5 Things to Consider Before Taking an Online Course

The following is a guest post by Emma Megan, a content creator specializing in education. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

Introduction:

Technology has changed every aspect of our lives, and education is no exception. We’ve gone from learning through direct contact to acquiring knowledge from behind a laptop screen.

Online courses have revolutionized the convenience and affordability of education. Anyone who has limited finances and time can sign up for any online course that they’re interested in, but they should be sure to carefully consider the following things:

1. You will probably NEVER meet your professor

Online courses are designed to keep things simple and comfortable both for the students enrolled and the professors teaching the classes. Professors who teach online courses, record their lectures beforehand, and those lectures can be used to illustrate the same sequence for several years to come.

Just as a student takes online classes because of the lack of time and money, the professors have pretty much the same reasons to teach an online course. They don’t want additional pressure and stress from their side jobs; hence, you will hardly ever meet your professor.

If you are always seeking guidance and assurance, then you might not find it while taking online classes. Online courses are for people who are self-sufficient and independent, as well as for those who can comprehend instructions easily.

2. All online classes are not equal

Recently, online courses have experienced a growth spurt in their numbers. Now you can get a high school diploma online as well as a master’s degree without stepping a foot out of your house. All these courses offer something diverse, and they function differently from one another.

For instance, some online courses will require you to read and review chapters daily, while others will ask you to submit a written report every other day at 9 PM sharp. Not only the nature of work and assignments, but the duration and tuition fees differ as well. 

It is essential to weigh down all your options before deciding, to avoid complications in the future. You should also consider the possibility of transferring your online course from one university to another. Think of an alternative before even signing up for an online course as it can save you from plenty of trouble and stress in the future. 

3. You can interact with your fellow students

You might be under the impression that taking online courses mean that you won’t have to deal with a peer group, but online courses actually offer several ways to collaborate with fellow students. Most online courses offered by conventional colleges and universities have online chat rooms. These chatrooms and online communities provide several opportunities for people enrolled in the same online course to interact and help each other out. Discussion boards are another key means of interaction.

Even without an online community and chatroom, one can always try to contact their classmates directly. Almost all online courses show profiles of students enrolled in their curriculum to other students for this purpose. 

4. You need to be technologically advanced

Online courses are essential for our fast-paced world, which means they are in sync with technology. One should never sign up for an online course if they are not well-versed in technology or do not have adequate equipment.

A working laptop and a fast wi-fi network are essentials to have before signing up for any online course. The people managing your class won’t care if you are laptop broke down or your wi-fi didn’t work. They will want you to submit all your assignments and tasks at the assigned time, or else your grade will be affected. 

Believe it or not, accredited online courses have a way to weed out dishonest and students that are slacking. If you think that cheating in exams or delaying your assignments is a possibility, then you are in for a surprise. 

These courses have systems in place that enable them to maintain the integrity and credibility of their programs.

5. An online course is not for procrastinator

Online courses are not everyone’s cup of tea and are not the ideal model of education for procrastinators. One must have impeccable time management skills and restraint to complete these courses.

You might want to sign up for an online class because you want to be your boss, but that perk isn’t good enough if you can’t keep up with the obligations that come with it. There won’t be any professor and friend to remind you to finish your assignments or to prepare for a test before the deadline. You will be on your own and carelessness, and irresponsible behavior can cost you a lot.

Bottom Line:

Online courses have their pros and cons, and their efficiency and success vary from person to person. Thorough research and knowledge of the intended online course can help you reach a decision that will work best for you!

Author’s Bio: Emma Megan is a content creator who enjoys writing about education and technology.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Benefits of Using Infographics for e-Learning

The following is a guest post by Ashley Halsey, a content creator specializing in education. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

Modern learning has presented a wide range of new tools and techniques for educators to help foster knowledge and appreciation of knowledge in students of all types and of all ages. The opportunities that have been presented are varying and have a range of different effects on students, but they mostly work by helping teachers present and relay information more cleanly and effectively than ever before. eLearning as a field is part of this revolution, where major learning can now be done purely through the internet, without a teacher and student ever needing to actually come face to face. Within eLearning, as an internet-based experience, you have to be very innovative with how you communicate ideas. The ‘infographic’ is just one of many tools that you can use, so let’s take a look at what you can do with it.

A Process of Simplification

Using language to describe certain types of statistical problems or data sets can be difficult and can have remarkably poor results. If I tell you there are four piles, one with 6 beans, one with 2 beans, one with 18 beans and one with 9 beans, that can be quite a difficult image to hold in your head while calculating an answer. But, if they’re already depicted, you cut a step out and everything becomes much simpler to grasp. The process of removing that step from the intended receiver of the information, is a process of simplification which can be a really powerful tool for relaying information efficiently. The visual aspect cleans the whole operation up.

