Your Hidden Voice – Subvocalizing Hinders Reading Speed

Your hidden voice, it’s a result of how you learned to read. During those years of learning to sound out simple words like C-A-T you also learned to speak whatever you read. “I don’t say everything that I read,” you may be thinking. However there have been those who study readers who have noted their vocal cords vibrating even when no audible sound was heard. So no, you may not be saying aloud what you read, but chances are good that you’re using what Stanley Frank, former Executive Vice President of Encyclopedia Britannica, calls your hidden voice, your voice that still pronounces everything you read as if you were reading aloud.

“So what?” you may be shrugging to yourself. “What’s the problem with using my ‘hidden voice’? I still read really well.” I’ll tell you what’s wrong with your hidden voice. It limits how fast you can read. While there are appropriate times to “subvocalize” what you’re reading, like when reading poetry, think, dense textbooks, jokes, dialogue & the like. Many if not most material can be digested at amazing rates when it’s read without using your hidden voice.

For now, don’t worry about that voice. Just know that it’s there. Reading seep caps “at around 900 words per minute when done with the hidden voice. 900 WPM isn’t a bad speed, either. It’s quicker than even the top students generally read. So, if you haven’t already, take the speed reading test #1 & then after reading my last article try putting into practice the suggestion on reading test #2 to see how much quicker you can read. Ideally you’d take the tests and practice speed reading in a book, but perhaps you’re reading this on an iPad or similar laptop tablet that resembles a book in that you can hold it and brush your finger across the screen as you read.

After doing those two little tests you’ll be excited to see that your reading speed instantly increases. You WILL have to practice the skills however if you hope to keep your new reading speed. Similar to any learning, you will need to spend some time each day to get better, but this should spur you on to practicing the skills mentioned in the other article. It may even excite you so much that you get into a speed reading class. Many online schools offer this type of education.

You can tell by your reading speed how effective you’re using your hidden voice. If you are reading at 200 – 400 WPM (learn how to track this in this article) you are most likely regressing back to previous words, reading many of them more than once. While some words should be read more than one, it’s a temptation to do this many more times than is necessary to read & understand. An efficient use of subvocalization & your hidden voice is achieved at around 400 – 600 words per minute. This is the place at which top students typically read…that includes college students!

When you’ve mastered the art of not regressing you will be able to attain reading speeds of 600 – 900 words per minute. This however is the point at which reading with your hidden voice tops off. Practice until you get to this point regularly and you’ll be ready to break the subvocal barrier & take off into the sky of Mental Soaring (a term used by the Evelyn Wood program & adressed in another article), reaching the great hieghts you were meant to as a student!

Three Simple Speed Reading Tips

I want to give you some of the speed reading techniques & reasons for using them that I learned from the Evelyn Wood 7 Day Speed Reading & Learning Program. This will immediately bring you a 50% increase in reading speed without even learning how to use them effectively. Shall we begin?

First of all you need to set your environment up so as to have optimal conditions for learning & reading. They will probably seem elemental & all too easy, but that’s the kicker, because they are such simple things they are so easy not to do and thus many never reach their potential with reading & learning. However, it’s through small and simple things that great things come about. You may find yourself rationalizing away the need for these things, but just try them out a week and make note of your progress.

Now with that little moral speech, here’s what you need to do to make your environment conducive to learning. Get yourself a firm, yet comfortable chair. You don’t want to read lying down or on a sofa. Next, have a solid desk on which you can take notes and place your book. You’ll also want to make sure you can focus in your area, so creating a quiet place is often best for people. Some find some background music helpful for concentration. Typically music without words is best, since you will be focusing on the words on the printed page, but try some different things out, find what works best for you.

It’s also good to have created a time in which your study won’t be interrupted. Interruptions have been found to significantly detract from one’s ability to reengage with material for most people. So, if you have obligations that need to be taken care of before reading, do so.  Put your phone on silent. Tell others you’d appreciate not to be disturbed. A sign on the door for this purpose can help remind them. Failure of students to create an atmosphere conducive to reading is often the single largest problem, but the easiest to remedy.

