Feb 29th, 2008
Many diploma mills give out worthless degrees based on so-called "life experience." These fake degrees won't get you anywhere in the workplace. However, there is a legitimate way to earn credit for your life experience. First, you'll need to enroll in a regionally accredited school. Then, you'll need to prove your life experience by creating a portfolio, taking an exam, or writing a paper.
Susan Smith Nash shows how a legitimate life experience program works over on her eLearners blog:
"You must sign up for the course in how to prepare a portfolio. It's a one credit-hour course, so it is not prohibitively expensive, but it is very useful because you learn how to look for courses in the catalogue that correspond with the life experience that you have. Then, you create a presentation that documents how and where the materials correspond with the course content. You must also demonstrate knowledge, which could be through a certificate that you earned in a workshop, or by writing a paper, or creating a project."
Check out the full post to learn how legitimate life experience credit can be earned.
Feb 29th, 2008
Some educators are beginning to use Twitter.com to take classroom discussions into the everyday world. Twitter allows users to post short snippets of information, which are then distributed to specified user via cell phone or website.
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an article describing how Twitter is used by Connecticut State University instructor Jason B. Jones:
"Last semester he required the 20 students in his "Introduction to Computer-Mediated Communication" course to sign up for Twitter and to send a few messages each week as part of a writing assignment. He also invited his students to follow his own Twitter feed, in which he sometimes writes several short thoughts – not necessarily profound ones – each day. One morning, for instance, he sent out a message that read: "Reading, prepping for grad class, putting off running until it warms up a bit." The week before, one of his messages included a link to a Web site he wanted his students to check out.
The posts from students also mixed the mundane with the useful. One student Twittered that she just bought a pet rabbit. Another noted that a topic from the class was being discussed on a TV-news report."
Some students find believe that Twitter is a useful way to stay in touch with their learning communities. Others resent the constant intrusion and the additional cell phone charges.
Feb 28th, 2008
Want to earn a certificate from a prestigious university? eCornell, a subsidiary of Cornell University, is currently offering online certificates in business fields such as finance, management, and human resources. Here's a blurb from the new eCornell profile over on About.com:
"The program is geared toward both mid-level professionals who want to expand their core business knowledge and executives looking to hone their strategic and managerial skills. Participants can sign up for individual courses or enroll in multi-course certificate programs.
eCornell bills itself as an "online learning company" (not a "school") and therefore maintains a pretty corporate ethos. Courses, which typically vary from about five to six hours of study over a two-week span, are designed for working professionals and can be completed at the participants' convenience. Courses are built primarily around case studies and simulated business scenarios, so the focus is on practical, everyday work situations."
Check out the full profile to learn more about eCornell's programs, admissions requirements, and tuition costs.
Feb 27th, 2008
GetEducated.com recently published their list of the top 30 "best buy" online MBA programs. Here's what their online MBA program survey found:
"The survey included 168 MBA options: 62 of these offered by graduate business schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The survey revealed online learners should be prepared to pay as little as $7,848 or as much as $106,400 for an AACSB accredited distance MBA. "
The survey ranked the programs by cost. The top five online MBA programs included:
1. East Carolina University (NC) – $7,848 (North Carolina) $26,064 (Others)
2. University of Houston Victoria (TX) – $8,730 (Texas) $15,570 (Others)
3. Oklahoma State University (OK) – $10,620 (Oklahoma) $21,060 (Others)
4. Texas A & M University Commerce (TX) – $11,445 (Texas); $19,785 (Others)
5. Florida Atlantic University (FL) – $11,538.8 (Florida); $37,888 (Others)
Check out the report for details on all 30 online MBA programs listed.