Source- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1._Infographic_%E2%80%93_We_live_in_a_nano_world.jpg, attribution – InsightPublishers [CC BY-SA 4.0

To Help With Memorization

It’s often the case that an eLearning course will culminate in some sort of an exam or test that is in place to establish the success of the teaching and of the student’s knowledge and attention to the course. Likely, the student will be required to recall elements to the course from memory. The visualization of information through infographics is an immensely successful tool for aiding retention. Recalling images of text is almost always harder than recalling visualizations of information. Online teachers want you to remember what you’re being taught, thus making infographics an excellent option for you as you continue to find ways to aid success in eLearning.

Higher Engagement

Just like when you are designing a website of some sort, a wall of text will always make things a lot less appealing for the user. Text is boring and not unique. It can be beautifully written prose, but the medium of choice is so standard that it’s not going to leave an impression on anyone or draw the eye particularly. Infographics can look however you want, which can really draw the eye in. Representation of information through infographics is an excellent way to increase student engagement.

Source – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Secondary_Sources.png, attribution – Shonnmharen [CC BY 4.0

Space Saver

Organization and workflow are key in eLearning. It’s not as simple as being in a classroom where you can always ask your teacher for direct guidance through the material, you have to be able to find your path through the learning effectively on your own. Clutter is a critical issue for eLearning material, since that sort of course based disorganization and confusion can create the same detrimental effects in the mind of the student as they try and progress. As the old saying goes, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. This is very true and very relevant with eLearning. You can save space and be wonderfully succinct through use of infographics in a way which helps aid the work flow of your students.

Conclusion

There really are no downsides to the use of infographics for eLearning. They help in almost every way that you could hope they would help. Infographics are an important and effective way to aid in online learning.

Author’s Bio: Ashley Halsey is a professional writer writing on all sorts of topics relating to the modernization of education and the future of EdTech. She has written for Last Minute Writing and Research Papers UK.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

The Powerful Impact of Virtual Classroom Software

The following is a guest post by Kamy Anderson, an expert in learning management system & eLearning authoring tools. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

Information technology has revolutionized the learning environment. With the use of virtual classroom software or LMS software, education and training has become easier to use and more accessible.

Virtual classroom software is being incorporated into various organizations and learning institutions, and the worldwide e-learning market is expected to grow to $325 billion by 2025.

This is a trend that comes without an expiration date. Virtual classrooms have a lot to offer, and they’re reshaping the way we approach teaching and learning.

But what exactly is a virtual classroom? What are its benefits? Let’s find out.

What Is a Virtual Classroom?

In simple terms, a virtual classroom is an online learning environment. Through the use of specialized software, such as virtual classroom software or LMS software, teachers and learners can communicate, share ideas, collaborate, and more without ever being in the same room.

Of course, it’s necessary for both the learners and the educators to have a stable internet connection, and the virtual classroom software handles everything else.

This software provides:

  • Video conferencing
  • Audio conferencing
  • Online whiteboard
  • Learning materials
  • Live chat
  • Teaching tools and controls

With the use of virtual classroom software, the online learning environment is made to be very similar to the physical classrooms that we’re all accustomed to already.

The Many Benefits of Using Virtual Classroom Software

Seeing how virtual classrooms tend to mirror the physical classrooms that you can find in schools or even some companies, it’s easy to imagine that the two are not so different.

Instructors and learners can still interact. They can use various learning materials, take advantage of the whiteboard, and more.

Having said that, even the simplest virtual classroom software has more to offer, and teachers and learners can achieve much more than they ever could in a traditional classroom.

Virtual classroom software and LMS software facilitate:

  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Improved learning processes
  • Better accessibility
  • Better scalability
  • Affordability
  • Effectiveness

Let’s take a closer look.

Enhanced Collaboration

If two schools or companies wanted to collaborate, they would traditionally have to spend a lot of time on logistics.

Which teachers and staff will be sent to which school? How will they get there? When is the best time for both parties to organize the visit?

Collaboration required a lot of time and effort, not to mention a lot of money.

With the use of virtual classroom software, educators and staff can now easily collaborate wherever they are located.

One of the main features of virtual classroom software is video conferencing, which enables uninterrupted communication and interaction between instructors and learners.

Improved Learning Processes

Without the use of LMS software, corporate trainers, teachers, and online instructors have access to limited resources to enhance the learning experience of their learners.

Many schools in rural areas, for example, don’t have adequate infrastructure to provide quality education.

New technology is here to change this! Virtual classroom software empowers learners to travel around the world without ever leaving their actual classroom.

They can communicate with experts from various fields in real-time and learn from them. They can participate in seminars and classes happening on the other side of the world.

This all allows them to learn and retain more information than they normally could in a traditional classroom.

Virtual classroom software also offers room for personalization. The teaching materials can be customized to suit the learning needs of different learners.

Fast learners can easily skip ahead, while those who are falling behind can go through the materials as many times as they need and learn at their own convenient pace.

Accessibility

Any learner who has an internet connection and a computer, tablet, or smartphone can access the virtual classroom. 67% of U.S. companies, for example, offer learning opportunities via smartphones.