Now, as you read, move your fingers across the words you are reading, letting your eyes trail just behind your finger. Your speed at first should simply be comfortable. What you’re doing here is breaking a common habit called regression. This is where the eyes dart back to previous words to confirm that they understood. While awkward at first trust your mind to pick up on the overall concept of what you’re reading, even when your conscious mind doesn’t understand immediately. Breaking this one habit alone will give you much more ability to rise to great heights with your reading and comprehension. We often mentally check out while reading because we’re reading the same thing over and over again.

Thirdly, you’re used to reading each and every word on a page, after all, that’s how you learned to read, one word at a time. Great reading requires that you don’t. Not read every word!?! Well, hold your horses, that’s the end, but we’re just barely at the beginning. Start by trying to take in groups of words, say 2 or 3 at a time. Eventually when you reach the point of what’s called Mental Soaring, you’ll quite naturally drop the unnecessary baggage of filler words such as “of, and & like”. This allows you take off and fly to much greater reading heights.

So, prepare your reading space so you can concentrate, use your finger to pace your reading and prevent regression & finally take in more than one word at t a time and you’ll be on your way to better reading in no time.

Introduction to Online College Group Work

So you thought you were going to avoid working with other people by taking some online classes huh? Well, you may just have, but chances are that you will not be able to get through an online degree without having some sort of collaboration with others. Why is this? Why can’t you just learn on your own and do on your own? Well, probably because part of your online college experience is to teach you to work on a team. Not that everyone will go get a job where they work on teams, but even business owners have to work with others. In just about anything you choose to do you will be working with others in some form or fashion. Learn how to do it now and you’ll be miles ahead once you graduate.

You may not like working with others. That can change. Many of us have had experiences with others that we would rather forget. But if you take some time to learn some skills you are sure to come to enjoy it more. In group work you need communication skills, organizational skills, hard work skills and a little bit of patience.

Let’s start with the communication skills. It’s not always easy to get your point across to others. We all grow up with different backgrounds to the words we use. Sometimes when we use a certain word we think others should know what we mean by it, and this may be generally true. But sometimes a word is negatively charged for someone you are sharing with when to you it means something quite to the contrary. Just as a quick example, some may have learned growing up in a home with feminist parents that words like rule, dominion and head when referring to men/women relations are condescending and to be fought against. And another may have grown up in a home where they learned that men are to rule over women like Christ rules over the Church (pardon my religious reference, just making a comparison), with understanding, gentleness, protection, patience and love. We have similar difference in other areas too. However, you can learn to ask people what they mean when something they say seems a bit odd. This can help divert simple misunderstandings dealing with words.

To plan or not to plan…not a good question. Planning when in a group context helps everyone know what part they are going to be playing. When everyone owns a task, nobody owns it. You may have run up against a slacker before in a group. Oft times this comes from no ownership of tasks, lack of followup or lack of clarity on a given task. So, when you’re in a group, plan well to avoid some common group hang-ups.

Hard work is key to any kind of task, but especially to group work. Pulling your own load and helping to ease the already existing stress of the other students builds group cohesion like nothing else, well, exept maybe bringing brownies to a group study. However, since you’re online, you’re going to have to rely on the hard work to put a smile on the face of your fellow students.

Patience is a virtue said a character on an old James Bond movie. I thought it was insightful when I heard it, but found out later that the concept didn’t originate from Roger Moore. Timeless is the virtue of patience and timeless are the benefits that come from it. There will be times when you need to extend a little understanding to a fellow student who is not meeting deadlines for your online college group work. Sometimes all you need to do is hear them out and validate them as a person to get them in a healthy space to step up and start matching team effort. After all, wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you?

So, if you land yourself on an online college team, remember some of these points and you’ll have a much smoother go. Good luck!

