Mar 31st, 2007
Are you still studying with a notebook and a stack of flashcards? If so, it may be time to update your approach. An About.com article explains:
"A history student writes Wikipedia articles about the culture of Argentina the night before a big exam. A law school student creates a podcast that regularly reviews what he learns in his first-year courses. If you're still studying with hand written notes and 3×5 cards, you're missing out."
Suggested study techniques include: writing Wikipedia entries, using a note sharing website, and distributing a podcast.
For more study technique ideas, see: 5 Internet Savvy Study Tips for Online Learners.
Mar 31st, 2007
As distance learning programs continue to grow, designers are faced with the challenge of making online courses accessible to all students – especially distance learners with disabilities. When designers are successful at creating truly accessible courses, everyone benefits. An eLearners article explains:
"The Web and all of its thousands of applications hold great potential as an equalizer for those with disabilities. Being able to access your bank account without having to navigate a sidewalk or communicate with a friend without using special text telephones are major revolutions for those who cannot walk or hear. Possibly the most significant revolution is taking place in the area of education. The opportunity to attend college or obtain an advanced degree online will have a lasting and long term positive impact on the disabled as well as society at large."
For more information about web accessibility technology, laws, and issues, see: Distance Learning Accessibility.
Mar 29th, 2007
Asking your employer to pay for your online classes can save you thousands in Student Loans. However, don't be too eager to sign that tuition reimbursement contract. Some contracts try to keep workers tied to the company for years; others hold employees to unreasonable terms.
A new article from About.com suggests that you ask employers the following tuition reimbursement questions:
"How will your tuition be refunded? Some companies pay the tuition directly. Some deduct it from your paycheck and reimburse you up to a year later.
What academic standards must be met? Find out of there is a required GPA and what happens if you fail to make the grade.
How long must I remain with the company? Find out what happens if you decide to leave before the term is up. Don't let yourself get locked into staying with any company for too many years.
What happens I stop attending class? If health problems, family issues, or other circumstances prevent you from finishing a degree, will you be required to pay for the classes you've already taken?"
For more information see: How to Convince Your Employer to Pay for Your Education
Mar 29th, 2007
Many online schools offer law degrees. But, graduates are usually unable to practice law after completing such programs.
However, there is one way to become a practicing lawyer after graduating from an online law school. An eLearner's article explains:
"You can earn a juris doctorate (JD) via distance education. However, there are no online law schools that are approved by the American Bar Association. In order to sit for the Bar Exam, in almost any state, you must have graduated from a law school approved by the American Bar Association. California is the one exception; that state has a provision for distance education/ correspondence schools.
It is possible to earn an online law degree from an accredited school, apply to sit for the California Bar Exam, pass the exam, and practice law in California."
For more information, see: Can I Become a Lawyer Online?
Mar 27th, 2007
Arguably, the most important skill a distance learner needs is the ability to make sense of the written word. A high level of reading comprehension is necessary for students who must digest lengthy passages of complex texts with little outside help.
Simply being able to read doesn't cut it. Distance learners must be able to digest passages quickly, make connections beyond the text, and retain the information they encounter.
Unfortunately, many adults fail to fully develop their reading skills. A new blog post from Scott H. Young explains:
"Reading is an incredibly important skill to have. Just about any form of education will involve reading, sometimes almost exclusively. You can often make yourself an expert on an intellectual subject just by reading enough in that area. But despite the incredible importance of reading, most people are wildly inefficient at it. Like a child that never goes beyond a crawl, most people have enough reading skills to move around, but they are far from running."
To explore his six tips for improving reading speed see: Double Your Reading Rate
Mar 26th, 2007
A growing number of state colleges are offering online courses to their students. Some are even allowing students to concurrently enroll in distance learning classes offered by other state colleges.
Consider this agreement by three Arizona state colleges, as recently reported by The Arizona Republic:
"Arizona college students can be Sun Devils, Wildcats and Lumberjacks at the same time.
A small but growing number of students are taking courses at all three state universities through a program that gives them more flexibility and access to classes.
Students can choose the university that grants their degree and never attend a class there in person. As part of the Arizona Universities Network, or AZUN, they typically go to class at one university and take online courses at the other two."
Although such concurrent enrollment agreements may lessen the school's ability to control what students are learning, the agreements do give students greater freedom to take the classes they want to take at the time that is most convenient.
Mar 26th, 2007
Many subjects seem almost made for virtual learning. Literature, for example, is easy to study online. With ample time given to prepare critical responses, message board literature discussions can be even more fulfilling than a traditional 60-minute lecture.
Other subjects, however, are less conducive to the online learning environment. science experiments and athletic activities, for example, are difficult to carry out through the internet. And, a few states have decided that learning driver's ed online has the potential to be deadly.
According to an Associated Press article, a Minnesota senate committee recently rejected legislation that would allow online driver's training:
"Several states already allow online driver's ed. But owners of traditional driving schools criticized the legislation, saying online courses would give students too much opportunity to skim over important — even possibly life-saving — information."
Mar 24th, 2007
Canada recently announced a sizable budget for distance learning programs aimed at educating Canadian immigrants. Should the United States do the same? Susan Smith Nash from XplanaZine says yes. According to her article, Bilingual Distance Learning That Works: Needed Now, there is a desperate need for programs aimed at helping English language learners…
"We are ignoring and/or imposing ineffective distance education strategies for our bilingual and non-English speaking populations. Right now, we have an urgent need to provide the kind of education and training that will benefit bilingual and non-English speaking populations in the United States, and we need to do it as quickly and effectively as possible in order to develop human potential, communities, and economies across the spectrum of socio-economic and demographic groups, professions, and vocations."
Mar 22nd, 2007
A new study from Eduventures, Sloan Consortium, and Babson College surveyed colleges and students around the nation. According to a summary from Campus Technology, the report:
"…Shows a slow but steady decline in the percentage of blended courses offered by colleges and universities, while purely online courses continue to grow. At the same time, the report found that colleges and universities have not been meeting consumer demand for online course offerings."
64% of all institutions of higher education now offer at least one online class, while only 55% offer a blended class with some elements in-person and some online. Although this report is bad news for blended classes, it does signify the growing popularity of distance learning as a whole. More than half of all schools now offer online and blended learning – and students want more.
A free copy of the report can be downloaded here: "Blending In: The Extent and Promise of Blended Education in the United States."
Mar 22nd, 2007
How can you tell if an online "school" is really a diploma mill? One way is to check the organization's accreditation status on the Department of Education's online database. You should also watch for common diploma mill indicators.
A new About.com article shares these common diploma mill warning signs:
â€¢ Prospective students are bombarded with extreme promises about the degree program.
â€¢ Students are given one bill for the degree instead of being charged tuition for each class or credit hour.
â€¢ The school's website has no phone number.
â€¢ The school's address is a P.O. Box or apartment number.
â€¢ Promotional materials focus heavily on credit for life experience.
â€¢ The school does not have a .edu web address.
â€¢ There are no names of deans, directors, or professors on the website.
â€¢ The school's name is very similar to the name of a traditional, well-known school.
â€¢ Degrees are awarded in a very short period of time – only a few weeks or months.
â€¢ The school claims to be accredited by an organization that is not listed as an accreditor approved by the Department of Education.