This means that any learner who isn’t able to go to classes can still learn. Those living in rural areas, or those who are bed-ridden and unable to leave their homes can still receive a high-quality education.

No matter where the learners and instructors are located, they can communicate and learn when they choose to do so. This enables you to create a global classroom where all learners enjoy equal opportunities for learning.

Scalability

LMS software enables you to customize every aspect of learning and teaching. Depending on the size of your classroom and the skill level of your learners, you can easily scale your teaching offerings up or down.

This is especially useful to companies as the employees can focus on improving the right skills at the right time, allowing learning to become more flexible. For example, any business or educational institution will keep adding human resources or learners to it. In a regular classroom model, it can create infrastructural issues or a company will have to expand the training material to accommodate the new requirements while managing the learners and meeting compliances can become tough.

Now contrast this with a scenario where a virtual classroom software provides almost endless possibilities of learning anytime, anywhere. Teachers can take on larger groups of students and businesses can easily track the training process of bigger teams with diverse skill sets.

An LMS which is designed to be scalable enough to grow as per the increasing needs can provide the right environment while cutting down the infrastructural and manpower costs that are otherwise associated with traditional modes of learning.

Affordability

Whether we’re talking about schools or companies, using virtual classroom software has proven time and time again to be more affordable than traditional classrooms.

All the tools, equipment, and materials are digital and can be accessed wherever and whenever they’re needed.

Companies don’t have to build an actual classroom, and schools and students who don’t have the means don’t have to invest in textbooks or expensive school supplies.

Effectiveness

There’s no denying the effectiveness of virtual classroom software. In face-to-face education, students typically have a learning retention rate of 8% to 10%.

When it comes to e-learning, on the other hand, the learning retention rate is between 25% and 60%, which proves the effectiveness of virtual classroom software.

This is mainly due to the personalization of teaching materials. All learners can learn at their own pace, go through the different lectures as many times as they need to, and gain instant feedback on their progress.

The Bottom Line

Using virtual classroom software and LMS software can bring many benefits to learners and educators alike.

This technology has revolutionized education and made it accessible to all learners around the world.

This isn’t a technology that will replace teachers or educators, but rather a technology that helps them improve all teaching and learning processes and assist students in reaching their maximum potential!

Author’s Bio: Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management system & eLearning authoring tools – currently associated with ProProfs Training Maker.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

How to Deal with the 5 Biggest Challenges of Online Learning

The following is a guest post by Sadi Khan, a content creator. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

E-learning is a little more than a decade old but it has grown immensely in this short period. The international online learning market is expected to be worth $325 billion by the year 2025.

The reason for this rising popularity is the convenience and minimal cost associated with online learning. It allows students or professionals to take courses that easily fit with their schedules. It is flexible and easily accessible. Plus, you can access the lectures or training material anytime to refresh your memory.

What are the biggest challenges of online learning? 

With many benefits, online learning comes with a few challenges. Luckily, these challenges are not insurmountable. Let’s see how you can deal with the 5 biggest challenges.

Challenge # 1: Digital Literacy 

While attending an online lecture or listening to informative audio is a simple task, one still needs a certain degree of technical proficiency. Watching a video is quite simple, but dealing with an online learning management system requires some understanding of technology. 

One has to log in to his or her account, participate in classes (submitting an assignment or partaking in discussion boards), and communicate with the teachers. If the person does not have basic digital literacy, he or she will find it difficult to make the most of that course. 

Solution:

The instructors or institutes usually provide detailed introductions and instructions regarding the lectures and learning material used in the course. Listening and adhering to these instructions is very important.

Opt for a course that provides technical support. Most online courses come with a full range of support services, including technical support by email, live chat, and phone. One can reach out to the faculty when he or she is facing a problem. Also, a person can avoid many issues by paying careful attention to how the instructor has advised them to navigate the course.

Challenge # 2: Poor time management and procrastination: 

A survey of 1500 online students revealed that flexibility and convenience are the two biggest reasons behind student’s choice of an online course. However, this positive aspect can quickly become a drawback.

Knowing that you can go through the lectures at any time, can lead to procrastination. You might start wasting your learning time in useless click-jumping and internet browsing.

Solution: 

Learn to manage your workload with your eLearning schedule. Make a timetable or class schedule and stick to it. If you have assigned two hours to online learning, make sure you are spending them on going through the course content or assignments. If social media or internet keep distracting you, either go offline while you are studying or use tools to block these sites. Several tools are available to block certain websites during a set period.

Avoid multitasking. Online learning needs to have a dedicated time. You cannot fit it in with other tasks like meals or spending time with your family. It will result in nothing but frustration. Focus on one task and then proceed to the next one. It will not only give you a sense of fulfillment but also helps with productivity.

Challenge # 3: Monotony 

Online learning can be boring. You don’t have classmates or teacher to interact. All you have are lengthy texts and video lectures that you need to go through. Even if the online format entails interesting content like infographics, and videos, things can still get monotonous. Students might eventually lose interest and drop out. 

