Meeting Tips for Online College Groups

There’s a phrase that applies to group dynamics that says “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” The more members you add to a group the more complex the dynamic becomes. It gets harder to meet everyone’s schedules and the input gets more diverse and sometimes creates a bottleneck to moving forward with any specific actionable items. Here are some tips to help groups work together in online college settings.

The first thing after introductions and setting group roles that you are going to want to do is to set up times that the group can touch bases on the progress of the project. All of your group work won’t be together, but set up a schedule that lets everyone check in regularly with their parts of the project. This is important and gets everyone on the same page as to how communication will occur. Setting the expectations up front & planning specific times to report milestones in the project, task completed and general progress.

Meeting together at the same time may not be an option, so you’ll have to do your best with what you are given. Many online college groups come together in forums set aside for the purpose of helping students collaborate. It’s a bit delayed, but if everyone commits to checking it daily you should still be able to continue with your project. To establish some clarity in a forum setting you can post a list of all the assignments and who’s taking what role and ask everybody to respond if they agree with it.

There will be times when you’ll need to hold a conversation with the group or an individual member that you are collaborating with on a certain part of the project. If you have established times from that each person in the group will be working on the project and available to talk you can meet up for a chat or phone call. Google Talk as well as other common services like MSN Messenger, Yahoo IM, AIM & Skype can give you the capability to talk with other students.

Take time early on in the lifespan of your group to meet together. This can really help everyone get on the same page before everyone goes off and starts doing their work on the project. As you go along you may this less, especially as everyone takes their tasks they have and goes to work on completing them, but make sure to meet together as often as you need to ensure the success of the project.

You may also offer to provide a meeting agenda so that everyone knows what will be covered. They can spend time putting together anything they need to present to group and you will show the group that you are interested in the project as well as in valuing their time.

When meeting pick somebody to take notes of the discussion and post a list of action items along with deadlines so that everyone continues to be on the same page. If there is a discussion thread or place to post such things specifically it can also alert your teacher to how you’re group is progressing.

These are but a few tips that can help your group work run more smoothly in an online college. I wish you the best in having productive meetings with your fellow students.

4 Tips for Stronger Study Habits in your Online University Courses

Everyone wants to be successful in their online university classes. Here are 4 tips to help you develop stronger study habits. I hope they help you like they’ve helped me.

Begin Your Day with Peace. Before I jump into emails, assignments, etc. I like start my day with some personal study that helps bring a sense of overall purpose to my mind. This gives me motivation and excitement to get into my days tasks and stay committed to them. Some people start their days with scriptures or other short devotional. Some spend a bit in meditation or a jog. Whatever you do to clear your head and get focused can help. I wouldn’t suggest beginning your day with a coffee or cigarette, both restrict blood flow to the brain limiting the amount of oxygen your brain gets which can be horrible for focus, concentration and memory.

Work during Energy Peaks. Personally I have noticed that if I get to bed about 10:00 PM and wake at 5:30 I am able to work for several hours before my energy begins to dip. I am productive in those quiet morning hours if I have enough sleep. If I were to keep on working I notice that my energy starts to dip around 11 or noon. It’s then that I don’t try to for myself to continue studying, but take a break to run or otherwise exercise, eat and then get back to my day. Another quick trick is to take a 15-20 minute power nap when you feel your energy dip. It has helped me to regain the focus needed to effectively study. A 5-10 minute walk may do similar things for you.

Create a Set Study Time. When you plan out your week, create set times to study. This does a couple things. One, it helps you prepare and get in study mode when that time comes and it provides structure to your day. Structure is one of the most effective things you can do for good study. It removes a great degree of uncertainty and stress and can help you be calm when you get into study. Some say they work best under pressure, but it’s typically not true. When the mind is stressed it is more likely to skip over simple, but important elements in your work.

Create a Daily Routine. You will do well to go a step beyond planning which block of time you are going to be using for study to create what you will be doing during that time. I like to call this my dailies, the tasks that I will do daily to help propel me towards my destination. It’s small and simple things that bring about great things, like graduation and A’s. During the time you’ve set aside you can begin with reviewing notes from your online college class for 15 minutes. Then jump into reading for a couple hours. Break up your time into 30 or 45 minute blocks. You’ll be less likely to get the glazed over student zombie look then. Work on your papers and assignments for 45 minutes and lastly, check in with your class online. Review additional comments on an assignment, new messages from your professor, etc. You don’t need to spend a lot of time on these administrative tasks, 15 minute should usually do.

