Addressing Group Problems with Your Online University Instructor

In the course of your online university work you are bound to have some problems arise from someone in your group not pulling their weight or being so hard to work with that nothing is getting accomplished. It may not be in your first semester or even your second, but you are likely to have one sometime. It may be you! J After doing your best to resolve the situation amicably within the group you may need to take the matter to your instructor. You don’t need to worry about tattling or anything. Your professor will be able to handle the matter professionally and with tact. Here is some advice on how to bring the issue up with him or her if the need arises.

When you contact your professor do so discretely. You’re not trying to keep things secret, but it may help you to not blow things out of proportion. Your professor may know something about the situation that may shed light upon the situation. A simple private communication that shares your concern can do much.

Only share with your instructor the behaviors, not your interpretation of them. It’s no good to try and interpret whether or not the behavior of another student means anything about your worth, it doesn’t. Just share what has been going on and how it’s affecting you and the group. This will leave out any additional bias that the teacher can do without in order to handle the situation.

Keep a kind tone. It’s important for your professor to be able to see that you’re not the one that’s hard to get along with. Complaining about the other person makes it difficult to see past your hurt feelings and get to the issue at hand. The point is not the character of the other student, it’s getting the project accomplished.

Think ahead about how you’ll proceed if the other student is taken off your group. Present to your instructor your idea of what this looks like. It shows that you really are concerned about completing the project and that you wish no animosity on the student that’s presenting a barrier to your group achieving that.

Ask if it’s alright to go ahead with your other idea and if you should include the other student or not in this plan. This will give your processor the chance to give you the thumbs up or to have you hold off until he or she can talk to the fellow student about their lack of participation or behavior in the group.

If you have been copying your professor on your group correspondence or if you have been organizing the project via an online forum, the problem may already be apparent to your professor. If not, the above are some ideas to help you successfully share the problem with him or her to work towards a speedy solution. The sooner you act the quicker things can get resolved. Remember too, always do your best to solve the problem within the group before escalating it to your professor.

Good luck with your online university group work. Not all of it will be fun, but you’ll learn a lot by addressing problems respectfully and maturely.

Initial Contact with Your Online University Group

Have you ever been on a blind date? Did you stay up all night wondering what you were going to wear? Wondering what you’d say? Wondering if you were going to have things in common? I haven’t, but I can sympathize with those who have. I have done similar things with a new job. You wear your best clothes, stock up your best jokes and even get their a bit early to show that you’re really excited and committed to begin working. While you don’t need to pull out your hair stressing over meeting with your online university project group for the first time, there are a couple of things you may want to do to help ease the meeting and make a good impression.

When you first get into an online college class you should make a point to introduce yourself to everyone and get to know each person a little. This does two things: one, it gives you a little better idea of who everyone is and if you are allowed to pick those with whom you work, you will be much more prepared to do so. And two, it helps break the ice and give you a head start on group projects. If you have prepared in this way, your group experience will be much smoother.

Next, when you are interacting with group members for the first time there is a good chance that you will not have already exchanged email addresses. Even if your online profile allows you to contact your classmates via the school system, you may wish to exchange a little bit more information to help group work roll along more smoothly.

You will also wish to share with your group your schedule for studying so they know when they can get a hold of you and when they shouldn’t expect to hear anything from you. A large part of online university group work is managing expectations. Set them early and live up to them. If you are going to deviate from them, let the others know. This will help keep your group running smoothly.

When you introduce yourself formally to your group let them know a little bit about you and your interests. Give them also a little bit of an idea what you think about the project you were assigned and what role you would like perform in it. Don’t insist that you do something, but suggest that you would feel comfortable taking a certain role, but are open to the group input and what they would like to do.

So, when you are first meeting your group, if you’ve done some footwork ahead of time you should be able to ease nicely into the relationships. You should give them some more of your contact info, let them know when you are available and what you would like to do in the course of the project. Good luck with your online university group work. It can be very rewarding if you let it.

The Purpose of Libraries for Online University Students

Google has become so ubiquitous in the lives of this generation that it’s become a word that’s entered into our vocabulary like kleenex, baindaid or chapstick. The verb “to google” roughly means to search the web for answers to any and every question. You may have found out what gifts girls like best, how to propose to your girlfriend, where to go for honeymoons on Google, but when it comes to class requirements for your online university you  may be in for a culture shock. A good deal of graduate courses are encouraging students to use library and professional database resources because of the stringent process it goes through before it’s allowed to surface in such a collection. Does this mean there won’t be mistakes in the works in your library? Of course not! But what it does mean is that there was at least some effort from editors and peer reviews to filter a bit of the nonsense out.

