Archive for March, 2011

Balancing Kids and Distance Education

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Trying to maintain a balanced life when you have children can be a very difficult task as it is. However, for those of us who have decided to go back to school, managing our family life and our coursework can feel completely overwhelming. Even students who opt for distance education, which is significantly more flexible, can still have trouble figuring out how to care for their kids and get something valuable out of their education at the same time. Luckily, there are many ways to make balancing these things easier, it just takes a little extra effort.

The first thing to do is set some ground rules and boundaries. You will have to get together with your family and let them know exactly how going back to school is going to change your day-to-day life. Before you have a talk with your kids, decide for yourself what kind of boundaries you will need in order to get your work done. For example, if the door to your study is closed, that could be a signal to your kids that you’re working and can’t be bothered with anything that isn’t an emergency. Decide for yourself how much time you think you’ll need per day to study and when your best study times will be, and then let your kids know your plans. Discuss with them the difference between an emergency situation and help that can wait until later. Once you all have a chance to talk about the changes that will begin to happen, your kids will be prepared and more able to help.

Next, your kids are not the only ones who will need to make changes and adjustments. You should plan to make some adjustments in your own lifestyle as well. You know that you will not be as available to your family as you have been in the past, so you should be prepared to change your lifestyle a bit in order to become more available in other ways. For example, maybe after getting home from work, you usually like to veg out in front of the TV for a couple hours to unwind. Now, you may have to devote a couple extra hours to studying. Instead of studying, and then unwinding in front of the TV like you usually do, you may need to allocate that time to spend with your kids. Try showing them more attention now during times that you may have once taken for yourself. Just like your kids will have to bend to accommodate you, you should also bend to care for them. While we all need our me-time, just try to take less of it, and add some family time to your plans instead. You can also fit in family time in easy ways. Try setting a timer and using 30 minute study breaks to play with your kids. Or try studying together, if your kids are school-age. You can set a great example for them and be around one another at the same time.

Tips for Online Students Fighting Writer’s Block

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

It’s happened to everyone, and to some more often than not. Writer’s block is an occurrence that pretty much blocks your thoughts and creativity and sort of puts you at a dead end for creating new ideas and thoughts and can obstruct your ability to work. Writers block can not only be extremely annoying, but it can also slow down your productivity and may essentially cause your grades to suffer if it prohibits you from completing your work and assignments in a timely manner. Writer’s block is fairly common and if you don’t let it frustrate you or get to you too much, there can be some easy solutions to fighting off writer’s block and getting back to work.

Writer’s block may be a way for your brain to tell you that it’s time to take a break. Not being able to focus and come up with fresh and new ideas may mean it’s time to come back to work and writing later and to take your mind off of work for a bit. Depending on the amount of time you have, take a break to get your mind off of work, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Taking a break to eat, take a short walk, exercise, or take a nap are all good ways to alleviate some of the frustration you experience when writer’s block creeps up on you. Be sure not to completely blow off what you need to get done because you get too comfortable on your break, just take enough of a time out to get your mind off work and rejuvenate your thoughts and then get back to work.

Your comfort level also might have a huge impact on your ability to think and form new ideas. Being in the same place and position for long periods of time may just make you uncomfortable and have an impact on the way you think. Try switching up the room you are working in or even the way you are sitting. Be sure that a television, radio, or other person isn’t distracting you because that can also be a common annoyance and cause for writer’s block. If you feel like you can’t get anymore work done where you are, try switching up where you are working and give going outside, to a local park, or a coffee shop a try to see if that helps.

Fight the Urge to Be a Slob

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Staying clean can have a positive impact on your social situation. Let’s say you have come close with a member of the opposite sex. Your relationship in class continues to grow over the semester and when it is time for you to take things to the next level and socialize outside of an academic environment, the first impression you will want to have is that you are an organized individual. If you were to walk into the room of another for the first time and found that you could barely see the floor as it is covered in various articles of clothing and trash, you may be hesitant to even take on step further. Even if the person you are inviting over is not someone you are looking to know and perhaps is just a friend, they are going to feel uncomfortable, not knowing where to walk or sit. You want to make your dorm room inviting not only to others but to yourself. The habits you have now can easily become stable in your life. Meaning that if your practices being a slob now, chances are you are going to continue this bad tradition later on. Now is the time to steer the ship in the right direction, and make a positive change in your lifestyle.