Offline Tips for Online College Students

You’re probably not a programmer, but you most likely have spent a day or two in front of a computer screen. Am I right? Well, there’s something magical that happens when you do something like that. It doesn’t take all day. Sometimes it only takes an hour to see the magic. You are pretty sure that there is no welding or gluing going on, but for some reason you are STUCK in front of the computer and you can’t get away. You think to yourself, “I am hungry, I should go get something to eat,” or “I should go for a walk or something.” Sometimes you don’t even think about anything, but what’s on the screen in front of you. Well, that’s the magic, you’re in front of the computer and it’s as if you were brain washed and no exterior task or concern can enter in. You may like this comatose state, but here are a couple thoughts for online college students who want to take away a bit of the magic of which I spoke.

Do you like to talk? Well, one offline solution for online college students is to get some voice to text software and start talking out their papers and ideas while they walk around the room. You may feel a bit like Captain Kirk from Star Trek for a bit at first (I personally hope if you do this, that the feeling never wears off, it’s pretty cool) but you will get used to it and it will give you a break from looking at the screen for so long.

Close your eyes. I am writing most of this article with my eyes closed. Of course this is problem if you have yet learned to type well enough, but I have noticed that my ideas flow a little bit quicker when I type with my eyes closed. I believe that one reason this is so is because I tend to correct my spelling as I go along, but if my eyes are closed or I am looking at a book while I type then I can write faster and go back to edit when I am complete, making a much better use of my time.

Don’t ya just love reading ebooks? Yeah, if you’re like me you love it until you hit that glazed and magical state, then you’d fair well if you were down by the river with a book format instead. One idea for articles and shorter books is to print them off so you CAN go down by the river to read them. Another benefit to this is that you kill trees…uh, just kidding, just seeing if you’re still reading this. Another benefit to printing out your material to read away from the computer is that you can mark them up, pose questions, highlight, etc. I know some programs let you do this with your online text, but you can’t really lay out all the pages and compare sections like you can with paper. And if you’re still bothered by the environmental impact, plant a tree in your yard for each year you’re at school to feel better. It’ll be a great memory of all the hard work you did.

So there ya have it, some offline tips for online college students. Good luck in dodging the zombie magic of the internet and computer screens!

Online College Note Taking

You probably already take notes on how your roommate asks girls out, where the best place in town to get pizza is, and just what kind of jeans feel the best against your skin. Taking notes is important in more situations than one and in your online college classes is one of those times you don’t want to forget to take notes.

We take notes when hear something that stands out to us. It may make sense or it may just be an intriguing new thought we wish to explore. Notes are meant to be a placeholder for us to know what to return to and study more in depth at a later time. We take notes when want to remember something. It is the great object of note taking to learn something.

If you are attending an online college you probably already take notes in class. Most of us learned to do so in high school, but how many of us take notes while reading our texts and the articles we go over on the internet? Doing so accomplishes the same purpose we hope to get from taking notes in class, a way to crystallize information long enough to make it part of our longer term memory storage.

While you read, try some of the following ideas to help you take better notes:

Take notes on the main thrust of the material you read. Don’t get into the habit of citing small little ideas without covering the overall theme. Take what you are hearing and write them into your own words. Doing so helps you to process the information better. It associates it with what you already know, which is one of the most powerful ways to learn – association.

Make a note of what you think about what you are reading. I create a little symbol that lets me know it’s my own thought and not something that was presented in the book, article or text. This helps you quickly distinguish your own thoughts from that of the author later when you return to review.

Ask questions. Questions do something quite amazing I’ve learned. When I am engaged enough to ask questions about what I am reading, it opens up the reading material in a way that nothing else can. I am more alert to what’s going on and I am able to pick up on the bits of important information more readily because they are the answers to my questions. This is an active way to engage with reading, ask questions.

Keep track of important information. If you’re reading a book from the library or articles on the computer take the time to note what you read and where you found it so that if you ever need to return to it in the future it won’t be impossible to find. You may also try this with websites by bookmarking them for later use (Try using an online bookmarking service like Delicious).

