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4 Ways to Get More Out of Assigned Reading

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Students in college can expect to read hundreds of pages of assigned reading per week. One of the myths that students bring to college is that reading something one time is enough. Another myth is that reading is all you have to do. The truth is that reading is a passive activity and if that’s all you do, you’ll be reading the same chapter over and over, trying to understand and remember the information. The key to remembering information is active reading, which includes writing, talking, and thinking critically about the content.

Active reading strategies “trick” your brain into understanding and remembering more of the reading assignment than if you just read every word in every section one time. Active reading takes effort and time; however, it will save time in the long run that you would otherwise spend reading and studying chapters multiple times because you don’t remember the information.

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Vacation During an Online Class: Good Idea or Not?

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Online classes are the most convenient and flexible way to get a degree. One of the perks with online education is the ability to travel and take vacations while continuing with classes. As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, online students need a lot of self-directedness, determination, and planning to be successful, and this is even more important if you want or need to schedule a vacation during an online class. Many online students are limited to when they can take vacation because of work or family obligations and very few people are willing to interrupt a degree program by putting off classes for 6 or 8 weeks just so they can take a 1-2 week vacation. With online classes, you can do both at the same time!

I have travelled while taking online classes as a grad student and am doing so now while teaching as an online professor. The key is in planning ahead for every contingency, making a schedule for school work, and sticking with your daily schedule. Here are some tips for continued success in an online class while on vacation or traveling.

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Tips for Successful Online Discussions

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Most learning in online classes takes place in the weekly asynchronous discussion forum. Most classes have specific requirements for discussions, including how many days per week students need to post in the discussions and which days they need to post. The general rule for posting messages is to write one posting addressing the discussion prompt and then write a response to 2-3 classmates’ original postings. The general rule for days posting and response due dates is to make the initial posting by mid-week and responses to two classmates’ postings between 2-4 days later.

Before participating in the discussions, students should prepare ahead of time by reviewing all information about discussions and grading in the syllabus. If a rubric is provided for discussions, review that carefully. It is a good idea to make a checklist of requirements so you can review and check each posting and response before submitting to the discussion area. Here are some tips that are relevant for all online discussions.

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Five Steps for Effective Proofreading

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Every online course requires weekly written assignments and at least one, sometimes more, two-five page papers. All too often, students seem to see weekly course assignments in terms of “once and done,” meaning they write the assignments and then submit for a grade without going through the drafting, editing, proofing, and editing process. Based on comments by online instructors, it seems that most students do not proofread weekly assignments, instead relying on Grammar Check to catch writing mistakes. Students who take the time to follow the writing process for weekly assignments, and then proofread effectively, earn higher grades than do those who see assignments as a quick writing activity. Following an effective proofreading process has the added advantage of providing a schedule for completing assignments so that you are not rushing through an assignment at the last minute on the due date. The proofreading process includes five basic steps.

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Five Tips for Avoiding Procrastination

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Let’s face it – we all procrastinate at some time or another. Reasons vary from mismanagement of time, organization, and distractions, to disinterest in the task and fear of failure. If you need to figure out why you procrastinate, there are excellent articles and resources online to help with that. Usually though, addressing these issues is easily managed with an organization plan that includes five key factors.

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Four Ways To Make Friends In Online Classes

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Online classes can seem isolating to some students. Sometimes this doesn’t matter a lot if a student sees colleagues at work every day and spends a lot of time with family and friends. Social media also keeps people from feeling isolated online. Even with all this interaction with others, many students feel isolated and alone in online classes. To their way of thinking, there are no stops for coffee before or after class, or study groups, or appointments for extra assistance with the professor, or just simple chatting about things not related to class topics.

Students can, however, make connections with their peers in online classes and, in many cases, make new friends. I have friends whom I have never met in person and yet have known for 15 years, keeping in touch via email, phone, and chat conversations. Today, this is much easier than it was 15 or even 10 years ago when social media was not a communication option as it is now.

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All About Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Classes

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Online classes are usually either synchronous or asynchronous. Some courses may be a combination of both. There are also blended courses for students who want a limited amount of on campus attendance but prefer to do the rest of their work online at home. Blended courses and synchronous courses are good choices for students who wish to have a transition path from on campus attendance to fully online study. There are also independent study courses, taken online, for students who prefer to work at their own pace, either faster than a traditionally-scheduled course or at a slower pace as best fits their own schedule.

Students have different preferences about which type of course they prefer. Let’s talk about how each type of course works.

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Five Myths about Online Education

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People have a lot of preconceived ideas and beliefs about online education. Among those beliefs are that online education is easy and that students are isolated from their peers and instructor. The truth is that accredited online education is academically equal to traditional education. Here are five of the most prevalent myths about online education:

Myth 1 – Online classes are easier.
For most students, online classes are actually more time-consuming and, in some cases, more difficult. The reason is very simple. Sitting in on-campus classes involves most listening and speaking; very little in depth reading and writing is done in class. In online classes, in depth reading and writing are necessities since all work is done at home on the computer.

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5 Reasons to Choose Online Classes

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Students take online classes for lots of reasons, although those new to online classes may not fully understand the differences between online and on-campus classes. Do be sure to check next month’s posting to find out about the myths surrounding online classes. The differences in the two types of classes are some of the very reasons that students describe as their reasons for choosing to do part or all of their education online. Here are the top five reasons for choosing online classes.

1. Convenience: The top reason is avoiding the time needed for commuting to and from school, which can save hours throughout the week when managing school, work, and family activities on a daily basis. Some students report saving as much as 5-10 hours a week in commuting time and they can apply that time to studying.

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Digital Tools and Skills for Successful Online Learning

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Computer and technology literacy is a requirement for successful online learning. Without these skills, successful completion of online classes can be negatively affected. Think about it: if you can’t save and name files, or upload and download file attachments, then you can’t submit your assignments. If you are constantly figuring out how to use a specific technology tool required for your assignment while you are also working on the assignment, the time spent will be doubled or even tripled. It is to the student’s advantage to be proficient with technology prior to taking an online class.

In my role as an online professor, I see students who enroll in my online class without the most rudimentary technology skills. I have worked with students who did not know how to name files and set up folders to organize class documents. Some students sign up for class and do not even own a computer. Other students have computers but only for Facebook or other social media. These situations contribute to the difficulty of an online class.

Succeeding in an online course or program requires proficiency in multiple areas of digital tools and skills. Learning to use technology after starting an online class puts a lot of stress on students; it is far better to learn technology skills before taking your first online class. Many schools offer tutorials and webinars on technology and library tools and skills. There are also many free online resources for learning how to best use the technology you will need for school. The following are the basics you will need to know before starting your first online class:

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