Use these tips to help you develop stronger learning habits in your online university courses.

Seeking Technical Help in Your Online College Courses

So you clicked on a button and crashed the entire school’s online system huh? Well, chances are you did nothing of the sort, but there may be some definite times you’d like to touch bases with the technical staff who support your online college courses. There’s no use in trying to take care of everything yourself if the school has put together a team to help in just such instances.

In your online school’s orientation or initial documents you may have seen a list of recourses. That list will typically include the information on how to contact your school’s technical support team. Don’t hesitate to contact them if you experience any of the following things:

  • You are kept from logging in
  • Login’s fine, but clicking on navigation or document links don’t work
  • Your chat isn’t working
  • Uploading your class work doesn’t work
  • Any part of the site you need to access doesn’t work
  • You forget or lose your password
  • It appears that someone has accessed your account

Getting an acknowledgement that someone is working on the issue can reduce your temperature a couple degrees if any of these problems begin to frustrate you.

In addition to contacting technical support let your professor know about the problem. This can help them stay aware just in case other students have the same problem. They may also change a date of an assignment if the technical problem is occurring for a groups of students. Because a problem with the system could prevent you from emailing your professor through the online college’s interface, you’ll want to have made sure to written down your professor’s email at the beginning of the course.

One thing you that may sound pretty basic, but you’re going to want to make sure of is that the technology you’re seeking help for though the online school’s support team is actually an issue with the software that are responsible for. Your word document crashing or your internet browser stopping may have nothing to do with anything they can help you with. If you’re frustrated though, they may be able to suggest some tips to fix things or at least get you pointed in the right direction.

How urgent is your need? Do you have a paper that’s due in an hour and you aren’t able to upload the paper? If this is the case, don’t take the less pressing route of emailing technical support, unless they have explicitly said they respond to every email 24 hours a day. Emailing will usually get you a response, maybe not even a resolution mind you, but a response in a day’s time. If your need is burning, put out the fire with a phone call or live chat.

Most online schools have a good system that is regularly updated and checked for bugs, but if you do experience some trouble, don’t be impatient, just get a hold of the technical support and should be able to get back on track with your online college courses.

Online Courses to Gain Specialized Skills

We live in day and age that has made leaps and bounds in technology. We sit in steel boxes that fly us to a destination thousands of miles away in just hours, a journey that previously took months to accomplish. It’s quite remarkable when you think about it.

We then went through an industrial age and came out on the other side with much more efficient ways of farming such that fewer people could provide food for many more. It made the cost of obtaining food much cheaper and opened up the doors for people to spend their time on things other than farming. People migrated to the cities to look for other work. New industries emerged as people began exploring new ideas. There were also more people now to help develop those ideas into working models. Specialization wasn’t born then, but it definitely increased.

While many in underdeveloped nations still spend the majority of their incomes on groceries, we in developed countries have the amazing opportunity to use the foundations laid for us by past generations to create solutions to problems in the world around us. Isn’t it wonderful to think that by dedicating ourselves to a idea that we can contribute our specialized skills to the bettering of lives around us?

So how does one go about gaining specialized skills today? Well, one way is to chart your course and take some online courses to get you to that desired destination. It may seem so normal that it’s easy to dismiss the idea quickly, but just think about what taking some advanced training can bring into your life. Advanced training via online college courses can bring you a great deal of satisfaction, set you apart from others and give you chances to help people and provide for your living. Online courses can also give you a more efficient and quick way to proceed into the future towards your goals.

Specialization requires each man to learn his part and to perform it well. It is very satisfying to work hard and know at the end of the day that you have helped to provide for your own means. When one dives into a field of labor he typically expects to work hard to learn the tricks & skills of the trade. In all arenas there is a learning curve. They say that to master anything you need to spend 10,000 hours on it. But just think of how rewarding it can be to set a goal and work each day to achieve it.

At a future date you will look back, if you have dedicated yourself to learning and contributing to the solutions in the world around you and think, I am sure glad that I spent the time I did to obtain this skill, I’m glad I took some online courses, obtained some specialized skills and made something of myself. Good luck in all your endeavors, including taking some online courses and specializing.