When all is said and done, your goal is to be thoroughly engaged with your online college material. Take notes so you draw from the pages you read everything that you need to draw from it. Good luck with your note taking!

 

Posted 4/15/2011 for 5/29/2011

Creating an Online College Support Team

Have you ever wondered why your Aunt Fanny goes to Jenny Craig meetings? Well, you know she is trying to lose weight, but it doesn’t seem that hard to you. Why can’t she just eat less, that’s all it takes, right? Wrong. While there are simple answers to many problems like this in life, there is also something that many don’t account for and that’s a person’s individual beliefs, thoughts & behaviors. While the answer really is to eat less of fattening things and more of healthy things, Aunt Fanny goes to meetings for the psychological support it provides and to develop a new mindset to accompany her new changes. The same goes for any new endeavor we attempt.

They say you become like the 5 people you surround yourself with. Well, not everyone that begins college finishes college. So think about creating a support team for you that can lift your thoughts to higher grounds, encourage you when you are feeling like quitting and help you develop a positive mindset around schooling.

Chances are, when you put your desire to attend an online school that not everyone that surrounds you at this point is going to respond favorably. Some people are natural downers and like to create lists of reasons why things can’t be done. If you are susceptible to the thoughts of others you may need to surround yourself with positive people who can give you the encouragement you need to jump the hurdles that you have to jump to take action on your desire. Before you share your hopes and dreams with people, make sure that you won’t be casting your pearls before swine.

You may feel alone when starting your online college journey, but be reassured that you are not alone. There are so many people who can and will support you in your efforts to obtain an education. One of the best ways you can create your support team is to communicate clearly about your needs and how things will be changing as you start to go to school. This lets people know what to expect and can create a healthy atmosphere for learning to occur.

When communicating expectations, you should know them yourself. If you don’t know how much you need to study, when you will be doing your study, etc. then how are you going to let those in your life know? At the beginning of the semester, before your classes actually begin, take some time to write down a schedule and let others know that you won’t be available during study hours. As you start to respect this boundary they too will learn to do so. It can be very beneficial to have a mutual understanding of how your time is going to be used.

Another thing you can do at the beginning of the semester is to let others know what classes you will be taking and creating a list of people that have experience and that are willing to help you in that area if you need it. This way, when the time comes, you don’t have the added stress of wondering how in the world you are ever going to get through this or that class.

One other way to have support as you travel down your online college path is to make friends with fellow students. When you are experiencing a tough time who better to share that with than those who are also going through the same thing? Find classmates that are positive about class. The last thing you want is someone to reinforce any temporary negativity you may be feeling about an online class. Find someone who is willing to listen and give you hope that it is indeed possible to pass the class.

Creating a support team to help you through your online college classes may actually be the thing that keeps you from dropping out before you finish what you start. Good luck in doing so. I know it will help!

Who is Your Online College Instructor?

Knowing a little bit about the individual that is going to be leading your class can help you stay more engaged with the course…unless of course you learn that they’re a Dead fan and you’re an ardent Miley Cyrus fan. Even then however, there’s probably a good chance for you to learn how to get along with people who are different from you.

Some online college professors do not like to share much personal information about themselves. If this is the case you are probably still safe to pry a bit into their professional career. If they don’t volunteer the information you can ask them where they went to school and to share of the things that they loved about it. Did they imagine going into this line of work of did they happen upon it by some turn of events?

Assuming that you attend an accredited online college you can assume a couple things about your instructor as well. Online teaching requirements don’t differ from the requirements that a teacher would have to go though to be able to teach in a regular university. They may be required to know some about the online system that they are using to teach in addition to their professional requirements. At some universities potential educators are even required to course work in how to actually teach. We’ve all been in classrooms where an instructor knows what their talking about, but has a difficult time conveying it to others. Have both can really help.