Maybe you are looking for that DVD to watch with your new friend, but because it appears that a twister has recently come through your room, you are unable to find the cinematic adventure that you covet. Staying organized can do more than just help you find extracurricular items, but can also items you need to help you with your studies. However when it comes right down to it, your room is a place for you to get away from the stresses of college and relax. Give yourself the room to spread out by constructing designated areas for all of those loose items that seem to just pile up so quickly. Too many times can you be running late to class, and then be delayed further by not being able to find that specific folder or notepad you need. But going back to the example of having over someone special in your life, when you remain clean you are sending them a message that they are important to you. You are able to display your respect for them by creating an arena for he or she to feel safe and secure.

40 Amazing iPad Apps for the Learning Disabled

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

The iPad is a device that many lust after as a shiny new toy, but many people with disabilities can benefit from what it has to offer as a functional tool. Students with learning disabilities can enhance and develop their communication skills, learn how to adapt to situations, and develop social skills. Check out this collection of iPad apps that can make a difference in the life of a learning disabled child.

  1. Crazy Face Lite: Crazy Face Lite encourages shy students to speak more often, and is great with students who have trouble speaking.
  2. Autism Timer: This app offers a digital timer for students with autism.
  3. Behavior Assessment Pro: BAP identifies factors related to problem behaviors for autistic kids.
  4. Awareness!: Awareness allows students to listen to their surroundings while also playing games, watching a video, and more.
  5. Everyday Skills: Use this app to find self-directed learning for students with autism and learning disabilities.
  6. Proloquo2Go: Proloquo2Go offers picture-based communication for children with communication disorders.
  7. ArtikPix: Children with speech issues can use ArtikPix to practice sounds and words at home.
  8. Aurify: Aurify is a challenging and rewarding audio game for students, especially those with learning disabilities.
  9. iEarnedThat: This tool can help parents track and reward good behavior.
  10. Model Me Going Places: This visual teaching tool can help your child navigate challenging locations with appropriate behavior.
  11. iWriteWords: Encourage fine motor skills using IWriteWords for practicing writing letters, numbers, and words.
  12. MyTalkTools Mobile: MyTalkTools Mobile offers augmentative and alternative communication for learning disabled students.
  13. First Then Visual Schedule: Provide positive behavior support using the First Then Visual Schedule app for the iPad.
  14. Idea Sketch: Draw mind maps, flow charts, and more with Idea Sketch.
  15. Off We Go!: Off We Go! can help children with special needs become more comfortable in new situations.
  16. AutismXpress: Autism Xpress makes it easy for people with autism to recognize and express their emotions.
  17. StoryBuilder: StoryBuilder can improve auditory processing for children with autism or sensory processing disorders.
  18. iMindMap Mobile Pro: Let creative thoughts flow using iMindMap Mobile Pro.
  19. Grace: Grace can help autistic and special needs children build sentences to communicate effectively.
  20. Which Does Not Belong: This app will help your learner discriminate which items don’t belong in a group and encourage vocal imitation.
  21. My Choice Board: Kids with autism, communication delays, or learning differences can express their needs and wants through this choice board.
  22. iThoughts: iThoughts will enable students to see the big picture and concentrate on multiple thoughts at once.
  23. LivingSafely: LivingSafely can help students with autism and developmental disabilities practice self-directed learning.
  24. iCommunicate: Children with autism and visual challenges can use this app with pictures, storyboards, routines, and more.
  25. Toy Story 3 Read Along: Toy Story’s app is a great early literacy tool for early language learners.
  26. ACT Spell: ACT Spell offers games for training motor/visual/executive functions.
  27. Stories2LEarn: Promote social skills and literacy by creating personalized stories on Stories2Learn.
  28. iConverse: iConverse works as a picture exchange communication system for autistic individuals and those with communicative disabilities.
  29. MyTalk Mobile: Those with communication difficulties can express themselves through MyTalk.
  30. MindNode: MindNode makes creating mind maps easy.
  31. Storyrobe: Storyrobe offers a simple and easy way to produce digital stories.
  32. Flashcards for iPad: This app can be used effectively for special needs learners.
  33. Glow Draw!: Glow Draw! is a fun drawing app for students with visual development problems.
  34. What Rhymes?: Encourage reading comprehension with this reading comprehension tool for visual and auditory learners.
  35. MyHomework: MyHomework can help students with trouble concentrating keep track of their next task.
  36. Bigger Words: Bigger Words can help kids read easier.
  37. iSpectrum: iSpectrum offers an assistant for color blindness.
  38. Dragon Dictation: Dragon Dictation is great for students who have reading disabilities or are unable to write.
  39. Talkulator: Talkulator can help students with visual problems count and do arithmetic.
  40. Read2Me: Read2Me will import a text file and read it aloud to weaker readers.