Solution: 

Find a course that is dynamic, interactive, and fun. Teachers and institutes are getting better at creating more interactive courses and training methods. These courses have the right amount of challenges, videos, storytelling, and simulators to keep you going.

All these things can make it easy to continue with the training. Also, choose courses that offer a certificate or an acknowledgment, so you will have a motivating reason to complete the course.

Challenge # 4: Going Sedentary

The Internet has made it possible to study, work, or shop from home but it also comes with a lot of sitting and prolonged sitting can be as dangerous as smoking. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with serious health problems like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even some types of cancer.

Online learning is convenient but it also means that a person does not have to physically go to college or training institute. This increases a person’s screen time and adds to their sedentary lifestyle, which is detrimental to both physical and mental health.

Solution:

Do not spend hours and hours in front of screens. A simple exercise or activity like running can help you offset the risks of sitting for long hours. Take regular breaks and move away from the screen every 30 minutes or so. It is also important to have a proper desk and chair and a study area. Do not sit in your bed or couch with your laptop.

Challenge # 5: Technical Problems & Glitches 

Depending on where you are located, you can face issues like internet connectivity, hardware or software requirements, browser compatibility, and so on. These situations can be extremely frustrating and time-consuming. This is the reason online learning hasn’t been used to its fullest in developing or third world countries (where it can be the most beneficial).

Solution:

Make sure that you have gone through the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) or ask the training provider about system requirements. Some courses require downloading specific apps or printing out the document. You need to make sure that you will not need a specific program or hardware that you cannot arrange. Don’t be shy of asking for technical assistance when you are facing a problem.

E-learning has a lot of advantages but there are some limitations as well. However, the benefits can easily outweigh the drawbacks. All you need is a good internet connection and you can start a course or degree program that will help with career advancement.

Isn’t that what you want?  

Author’s Bio: Sadi Khan got his Banking and Finance degree through a distance learning program. He currently writes on health and fitness-related topics on RunRepeat, an athletic shoes review platform.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

5 Essential Steps to Study for an Online Exam

The following is a guest post by Robbie Marquis, a college student. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

College is one of the busiest phases of a student’s life. There are so many things to keep in mind and balance that you tend to lose time for other parts of your life. Of course, right now, your studies are your top priorities, but if you ever find yourself cramming for some last minute studying, remember that it definitely will be a difficult task to undertake, but with enough focus and determination, nothing is impossible. To make it easier for you to retain everything that you study, here are some steps that you can take.

1. Turn Off Social Media

Social media has definitely changed how we see our world nowadays. It has altered the way we stay updated about the ins and outs of the current world and the way we keep in touch with the people around us. Essentially, social media has become a very important tool for us to stay in the loop and create new acquaintances.

But if you have errands to do, books to read and online exams to pass, then you will need to keep yourself from checking your social media feeds in the meantime. Whether it is your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other platforms that you use for social connections, if it won’t help you focus on your studies or even pull your attention away from it, it’s better to leave it alone until you are done with your online exams.

Social media has made a reputation on its own for affecting the focus of many students and even affecting their scholastic performances. So if you want to keep your focus on nothing else but your studying, then stay away from any gadgets that may allow you from opening your accounts. Turn off your phone, laptop and other online devices and stick to reading and memorizing your lessons to make sure that you pass your exams.

2. Gather All Your Materials Before you Cram for an Online Exam

There is nothing more frustrating and panic-inducing than knowing that you don’t have all your study materials available. Not to mention that it’s affecting your study session! So it’s ideal to always keep all your books and notes in one place and ready to use at all times. And if you have an exam coming up soon, get all of your materials ready beforehand.

Aside from getting your documents ready, it’s also best to always have your study station ready and available for your sessions. Keep your desk clean and make sure that the only things you have available on your table are your books, notebooks, pens and papers, or if you have notes on your laptop, then you might want to keep that handy, too. Take away anything that might distract you and once you have started studying, you should just focus on getting yourself ready for your upcoming online exams.

Another good thing that you should do is for you to get some important details about your upcoming exams. Once it is announced that you have an online exam coming up, you should write down the exam’s location, date, and time.

It will also be helpful if you can find out what its focus will be as it can help you understand what you have to study and retain. Some professors give out some pointers beforehand, but if it’s something that is not available, you might want to ask your professor to provide these details to you and your classmates as it can help you concentrate your studies only on topics that are covered.

3. Review All Your Notes or Flashcards One More Time

Whenever preparing for an online exam, you should never underestimate the importance of taking down notes or preparing cards to review everything that you have read and studied. By writing things down, you get to retain information better. By reading back the notes you have prepared, you get to refresh the information in your brain and hone your brain’s ability to easily recall information.

