Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Lotus of Control

Students most likely to complete online degree programs are those who have a strong internal "Locus of Control" (as it is called in social learning theory). These are the folks who believe that they are the masters of their own fate.

Each time I read "Locus of Control", I see it in my mind's eye as a lotus of a thousand petals ever unfolding as we grow into our larger selves.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Teacher's Remarks on a Returned Paper

The bane of a composition teacher's life are the papers hurriedly written for a looming deadline. A fed-up English professor at Ohio State returned one such report with this remark written on it:

"I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top."

The moral to this story is that even a first draft needs to be edited before being turned in for a grade.

Why E-Learning Works For Us

We have found within us some drive to expand our capacities in creative and onstructive ways. We are curious and we enjoy interaction with our learning. We have come to accept philosophically that we are the artisans of our own lives.

The internet offers us great raw material to use in that artisanship. It also allows us to develop and grow in learning communities. It is the perfect mileiu for us, in more ways than one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Check Out this (Almost) Free Speed Reading Course

The average college student reads and comprehends between 250-350 words a minute, but with a bit of practice this rate can be doubled and even tripled. If you would like to know how fast you read, you can take this speed reading test online.

If you need or want to improve your speed, you will find many programs that teach speed reading techniques. Some of these are offered online and can be downloaded for free on a trial basis, but they often require you to buy the program in order to get its full functionality. The kind folks at R.E.A.D, a non-profit literacy organization, have made a course available on CD for less than $10.00, shipping & handling. You can order it here.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Proud to be a Non-traditional Student

We may be called the non-traditional student, but we are not a minority. More than 70 percent of all students enrolled in undergraduate programs are non-traditional students, with families and jobs competing with academics for their attention.

We are likely to be the first generation in our families to go to college. Although our parents may have told us to go, they couldn't tell us how to do it. As they had no experience to share with us, we had no role models to follow.

But we figure out the "how-to" when "want to" kicks in. We are self-motivated learners once we find good reason to be.

Over the years our life priorities change and shift and our education proceeds in fits and starts. We are often educational stop-outs, but we are seldom true drop-outs.

We are also the first really computer literate generation. We have unlimited access to on line education. As long as we can easily find programs that meet our needs, wants, and resources we are likely to be life-long learners.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Laptops: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

The Good: It's yours and yours alone. You won't have to time share it, since your kids won't be interested in playing games on that small screen,

Most of the new ones are wireless enabled, meaning you can work at McDonald's and Starbucks, and many other public places.

The Bad: That small screen. It can make your eyes cross after eight straight hours of work. An ultra-small, ultra-light laptop may seem like a good option, but over the long haul it may not be the best choice.

The Ugly: Laptops are not. They need to "breathe" from the bottom, in order to cool themselves down. They can't do that sitting on your lap. Even if you have a high tolerance for extreme heat, and don't mind having your thighs singed, it is sure death for a laptop if you work that way for very long. A better choice is to use a small tray and make sure the computer is propped up a bit for maximum air circulation

Battery life is a lie. The time a laptop can be expected to work on battery is inversely proportional to the time you need it to work on battery.

Power cable connectors and connector pins are much more fragile than the laptop itself. They dangle, they twist, they cause the pin to loosen, or small wires to break. Try to remove some of the weight on the connectors by resting the top part of the cable on the table or tray next to the machine.

Friday, January 06, 2006

On Being Forced to Learn New Things...

I HATE it.

I hate it when my software downloads and installs an upgrade of itself overnight.

I try to avoid updating as long as possible--I was probably the last person in the world to give up DOS for Windows.

I turn off automatic updates for everything except antivirus programs, but sooner or later I know I will be forced to follow the herd and "upgrade". Many of my favorite features are alway gone. Others are improved beyond all recognition. (Some improvement!)

I no longer bother to learn anything about any of them until I absolutely have to do it. That covers an amazing amount of technology, but it's true what they say: A little knowledge goes a long way.

(Rant inspired by trying to send a file attachment in the new and not improved Yahoo Mail Plus)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

E-Media,, E-mediately!

This Kidzonline website was created for teachers who want to improve their online teaching skills. It offers free, how-to-do-it lessons that cover subjects from Using PowerPoint to Digtal Video and Online Collaboration. Anyone can join the site and download the streaming video lessons. Each of them is only a few minutes long.

If you have more time, and are interested in writing, screenwriting and movie making, you may also want to download some of the streaming video webcasts from Montana's Hatchfest 2005.