Dec 31st, 2007
Happy New Years Eve! Tonight I'm going to live large. But, starting tomorrow, I'm going to get serious about meeting my professional goals. (Sure, I might have said that last year. But, this time I'm not kidding…)
If you haven't set your new years resolutions yet, take a look at my list of the top 10 resolutions for online learners over at About.com. Here are the first five:
1. get organized.
2. Stop procrastinating.
3. Make a home office.
4. Build contacts.
5. Update your resume.
Check out the article for the next five and for details on how to accomplish these worthwhile goals.
Dec 31st, 2007
Once you've decided that online learning is the right choice for your lifestyle, it's time to find the perfect (or almost perfect) online degree program. There are so many online colleges available, it can be a challenge to know where to look. One option is to buy or borrow a book that lists virtual programs (Bear's Guides are packed with helpful information).
Another choice is to check out some of the online databases. There are dozens of sites that link to online colleges and provide additional information. DegreeInfo's discussion forum has a useful thread that lists many of the most popular online college databases. Whatever database you use, be sure to maintain some level of skepticism. Many private databases make their money by charging online schools for listings – a positive listing may not be impartial.
A few sites, such as my About.com list of online school profiles, do not accept money for school inclusion. This allows the writer to provide unbiased information.
Dec 30th, 2007
I admit it: I spend far too much time browsing through silly videos on YouTube. Luckily, my habit doesn't have to waste time. Susan Smith Nash recently published a video blog that shows how viral videos can be used in e-learning. Here's a blurb from her accompanying post:
"You're probably familiar with some of the most widely disseminated viral videos – chris crocker, Diet Coke and Mentos, Apartment Guy, … all Â» "Don't Taze Me!" – the list goes on and on. Viral videos become a part of the social "conversation" and as such, they interplay with current events, news, and the types of mythos that make it into the collective unconscious…
E-learning that incorporates the file sharing, networking, and communication of Web 2.0 can use viral videos to great advantage. This video, guided by Susan Smith Nash, explores some ways to accomplish this."
Check out the video to learn more.
Dec 30th, 2007
Videoconferencing is becoming a popular way to teach languages. A Daily Sun article describes how this technology works in a class for children:
"Holding a little stuffed snowman with a red nose and scarf, elementary Spanish teacher Xil Castreje sits behind a desk at the head of his classroom and waves goodbye to his students for the day.
Through the speakers on his desk comes the chorus of goodbyes from his class, while their waves can be seen both on the monitor on his desk and across the room, projected on the wall.
With class now over, Castreje works the laptop in front of him, shutting down the cameras on himself and the class located in another community."
Some subjects, such as language learning, require human interaction. Most students aren't able to learn another language by reading books or interacting on message boards. Fortunately, new technologies such as videoconferencing can help online learning work for almost all subjects.
Dec 30th, 2007
We've all heard the stories: students getting expelled for Facebook photos, interviewees being rejected because of information on their personal blogs. As an online student, maintaining internet privacy is essential. To help with the quest to secure information, Google recently published a series of videos on maintaining internet privacy. Here's a blurb from the Google Blog:
"These videos feature Googlers sharing privacy tips, like how to use Google Chat's "Off the Record" feature, how to limit the number of people who can view your Picasa photos, how to unlist your phone number from Google search results, and how to make the details of your Google Calendar entries private.
Just as we're dedicated to innovation when it comes to making better, more useful products, we're also committed to finding new ways to educate you about how to control what information you share when using our products, and with whom."
As we enter a new year, I'm going to take the time to double-check and make sure my personal information is secure. Better safe than sorry!
Dec 25th, 2007
Beginning in fall 2008, the University of Southern Indiana will begin teaching students in its new Doctor of Nursing Practice program. The blended program will combine online learning with on-campus coursework. A Courier Press article describes the doctorate:
"The College of Nursing and Health Professions proposed the nursing degree as the first doctoral program to be offered at USI. The program would serve Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) graduates who are currently practicing as nurse educators, Nurse practitioners, or nurse administrators. The DNP is an alternative to research-focused doctorates in nursing and is comparable to practice doctorates in pharmacy and physical therapy."
Medical degrees (particularly at the doctorate level) are practically impossible to do effectively via online learning alone. Blended programs such as this provide students with the best of both worlds (real-life practice and flexible independent study).
Dec 24th, 2007
This month Harvard held a conference devoted to immersive education – learning in virtual "worlds" such as Second Life. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that demonstrations included "face-to-face" classroom interaction using life-like avatars and course field trips to ancient worlds. Here's a blurb:
"Immersive Education [is a] multimillion-dollar project to build virtual-reality software exclusively for education within commercial and nonprofit fantasy spaces like Second Life. The project combines interactive three-dimensional graphics, Web cameras, Internet-based telephony, and other digital media.
At the meeting, Aaron E. Walsh, founder of the nonprofit endeavor and an instructor at Boston College, and two other researchers showed a gathering of about 40 people how virtual spaces can do more than entertain.
Their goal is to build three-dimensional, interactive lessons that will grab students' attention in the same way that popular computer games like World of Warcraft do – but without the violence and titillation associated with many online games."
Immersive education may be a positive experience for people who enjoy the virtual realm. As one who gets bored after the first five minutes in a video game or virtual world, give me a website or book any day.
Dec 23rd, 2007
In the last five years we've seen some pretty amazing advancements in online learning. What will the next twenty years bring? The e-Learning Queen, Susan Smith Nash, discusses how the top 12 advancements may affect online learning 25 years from now. Here's a blurb:
"People with access to such breakthroughs can live longer, work longer. How much will these cost? We will have to see. Transfer of skills can be more long-lived. However, it also sets up possibilities of gamer vs. boomer generation tensions. If the studies are true, gamers really do think differently than boomers and the WWII generation. Gamers are said to be multi-taskers and independent thinkers; while boomers are said to be more linear in their approach to problem-solving. This is a gross generalization, but numerous books and articles have been published, so people are tending to perceive and believe that there is a difference."
Of course, it's impossible to say for sure what will happen between now and then. It's very likely that a new invention we haven't yet thought of will once again revolutionize the way people learn, just as the internet has for the current generation.
Dec 22nd, 2007
I've posted a lot about wikipedia's role in the online classroom. Now, a new and unexpected competitor is in the works. Google recently announced Knol, a collection of user-created articles meant to be the first place readers go for information. Here's what the Google Blog says about the upcoming project:
"A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read. The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions. Google will not serve as an editor in any way, and will not bless any content. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors."
It will be interesting to see how Knol compares to Wikipedia and other content-driven websites. Because users are free to write what they will, it seems that this site will have the same problem as wikis: without editing and oversight these sources cannot be trusted as an authoritative source.
Dec 21st, 2007
Online high schools are becoming more popular for both teenage and adult students. In my latest About.com article, I explain the difference between the four most popular types of online high school programs. Here's a blurb:
"Not all online high schools are created equal. Private programs offer quality at a high price tag. Public online high schools educate students for free but aren't available in all areas. Students can also earn a diploma at no cost from online charter schools. However, these programs are sometimes unreliable and available only to students living in certain cities. Alternatively, university-sponsored online high schools offer nationwide programs but may have more strict admissions policies."
Check out the article for a more in-depth breakdown of the four types of online high schools.