This is why it is essential to schedule a study session, either by yourself or with a group. There are, of course, pros and cons to both setups. If you study by yourself, you tend to get bored or get distracted and no one can tell you off or remind you to go back and focus on studying. On the other hand, by studying with a group, you have like-minded people to throw questions and answers to and to review your lessons with, but there is a tendency for the study sessions to veer away from what really needs to get done. But if you are really determined or focused on reviewing and absorbing as much information as you can, there will always be a way. All you need to do is focus, focus, focus.

4. Focus only on the Big Ideas & Key Details

Speaking of focus, did you know that you can teach your brain to be selective in the information that it retains? Instead of trying to cram every single information from a book into your brain, you can instead focus on the valuable information and tune your attention out from the unimportant details. This might sound challenging to some, but there are ways to improve your ability for selective attention.

First of all, you need to identify which of the topics you need to study are the most difficult to retain. Maybe you are doing well with Chemistry, but you need to improve your understanding of some topics in Calculus. By knowing which of the subjects are more challenging for you, you get to improve your focus and prepare your brain as to what needs to be prioritized.

Next, you should establish your goal. The good thing about online exams is that it usually provides the examinees with an introduction about what they will be looking forward to in terms of the exam proper. If you have that information ready, then you can easily shift your focus on what sections or chapters will be included in your online exams. It will also help if you have an idea about the style of the examination. Will it be multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks, essay style, or a mixture of each. By anticipating the challenges that you may encounter in your online exams, you’ll be able to identify what information you need to focus on.

Lastly, you need to keep yourself focused on nothing else but your study session. You might have a few other things on your to-do list, but by understanding the importance of passing your upcoming examination, you can keep yourself from doing other less important matters. By knowing what to focus on and what ideas or topics matter, your brain can then filter out all the unimportant information and just retain all the necessary details.

5. Set Goals & Rewards as you Study for an Online Exam

Studying for an exam involves a lot of focus and hard work. It might sound like it is an easy task to undertake, considering that all you need to do is sit down, read and write down some important stuff. But it takes a lot of energy for your brain to sponge in as much information as necessary in a short span of time. This is why, as much as possible, last minute studying is not always advisable.

Overworking your brain can sometimes affect your mental and physical health. You might have to sacrifice sleep hours, not be able to eat a proper meal, or even have to drink some carbonated, caffeinated or sugary drinks just to keep you going while you burn the midnight oil. By the end of your study sessions and online exams, you might feel so drained out. But you have done your best to ace your exams, so you deserve nothing but some much-needed R and R.

A good practice that usually encourages us to meet a specific goal is by giving ourselves a reward. It could be something like scheduling a relaxing weekend trip to a spa resort with your BFF or significant other if you pass your online exams. Or maybe you’ll throw a house party and invite everyone in your class to join you. Whatever reward works for you, it’s a good thing to give yourself a prize for accomplishing something important.

Whether you are trying to balance your life as a working student, as a parent pursuing a college degree, or as an active member of your college’s org, the fact remains that your study should always be a part of your list of priorities. Studying should always be a constant practice, so that you won’t have to stress yourself and tire your brain out by doing it last minute. A more relaxed and laid-back study session will help improve your focus on everything that you need to retain. This way you are ready, even for surprise quizzes or exams.

Whether you are preparing for a big online test or just for a weekly quiz, it’s still important to be in control of your studies. Remember that it will take a lot of time, energy and effort before you can get that much coveted diploma, so make every moment count. Who knows, if you are hardworking enough, maybe you can get rewarded with some honors on your graduation day!

Author’s Bio: Robbie served as the Vice President of the Student Congress at OU and has dedicated his collegiate time to representing the students. Some of Robbie’s other interests include writing reminders for himself on sticky notes and putting them everywhere, learning how to become a better leader, watching or performing spoken-word poetry, or doing things that inspire him.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Why Groupwork is Important, and How to Get it Right

The following is a guest post by Brandi So, an instructional designer and online instructor. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

After seeing a presentation on the benefits of small cohort discussions in online courses, I started integrating a synchronous small group chat assignment in my face to face and online classes. I immediately saw the benefits of the assignment – students were making personal connections that bolstered their academic support network, as well as reinforcing course content in a way that I, as the teacher, could have never delivered for them. But as much as the success of the assignment sold me on its worth, it is the moments of perceived failure that have cemented my conviction to groupwork, small discussion cohorts, and synchronous student collaboration.

Some experiences can feel like failure, like when students differ on what constitutes acceptable communication styles in informal academic settings. Or when a cohort member fails to deliver on their commitments, and the rest of the group has to decide how to manage the setback. Despite how uncomfortable addressing these challenges can be – for myself included – the students learn lessons they’ll likely never forget, while gaining important job skills along the way.

Group work is about a lot more than just deepening student understanding of disciplinary content, although that is certainly one of its benefits. Groupwork offers opportunities to gain exposure to different perspectives, mindsets, cultural expectations and working styles. In essence, it helps our students gain crucial collaboration skills for a diverse workforce. Being sensitive to and proactive about differences in communication styles is critical for cultural competency, and taking on challenges when unexpected setbacks arise is a workforce skill that every student needs.