You can use your online college library in at least three ways as a student: uncovering ideas for research topics or other papers, reviewing the research literature to be sure you’re not repeating someone’s past work, and finding supporting material for opinions presented in a paper.

One: Uncovering Ideas for Papers. When you go a library located on a physical college campus you may have been amazed at the sheer volume of information. Books line walls that seem to never end. Well, if you could visualize the amount of information that is available to you in a virtual library you’d be surprised to see that it could easily be ten times larger than the largest library you’ve seen. No library holds physical copies of all books, articles, etc. Some have quite a bit, but when you tap into the internet you can gain access to these libraries and many others. Great place to look for ideas huh? There’s no dearth of them in your online college library & related resources. You could even ask the online librarian to help direct you in a certain direction or help you narrow down a topic.

Two: Review the Literature. Many of our greatest achievements of the past centuries have come because we’ve built on the backs of past great thinkers, who built on their past. In research you’ll find that knowing what the current scene looks like at present will give you an idea of what’s missing to get to where you want to go. By surveying your online university’s library and databases you can look at any topic to see what already understood and go from there. Every good research paper begins with a review of current literature.

Three: Finding Supporting Material. While this is similar to performing a literature review, it’s more focused. In many of your papers for your online schooling you will be asked to make assertions and back them up with credible journal articles and such material. Just about every college library has access to some sort of research journals via an online database. They often partner with other institutions so they can offer free of charge to their students these resources. Since college is a place for learning and building on the achievements of the past, these educational resources are an important part of your higher education.

Don’t be afraid to visit your online university’s library and learn all about what’s available to you. The more you’re aware of what is offered the more likely you are to utilize those resources for successful coursework. Good luck in learning and utilizing your online college library!

Online University Tools – Delicious

Have you ever found the coolest website, told all your friends how wonderful it was only to remember where you found the site? It’s like forgetting the punch line of a joke. It turns into one of those “I guess you had to be there” moments. Well, this may be fine if it was just a funny video, but when you have more at stake it’s not good to have lost your list of best sites. Let me share with you a web tool that can help you while you attend your online university.

You probably use or have used your browser’s built in bookmarking ability. Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera…whatever browser you use, you’ll find this feature. What happens though if you are using a school computer or your browser crashes and whips out all that you’ve saved? Well then, there’s a great internet based bookmarking website that has just the answer. It even adds some features that are a step up from what you may be used to. This web-based bookmark tool is called Delicious.

Found at Delicious.com you can set up an account in as little as 5 minutes. Once you do, if you have been using your own browser to bookmark sites, Delicious will let you import those to be accessed from any computer that has internet access.

One of the cool things about Delicious is that it lets you set a bookmark’s privacy to public or private. Making a certain group of bookmarks public allows you to easily send your classmates a link where they can see your list. You may even talk to some students or your professor and set up a class account where everyone can add bookmarks that they find helpful. You may also use an account for a group project. When anyone finds website that needs to be researched they can add it to a research list.

One way that Delicious lets you organize your bookmarks is through the use of tags. When you bookmark a website you can add any number of tags to help you locate it later. It’s good to sit down and brainstorm a list of possible tags and how you’re going to use them. This can act as a guide for finding sites later. This doesn’t matter if your list remains small, but if you become an avid bookmarker or have to collaborate in a group, it helps to agree on a tagging convention.

If you are using your own computer you can download a plugin to your browser that makes bookmarking site you find easy. You simply click on a tag logo, a window pops up, you fill in some information, and viola.

Delicious isn’t the only social bookmarking site out there. You can also find similar features at reddit.com or diigo.com. If you already have an account at one of these sites, you may wish to just use it. You may however wish to create a separate account to not mix personal and school bookmarks, though most sites have a way for you to keep them separate, usually via tags or folders. Privacy settings are also typically available on a folder or individual bookmark level.

Try out Delicious and enhance your online university experience. Good luck!

Online University Tools – Avoiding Online Distractions

You’ve finally spent the time you need to get accepted to an online university and now it’s time to make it all worth it. You ordered your books and have even made yourself a wonderful study & class schedule. You are excited and ready to shine. It’s not the class work however that threatens your newly minted enthusiasm, it’s the potential pitfalls of distractions that threaten your ability to thrive.