Another way to learn more about your professor (you may even wish to do this before you register for classes) is to go to their personal webpage on the school’s website. They may even have their own website where they share their resume. This is helpful because you often get to see personal areas of interest, what research they’ve been involved with and what articles, books or book chapters, etc. they have written. This can give you a better idea into who they are and give you a wider perspective as they teach. If something on their page excites you, make it a point to take time to ask them about it. Share with them your interest and inquire into their experience writing, or their experience researching rat behavior. Build on common grounds.

Your professor may or may not have had much experience. If they are at a major university and have taught a while they may have some things written about them by other students in online forums about professors like RateMyProfessor.com. You may also ask other professors in the university how well they know your professor and what they think about them. This can be a touchy subject with fellow professors, but as long as you aren’t asking what their flaws are, you may be okay.

Take some time to get to know your online college professor and you will be much more able to work with him or her (again, assuming you can get past the tie-dyed). Good luck!

Touching Bases with Your Online College Professor

Top students have several habits. In addition to sitting in front of the room (akin to asking questions in the online environment) they consistently interact with the instructor not only within the classroom, but also without. It can be a joy to work together with your teacher to accomplish the learning that is set out before you. One way to show your teacher that you are eager to learn from them is to touch bases with them outside of class time (assuming that your online class has set meeting times).

In a virtual world however, you may think that connecting with your online college professor can be dull and digitally sterile, but this is not the case in most situations (assuming the professor himself is not already dull). In the online world of schooling, professors often have virtual times in which they connect with students outside the regular class time. This is typically known as their virtual office hours. During this time you can connect with your teacher as well as other students and get additional help for your assignments and class work.

The virtual office will be composed most likely of a website (probably the same one you use to log into for classes, assignment detail and grades) that you log into and gives a way for the teacher to present additional information, talk to and receive chat messages from the students. Some virtual office software has the capability to share video conferencing between you and your professor. This can be a great way to get to know the teacher better, especially if they are often so engaged in teaching during class time that they don’t really feel like they are really there (this may actually be the case if the classes are recordings).

Most teachers want to see their students succeed, so take advantage of this desire and let them help you. When you visit a professor outside of the class make sure to have put some time or thought into solving your own questions first. This way you show that you’re not there too mooch answers, but rather understand the ideas correctly.

Another benefit to reaching out to your professor through his or her virtual office hours is that you can sometimes get tips that were not exactly relevant to the class lesson, but that can supplement your learning. This of course depends on the professor and how they utilize their office time, but you can always ask for an easier way to do some computations or a mnemonic to help you remember a concept more readily.

All in all, the connection that we have as human beings is strengthened by communication. The more senses we tap into the more developed those relationships become. Take the time to ask questions via email, phone and video conferencing to strengthen that relationship. It may not seem like a lot, but every connection made can strengthen all others. Take this to heart and it may just help you thrive in your classroom setting. Good luck touching bases with your online college professor!

Grading in the Online College World

Grades! I hated it when some kid in my college biology class would interrupt an amazing discussion on how food was broken down in our mouths to ask the painful question “is this going to be on the test?” While I admit that I felt like I was more there to learn than many, I acknowledge that in a world where we are judged off standard performance metrics like grades we need to at least consider how we are to be graded. I have since let go of the idea that my worth is attached to a grade and I think that would be wise to everyone else that has a tendency to avoid the reality that grades matter. They matter to future employers, they matter to future schools and programs and they matter in the online college world.

Without providing you with some magic spreadsheet that can calculate what you have to do to meet the bare minimum requirements to pass a class I want to give you an idea how grades work in the world of online college. These ideas are not unique to the online classroom experience.

You can look initially for a grading scale or chart on your syllabus. If it is not there, there should be a link to how you will be graded for a given class somewhere in your student administration webpage. What you see may need to analyzed to get some important information from it.

