Aug 31st, 2007
The Wired Campus reports that Drexel University has big plans for the Internet Public Library. Drexel says it will make the popular site a "a virtual teaching and learning laboratory for digital reference." That's good news for online learners who don't always have the same access to college-level libraries as traditional students.
Here's how Wired Campus explains the planned Internet Public Library additions:
"Since its inception, the project has run a question-and-answer service for researchers and has provided access through its Web site to a wide range of digital library collections and exhibits. Now Drexel, armed with a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, plans to build an online learning community and to determine whether it can create a "technological training center" for digital librarians."
I applaud the news – please, keep the quality online educational resources coming!
Aug 31st, 2007
According to a recent eLearners article, taking courses online can help parents be a better example to their children. Here's a blurb:
"Instead of hearing you say, "Reading is important," your children will see you reading. When you make time to read, your kids will learn that reading is a valuable activity. Research shows that daily exposure to books and writing makes children better prepared to become readers and writers when they are kindergarten-age, and older children who read are more likely to become lifelong readers. Carve out some "family study time" each week and read together. Lesson learned: Education expands a reader's world, and reading leads to success in education.
You can tell your children to value education. But they'll really "get it" when they watch you putting this concept into action."
Clearly, actions speak louder than words. I definitely think parents can be a positive educational role model to their children without being students themselves. But, it is important that parents' actions show they value education.
Many parents worry that pursing an online degree will take time away from their family. But, if you're considering enrolling in an online college, don't forget to consider the positive effect of setting a good example.
Aug 31st, 2007
Textbooks can be a major expense for college students. Books for a single course can total in the hundreds, and a semester's worth of books can be over a thousand dollars.
A recent New York Times article discusses the pitfalls of buying textbooks directly from your school:
"With this year's news about the ways some unscrupulous colleges make an extra buck off students' naivetÃ© – from loan officers who accepted lenders' kickbacks to schools that got cash incentives to steer students to expensive study-abroad programs – I felt it was expedient to warn my daughter about a big expense that looms before her.
"Can't I just buy them at the campus bookstore?" she asked.
I shuddered. As much as I hate to micromanage, I felt compelled to remind her that taking that approach can cost the average college student $700 to $1,000 a year for books, according to a Congressional advisory committee report released in May."
Online students may not have access physical college bookstores, but most virtual colleges provide links for their students to purchase books. Beware of buying your books from your school – chances are you'll end up paying much more than you should.
Instead, check out the online booksellers listed in the New York Times article. I know students who are saving hundreds of dollars this semester by purchasing books from alternative sources such as Amazon and Half.com.
Aug 31st, 2007
Many first-time distance learners assume they'll be able to breeze through an online degree. But, after their first class they realize online learning is a lot of work.
An eLearners blogger describes his experiences earning an online degree at Penn Foster College:
"How much effort does it take? Some students may tell you that the courses at Penn Foster College are easy, and after all, the exams are open-book. Some of the courses WERE easy, but I found others to be quite difficult, namely Math for Business and Finance and Principles of Management…So, to answer the question "how much time and effort does it take?" to succeed at Penn Foster College, I would say you get out of your program what you put into it. If you procrastinate, it will take you a very long time. If you put in the time and effort and schedule time to work on it each day, you should progress through the program in a reasonably short amount of time."
Just like traditional schools, quality online programs require a lot of work. Put genuine effort into it and you'll be rewarded.
Aug 30th, 2007
It can be difficult to know what to include on a resume, particularly if you have an online degree. I'm currently working on a resume overhaul, and the process can be quite an adventure (Should I include an objective? How do I highlight freelance work?)
Fortunately, one article has been rather helpful – Mahalo.com's How to Write a Resume. Check it out to discover the difference between chronological resumes, skills-based resumes, functional resumes, combination resumes, and video resumes.
To learn more about listing your online degree, check out my About.com article: Resume Writing Tips for Online Learners.
