Archive for July, 2007

Writing Tips for Students

Jul 31st, 2007
Writing Tips for Students

Writing is a particularly important skill for online students – not only do virtual pupils have to turn in research papers and other assignments, they must also communicate almost exclusively through the written word. A recent Lifehack article gives some helpful suggestions for student writers. Here's a blurb:

"Writing well is easily one of the most sought-after and useful skills in the business world. Ironically, it is one of the rarest and most undervalued skills among students, and few professors have the time, resources, or skills to teach writing skills effectively. What follows are a handful of tips and general principles to help you develop your writing skills, which will not only improve your grades (the most worthless indicator of academic progress) but will help develop your ability to think and explain the most difficult topics."

Check out the writing tips here: 10 Steps Toward Better Writing.

Online Degrees from Columbia University

Jul 30th, 2007
Online Degrees from Columbia University

It is possible to earn a prestigious degree from Columbia University without completing a residency. Check out this blurb from Columbia's Video Network website:

"CVN enables students globally to pursue residency-free, fully accredited engineering courses and degree programs completely via the Internet, allowing students to view their lectures anytime and anywhere."

Students can earn online master's degrees in dozens of majors including applied mathematics, civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, and more. There are also several online doctorate and certificate programs available. Find out more: Columbia Video Network Degree Programs.

Online Training Using Wii and Second Life

Jul 28th, 2007
Online Training Using Wii and Second Life

According to a recent Wired article, a number of companies are training their employees using a combination of the Nintendo Wii and the virtual world Second Life. Here's a blurb:

"Nintendo games have made the Wii controller a satisfyingly realistic controller for pretend tennis, golf and baseball. But how about using it to practice doing surgery, applying pesticides or operating a nuclear power plant?
Real-world simulations like these are perfectly suited to Nintendo's Wiimote, says MIT research fellow David E. Stone. In fact, he claims the motion-sensitive controller is "one of the most significant technology breakthroughs in the history of computer science."

That quote may sound extreme. However, companies have found that virtual training is both cheaper and more convenient. I'm not sure I'd like my surgeon practicing on a video game console. But, the concept certainly has potential for many types of training. Check out the Wired article here: Wii + Second Life = New Training Stimulator.

ccLearn – Creative Commons for Educational Content

Jul 27th, 2007
ccLearn - Creative Commons for Educational Content

Recently Creative Commons opened a new division focused on open learning and educational content, ccLearn. ccLearn's mission is to "minimize barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials."

This is an exciting step for online education. As it has done with images and other content, Creative Commons has the potential to make sharing educational content easy and fair. Instead of having to choose between traditional copyright laws (which make it difficult to share content) and simply giving away their work (which takes the power away from the content creator), instructors can chose to share their educational material under a copyright license of their choice.

In addition to encouraging the use of Creative Commons licenses, ccLearn will promote the distribution of material by working to overcome legal, technical, and social barriers. Here's how they describe their goals:

• With legal barriers, we advocate for licensing of educational materials under interoperable terms, such as those provided by Creative Commons licenses, that allow unhampered modification, remixing, and redistribution. We also educate teachers, learners, and policy makers about copyright and fair-use issues pertaining to education.

• With technical barriers, we promote interoperability standards and tools to facilitate remixing and reuse.

• With social barriers, we encourage teachers and learners to re-use educational materials available on the Web, and to build on each other's contributions.

To learn more about Creative Commons for educational content, check out their website here: ccLearn.

Become an Online Teacher – Online Adjuncts Discussion Group

Jul 25th, 2007
Become an Online Teacher - Online Adjuncts Discussion Group

While looking for online teaching jobs, I stumbled across a vibrant Yahoo group dedicated to discussion about online teaching. Here's what they offer:

"Practical resources for college instructors looking to begin or refine their online teaching opportunities. Where to look for positions, requirements for employment, writing CV's, and universities to work for or avoid.

Also a place for online college instructors to discuss universities, teaching techniques, curriculum development, accreditation, technology, and other issues relevant to online teaching and distance education."

If you're a college instructor looking for information about online teaching, this community is a good start. To join you'll need to give a brief description about yourself and why you're interested in the online teaching group. Check it out here: Online Adjuncts Discussion Group.

