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Instructor Sit Down: A Q&A with Tamryn Spruill

Tamryn Spruill was standing in a cranberry field, on an island off the coast of Finland, and thinking.

She had headed to Europe as a reprieve after the economic collapse in 2007 forced her out of her job at a Manhattan law firm where she worked as a finance editor. She had climbed the corporate ladder there after beginning her professional life by earning a journalism degree at the University of South Carolina.

Now, with Wall Street in ruins, Tamryn stepped back and realized that this was her new beginning. And she embraced it.

“It became clear that when I returned to the U.S. I would get out of the rat race of New York City to pursue something that excited me creatively, intellectually, and spiritually. Like many who endured the hardship of layoff but found it to be a blessing in disguise,” she said. Read More…

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Instructor’s Blog: Final Exam Tips from an Instructor’s Perspective

Many students are stressed about final exams, and I’d like to offer some strategies to alleviate some of that stress.  The first step for succeeding at a final exam is to find out what you can about your final exam. There is usually a brief description of the final exam located in the tracking calendar (which is your best friend!). Also, many final exams are not timed, which means you can open the activity and submit it at a later date. Here are a few more final exam tips to remember this semester and beyond:

Final exams are not mysteries

Final exams are not meant as a torture device, testing students on random, obscure knowledge. Your final exam will address course outcomes (which are also in the tracking calendar) and content presented throughout the course. Preparing for a final exam, even before you can view it, should involve reviewing lectures, textbook reading and especially past assignments. Look closely at the feedback from your instructor. Identify areas where you struggle and focus on those. Read More…

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Five Skills Emphasized by Online Learning

Many students find the flexibility and diversity of online courses appealing, but online learning also emphasizes a number of skills that prospective students should have (or should be able to build) to excel in this class format. These skills include:

  1. Flexibility

The flexibility of online learning is a large part of its appeal, but it’s important to note that it also requires flexibility from its students. Online education uses different strategies and tools than traditional in-person education, and online learners must be open to these potentially unfamiliar methods, as well as willing to go outside their comfort zone. Read More…

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3 Resources for Extra Help as an Online Student

Being an online student has many perks. Online classes are often more flexible than in-person courses, which means you may be able to do your classwork whenever it best fits in your schedule. Online education also incorporates a wide variety of subjects, and you may not be limited to what is being offered on the physical campus that semester. But leaving the brick and mortar classroom, and a teacher who you see face-to-face regularly, can be an intimidating experience that leaves you unsure of where to turn when you need extra help in a course. Fortunately, there are many resources available online, just like your class. Here are three key resources for online students: Read More…

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Instructor Blog: Key Habits of “A” Students

After teaching for over seven years, I wanted to share some attributes of successful students. All students have challenges with work and family obligations, but there are characteristics that “A” students share despite obstacles and commitments.

Plan, Plan, Plan

One of the best practices of my most successful students is looking over assignments early in the week. This allows plenty of time to email instructors with any questions as well as produce your best possible work.

Print the Tracking Calendar

We don’t want our students to be surprised. Instructors spend time creating a tracking calendar that outlines assignments and due dates. Spending the time writing assignments on your personal calendar can prevent end of session stress!  Also, often times the directions for a major assessment such as a portfolio project or midterm will be posted early. My best students begin looking at the directions and asking questions, even in week 1!                                                                                         Read More…

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How Completing a College Certificate Program Can Boost Your Career

Catherine Martin is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

 

If you are at a point in your career where you are considering additional education, whether it be an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree, you may be hesitant to commit the time or money. But there may be another option you haven’t considered—a certificate. You can complete a college certificate program in nearly half the amount of time as a bachelor’s degree, and flexible certificate options often allow students to work while they further their education. Plus, certificates can be used to demonstrate a person’s expertise in a specialized area to future employers.

