1. Post about the grades students got in my last section of this class. These posts would be like: "I just don't understand why students in this class are getting C's when I had five students make a 99% each last term." See how that is not productive? It puts you on the defensive and makes you feel guilty, even though (a) it may not be true and (b) even if it is true, it's irrelevant to what is going on in class right now. The same is true of students' posts about their GPA or what grade they made in the class in the sequence before this one. It's posturing and it's meant to be a guilt trip on the instructor as well as to "brag" to other students.
2. Be purposefully vague as a rationale for my poor performance. This would include things like "oh, just go do some good research" or "write a paper that's good." Student versions I see of this include "questions" like "I don't know how to use the library. Can someone help me?" "I tried the library but didn't find anything." "I have trouble with APA, can you help me?" and "I don't understand the instructions/assignment." I cannot help you if I don't know the actual question. Your job here is to meet me 1/2 way. Just as my job is to provide extensive feedback and detailed instruction, your job is to give me enough details to assist you. Demonstrate you've done the reading. Demonstrate you've read my mini-lessons and posts. Ask actual questions with examples in them. Like this: "Here's my attempt at an APA reference for this source. Did I do this correctly?" Or "When you say a thesis can't be a question, I'm confused. My teacher used to say that a good way to test our idea for the thesis is to phrase it as a question. What am I missing here?"
3. Using my personal life to excuse my lack of participation or my late work. Online classes are hard in part because they cover the same amount of material and work as a course that takes twice the amount of time. We all have lives. If I were to say "Oh, grades will be a week late because my spouse is on vacation and I have a hangnail" that would not go over well. I get it--I've worked through vacations. I've also worked through more traumatic moments like family members in the hospital, in hospice, and through funeral weekends. I've worked with a fever and with other unsavory illnesses that meant that I had to sprint from my desk to the little room down the hall. Sometimes you have to set the ball down and attend to life. And that's ok. But you have to choose to either keep dribbling the ball and dodging the obstacles, rely on your teammates in life to help you get to the goal, or simply walk off the court and play the game later. That's all part of being an adult.
4. Making things up so I look good. If I were to say that I give great feedback and get my grades in on time all the time but didn't really do those things, students would freak out. I respond similarly in my head when the students who don't turn in work say things like "My rough draft was really strong and I'm working on revisions from the comments right now" when they didn't turn anything in. I'm not sure what this is all about, but I guess it's about getting attendance points and saving face. Weird.
My points here are really all about one thing--just doing the work rather than posturing and looking for ways out of doing the work. Guilt trips don't work on me, or at least not in the way students hope they do. I do feel empathy for students who are having a rough time of it, sure. But at the end of the day the work either fills the bill or it doesn't--the product is what matters.
If it makes you feel any better, the same is true of my job. I can say that I guide students and give great feedback in a timely manner and that I use the rubrics, but if my boss logs in and sees that I just slap a score in the grade book without giving feedback or they go in the discussion board and see that I just copy and paste one or two prompts or questions from an old class six out of seven days a week with no follow up or actual teaching, well, all of my posturing is for nothing and I'm likely to get the door.