Archive | Education Options

Science Labs Delivered to Your Door

mobile-science-labs-apuBy David Brashinger
Faculty Member, Natural Sciences at American Public University

How do you take a laboratory-based science course when you don’t have access to a traditional campus-based laboratory? Have the laboratory delivered to your door!

American Public University (APU) is rolling out a series of new online courses in biology, chemistry, and physics that include laboratory activities that students perform where they live. This approach combines the flexibility of distance education with the hands-on learning goals of science laboratory education.

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Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Online Learning, Scholar's Desk

Four Success Tips for New (and old) Online Learners

online-success-tipsBy Dr. Michael S. Miller
Part-time Faculty Member, Teaching Program, School of Education at American Public University

There is a great deal of information on the internet regarding how to be successful in an online course. One can find anything from tips for managing your time to staying organized. Much of what is written is done so by researchers and poll groups; little information exists from actual online professors. Having spent several years now teaching online, the following are some general guidelines from someone in the trenches. While this list may seem simple and “common sense,” you would be surprised at how few students actually follow them.

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Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Online Learning, Scholar's Desk

An Academic Journey via Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss-steps-after-graduationBy Anna Sommer
Team Manager, Academic Advising at American Public University

The last few weeks have been hectic for many students. Final classes, final papers, final exams, graduation applications, and commencement ceremonies are some of the activities that have been taking place at colleges and universities across the country. It’s easy to get lost in the business and details of all this, or even want to quickly move on to whatever comes next. However, reflection is sometimes one of the best ways to gain perspective on everything that’s taken place, so I’d like to remind all students of why you were here, pursuing a degree, in the first place, and how this part of the journey is really the foundation for your next adventure. I draw my inspiration for inspiring students for their next step from Dr. Seuss’s memorable book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”

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Posted in Ask an Advisor, Education Options, Email Newsletter

Congratulations, Class of 2015!

The map station at APUS Commencement 2015.

The map station for the 2015 APUS Commencement weekend.

By April Airhart
Director, Student and Alumni Affairs at APUS

American Public University System comprised of American Public University (APU) and American Military University (AMU), held its annual 2015 Commencement ceremony and corresponding events Friday and Saturday, June 12th and 13th at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. For many students, the events signified their first face-to-face interactions with peers, alumni, faculty and staff members, who collectively provided guidance and support throughout their academic journey.

Unlike many traditional graduation ceremonies, APU and AMU’s Commencement provides a variety of events and opportunities for graduates and university community members to come together, network, and celebrate their many accomplishments.

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Posted in Education Options, Online Learning

Accelerated Learning Through Prior Learning Assessment

PLA-Gradute-APUSBy Dr. Patricia Campbell and Kimberly Watson
Dr. Campbell is the Assistant Provost at American Public University.
Kimberly Watson is an Alternative Learning Specialist at APUS.

Universities across the nation are striving to create or expand current offerings aimed at helping students attain their degree in an expedited format. Certainly cost concerns have helped drive some of these innovations and expansions, but also underlying these approaches has been a reevaluation of just what it means to possess a college or graduate level degree.

For many years the Carnegie hour has been the foundation for how we calculate college learning. This “time in seat” approach has been called into question as many college graduates emerge from our institutions lacking critical skills, including basic reading, writing, and critical thinking. Additionally, universities realize that they do not possess a monopoly on knowledge or its dissemination and that learning can occur outside their halls.

Enter the increased focus on quasi-new approaches to higher education. From competency-based learning to accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degrees to prior learning assessment models, universities are advancing alternative approaches to college level learning. Although most of these approaches are not new, universities are creating, reviving, or expanding these alternative learning initiatives.

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Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Scholar's Desk

The Tradition of Churches and Architecture in Hallgrimskirkja

By Fr. Kurt Messick
Faculty Member, Humanities at American Public University

When one arrives in Iceland from elsewhere, generally it is to the airport in Keflavik, a remote location intentionally in the middle of nowhere, it seems. This is due to the fact that it was once a key NATO base. Now it is the major airport for the country. The trek to Reykjavik takes one across what might be described best as a moonscape on Earth – so moonlike, in fact, that NASA did some training here.

A hillside church in Reykjavik. Photo credit: APU faculty, Kurt Messick.