Online College Students Can Navigate the Web

Alright, I know it’s not a true statement, but I wish it were! I have gotten lost on the internet at times and I know there are others who are in an even worse position that me. So let me share with you a few pointers that can help online college students navigate the web more successfully.

Let’s start with the basics. You can want to know several ways to access your Internet browser. You can do that through your computer’s start menu if you’re using Windows or the taskbar using Mac. Your computer might also have an Internet browser button which makes this even easier.

Once your browser is open the first key to navigation is in knowing the difference between the search bar in the address bar. While Google Chrome treats these two boxes as the same, Firefox and Internet Explorer both have a unique address bar and search feature box. When typing in a website many people think that you need to type in the HTTP as well as the WWW, but in most cases you can leave both of these off when going directly to a website. The search bar is usually smaller and located to the upper right of your browser. The address bar is typically more prominent directly in the middle of the top.

Sometimes while browsing you may experience a streaming video no longer working order a page failing to load. A common trick is to press your computers F5 key. This will refresh the screen and reload your browser, giving it another chance to display what’s on the page.

Downloading files can be tricky for some people, but the most important key to remember with this is that you can most often right-click on the link and select “save as” to download a file. When you do this your computer will save to a default location. This may be your desktop, a download folder or another location you selected. I find it easy to download most things to the desktop initially and then put them in the appropriate folder later.

Opening a new tab, window or document is easy and just requires the punch of some keys. If you are browsing and don’t wish to leave your current location, but wish to view something else you can either click “ctrl+t” to open up a new browser tab or “ctrl+w” to open up a new window. When in an office document “ctrl+n” will often open up a new document.

In your browser, you may click on a link and realize you went to the wrong page. When doing so I’m sure you’re aware of your browsers back button. You may also, if your cursor is not located in a text field, click on the backspace key to return to the previous page. Knowing this is good too, because it means that accidentally clicking on the backspace key when you’re on a page that you wish to be viewing such as a form you are filling out is a mistake.

So here are some ways that students taking online classes can better navigate the internet.

Online College Courses – Additional Software Needs

In my last article I shared with you the importance of having some basic software on your computer before getting into some online courses. This time I will go a bit deeper to explain some of the snags you can run into online and what software you can use to minimize those stumbling blocks.

So, after ensuring a good browser and word processing/office software you will want to check to make sure you have some plug-ins that help your browser display certain web content such as video and certain interactive features.

The most common software that websites around the web use to display video is a little program called FlashPlayer by Adobe. If you have a good browser like I suggested in the last article then you will most likely be prompted to install this Flash plug-in when you visit a site that requires it such as YouTube or many others. If you visit a website and expect to see something, but there is a blank space where the video or presentation should be and you are not prompted to install FlashPlayer you may visit: get.adobe.com/flashplayer

The other piece of software that some online college courses use is Java. Java is common for online games, but it also may be requires for your interactive quizzes or teaching modules. You will also most likely be prompted to install it when you need it, but if not you can get it from here: www.java.com. And don’t worry when it asks you often to update, just click yes to give it permission to do so.

Next, while you may not have any problems if you are a savvy internet surfer, some sites when you visit them will actually install software on your computer without you knowing. They may trick you into allowing it, or may do so without any input from you other than going to their site. To prevent against such attacks you can install a virus, adware, spyware protection software that monitors the sites you visit for just such malicious or hidden intent. While there are many popular ones such as McAfee and Norton Antivirus I have found personal value in free ones such as AVG , Spybot Search & Destroy and AdAware, in that order.

Email is a must, but like a browser, you probably already have that taken care of. If not, I would highly suggest using a slick free service like Google’s Gmail. Don’t worry, when you see ads that have to do with an email you’re reading, Google doesn’t have people reading your emails to make that happen. It’s just an algorithm, your privacy is safe.

Lastly, you may need a statistical analysis program if you are in the behavioral sciences or another research field. Excel, PowerPoint and Photoshop are other popular programs that you may need, depending on the classes you are taking. Check with your online institution to make sure you don’t need any other software.

Survival Tips for Online College Courses

Online college courses have opened up a lot of options for students in many different situations. Whether students are beginning their college career or simply trying to supplement their current skills and knowledge, online courses have made it possible to complete their education on their own time and at their own pace.

