Today I am writing my first blog entry for My goal is to write short snippets of some of the things that come up in my day-to-day activities as an adjunct instructor.

Yesterday, I sat down at my desk to read and respond to email as I do every day. One of the messages I received was the third or fourth message in a chain of email from a student in one of my online classes. A couple of days ago, I received a message from him telling me that he was being deployed with the U.S. Air Force and wanted to know if it was okay to work ahead as much as possible. As a retired senior noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army, I fully understand what he is facing as he prepares to deploy and told him I would work with him as much as possible. But that is not the point of this blog.

The point of this blog is that I had no idea who the student was or what class he was in. I searched through the grading rosters of my courses looking for his name but did not find it. So, part of my response to him was to ask him to tell me what class he is in because I could not find his name on my roster.

The student sent me a reply telling me what class he was in and gave me what I thought was his first and last name. I looked through my roster for the class and still did not see his name listed. I also checked his email address, but that did not help either. I sent him another email explaining that I could not find his name on the roster and asked if he was sure he is in my class.  His reply was yes, but he goes by his middle name.

Ok, I can deal with that; I have a lot of students who do this. Again, I looked for his last name on my roster. Not there. I sent him another email explaining that I needed to verify who he is for privacy’s sake before I could discuss any particulars of our course. In his next email, he told me he uses a fake name in his email address to protect his privacy and finally gave me his last name. I thanked him for telling me who he is and told him I would do my best to address him by his middle name.

There are so many things that we assume students understand about taking an online course and identifying themselves in an email is one that I thought was obvious. I can understand a student not mentioning what class they are in. They do not think about someone like me who teaches multiple courses at three different schools. But I can’t tell you how many times I receive an email message from someone identifying themselves as a student in my class, but their name appears nowhere on my grading roster. I guess I am going to have to add that to my list of things I mention in my orientation video. In addition to asking them to identify the class they are in, I also need to ask them to identify his or herself with the name they used to register for our course.

Am I the only one that has issues with this?