So, maybe you can tell that I am a fan of groupwork. And as a teacher whose professional mainstay is actually faculty development, I thought I’d share my suggestions of how to do it well – lessons I’ve learned the hard way, in most cases.

  1. Always start with the meta. Tell students what skills they will gain from the experience, and give them the language they can use to explain their skills to future employers. Telling employers that they have experience using virtual collaboration tools, balancing deadlines and goals within a team setting, and interacting with diverse colleagues is not merely lip service. These are critical job skills, ones that you can include in your evaluative rubric if you’re in the mood to drive the point home. As for the disciplinary skills, I like to head over the Arizona State University’s online learning objectives builder to create learning outcomes that actually measure the skills I am trying to teach.
  2. Get ahead of the “bad citizen” problem. One quick internet search for “group project memes” will quickly confirm that what students hate most about groupwork is the inevitability of a member not doing their fair share. There are several ways to get ahead of this problem, and students will feel much more confident if they know they have some tools at their disposal. Here are a few: Create discreet roles that each student must perform; have group members sign a team contract; incorporate a self- and peer-evaluation into the assignment; or have a mid-point check in for the project.
  3. Make the grading criteria abundantly clear, and give credit for individual contributions. Depending on the assignment format, you can sometimes monitor the individual contributions of each student. Other times, you might need the students to assess their own contributions and those of their peers. Regardless, in a higher education environment I think it’s fair to balance the scores between the overall score of the group, and an individual score for each student. Sometimes, I make the individual score worth 25% of the overall grade. Sometimes it’s half. It really depends on the assignment, and the ways in which students are expected to contribute to the overall goal. Last, use a rubric to score the group assignment, and share it with the students in advance of the due date. You can find lots of great group work at Rubistar.org, or create your own.
  4. Don’t go it alone – you don’t have to invent everything yourself. One of the most redeeming qualities among passionate educators is their commitment to sharing resources. I love the zombie-themed Surviving Group Projects resources from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Educational Innovation. And I always head to Merlot.org to search for curated learning materials in my discipline or learning format. In fact, I rarely begin designing an assignment without first looking at what my colleagues across the globe are doing as well. These time-saving gifts from the world of education are sure to inspire, refine, and elevate your teaching.

Author’s Bio: Brandi So is an instructional designer at Touro Colleges and University Systems, a instructor of American Literature, and a specialist in online education and active learning. She holds a doctorate in literature from Stony Brook University, and is an advocate for universal design for learning, open educational resources, and widening access and success for at-risk populations in higher education. You can reach her at: Brandi.So@touro.edu

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

8 Assistive Technology Tools for Students with Disabilities

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Broflowski, a content creator. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

The application of technology for disabled students is an exciting new educational approach that is gaining ground. The differently-abled thrive in an environment where they are given access to accommodations that help them learn to the best of their abilities. Assistive Technology, equipment that helps to mitigate learning deficits, helps to make this a reality by enabling disabled students learn in new ways. This article introduces students, parents, and tutors to the fast-growing technological tools positively impacting learning.

Here are eight of the best Assistive Technology (AT) tools that help people with disabilities study regularly:

1. Timers

For kids who have trouble pacing themselves, this is a great and handy tool to help. You can either tie it to their wrist or place it strategically where the kid can see and use it. Timers help kids to keep track of the remaining amount of time for accomplishing a task or activity. Whether it is writing an essay or eating breakfast, a timer will help students who can’t easily keep up with the current pace. It is also ideal for kids who find it challenging to transition from one task to the next.

2. Reading guides

Kids with visual tracking problems can now see the light thanks to this innovative tool. Reading guides help them to maintain focus on specific pages that they are reading. Essentially, it’s made out of a plastic strip that helps to block out neighboring words of the text while highlighting those that the student is currently reading. The strip seamlessly moves as the child proceeds to the next words in the text.

3. Text to speech

Some individuals have problems reading standard print texts. This is an impressive tool to help them through this difficulty. Some of the typical disabilities handled by this software include; dyslexia, blindness, learning difficulties, visual impairment, and any other shortcoming that impedes reading. Different types of children that can benefit from Text to Speech technology include ADHD and autists.

So, how does this technology work? It scans the written text and then synthesizes it, reading in a voice that students can easily understand. It employs different types of speech sounds that help make up words in different contexts. This is an advancement in speech synthesis that has helped students accurately study.

4. Alternative keyboards

These are programmable keyboards that help students who can’t quickly type to do so freely. They customize the appearance using unique overlays that are absent on a standard keyboard. It is specifically great for students with LD and typing issues. It achieves this by adding graphics for comprehension, grouping keys using different colors, and reducing input choices.

5. Audiobooks

You might already guess what these are. Audiobooks are pre-recorded tools with relevant information relating to the particular field a student is studying. They are present in different formats, including CDs, MP3s, and audio cassettes. You can also subscribe to electronic libraries online and listen to various subjects.