One of the most important things you can do before you begin your college career is to self analyze. Ask yourself: what are your personal academic goals? Are you looking for an Accounting Degree to increase your standing at your current job, or are you starting college for the first time? Will you keep your job while you are taking the online college courses, or do you plan to be a full time student?

When you know exactly how much time and effort you can devote to your education, and what kind of results you expect, you can effectively work toward your goals and receive the degree you really want.

The Skills You Need

Online college courses are a different experience than classes offered in a traditional setting. While these courses give students the ability to study and participate from the comfort of their own home, it does not imply that it will be any easier than conventional coursework. It is important for students to realize that it will require time and effort to succeed, and that they may need to develop some extra skills to make the most of their online education.

Time management is extremely important in online courses. When a student doesn’t have a strict schedule set by the college, it can be easy to procrastinate and get behind. Students need to learn to make their own schedule and then stick to it no matter what. Set aside the amount of time you will need for each class and then do the work that is required.

Students should also set up a dedicated study space. This area doesn’t need to have much. It should be comfortable and have enough space to accommodate a person and the computer, and maybe a desk, but the most important thing it needs is a door that can be closed. Students need to be willing to close this door on the outside world. Everyone in the house should also understand that when that door is closed, class is in session and interruptions are not acceptable.

Open communications are also extremely important when taking online college courses. Just because the student will not be able to meet with the instructors in person, it does not imply that they can’t ask questions and get the help they need. Modern technology has opened up a lot of communications channels for students participating in online college courses, such as forums, online chats, shared computer screens, emails, and much more.

Aspects to Check

Before choosing online college courses, it is important for students to do some research and investigate the educational institution. Whether you are looking for a Human Resources Degree or an Digital Design Degree, you should make sure that the college has proper accreditation, and that it offers the courses you need, when you need them.

Online college degree programs have made it possible for many people to receive an education no matter what their individual circumstances. By developing some new skills and performing a little research, they can get the educational experience they need to go into the career they want.

Online Courses, Meals Not Included

Some say there is no such thing as a free lunch, but you remember school lunches? I never paid for those! I simply gave the lunch lady my name or lunch card. Ah, those were the days, when lunch was free and homework short.

Now that I am older I find that classes require more of my time and I now pay for just about every meal I eat. I guess it’s not as bad as I made it sound. It’s good to be responsible and pay my own way. At first it was hard to learn, but I am getting the hang of it. Not totally there yet, but close!

In addition to the those changes, I’ve noticdd some other ones, namely that thing called the internet. I remember the initial days of the internet and digging through university folder via GOPHER to find lyrics to Pearl Jam songs. Ah, those were the days not knowing what each click would bring. It was always a surprise to see if I was going to find something. I wouldn’t exactly say that it was like Christmas. It was more like a slot machine, except I didn’t have to put in quarters. So all in all I guess I got what I paid for and the times I actually found something was a treat.

Then came the days dial up web browsing. It almost makes me want to bang my head on the wall thinking about the speed of which it took me to download the little webpage with a couple images I had made in my computer class. But now look at it! In most places the connection to the internet allows for complete video downloads that are a billion times larger than my little page of interest. And with all that speed and ability has come dun, dun, dun…the online school with online courses and online teachers and classmates. It was bound to happen, and it has.

Of course with all the cool new possibilities of learning things that only two decades ago weren’t even invented yet there comes some drawbacks. I am totally able to go to big universities like MIT and spend some time in modern classrooms with brilliant minds for free online. These online courses can teach me like public education television used to. I can get classes on demand. I can watch them over and over if I want and I can even download them and put them on my media player or computer and take them with me to the park or wherever I want.

None of those are the drawbacks of which I spoke. The thing that still brings a bit of nostalgia to my mind is that even with all this technology I still have to pay for my own lunch. I admit it’s not the worst thing that could happen to a student in the days of freebee education, but with all the advancements I guess I’ll learn to take what comes and love it. And despite this little drawback, I still think it’d be a good idea to explore the possibility of online courses. That’s all I have to say about that.