Aug 30th, 2007
If you don't already have a high school diploma (or if you're trying to help your teen complete high school virtually), you'll want to make sure you find a school that's properly accredited.
Regional accreditation is the most widely accepted form of accreditation – but, many virtual schools are accredited by other legitimate agencies such as the DETC.
Many potential pupils are at a loss when it comes to searching for an online high school. Google searches yield results, but some of the top schools don't even show up on the first page. To help students and parents find credible schools, I've put together a list of regionally accredited online high schools. Use it to find online school websites, tuition expenses, and other important information.
Aug 30th, 2007
According to a recent O'Reilly article, the Hewlett Foundation is working with Creative Commons to create a search portal for open education courses such as MIT's Open Courseware. Here's a blurb about the open education project:
"The initiative's goal is to build a comprehensive directory of open educational resources, encouraging their broader discovery and use. There are a large number of open content repositories, but they have been difficult to find in larger, more aggregated search tools, their riches often lost in the forest of commercial or deep web results."
While many directories of open educational material currently exist (my own website, Selfmadescholar.com offers a lengthy list of opencourseware classes), I'm excited about the prospect of a more complete portal. Free educational material benefits everyone, and it doesn't cost schools much to host already-created reading lists and lecture notes.
Aug 29th, 2007
Colorado State University is launching a new online university called CSU-Colorado. The new $12 million school will offer accredited degree programs to a wider variety of pupils including out-of-state students and non-traditional learners.
Here's a blurb about CSU-Colorado from Coloradoan.com:
"CSU-Colorado will seek independent degree granting authority and full accreditation, enabling it to more quickly adapt cur-riculum and degrees to meet changing needs of the state's employers and make courses more relevant to the workforce.
CSU-Colorado expects to begin enrolling students as early as the second quarter of 2008 with classes beginning in the third quarter. Additional baccalaureate, master's degree and professional development programs are scheduled to debut continu-ously. Courses will normally run eight weeks; high-enrollment programs eventually will begin every four weeks."
This is definitely good news for online learners. As more legitimate, established schools create online programs, online learning as a whole gains credibility.
Aug 29th, 2007
It can be hard to get straight As, hold down a demanding job, and manage your family. But, with a little diligence (alright, a lot of diligence) it is possible to develop grade-improving habits. A new article from Pick the Brain offers several suggestions for improving your GPA this semester.
While many of these study habits are tailored to traditional students, I think distance learners can benefit from several of them. Here's one of the study skills the article suggests:
"Do a weekly review – A common problem students encounter is trying to learn an enormous amount of material right before the midterm or final exam. This is practically impossible. You'll find it much easier if you take a gradual approach to studying. At least once a week, review your notes starting from the beginning of the course. This only needs to take 15 or 20 minutes, just enough time to build familiarity with the material.
By doing a weekly review you'll gradually memorize everything and will better understand how one concept builds on the next. Putting in small amounts of effort on a consistent basis will drastically reduce the amount of studying you need to do right before the test."
Aug 29th, 2007
A new article by The Globe and Mail poses an interesting question: "Why, in the Information Age, are students heading back to classrooms?"
Distance learning offers so many opportunities for students to learn in alternative, technology-friendly ways. But, many schools cling to old-fashioned educational traditions.
Here's a blurb from the article, Researchers Question School in High-Tech Age:
"Researchers say students weaned on collaborative learning with high-tech devices are suffering in classrooms ruled by defenders of lecture-based orthodoxy wielding overhead projectors and reciting from dog-eared history textbooks that climax with Paul Martin's run for 24 Sussex Drive.
"It's not about using technology for technology's sake. It's allowing students to access the right information because of the information explosion," says Mohamed Ally, director of the Centre for Computing and Information Systems at Athabasca University, Alberta's distance-learning pioneer."
While I believe that online learning offers students some positive alternatives, I still believe that the traditional style of teaching has some benefits. Sure, the power point presentations are annoying (often presented by instructors who seem to believe they're using the latest technology…), but face-to-face discussions are still beneficial. What do you think?