Pen and Paper

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Picture yourself outside on lovely spring afternoon. Or maybe fall is more your season. No matter what time of year you may be imagining, the premise of you outside in a comfortable chair is the main focal point. You are breathing in fresh air, and numerous ideas are coming to you. Right about now you are just itching to write – you can’t wait to put your ideas down on a tablet to later save for future use. However your computer may not have enough battery to last the whole time you are outside being one with nature. Have no fear, because there is an alternative that you may not have even considered – and no, not a typewriter. Something so simple and pure can serve as your writing tool – a pen. Carrying around a pen and notepad is not going to break your back or offer you any discomfort. Instead, you are able to bend it, fold it, and not worry about nicking it on a bench and damaging your learning tool. You have the freedom of turning it on or off with in a second. There is no power cord to carry around, no screen that you cannot read because of the glare of the sun, or any worry about the occasional rain drop landing on your masterpiece.

A note pad can go anywhere with you. It gives you complete control over how big you want each letter you write, whether you want to write on the lines or completely diagonal. The benefit of a notepad is that you are able to not be distracted by the worry of having proper grammar or any red squiggly lines under misspelt words. Everything you write down is notes or a rough draft. You are throwing out pieces that you will later use to construct a puzzle. With a pen and a notepad, you can create room to add any fun images you wish to draw. If that was a computer in your hands you would be combining two applications – word and Photoshop. Unlike a blank computer screen, an empty sheet of paper can almost encourage you to fill it with every idea you have in your brain because you view a notepad as a blank canvas, where and white computer screen can look like a demon staring at you hoping you fail. A note pad is more intimate and personal. Everyone can have the same model computer, but no one has your notepad you got in Kansas city last time you were visiting an old friend.

Majority of Students Find Applying to College Stressful

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Filling out college applications can seem like a daunting task, especially when the information you put on it will determine the next four years of your life. It’s no wonder that applying to college is a stressful experience for students, one which their parents tend to underestimate, according to the College Board’s 2010 study "Complexity in College Admission: Fact or Urban Myth." The study found that the more colleges a student applied to the more stressful the application process was for them. While the majority of students applied to an average number of four to five colleges or universities, around one-third of students applied to five or more. Students reported that some of the most stressful things about applying to college were fulfilling all of the different requirements of each application, as well as keeping up with application deadlines while balancing high school responsibilities. Although students aren’t the only ones feeling the pressure when it comes to college applications, parents’ stress level also tended to increase as the number of colleges their child applied to increased. Parents were the most likely to stress out about financial aspects that go along with college applications such as application fees and student aid application.

In between essays, letters of recommendation, and the application itself, many students found that the application process became more stressful depending on how much information they were either required or chose to submit. The task that was most commonly reported as being complicated was that of the admissions essay, it was also the task most likely to be completed as a part of the application process. Seven out of 10 students and parents reported that writing an essay was a required aspect of the application process, with 72 percent of students reporting that they submitted an essay along with their application required or not. The second most common task involved in the application processes concerned letters of recommendation. Two-thirds of students and parents reported that letters of recommendation were a required aspect of the application, although 65 percent chose to get letters of recommendation regardless of requirements. Choosing a specific college within a university to apply to was required for more than one third of students and 44 percent of students made this choice in their application required or not. Additionally, 23 percent of students were interviewed by someone on the admissions staff as a part of the application process and 19 percent had to submit samples of high school work for review.