6. FM listening systems

You have probably listened to various FM radio stations but didn’t even know much about their technology. Frequency Modulation (FM) systems are handy in terms of reducing background noise. This is useful for classes where many students are present, and amplification is required. It is an impressive tool for students with attention deficit and other hearing impairments. It helps to improve the auditory processing issues current with students in a classroom.

So, how does this work? A tutor will wear a microphone that later broadcasts to speakers present inside the room. Alternatively, if there aren’t many people with difficulties in the classroom, the specific students with issues can wear personal receivers. This will help them easily grasp what the teacher is saying, even at a distance. FM systems equally help students facing language-processing concerns get a better understanding.

7. Writing supports

These tools help make writing more palatable for students with this deficiency in learning. Sometimes the problem is more of a mental one than it is physical. For instance, when a student cannot correctly write grammatically potent sentences with no semantic issues, this can be a great tool to use. It is appropriate for students who have thoughts racing ahead of their ability to jot. Some examples of writing support software that can help include word prediction. This technology helps to suggest the next word to the student before he or she types. Speech recognition software is another useful asset to have. The student simply speaks out their thoughts, and the tool transfers the words into text. Most of the current smartphones and other mobile devices have these apps in-built in them.

8. Graphic organizers

These work hand in hand with outlining software to help students who struggle with organizing and outlining problems. This is especially visible in writing projects where students lack the prerequisite skills to draw out a plan accurately. This software helps the student to release information in an unstructured manner. Later on, it plans and organizes everything based on different categories and in a specific order. It helps the student to organize their thoughts ahead of a writing task. The detailed organizers can help a student to map out their thoughts and ideas into reality.

Author’s Bio: Jennifer Broflowski is a talented and skilled writer at PaperLeaf with immense experience. Her expertise stretches far and wide, having worked for popular brands like CraftResumes. She loves to hang out with kids in her free time and appreciates good music. Her dedication to special needs learning is what drives her to wake up every day in the morning. She has made several steps pertaining to people with disabilities, and there is more to what the future holds.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

How E-learning has Changed Drastically in the Last Decade

The following is a guest post by Heman Thuranira, a content creator. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

Did you know that you don’t have to be a student at Caltech or MIT to benefit from what their professors are teaching? All you need is a computer or phone and a stable internet connection, and voila, you are interacting with faculty from any prestigious institution in the world on social media. Let’s take a look at how much e-learning has changed in the last decade!

1.  Evolution of social media e-learning.

A hashtag is enough to connect an entire learning community on Twitter. Through that connection, you can share lesson notes, assignments, views, and the whole course module. A closed group on Facebook or a private account on Instagram can help you achieve all your teaching and learning objectives.

These platforms also have features that enable you to communicate “live” and in real-time. So you could be lying on a beach in Ireland while giving a lecture to your learners in San Diego via Facebook.

2.  Cloud-based e-learning

With the current trends in cloud-based e-learning, you no longer have to spend sleepless nights wondering and worrying about your homework. With the rise in the e-learning trend, you can search for an online tutor to get assignment help and assistance with your homework.

The cloud e-learning system has evolved so much over the last decade that institutions no longer have to invest in expensive servers and software. For instance; admission, evaluation, surveys, customer care, and communication information can be stored on the cloud. That saves money, time, and space. With that said, the benefits of cloud-based e-learning are limitless.

3.  Artificial Intelligence.

A few years back, if you wanted to learn or teach in China, you would have to learn Chinese or hire a translator. Artificial intelligence (AI) has changed all that. You can write a statement in English on Google and have it instantly translated into more than 50 languages. Breaking down the language barriers between different cultures has further enabled online education to reach across the world!

Some institutions are already using bots for research, customer care, and grading exams. AI presents exciting future opportunities for educational institutions.

4.  Virtual reality and augmented reality

Experts argue that from 2006, e-learning moved to a new level through the introduction of virtual and augmented reality. Learners don’t have to imagine how a butterfly transforms from larva to butterfly anymore. With virtual reality, they can now see it!

With virtual and augmented reality, you can simulate any topic to enhance the learning experience. You no longer have to look for ways of explaining how covalent bonds are formed in chemistry. Augmented reality enables you to visually explain complex topics to your students.

Conclusion

It’s safe to conclude that e-learning is the future of education. It’s no secret that the present generation opts to spend most of their time online, and a natural extension of the internet’s capabilities is transforming that power for educational purposes. At some point, schools might have to find other ways of using their lecture halls as students will be learning through the web. What will they do with all those rooms?

Author’s Bio: Heman Thuranira is a competent SEO content writer who specializes in offering blog writing, ghostwriting, and copywriting services. He takes pride in providing SEO optimized, engaging, and high-quality digital marketing content to both B2B and B2C businesses. His content will increase your business, blog, or website social media attention and search engine ranking. For any SEO content writing service assistance; he is your go-to Guru.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

5 Key Software Development Technologies You Can Learn Online

The following is a guest post by Hardik Shah, a Tech Consultant at Simform, a leading custom software development company. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

In this digital world, there is no skill more valuable than programming and software development. Every year, thousands of software, apps and web apps are developed, catering to the growing need for enterprise and retail applications.

