Tag Archive | "APU"

4 Plain and Simple True Facts About Writing Well

tips-writingBy Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth
Program Director, Government Contracts and Acquisition at American Public University

Back in the day when I was in elementary school, we had spelling class. I don’t think that class is offered any longer at any school. The thinking is that class time spent on spelling just isn’t necessary because computer programs now alert you to a word that’s either questionable or misspelled. Sometimes even computers make mistakes, so we all need to pay careful attention to the words we write.

I will be the first to admit that I’m not a perfect speller but I do know how to use a dictionary. I prefer the printed dictionaries over the ones in my computer. Just feels authoritative to hold that book in my hands and check the accuracy of a word or its origin or how it might be used differently.

While I consider myself a pretty darn good writer now, I wasn’t always. Writing was frightening. But I did write from an early age. Practice makes you better at whatever you’re doing.

So, allow me to give you a few tips and a few of my pet peeves regarding words.

Avoid clichés.

Most are overused and worn-out any way. Use simple and straightforward language. For example, the phrase “It goes without saying”–if it really goes without saying, don’t say it. Get to the heart of what you’re writing and move on. Your readers will applaud your ability.

Avoid redundancies.

Don’t write (or say) something more than once. For example, the phrase “the city of Chicago” is redundant because doesn’t everyone know Chicago is a city? Also, “absolutely necessary”; if it’s necessary, then it’s necessary. Others to avoid: “canceled out,” “continue on,” “honest truth,” “plain and simple,” “true facts,” and “important essentials.” There are many more.

Use the right word.

Some words sound the same but have different meanings. For example, accept or except. Picking the right one can be challenging because often the pronunciation in spoken language is not accurate. There are many more word pairs like this in English. Be careful to use the correct word.

Be accurate.

Then there’s “first annual.” Never, ever use, say or write that. You cannot have something annually until you’ve had the first one. You can then say “second annual” and be completely accurate.

If you want to get better at writing and spelling, keep your own list of words or phrases you misspell or that you use incorrectly. When you’re writing, refer to that list. Also, keep a thesaurus and a dictionary on your desk and refer to them frequently.

Your writing will improve, and so will your vocabulary. Why not be the person others turn to for help with writing and spelling? It can’t hurt and might even be a little fun.

About the Author
Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth is the program director for Government Contracts and Acquisition at American Public University (APU). He is the former program director of Reverse Logistics Management and Transportation and Logistics Management. Prior to joining APU, Dr. Hedgepeth was a tenured associate professor of Logistics and chair of the Logistics Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His book, RFID Metrics, was published in 2007 by CRC Press and is in revision.

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How Online Classes Differ From Traditional Classes

traditional-vs-online-learningBy Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS

Online learning has become much more popular due today’s technologically advanced world. There are numerous universities that are fully online, and pretty much every university in the country has at least a small online component in their curriculum. While traditional schools and online schools offer the same end game (i.e. a diploma, certificate, etc.), the actual classrooms have numerous differences. Online classes do require a different kind of learning style than traditional classes. Some of these differences are explained below.

  1. Online classrooms usually require more writing than traditional classrooms. You must be prepared to answer weekly forums, have essay-based midterms/finals, and respond to other students’ postings with written responses. In a traditional classroom, a lot of the discussions can be verbal. Obviously, that is a little more challenging with online learning, so online learners need to have satisfactory writing skills.
  2. Online classes are much more flexible than traditional classes. With online classes, you usually have the freedom to log in at any time during the week and submit assignments. There will always be deadlines, but you will not have to be present online from 1-2:15 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday like you might have to in a traditional college setting.
  3. You must be able to self-motivate as an online learner. To succeed at any kind of college, you must have the motivation to be a great student, but it is crucial to be self-motivated while enrolled in online classes. The flexibility of the online classroom is nice, but it means that the structure of a traditional, schedule-based school is not present. This requires online learners to create their own schedule and stick with it for the entire duration of the class.
  4. Online universities offer flexibility, affordability, and self-paced learning. However, online schools cannot deliver the full “college experience” that a traditional school can. Online universities may have clubs, extracurricular activities, networking events, and graduation ceremonies, but they probably are not the best option for someone looking for the ambiance of a college campus.

There are major differences between online classrooms and traditional classrooms. It absolutely takes a different kind of learning style to succeed, but they are not mutually exclusive. There are many learners out there that can adapt to both styles. If you are planning on attending an online university, be aware that it will be different from your typical on-ground learning experience.

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The Pros and Cons of Credit Cards and Debit Cards

debit-vs-creditBy Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS

In today’s world, most transactions are completed through either a debit or a credit card instead of cash. Both of them have advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to understand the most efficient way to use both if you want to stay financially literate. Whether you utilize one, both, or neither, the below tips will aid you in your quest to become financially responsible.

Credit Cards 

  • The most simple and efficient way to pay for purchases today is through the use of a credit card. The convenience is an advantage, but it can also serve as a disadvantage. Remember, buying things on credit means you do not necessarily have the funds to pay for your purchase at that time. If you are not careful, this can get you into financial trouble. To avoid issues, you should ask your credit card company (if they have not done so already) to cap your maximum monthly limit to an amount you can handle.
  • Because the use of plastic cards has increased, the rate of fraud has also increased. At some point in their life, everyone will probably be a victim of credit card or debit card fraud. It is much easier to correct credit card fraud.  If you see a strange charge on your bill, you can put that amount into dispute and refuse to pay for it. Most credit card companies have a very good fraud department who will investigate the matter for you.
  • Using (and paying off) your credit card on a monthly basis helps to build credit. This will come in handy when you are ready to make a very large purchase, such as obtaining a car loan or a mortgage.

Debit Cards

  • Debit cards are also extremely convenient to use. When you use your debit card, you are using funds that you currently have sitting in your bank account. If you do not have the funds, you will not be able to make the purchase with your debit card. If you exclusively use your debit card, you will not have to worry about making purchases with funds you do not currently have.
  • As stated before, it is much easier to correct credit card fraud as opposed to debit card fraud. With a credit card, you can simply refuse to pay for the illegitimate purchases. If you have money taken out of your account via your debit card, you will have to work with your bank to get the funds put back into your account. This is a stressful and involved process that does not always bring desired results.

A responsible adult should be able to handle at least one credit and debit card at the same time. Because neither is completely secure, it is advisable to use your credit card (as long as you are responsible) for most of your purchases in which you will not be using cash. It is a personal preference, but knowing how to use each efficiently will help you become even more financially literate.

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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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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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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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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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Four Cs of Success in the Online Classroom

four-cs-online-learning-successBy Ronald Johnson and Katherine Riddle
Online Learning Tips, Guest Contributors

Online learning in higher education continues to demonstrate positive gains in student enrollment and gain acceptance by academic leaders (OLC, 2015). Our research indicates a need for a set of engagement standards for both students and faculty to support a higher level of learning in the online classroom.

There are four key strategies for success in the online classroom (the four Cs): communication, commitment, community, and collaboration. Students that invest in developing the four Cs will find greater success learning online.

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