Your habit for so long now whenever hopping onto your computer has been to check your email, hop on Facebook, update your status, see who’s having a birthday and before you know it a couple hours have passed by and 15 YouTube videos & 20 random websites later you come out of the “internet suck”. You didn’t plan on it, but it happens like that often. There has got to be a better way you tell yourself. I have got to stop doing this if I’m going to succeed online at school. But how?

It’s a masterful student who can stay focused on the task at hand without getting sucked into the abyss of the internet. Well, here are some tricks that I’ve learned over the years to help me stay on task and to not get lost online.

Have an internet plan. “What? I don’t need a plan!” you say? Well, that may be true, but if you’ve experienced the above scenario in any similar way (it may not be Facebook for you. It may be online games or checking friends’ blogs) then hear me out. Have you ever been to a grocery store when you were hungry and you didn’t take time to make a grocery list? I have. I end up coming out with bananas, eggs, bread (the staples) and chips or other junk food. What can I do with that?! I also have a tendency to wander around for a long time. Add to that talking to someone on the phone and my whole grocery trip is shot. I’m never getting out of there!

Now, what happens when you head on in with a grocery list, mute the call and have a tummy satisfied with good food? Yup, that’s right. You are more likely to get in and get out. You’ll come out with the things you need and the entire experience will be a positive one, assuming the cashier wasn’t ready to tear off your face. Well, in a similar way to having a grocery list, having a plan for your online time can greatly increase the odds of you arising from the experience with a mission accomplished.

Another thing you may also try is to write down what you need online, get it and disconnect the internet. You may not need this, but if you are having troubles surfing the web and not getting work down it’s a great way to set some small boundaries that can help you succeed. Having a buddy you can share your intent with too can help. Say simply, I’m going online for 30 minutes to grab my assignment for class and find and print off 3 commentaries from the web about JFK’s federal international policies. Then when you’re done report and let them know you’re off. This can help you develop confidence and trust in yourself as you keep these little commitments to yourself.

Set an alarm. I have a handy little computer timer that can buzz or play music when the time I’ve allotted has expired. This helps me keep from getting sucked into the internet coma and remember that I may have planned on only being online for an hour to get something done. Try it out, it’s called Xnote.

I know how frustrating getting lost online can be and how damaging to productivity it can be. But with some of these tips and tools hopefully you can get on track to fly high in your own online university experience.

How to Communicate Effectively with Your Online University Professor

Establishing a good relationship with your online university professor takes more than just registering for the class. While there is a contractual obligation for him or her to present the course information in an effort to teach you, you are more likely to have a smooth relationship if you take the responsibility upon yourself to not only get acquainted, but to observe some respectful manners in your interactions with him or her.

Start off by learning how your professor likes to be addressed. It’s not offensive to ask them. Most likely they will like to be addressed in a way that establishes their credibility as a teacher. If you don’t know what to call them, Professor Soandso works. If you know they have put in the time to receive a doctoral degree of one sort or another it will not be offensive to begin addressing them as Doctor Soandso. If they prefer you call them something else they will correct you. Respecting their position as your professor is a great way to start of the relationship.

Being diplomatic is a skill that extends far beyond the classroom and can help you establish a good communication pattern with your professor. One key here is to never assume. Things aren’t always what they seem and we often miss important bits of information, so instead of assuming that your teacher didn’t provide you with an important document or piece of needed information, approach them from a place where you give them the benefit of the doubt like, “Doctor Soandso, I probably just missed it, but could you tell me how the multiples of three factor into this equation again?” A teacher has a lot on their plate. They may have legitimately missed something, but assuming they did may put them a bit on the defensive.

Some conversations need to be kept private. Asking the teacher why she gave you a C in a classroom setting is not appropriate. A grade is between you and the teacher, it doesn’t concern the other students and should be something that you take up with him or her later in email or at a private session during their office hours.

While communicating often with your professor is a good thing, there are some times that you want to make sure not to skip an interaction with them. By letting them know where you are at at any given time you let them know how they can accommodate, if appropriate, to help you out. One of the most frustrating things for a teacher is to have a student that doesn’t communicate to them just what’s going on in their lives that can help explain late work, lower scores on tests and subpar work. Your teacher really is there to help you out. While your struggling relationship shouldn’t be an excuse for you to not try, often an instructor is going to be able to show some understanding and perhaps even suggest some solutions that could help you successfully engage more effectively in the class.

If you are going on a trip and won’t be able to get to assignments or a scheduled lecture is one time that you should be talking to your teacher. By letting them know as soon as you can, you can plan with them how to work around the absence.