Feb 26th, 2008
Since most online colleges do not conduct on-location interviews, the admissions essay is the main way that admissions officers get to know applicants. My latest About.com article, How to Write an Online College Admissions Essay, shows how you can create an essay to impress. Here's a blurb:
"The application essay is the perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate your strengths and explain any blemishes on your record. Many colleges ask students to write a separate essay that explains what sets them apart from the crowd. If you have an assignment like that, don't be shy. Describe your many talents in a confident, non-boastful manner. If you have blemishes on your academic record such as poor grades or an expulsion, now is the time to own up to these issues. Explain any extenuating circumstances (such as dropping out due to a family tragedy). If there is no good excuse, explain what you've learned from your mistakes and why you'll never make them again. Even if you are not assigned an essay about your strengths, you can demonstrate your talents in just about any assignment. "Show" the reader what your strengths are by setting up a scene."
Check out the full article for more online college essay writing tips.
Feb 25th, 2008
A new web 2.0 community is in the works for online teachers. The Social Media Virtual Classroom was the winner of the Knowledge-Networking Award, a grant of $61,000. The money will be used to create a website where online educators can go to discuss their work. Here's a bit about the winning idea:
"The Social Media Virtual Classroom will develop an online community for teachers and students to collaborate and contribute ideas for teaching and learning about the psychological, interpersonal, and social issues related to participatory media. This digital learning space will both feature and analyze the use of blogs, wikis, chat, instant messaging, microblogging, forums, social bookmarking and instructional screencasts for teachers and students."
The chosen proposal was submitted by Howard Rheingold of Stanford University.
Feb 23rd, 2008
This Thursday, a jury ruled in favor of course management company Blackboard in a copyright suit against Desire2Learn. The Wired Campus reports:
"Desire2Learn, which has its headquarters in Kitchener, Ontario, argued that Blackboard's patent was invalid and should never have been granted in the first place. Lawyers for the company said that Blackboard officials were aware of similar technology, or what's known as "prior art," that existed before it filed its patent application, and that the company had failed to divulge that information to the patent office."
Over the past couple years, many startups have created cheaper or no-cost course management alternatives. Now, some of these companies are concerned about facing similar charges from Blackboard.
Feb 21st, 2008
Many online schools have banned Wikipedia as a research source. This user-based online encyclopedia can be a great way to get basic information on a topic; however, it is prone to factual errors. CollegeDegree.com recently published a list of 25 Wikipedia alternatives online. Here's a blurb from their article:
"Although Wikipedia is a great place to find information, it's subject to incomplete citations, biased views, and inaccuracies. And when you absolutely have to have undisputable facts, that's just not good enough. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives out there that can deliver with high quality accuracy, and we've listed 25 of the best here."
Check out the full article for links to some of the best legitimate research sources online – your professors will thank you.
Feb 20th, 2008
A growing number of nurses take some of their required health care courses online. Many online nursing courses still resemble the traditional, lecture-based classroom format. However, a new Nursing Education Perspectives report suggests that online nursing instructors explore alternative methods of educating their students:
"As the characteristics of nursing students change that is, students are older and have more life experience – the need to emphasize adult learning principles becomes more important. And with the explosion of knowledge demanding effective, Lifelong learning skills, there is a growing need to search for new and creative approaches to education. One approach, though not new, is problem-based learning (PBL). Used initially in medical education, PBL not only supports the principles of adult and student-centered learning, it also matches the characteristics of successful distance learning. Intended to develop effective critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills, PBL fosters independent, self-directed learning skills and builds an internal motivation to learn and question."
Many online schools incorporate some form of experiential learning into their courses. Project based learning seems to be a move in the right direction for online nursing programs.
Feb 18th, 2008
Simmons College will soon add new blended learning classes to their programs, thanks to a substantial grant. The Boston Globe reports:
"There is a growing academic question in the electronic age: How can one maintain the "college experience" in this time of online courses? Notably, how do small colleges, often known for their close teacher-student interaction, maintain that bond in the age of virtual classrooms?
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It's a question that Simmons College is trying to answer, with the help of a $225,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The goal, called blended learning, is to use technology to enhance the classroom experience and student-teacher interaction rather than replace it."
The grant money will be used to add online classes to Simmons' doctoral nursing program. It will also create distance learning courses to help students from multiple campuses learn from the the same library and information science instructors.