Welcome to Online Speech 104, Critical Thinking

I want to welcome you to this online version of Speech 104, Critical Thinking. In this course we will cover everything we do in the face to face version of the class, but it will be totally done online. There are no in-person class meetings. Beginning Monday, September 1, your “virtual class” will be available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Speech 104 is designed to make you a better critical thinker and a more confident decision maker. We will be doing that by studying a variety of topics including communication, persuasion, perception, argumentation, language, evidence, reasoning, and the relation between truth and validity. And all of this will be done online.


Earning a Grade

I don’t grade on a curve. All of you can receive a high grade if you make the effort. I will ask you to do three tasks; weekly quizzes, homework assignments and participation in discussions. If you spend the time and make the effort, you all can do well.

We will be using the textbook, Communicating Critical Thinking, by Jack Sterk and Jim Marteney. The text is necessary for the course and can be obtained at the Los Angeles Valley College Bookstore. You should also be able to go to the bookstore online to order the book.

I just to warn you about two myths I often hear from students:

Myth 1: An online class is easier than a face to face class.
This class is not hard, but it may actually take more time than a face to face class. Instead of sitting and talking in a class, you will be reading lessons and writing comments in the discussion section. In a typical class you would attend three hours a week, spend another three hours or more reading the text and doing homework. In this online class you should be prepared to spend that much time each week online. I expect you to log on at least three times a week on average. I hope to make your class enjoyable enough to want to visit more often.

But here is the good news. An online class may take more time, but it is more convenient. You may take the class anywhere you can find an Internet connection any time day or night. Some students enjoy spending time at Starbucks drinking coffee and connecting to the Internet with their laptop.

Myth 2: I can do my school work at entirely my own pace.
You do have a lot of freedom when and where you do your class work. You can work in the morning or late at night, but there will be deadlines for discussions and assignments so you will have to follow a schedule. You need self discipline, but you still have some flexibility when you go online to do your work.

My goal will be to make this class so interesting and stimulating that you will want to join us online and participate in the activities.

Getting Started

To enter the class you will need to go to the class portal at:


The log in instructions can be found at: http://www.lavc.edu/virtualvalley/studentLoggingInOnline.html

Just follow them and you will be in the class right away.

First Week

Your first week is designed to get you used to using the Etudes Classroom System, and become comfortable in taking an online class. The information on these assignments are listed in your first module and need to be completed before Saturday, September 6 at 11:30. Just read the first announcement in the class for instructions.

Making Sure Your Computer is Ready

One of the biggest problems students have in taking this class is with their computer system. There is a link on the left hand side of the portal that is titled, “System Requirements.” Follow the instructions to make sure that your system will work well with the college’s online learning system called Etudes NG. Follow all the instructions there including those for the “cache” settings and setting up your “cookies,” “java” etc. Your computer will then be ready to go. Follow these instructions and you will experience much less frustration and headaches. If you are using a Mac, you will notice that the Safari browser will not work well. Instead you will see instructions on downloading the Firefox browser.

Very Important

The first day you can log on is Monday September 1. If you have not logged on and participated in the first discussion by Saturday, February 10, and 11:30 p.m., then I will assume you do not want to take the class. It is just like attending the first day of class. You need to log into the class and participate before Saturday, September 6, at 11:30 p.m.

Help Desk

If you have any problems with logging in or concerns about the class, you can find help at the Valley College Help Desk. Their phone number is (818) 778-5834 and email address is: etudeshelp@lavc.edu. You can also receive help inperson the the Computer Lab at BJ103. Complete listing of times of operation can be found at the website:


I am looking forward to meeting all of you online and working with you so we can have a fun, stimulating, and successful semester.

Jim Marteney