relax, and refresh; otherwise, we may not be at out best on Monday when the weekly cycle starts all over again.

One of the advantages of an online educational format is the asynchronous schedule. Our students are not required to be online at any specific time; they can logon at any time that works for them. But with that comes a certain amount of responsibility. And that is they need to schedule their time and look ahead to any potential issues that may prevent them from submitting an assignment by the due date. That includes asking any questions.

Yesterday was Saturday, and I spent the morning reading and responding to email and discussions forums. I do my best to be done with my work by noon on Saturdays. The last thing I do before logging off for the weekend is check my email. Sure enough, I received an email from a student just before noon asking a question about an assignment due that weekend. It was a simple question to answer, and I was glad I saw the email before signing off.

Hence my problem. How many questions are waiting for me now on Sunday morning? I guess I will find out Monday morning when I login again. [Be strong, you can resist!]

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