Embracing Autodidacticism

Jul 24th, 2007
Embracing Autodidacticism

Autodidacts are people who learn on their own. Even if you're enrolled in an online school, self-learning is one of the most important skills you can develop. Long after you've graduated, you'll have a world of knowledge available…if only you know how to access it.

A recent post on the blog DumbLittleMan considers the value of audodidacticism:

"Whether you've gone to college or not, you can learn just about anything these days on your own. Want to learn about the classics? carpentry and home maintenance? Philosophy or cooking? Chess or computer programming? It's all online, and with a little bit of excitement, you can motivate yourself to learn a subject in a growing number of ways.

Why self-education? Well, besides the obvious reasons of wanting to improve yourself, prepare yourself for success, and just learn as much as you can, self-education offers a few extra benefits: you can learn at your own pace, and in your own way. You can follow your passions, and learn about things that excite you. There's no price for failure, but there's every reward for success."

You can use the web to learn on your own via ebooks, podcasts, online classes, and educational emails. Learn more here – Become an Autodidact: 10 Ways to Become a Self Taught Master.

Online Game Art and Design Bachelor’s Degree

Jul 24th, 2007
Online Game Art and Design Bachelor's Degree

Here's a specialized online degree sure to appeal to young designers – the Art Institute Online is offering an online Bachelor of Arts degree in Game Art and Design. This is how they describe their game program:

"You will strengthen your basic art and design skills, and then you'll learn how to design game play and background, create characters and their environments, and apply your knowledge of video and computer games to evaluate game products. You will also learn to plan the game environment and determine choices for characters."

Consider some of the latest video game hits – World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero, Halo…Computer and video games sure aren't going anywhere. For artistically-talented gamers, a degree like this just may open the door to a dream job.

Podcast Lecture Downloads Increase

Jul 24th, 2007
Podcast Lecture Downloads Increase

More students are downloading audio lectures now than ever before. Susan Smith Nash over at E-Learning Queen recently published an article examining the podcast lecture phenomenon and explaining the many uses of podcasts in education:

"With iTunesU and the debut of the iPhone, the number of individuals who download lectures and other educational audio to mobile devices has skyrocketed. iTunesU, which started rather modestly in 2006, now hosts educational content for dozens of colleges and universities. At this point, more than 10 million downloads have been tracked (iTunesU, 2007). This fall, when most people go to class, the number is expected to reach an all-time high, for those attending face-to-face classes and also those who are taking online courses…"

According to the article, educational podcasts can be used for textbook supplements, lecture notes, course content, research paper guidance, and student involvement. Check it out here: The Best Uses of Educational Podcasts.

Researching for an Online History / Sociology Class? Check out Online Public Records

Jul 23rd, 2007
Researching for an Online History / Sociology Class? Check out Online Public Records

If you have an online history or sociology class, chances are you'll need to do a bit of online research. For many topics, access to public records can come in handy. Lifehack recently published a helpful list of links to free online public records sites. Here's what they have to say:

"You can use the web to find lots of things: information, videos, books, music, games, and yes, even public records. While our most private information can (usually) not be found online, you can track down items like Birth Certificates, marriage and divorce information, obituaries and licenses on the web."

For access to the public records list see: Where to Find Public Records Online.

When is the Best Time to Earn an Online MBA Degree?

Jul 23rd, 2007
When is the Best Time to Earn an Online MBA Degree?

Earning an online mba degree when you're fresh out of your undergrad work can be a smart way to get a jump start on your career. But, getting a little experience first and enrolling as an older adult student is also a viable alternative. A recent Yahoo Education article explores this issue:

"Those choosing to pursue an MBA generally expect it to open up new career opportunities, but among this group there are significantly differing schools of thought on when it makes sense to get the degree. Which is the right course may depend on the person and the circumstances, so first consider the pros and cons of each side of the argument before deciding."

To see their list of pros and cons check out – Now or Later: When to Pursue an Online MBA Degree.

For general information about earning an online MBA see my About.com articles – Online MBA Degree Basics, Online MBA Degree Accreditation, The 5 Biggest Mistakes Online MBA Students Make.