Make sure to talk to them if you are struggling with the work. It’s no fun to get behind and even less fun to get behind and feel overwhelmed about it. Reach out to your instructor.

There are other times that would be good to contact your instructor. All in all, f you have a question, ask. It’s better to over communicate than under communicate. Remember, the relationship you have with your online university professor is an important thing to effectiveness in the classroom. Good luck!

Online Universities – A Modern Marvel

Passionate about just about everything, I find it hard to settle down on any one thing. However, over the years I’ve seen what happens when my attention is on all things, nothing gets accomplished and I feel like I am running in circles. But there is some value to following my passions, so, when it came time to decide about educational opportunities for me it just made sense to find something as flexible as I was. An online university jumped out as modern marvel to someone like me who felt extremely connected to moving around, being outdoors and often spending late nights with my friends or family.

It perhaps could be done in the traditional school setting: taking a computer up & doing some work on a hike and spending some time in the wonderful world that God’s created. However, seeing how the urge to be outdoors would often coincide with school schedules I think the online university model would greatly let my flexible spirit find expression in learning, which it loves, but also in the beauty of the outside world.

Another reason that online universities are modern marvels is because of their ability to reach into locations where higher education has often not been possible. One possible place this may be possible is in places are where potential students have such a strong connection to home life that leaving to pursue work in a regular university would be difficult on many levels. An online university creates an opportunity for them to stay home and remain with their family.

A point of marvel that seems quite relevant to me is that the online university offers a chance for physically disabled students to more easily pursue greater education. There is no need for checking to see if there are accommodations at the desired school for such needs. Online there are tools to help those with all sorts of disabilities to utilize the same learning opportunities as those without physical impairments. There are online readers to help blind people navigate the web, the ability to make text larger so that those who can’t see well have an easier time reading (ctrl+”+” on your keyboard will make most text on a web browser larger) and other technologies that can help out.

I am still fascinated by the idea of requesting to see a document that resides on a computer in China and viewing that document seconds later. The internet and its ever increasing abilities transmit data rapidly around the world is truly one of the great modern marvels. For me to see the video of a kid in Malaysia who is showing me how he builds a chicken coup is quite thrilling. Cultures are breached and the richness of each can be cross pollinated into our own. This amazes me! Online universities can bring worlds together and help bridge culture barriers and seemingly impossible difference.

With the advent of the online university there have been many fantastic things happening. People who weren’t able to (or weren’t easily able to) pursue education can now have the chance to expand their minds and increase their skills, this making more available feelings of self-care and reliance, a desperate need in today’s world.

While I’m sure there are well over a 16.5 reasons that the online university is a modern marvel, these are some of the few that speak to me.

Maximizing Your Online University Class Calendar

Are you like me? Do you have a list of things on a piece of paper that you need to get done that day, a wall calendar for upcoming events and perhaps a couple reminders in your phone? Have you ever invited some friends over for dinner on a night that was just before a big paper was due? Well, maybe not. There’s a good chance that the stress of the event led you to think of nothing else but that paper, but it’s still happened to me that I double book important events. To make sure you avoid scheduling conflicts & maximize your online university class calendar here are some ideas that utilize a popular online service called Google Calendar.

If you don’t use Gmail you can still set up an account to use Google Calendar to help you put all your scheduling in one place. You can go to http://www.google.com/calendar to get started. Once there Google Calendar lets you create multiple calendars. This is very useful when you have different categories you’d like to display separately at times. It also allows you to color code those calendars so it’s easy to tell the difference between your class schedule, test & assignment dates and your date on Friday night or your basketball game with friends on Thursday afternoon.

Another great feature that Google Calendar has is its alerts. If you have used Microsoft Outlook you probably already know that it can pop a task up to let you know that it’s due in 5 minutes. With Google Calendar you now have the ability to send an email to alert you or if you’d like, an SMS text message. This is valuable for important task I don’t want to miss because I wasn’t at my computer to check. However, if you have a smart phone that alerts you when you get emails the email reminders can be valuable.

Google Calendar also has a task list feature that will remind you when tasks are coming due. This is helpful if you’re like me and get so wrapped up in one project that you forget when other things are coming up & when you need to take a break to work on them.

Are you using a modern smart phone like the Android or iPhone? Many of these phones have capability to sync with Google Calendar. Some do it through an app you can download while others like Google’s Android have the calendar feature built right in.