Typically the programs are shorter and less expensive than traditional programs, but there are still a number of ways a certificate can boost your career. Here are a few reasons you should consider this path for your professional life. Read More…

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Instructor Blog: The Value of Textbook and Supplemental Reading

In high school, you may have had to lug textbooks home every day and submit assignments straight out of the textbook. Our backs are all better off not carrying those back and forth, and I don’t know anyone who misses the textbook assignments that can feel like busywork. However, even with attending college online and in the age of e-books and e-readers, there is still an advantage of sitting down with a big textbook and a highlighter. Read More…

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Best Online Midterm Study Tips

Your midterm is likely your first comprehensive assessment in class and may count for a significant portion of your grade—something that is always nerve-wracking. If 30 percent of your overall grade relies on the results of a single test, it can be the source of some anxiety, which may be amplified in an online course. If you are worried about how to prepare for your first midterm in an online course, follow the advice below to ensure you’re using the best study practices in your midterm prep.

Take advantage of any materials available

Often, professors of online courses will provide you with some resources to use in order to prepare for any major test. Perhaps your professor has provided sample questions or a practice exam for you to work on. The professor posts these materials for a reason—they’re a great tool for studying. Take advantage of any of these resources available to you. Even if sample questions or practice tests aren’t made available to you, you can search for studying resources online, or ask your professor if he or she can recommend some.

Reach out to the professor for advice

Your professor is there to assist you in the learning process. Even if your professor has already made materials available, it’s a good idea to contact the professor for advice anyway. Tell your professor if it’s your first online course, and ask if he or she has any advice on how you can best prepare. Even if it isn’t your first online course, asking about the structure, format, and breadth of content that will be covered on the midterm can give you useful information you need to prepare.

Find a midterm study partner

Your professor isn’t the only person who can be helpful resource—you can utilize your classmates for midterm prep, as well. Just because your classroom isn’t brick and mortar, doesn’t mean you can’t find a study buddy. Utilize your course’s ListServ to reach out to potential study partners. You can easily study together online, and even share study materials, such as digital flashcards. Having another set of eyes on the material may help you identify areas that you may have overlooked in your own studies and give you a fresh perspective.

Disconnect from social media, email, and other digital distractions

While connecting with classmates to study is great, make sure your Internet connection isn’t a source of distraction during study time. Disconnect from social media and email not related to the course to ensure you’re focused on your class material. There are even site blockers you can use to temporarily enforce productivity. You can study for hours, but that time could be wasted if you aren’t dedicating your full attention to preparing for the exam. The best method to keep you on track is to log out while you study.

Pace yourself

Your midterm prep shouldn’t consist of one cram session the night before the test. Instead, dedicate a little bit of time each day to studying in the days or even weeks leading up to the test. Breaking your study time into “chunks” is more effective than longer study sessions, and you’re more likely to recall the information you’ve reviewed. Go through any reading material that was previously assigned, and skim it again for important information. Look through your notes to brush up on and identify areas you’re struggling with. Manage your time well, and take short breaks to help you stay focused. When it comes time to take the exam, make sure you have a quiet space available that is free from distractions to mimic a traditional testing environment as closely as possible.

Although online courses may offer more independence and less structure, they are not less challenging. Your online course (and midterm) is just as important as any other course—treat it as such. Even if you’re taking your midterm in your PJs, it is still a test that has important implications for your future. Keep that in mind as you study, and be sure to dedicate as much as time and effort to your online midterms as you would for any other course.

Catherine Martin is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

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Around the Web – Tips and Tricks for the College Student

Because sometimes there’s just too much good information to share in one post, we are back with another set of articles from around the web offering up college tips, job search advice and more.

Take a look at some of the great resources below and keep them in mind as classes are set to begin next week. Read More…

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Instructor Blog: The Keys of Information & Technological Literacy

My four-year-old asked me how snakes hear. When I said I didn’t know, she said “Can we look it up on the internet?” I was proud of her question, even though I have no interest in learning about snakes, because it showed information literacy.

Many people think the term literacy refers only to the ability to read. However, literacy means knowledge. Another way to think of it is competency. Therefore, information literacy means knowing how to access information. My daughter, at four, already knows that we can look things up on the internet that we don’t know. She even guessed that there would be a video about it. Read More…

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