You may see something akin to the following:

Requirement Frequency Total Points per assign. Total Points
 

Lecture Interactions

Weekly 8 10 80
Quizzes Weekly 8 10 80
Journal Entries Weekly 8 15 120
Thought Papers Weekly 8 15 120
Midterm Test Once 1 200 200
Final Test Once 1 200 200
Total Points Possible 800

 

For me, a grading scale like the one above can show me where I need to spend my time. If I know that both my weekly journal entries and thought papers are 15% of my grade each, for a total of 30% I know that I should be spending roughly 30% of my allotted time on them.

You may also try to estimate (feel free to ask your professor to get some ideas on this if you are not completely sure based on your own experience) the amount of time it takes to prep for a quiz, complete an assignment or study for a test. With this information and knowing how many assignments there are, you can get a good idea of how long you’re going to need to plan on spending to successfully complete the course. Keep in mind this will vary depending on your familiarity of the subject. You may also double the time so you’re safe if any unforeseen research or study needs to be done. If you do this and don’t use the time they you have a bonus!

One other thing that’s good to do once you get these estimates is to block out the time on your online college calendar for these events. When the time arrives, show up and do the work. This is sometimes one of the hardest parts of succeeding in online classes for students, they don’t know how plan their time well. This can happen more readily if you don’t know what you’re required to do. However, by knowing what you’ll be graded on you can more easily plan to succeed. Clarify any questions you have with the teacher, preferably after class or during one of his scheduled available times.

Good luck! Grades are why you’re there, but they can reflect your commitment to learning the subject. Don’t freak out, just know how you’ll be scored, plan out your time for each requirement and get to work learning!

What’s in an Online College Syllabus?

Have you ever tried to go through one of those corn mazes? Perhaps you’ve been in a gigantic garden with tall shrubs that twists and turns? Or maybe just in a large new building or house? There are places we’ve all been that create in us a sense of confusion and disorientation. Now picture one of those places again. This time however, instead of confusion you are calm and level headed. Why is this? It’s because somebody gave you a map of the place. Doesn’t it help to see the bigger picture? It sure does! And an online college syllabus is to an online course what a map is to a maze.

Each teacher in your online classes will have put together a syllabus or something like it to help you understand what’s going on in the class, deadlines and assignments that are expected of you during the course of your studies in that class. Let me share with you in a little more detail the direction you can expect to get from carefully looking over your online course syllabus.

Many syllabi start with painting a picture for the student of what the class is all about. If it’s a math class it may share the skills that you will be learning throughout the course of the semester and how it fits into the entire math picture. This can help you get your bearings.

Other class fundamentals like the hour (if there’s a set time), amount of credits you’ll get by finishing the class successfully, the required texts and of course, the name of the class.

Your teacher or facilitator should put his or her phone number, email or other contact information on the syllabus so that they are readily available to help you when you need it. Take note of this and make a point to contact them a couple times in the first week for anything so they can get to know you and see that you have an interest in succeeding and turning to them when you need help.

Course calendars are often listed on the syllabus. This will include the due dates for assignments and tests. If you’re in a self-paced online course you will most likely have some flexibility on any of these dates, but even then you are likely to have an “end” date, some self paced courses will give you up to six months to finish the course material.

School and class policies. Some teachers accept late work, others do not. Some universities have a dress code (please let me know if you run across an online one that has a dress code, I love myself a good laugh) others do not. Most online universities will have an honor code of some sort. Cheating in any setting is not tolerated. These and other policies may be listed on the syllabus.

How you are graded is an important part of setting correct expectations. While it’d be best to make your top priority learning from the class, it doesn’t hurt (it’s even important) to note the parameters of your final marks. This may also give you a better estimate of how long to spend on each area so you don’t overdo it on an assignment that is only 1% of your grade while leaving till the end a paper that is worth 50%.

Lastly, you’re also going to see in your online college’s syllabi a list of topics that are going to be covered, this may or may not be on the calendar, but reviewing these topics at the beginning of each week can give you a good idea of what’s coming up.

When all is said and done a syllabus is a document that helps get you and your teacher on the same page. When expectations are clear you both can go forward and accomplish some great things in the classroom.