Are you more of “see the calendar in your notebook” kind of person? Well, no problem. With Google Calendar you can print out a copy or one or all of your calendars. I do this every now and then so I can have some time away from the computer to evaluate what I need to spend time on that day. Sometimes hopping on the computer in the morning to see what’s up for the day fries my brain and is a bad way to start off, so if you have similar feelings printing off the calendar would be easy and productive.

These are the top features of Google Calendar that help me to put all my life schedules into one place. This is good because you reduce the double booking and thinking, “now where did I write that appointment information down?” Good luck on maximizing your time by using Google Calendar to sync your online university calendar with all your others!

Creating an Academic Plan at Your Online University

So you got accepted to your online university of choice huh? Well, now what? I know it seems like there’s so many steps and like there’s no end, but you’re almost there (ready to sign up and get ready for classes that is). It’s important to take some time before jumping into whatever classes you want to check with your advisor. Sometimes the classes logistics make not as straight forward as it may seem it should be.

Picture your academic plan like putting destination coordinates into a GPS. It’s not that difficult to get from point A to point B if you have direction. Sure it still request that you get in the car and drive, but the lovely British lady that’s the voice of your GPS is going to help you turn when you need to turn and (ideally) avoid any unnecessary detours. If you take time to sit down with your advisor you can save yourself a lot of headaches in days to come.

There are a couple different things that could cause detours that you should be aware of, that help to underscore the importance of creating an academic plan and checking in with your advisor each semester before registering for classes to make sure everything is in order. One detour happens when you need to take a certain class before you can take a follow up class. This is the case for example with many math and English classes. The higher level classes often build on what you learn in the lower level courses. So registering on your own, you may figure this out eventually, and there are often computer checks against registering for classes for which you haven’t met the required prerequisites, but avoid the headache and talk to an advisor to create your plan

Another problem that you could run into, even in an online university setting, is full enrollment. If a class for whatever reason (this is more likely with those classes that are teacher led) is filled to capacity you  are going to need to rearrange your schedule and perhaps your plan.

One other thing that could derail you from your anticipated plan is a class that is only offered at certain times of year. This is most common in classrooms that are teacher facilitated, but can happen too in the online world. You may also run into a class that is only offered at the same time another class is. Because this is a common problem in the offline world, some designers of online courses and universities have tried to eliminate that problem by offering all classes at all times. This is possible when you record a lecture say, or have a course that is automated like a slideshow or something to that effect.

These are some reasons you will want to make sure that you check with your academic advisor and have them help you create your academic plan so that your online university experience will be a successful one and not too terribly frustrating. 🙂 Good luck as always and work hard.

Online University Requirements – Test Scores & Due Dates

In days gone by the requirement of taking a test or entrance exam to enter a university was much more stringent than it is now, but some schools still require it. Before entering many business grad schools for example you are required to take the GRE or Graduate Record exam. Before entering medical school you are asked for your scores on your MCAT or Medical College Admission Test. While these tests share with the university that you plan on attending just how up to speed you are, they don’t do as well to show how successful you will be in their programs. For those indicators a university looks at your GPA and transferring credit hours.

However, if you are planning on attending a school that requires you take one of these entrance exams (which may also include the ACT or SAT) you will want to make sure that you do it with plenty of time for them to score the test and send the results to your school or schools of choice. It can take up to two months for the scores to arrive at your online university. This is why it is suggested that Juniors in high school begin to examine their college options. They are still far away, but there are some things that you can’t plan for the last minute. Take this to heart and look as soon as you can at the entrance requirements for the university you plan on attending.

Another matter you should consider is when the admission dates and deadlines are. Traditionally schools have only a handful a year, but online you may find a very different story. Because part of the online experience is to provide flexibility for students with very divergent schedules you are likely to come across programs that offer start dates as soon as you enroll and meet any registration requirements. While this is a plus, you are still going to have to wait on any transcripts, test scores or financial aid paperwork to be completed.

So, in summary, you want to make sure that you are looking at schools well in advance, probably at least 6 months before you plan on attending, ideally a year. His gives you time to review requirements, take tests, put together documents for financial aid or save up with a job and all in all put your ducks in a row so that you aren’t left standing there on start date scratching your head and saying, “I wish I would have done this or that sooner.”

You are more likely to get into an online university program if you take the time to do everything correctly. Since you are going to spend a lot of time on the paperwork for admission, don’t rush it. Plan it out and give some attention and care to it. You’ll be surprised (especially if you’re like me and typically wait until the last minute) at the increased quality of work that you can do when you don’t rush things. Good luck!