How to Maximize Freedom with Online College Courses

If you are like me, you like to have a change of scenery every now and then. Sometimes you like the indoors, but other times there’s no enticement inviting enough to lure you inside. Sometimes a library will, do, while other times a park bench or crowded café does the trick. While you can definitely utilize this revolving surroundings method in your study & homework, you’re pretty much trapped when it comes to having to be in class at set times.

Well, if you’d rather be jet setting than staying local to attend to an inflexible classroom lecture schedule perhaps there are some ways you can rethink going back to school. Here are some possible ways to maximize your location freedom with the help of online college courses.

As I write this I am sitting on a bench in a shaded area of a park I’ve never been to. A gentle breeze cools me as Annie Lenox sings a quiet melody, breathing creativity into my mind and a calm that unlocks mental barriers.

I chose the time and I chose the place. I’m somewhere new, untethered by time or place to do what I’ve chosen to do. Because I work from my laptop and simply need an internet connection to submit my articles, I can literally go anywhere and not get behind or have to take time off. In fact, I will be going to Disney Land in a month and will even spend some time before heading to the park makin a few bucks.

When I was going to school, online colleges weren’t the norm, so I spent much time in the library between classes. It was a place of quiet for the most part, but for some reason I require a regular change of scenery to give my mind opportunities to soar, and soar it does!

This is how I maximize my work, by performing my given tasks in places that give me energy. It is still the same work I may be doing in a cubicle, but instead of feeling like prison bars it feels peaceful and fun. Now I’m not saying that this kind of switch is good in any area, though it may be interesting to see if this kind of distance approach could be tried with McDonald’s cashiers or lifeguards J.

Here’s a something to try. Get yourself a laptop. Pick your favorite book store, café or business that has internet access. Make a map of that store in every state where you have a friend on whose couch you can crash. Sign up for an online college course of interest and hit the road, spending a day or two in each location, doing the dishes of your friends for room and board. Work in the mornings and see the sights and spend time with your friends in the evenings. If you want a plan that gives you a little more time to study & do classes? Take a bus!

Traditional college courses offer many benefits, but if you’re the wrestles type that needs to roam around don’t rule out college for you. Just because the old way didn’t work for you, doesn’t mean the new way can’t. In the world of online college courses you have the opportunity to maximize your freedom of location and to conquer the hurdles that have kept you from continuing your education like you always wanted to.

Picking the Right Online Course for You

In the past it may have been difficult to select a career that was right for you. You may have gone to a parent and assumed their occupation. You may have relied on the wisdom of others to assess your strengths and weaknesses and then to choose a job at which you could excel. With the advent of online courses, picking the right one has never been easier.

Many online assessments such as those available on CareerPath.com and CareerExplorer.net are can help you decide what you will both do well and enjoy.

Determining your direction is essential before you ever start to look into actual online courses. Beginning with a clear career path is starting with the end in mind. After you pin down this vital element to your education you can begin to examine schools and online universities that offer the type of educations you’ll need to develop strong skills in the field of choice.

Selecting the right online school is not as difficult as it first seems, especially if you have tied down the specific path you’ll be pursuing. All you need to do is find a list of schools that offer the degrees in which you are interested. Better yet, by choosing to go with an online college finder service like FindOnlineColleges.net you can be directed to some of the best schools available out there today.

Choosing a helper can also let colleges know that you are interested in learning more about their programs. Being able to talk directly to a college counselor or other representative from the university will be a big help towards selecting your perfect school.

Picking the right online course is a matter of doing the above two steps first. Once they are complete you will most likely choose your online courses with the help of a counselor. The specific degree may also have courses preselected for you to, in which case, picking the right course will be done for you.

If by chance you are one of those independent spirits that would like to find his own way through his educational experience then you’ll just have to slightly adjust your methods, but the first step is still determining where you’re going, else you’ll never know when you get there.

First, paint yourself a picture of what the future looks like after your education. What are you doing? Where do you want to be? Next, you’re going to want to decide what are you going to have to learn in order to get there.

By creating your own “curriculum” of sorts you can still find many ways to learn all you’ll need to learn to reach your goals. Books, free online courses, library videos are all ways to design your own education.

So, if you’re feeling stressed about what courses to take, it’s probably because you’re getting ahead of yourself. There is a process to going about it and when you attempt to select a course without first choosing your career and school, you’re sure to be in for a head-banging-against-the-wall experience.