Tag Archive | "online education"

What Your Email Says, and Doesn't Say About You

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

As an online learner, you have the opportunity to develop and refine many skills. It is likely the most widely practiced, or even the most important would be developing effective communication skills. The majority, if not all of your communication in the online learning environment, is in the form of written communication. Communication takes place continuously in this environment with both your instructor and your classmates. Therefore, it is critical to make a good impression; not to mention, “More effective communication practices lead to a more effective learning process” (Venable, 2011, para. 2). Whether you are engaging in a threaded discussion forum, submitting a written assignment, or sending an email, your expression of your thoughts and ideas have much to say about you as a person.

In the online environment, it is rather easy to click ‘reply,’ type up a quick response, and hit ‘send’ without giving much thought about what you have just written (or not written). However, what most students do not realize is that your e-mail behavior has the potential to sabotage your reputation both personally and professionally. Believe it or not, when you are a student, others judge you based on your communications skills. After all, it is likely they have never heard you speak verbally. This is why there are some actions you should take to make a good impression on the people you are communicating with regularly.

For example, sharing an email address with your significant other. This tells the person receiving the email that you are likely not an independent person. Email addresses are free to obtain and easy to check. There is no reason why you would need to share an email address with anyone. Email addresses can be used for almost anything from receiving discounts at your favorite store to registering a product online. While it is fine to have an email address for these purposes, try setting up an additional inbox. It is important to use and maintain a professional email address for communicating with employers, businesses, classmates, and professors. You can control who has access to this address and will not have to sift through all of the junk mail in your other inbox.

Another idea for maintaining a professional email account is to use your real name, or some variation of it. Using something that you think may be cute or trendy, (e.g. hotblonde@mail.com) tells the receiver that you are not a very serious person. Again, it is fine to have this type of email address, but use it with your friends or something that does not require professionalism.

Something else you will want to consider is what you communicate in the email. For example, if you are sending an email to your professor, it is a good idea to begin the email by addressing him or her by name. Then, state your reason for the email and include an electronic signature with your full name. It is also a good idea to include the course number and section for which you are enrolled. It is likely that your professor teaches more than one course or even for multiple schools. Your professor could have five students named Andrea. If you send an email without these items, it appears very unprofessional and carries with it a sense of laziness.

Finally, always proofread your emails before you send them! Read and re-read them and use spell check. Remember, your writing says a great deal about the type of person sending the email. Do not forget that there is a person on the other side of your email. Much like a first impression, the emails you send allow the person on the receiving end to judge you solely based on your choice of tone, punctuation, and writing ability. You may come across as educated or illiterate, happy or irritated – it is all in the delivery!

About the Author

Dr. Michael Miller is a professor specializing in curriculum and instruction, online teaching and learning, organizational behavior, and educational leadership. Michael has a Bachelor of Science in Education, Master of Science in Instructional Design and Development, an Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership (K-12), and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Higher Education). His background includes elementary school teaching and administration, mentoring/training new teachers, curriculum development, online course design, and higher education administration. Currently, Michael is conducting research related to teacher preparation, critical thinking in higher education, online collaborative learning tools and processes, and effective online teaching practices through student engagement, stimulating intellectual development, and building rapport. 

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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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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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5 Essential Time Management Tips for Online Learners

time-mgmt-online-learnerBy Shere Brown
Advising Training & Development Specialist at American Public University

Online learners have the flexibility to take classes anytime, anywhere. However, without the structure of attending an actual classroom or the direct physical contact and interaction with the professor and other students, it’s easy to procrastinate and put assignments on the backburner.

Between balancing work, school, and family obligations, creating an effective time management system is imperative to academic success. Here are some time management tips to help you to create a better, balanced life with the aim to decrease stress and increase your productivity as you work towards degree completion.

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Neuroscience, Gender Roles, and a 12th-Century Love Story

neuroscience-gender-rolesBy Dr. Melanie McBride
Associate Professor, Arts and Humanities at American Public University

Back in 2000, Shelley Taylor and her colleagues introduced us to the idea that flight or fight was a typically male response to stress. Women have another instinctive move that Taylor identified as “tend and befriend,” meaning that women in stressful situations gather social support by talking with friends. It turns out that many things that we know about the brain are actually things that we know about the male brain. For a long time, a woman’s menstrual cycle and fluctuating hormones were thought to interfere with finding reliable results, so researchers used men for their studies and extrapolated the results to refer to everyone. Ugh!

Fast forward to 2014, Ragini Verma, Ruben Gur, and their associates have been able to take images of the water vapor that carries thoughts within the brain. They have taken pictures of our thoughts bouncing around in our heads!

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Getting Involved with Your Online Class: 5 Must-Do’s

By Leslie Olsen
Online Learning Tips, Special Contributor

In 2008, The Economist Intelligence Unit published, The future of higher education: How technology will shape learning. The executive summary states:

Technological innovation, long a hallmark of academic research, may now be changing the very way that universities teach and students learn. For academic institutions, charged with equipping graduates to compete in today’s knowledge economy, the possibilities are great (The Economist. 2008).

Earning your education online may cause apprehension for some, but as the above quote suggests, the way we learn has changed forever. Congruently, so is the way we are taught. Academic institutions, the professors, and the instructors must find new and perhaps enticing methods to reach out to students in order to optimize their online learning experience and maximize their future scholastic and career opportunities.
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10 Things to Do Before Starting Your Next Class

starting-classes-onlineAre you about to start a new class, or continue on through your program? Every class start is a big step toward an end goal and it should be celebrated. In the layover between now and when classes begin what do you have going on? If you don’t have some part of school factored into that time frame then it’s time to get a plan.

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Tips for Choosing Your Major

choosing-majorIf you are a prospective college student, or even a current college student, you may not have decided what area of study you would like to major in. The first time you declare a major does not necessarily mean it is set in stone, but the more you change your major, the better chance that you will continue to push your graduation date back. If you are going to change your major, you should try to have a concrete plan in place no later than by the end of your first year in college. Since deciding on a major is a very important decision that requires a lot of introspection, the following tips can help you if you are unsure of what would be the best fit for you. Read the full story

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