A hillside church in Reykjavik. Photo credit: APU faculty, Kurt Messick.

Closer in to Reykjavik, one begins to experience the bays (the term ‘vik’ is actually translated into the word ‘bay’ – Reykjavik thus means ‘smokey bay’), mountains, and lava fields. Dotted throughout the journey just off the highway are small churches.

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Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Scholar's Desk

The Effectiveness of Online Science Labs

science-labs-onlineBy Dr. Daniel Welsch
Program Director, Natural Sciences at American Public University

Teaching science in an online environment has always been a challenge. So much so that almost no science degree programs exist in a purely online format. Most scientists just can’t fathom teaching science without the hands-on lab experience that they had when they went to college. However, new technologies and a more complete understanding of outcomes-based teaching are allowing a new generation of scientists to be trained in an online format, with the same (or in some cases, better) effectiveness than traditional on-ground programs.

Can online labs be effective? Researchers are now starting to answer that question. Recent work by Jim Brinson, a PhD student at Indiana State University, noted that 89% of the 86 studies he reviewed showed that achievement of student learning outcomes was equal to, or greater, for non-traditional (online) labs (Brinson, 2014, Brinson and Brinson, 2014). So the short answer is, “yes, online labs can be very effective.”

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Posted in Education Options, Online Learning, Scholar's Desk

Student Profile: How a Division Commander Applies Fundamentals from Undergraduate Studies

American Public University Alumnus, John Milby

American Public University Alumnus, John Milby

Interview with APU Alumnus, John Milby

The following profile will be the first in a series of student profiles of our students and alumni at the university.

Job title: Captain, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, northern Nevada

Degree earned: B.A. in Management, 2012, American Public University

What have you been up to since earning your bachelor’s degree in management at APU?

In 2013, I was accepted to the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey where I earned my Master of Arts in Security Studies. I graduated in March of this year and earned the “Outstanding Thesis Award” for my thesis titled, “Pre-empting mass murder: Improving law enforcement risk assessments of persons with mental illness.”

What is your role at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office?

I joined the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy in 1990. I’ve worked a wide variety of assignments in the patrol, investigation, and jail divisions during my career, serving as a field training officer and SWAT team member before being promoted to Captain. My other duties include managing the Professional Standards Unit, serving as a member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and serving as President of Douglas County Secret Witness. I currently serve as the Investigation Division Commander.

How did your studies at American Public University prepare you for your success at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and in your career?

APU was the key to unlocking both career and educational opportunities for me. My undergraduate work at American Public University really prepared and equipped me for graduate school. First, just being accepted to the US Naval Postgraduate School really demonstrated to me the strong reputation APU enjoys in the world of academia.  APU also helped me to hone my academic writing skills, my study habits, and the critical thinking skills that enabled me to succeed in graduate school. Moving almost immediately from APU to graduate school I found that I was well equipped to handle the intellectual challenges as well as the work load.

What fundamentals of management, from the program, have you been able to take with you into your career?

Earning my bachelor’s in management at APU has really broadened my horizons, and improved the way I do my job.  As a division commander, I especially benefited from the strategic planning class, and regularly use the SWOT analysis and other techniques I learned at APU.

What is one (or two) key pieces of advice you would pass on to someone new to online education?

If I could give one piece of advice to new students, it would be to stay focused on the prize. Don’t stop running your race, even if you can only take one or two classes at a time, just keep chipping away at it. Before you know it, you will have graduated and will be able to look back at your accomplishment with satisfaction.

What is your favorite thing about online learning?

I really enjoy online learning for the freedom it provides – studying at home, at work, in a coffee shop, or even on vacation at the beach. Online learning is a great equalizer – it opens doors, and provides educational opportunities to men and women who previously would have been unable to pursue higher education because of career, family or other commitments, and APU is by far the best online learning experience.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my family as well as running, hiking the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and reading.

Online education isn’t a one size fits all, but it’s a great opportunity for those looking to increase their knowledge in current areas of expertise, or to look at new avenues for growth. Our student profile series will give a face and personality to our dedicated online learners at the university. Interested in learning more about your online education options? Explore our schools and programs at APU.

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Posted in Education Options, Email Newsletter, Online Learning

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