As the demand for exciting features, intuitive UI/UX and responsive solutions is increasing, the software development field is evolving with new technologies, frameworks, and languages. Also, the existing programming landscape is maturing with dynamic job roles designed for a modern software developer.

In this rapidly changing landscape, learning software development technologies and improving one’s skills is extremely essential. Not only does it boost employment prospects but it also increases the chances of grabbing a lucrative job offer from top industry names.

Also, if you are smitten by the entrepreneurial bug, then learning a thing or two about software development would make you better equipped to launch your own technology startup.

In this post, we’ll highlight five relevant software development technologies that you should master. You can learn these technologies online using online courses and open learning resources easily.

Once you learn any technology, you can search for jobs by googling “custom software development company near me”. You find that there are lot of software development companies that are looking for talented developers.

1. JavaScript

JavaScript is one of the most critical programming technologies on the planet. Not only does JavaScript make it easier to offer enhanced user experiences but it is easy-to-learn and master. JavaScript allows developers to create a full application suite without using any other technology. While JavaScript can support a client-side solution, it can also be used to develop a server-side application using the Node.js framework.

In fact, JavaScript is the base for several programming frameworks, making it a wise decision to learn JavaScript if you want to excel at software development and programming.

There are many paid and free courses on JavaScript that you can start with if you are planning to learn JavaScript online. You can start with this course on Udemy if you are looking to start from scratch and hone your software development skills.

2. Java

Java is one of the most popular programming languages which is used for iOS & Android app development along with other use cases. It was one of the first object-oriented programming languages that are still widely used in web development, software development, and mobile app development. Several Fortune 500 companies harness the Java technology for server-side application development, making it one of the most lucrative technologies to learn at present.

You can use Java to create highly scalable and robust software and apps for a large number of users, easily. Java can also teach you the basics of programming and can help you set a strong foundation for your learning and programming endeavors in the future.

This specialization by Duke University on Coursera can take you through the fundamentals as well as some advanced programming concepts.

3. Python

Python has a long history of supporting large-scale software development projects. Touted as one of the easiest programming languages, Python is known for its extensive support libraries, open-source background, and easy-to-learn syntax. Several large organizations, including NASA and Google, have used Python on several projects. In fact, many modern web development frameworks, including Flask & Django, are also based on Python. This means that Python still has a lot of scope in the programming industry.

So, you should think of learning Python for all its benefits and modern applications that are increasing day by day. This Coursera specialization by the University of Michigan is a great way to get started on your journey to learn Python programming language.

4. Blockchain

Blockchain is a relatively new technology that has already revolutionized many sectors and industries. The growing demand for Blockchain-based solutions makes it a lucrative technology to learn in the modern era.

Blockchain is all about using a decentralized consensus-based system for processing transactions between two parties without an intermediary. In recent times, many financial institutions have explored the scope of Blockchain for digitizing their processes. Also, the cryptocurrency hype associated with Bitcoin has made Blockchain a promising technology to learn and master. In the future, as the use cases evolve and more industries start adopting blockchain-based solutions, the possibilities for a developer would be limitless.

You can enroll in ‘Blockchain Revolution for Enterprise Specialization’ course available on Coursera to learn more about Blockchain and how you can master blockchain development skills for the future.

5. Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails technology is in high demand owing to the benefits it offers for employers as well as developers. Programmers can use the web app development framework for quickly developing, testing and deploying prototypes without much fuss. Several tech mammoths, including Airbnb, Twitter, and Shopify, have used the technology to create intuitive web apps.

Also, the open-source nature of the framework and easy syntax makes it a great option to get started for anyone looking to improve their programming skills online.

This course on Ruby on Rails can be a good start for you if you want to understand the framework and want to start building web apps, soon.

Final Words

Learning a programming language, framework or technology can be a gamechanger in your career. If you are already in the IT industry or are planning to kickstart your career, learning more about software development technologies is an easy and cost-efficient way. By completing the above-mentioned courses, you can definitely improve your programming skills and gain the agility and robustness modern companies require.

Author’s Bio: Hardik Shah works as a Tech Consultant at Simform, a leading custom software development company. Hardik leads large scale mobility programs covering platforms, solutions, governance, standardization and best practices.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Virtual Orientation: a how-to for Online Classrooms [INFOGRAPHIC]

Online orientation should provide the knowledge and information necessary to succeed in an online course so that all students are prepared to excel! This infographic covers how to introduce course material and clarify expectations for an online class.

The text for this infographic was based off of an article by Dean Marian Stoltz-Loike, vice president of online education at Touro College in New York and dean of the school’s Lander College for Women.

Author’s Bio: Chana Goldberg is currently the Presidential Fellow of Online Education at Touro College. She enjoys reading, exploring New York City, and researching education-related topics.