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ENGL-103 - Critical Reading, Writing, & Thinking - Prof. A. Dimakos

Course:Critical Reading, Writing, & Thinking
Professor:Prof. A. Dimakos
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


profile photo of Alexandra Dimakos

Hello. My name is Prof. Alexandra Dimakos. I will be your instructor for English 103 and I love critical thinking!

This course will help you sharpen your critical thinking, reading, and writing skills which you will use to compose thoughtful and cogent arguments. These skills are also vital to your academic progress, professional development, career choices, and personal life. 

I look forward to working with you this semester. 

About Me: I earned my bachelor's degree in English literature from UCLA and my master’s degree in English literature at CSUN. I've been teaching a variety of courses at COC since 2009, including English 101, 103, 204, and 250 and Humanities 115 and 116. I've been teaching online and hybrid courses since 2012 and I enjoy their flexibility and freedom. I've also found that online learning options help students who may not always have the ability to take classes physically on campus and this allows for a truly diverse collection of students from a variety of backgrounds and locations. The diversity in my online classes is just one of the things I love about teaching online!

Course Description

Examines the principles of critical thinking as applied to writing and reading arguments on complex issues. Focuses on close textual analysis, argumentative writing, and logical reasoning. Essay topics may include pop culture, politics, social issues, or moral/ethical issues.

What to Expect in this Course

100% ONLINE: This course is 100% online and there are NO required face-to-face meetings or in-person video class sessions. Lectures and explanations of concepts will be given in various formats: YouTube videos, PowerPoint presentations, and PDF and Word documents.

Using Canvas: This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at this Canvas website.

Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:

CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

If you are unfamiliar with using Canvas and need help logging in, you can view several tutorials online here Canvas Tutorials

Getting Help: If you have any trouble logging in, you can visit the TLC at the Valencia campus or Room 306 at the Canyon Country Campus for assistance. Go to for hours and contact information.

Our Canvas site cannot be accessed until the first day of the semester (Monday at 8:00am PST – Pacific Standard Time).

This course requires a great deal of discipline, organization, reading, and participation several days a week (and by “several,” I mean 3-4 days a week minimum”). Therefore, Effective time management skills are crucial to your success in the course. 

VERY IMPORTANT: To avoid being dropped from the course as a “no show”, you must login to the course website on Canvas and complete a discussion board activity by 11:59pm on Monday (the first day of the semester).  If you do not complete this assignment by the deadline, you will be dropped from the course. Again, the website becomes available for student access at 8:00am on Monday. It is not enough to log in to our Canvas course; you must complete the discussion board activity to be counted as “present”.

READING & WRITING EXPECTATIONS: This course includes a great deal of challenging reading in this course, so please be aware that you may be asked to read anywhere from 20-30 pages a week (sometimes more) from the required textbook in addition to reading content on Canvas pages or PowerPoint presentations, reading handouts, watching videos, and reviewing websites, if applicable. There is also a great deal of writing in this course. All assignments have word count requirements that must be met to be eligible for full credit.

TURNITIN.COM: All final drafts of your three essays will be automatically submitted to when you submit them to Canvas. will check for uncited material and potential plagiarism in your assignments.

LATE WORK POLICY: You have 24 hours after the original due date and time to submit an assignment. That assignment will be eligible (not guaranteed) to earn a maximum of half credit. Any assignment submitted after 24 hours of the due date will not earn points.

For example, if a student submits an initial post to a Discussion Board assignment after 11:59pm on a Monday, that post will only be eligible to earn a maximum of half of the total points that assignment is worth. The late submission will only be accepted for grading up until 11:59pm on Tuesday. After 24 hours of the due date, that assignment submission will not earn points.

All work will be due on various weekdays (Monday-Friday) during the week by 11:59pm on the specific due date.

EXPECTATIONS: Please do not take this class because you don’t have time in your schedule to take a “real class.” This is a real college class (we’ll be delving into some real college readings and topics – it may even be fun!) that requires the same time commitment as a class that would be 100% face-to-face. 

This is not a class where you can complete work far ahead of your classmates or make up work during the last minutes of the semester. Our class wide online discussion boards will be asynchronous, not synchronous, meaning that you can log in at a time of day convenient to you -- even 3 am. (I won’t be on at 3 am. I’ll be sleeping and dreaming of rhetorical strategies, interesting essay topics, or cupcakes, but you’re welcome to sign on whenever you like). However, there are due dates and deadlines for assignments.


Regular access to a reliable computer with stable, high-speed internet connection.

Proficiency in the following apps and techniques:

  • Canvas (phone app available)
  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Word (free to COC students - click here)
  • PDF reader (free to COC Students - click here)
  • YouTube


I welcome any questions you have via email. If you would like a live one-on-one discussion about any part of the course or the assignments you are completing, I am also very happy to meet with you via Zoom. 

Types of Assessments

Assignments: Over the course of the class, you should expect to complete anywhere from 2-4 assignments (discussion board responses, activities, first drafts, peer reviews, and quizzes) per week in addition to one 5-6-page essay, one 6-7-page essay, and a 7-8-page revision essay (3 essays total for the semester).

Textbook Information / Link to ZTC Textbook

From Critical Thinking to Argument. By Sylvan Barnet, Hugo Bedau, and John O’Hare. 6th Edition. ISBN-13: 9781319194437

Other Relevant Course Information

Students who do well in online courses tend to share the following qualities:

  • They are incredibly self-motivated and consistently meet deadlines.
  • They are strong, critical readers, and communicate clearly and effectively in writing.
  • They have strong time management skills.
  • They enjoy active, cooperative learning experiences.
  • They have reliable access to the Internet (Lack of internet access, poor Internet access or malfunctioning technology – including software and computer programs – are not acceptable excuses for not completing assignments on time.).
  • They have basic computer skills, including the ability to cut/copy and paste between documents, send and download email attachments, and create and save documents in Microsoft Word.

I look forward to working with all of you and helping you succeed in this course. Did I mention I love critical thinking?


Best wishes and see you online on the first day of the semester!




Professor Dimakos

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

College of the Canyons cares about your emotional and physical health. Learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including free counseling and mental health services available during this time by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center website or by calling them at: 661-362-3259.

The National Suicide Lifeline number is 1-800-273- 8255 (TALK). Please call it if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress - it could save someone's life.

You can also use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. It's free, available 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 09/01/2022 Sub#: 813