Cut College Costs by Taking Online Classes

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

If your tuition bill seems as if it is getting bigger every year, it’s probably because it is. College Board reported in its 2009 study "Trends in College Pricing" that the tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities increased by an average rate of 4.9 percent per year beyond general inflation from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010. This resulted in a tuition bill that averaged $7,020 in the 2009-2010 academic year, and after factoring in costs like room and board, students ended up spending an average of $15,213. With prices like these, four years of college will end up costing the average student over $60,000, a price tag that significantly increases if student loans are involved.

It’s no wonder more and more students are looking for ways to cut college costs, but luckily they may not have to look much further than their own computer. Online courses can often be a cheaper way to go when it comes to earning college credit as they may not involve the same fees associated with those taken on campus. Students enrolled in online schools usually don’t have to pay the extra fees that are associated with traditional universities such as those for services concerning student health, athletics, and recreation. Although of the time students taking online courses do end up paying a library or technology fee just like any other student would. But these fees are actually worth your while as an online student, because you will most certainly use the electronic resources associated with them. A technology fee will cover the cost of the additional technical and administrative support online courses require as well as the cost of maintaining technological resources. You also might be wondering why you would have to pay a library fee if your school has no campus. A library fee is generally applicable because most library resources are available online and students can access research databases through the school’s Web site.

If you find that courses from online universities aren’t any cheaper than those from traditional universities, your community may offer a cheaper route to a secondary education. Online courses through community colleges could end up costing significantly less than earning credit through a university. According to the College Board study, the average cost of tuition and fees for students enrolled full-time at public two-year colleges was $2,544 in the 2009-2010 academic year. A significant savings of $4,476 when compared to what those at a four-year university paid. Given the difference in overall tuition, it makes sense that individual courses taken through two-year colleges will cost you much less than those at four-year colleges. Most community colleges these days offer a wide variety of flexible course options, including online options, to meet the dynamic educational needs of the communities they serve.

15 College-Budget Beers That Aren’t Bad

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Surely you’ve heard that life’s too short to drink cheap beer. But what if cheap beer could be good beer? It’s possible. Read on to find out how you can drink great beer, even of the micro and craft brew persuasion, without blowing your college student budget.

  1. Homebrew: Although you’ll have to put plenty of work into it, you can get about 5 gallons of beer for less than $100. And that’s just your first batch-subsequent batches should run about $25-$40 each or even less, leaving you with custom made beer on the cheap and readily available at your home.
  2. Local beer: That brewery across town isn’t just a great place to go taste beer on a tour, it’s a source of cheap beer. Reduced shipping costs and cheaper marketing makes your local brewery one of the cheapest drinks around.
  3. Full Sail Session: While many six packs are going for $7 and up, Full Sail’s Session sells twelve for about $11. It comes in attractive bottles, and is a barley malt lager with a craft beer stamp of approval.
  4. Sam Adams: Sam Adams is the largest craft brewery in the US, and as such, can put out lots of pretty good beer for cheaper than the little guys. Enjoy their lager or pick up a seasonal offering on sale.
  5. Steel Reserve: Although certainly among the most iffy on this list, Steel Reserve is a cheap beer with merit. Coming in at 8 percent and full of strong lager flavor, this beer has a lot to offer for a little.
  6. Fat Tire: New Belgium puts out some great beers, and often those beers have a price to match. But Fat Tire is a hit with cheap college students and can often be found on sale.
  7. Abita Turbodog: Brewed in Louisiana, Abita’s Turbodog is an English brown ale that’s readily available for not a whole lot of money.
  8. Simpler Times: Made for Trader Joe’s, Simpler Times sells at a smokin’ price of about $3 for a six pack. It’s brewed by Minhas Craft Brewery, and has earned a passable rating on Beer Advocate.
  9. Shiner Bock: Shiner products, particularly Shiner Bock, can often be found for about the same price as Miller or Budweiser. But this beer offers a small town brewery taste that outshines the big guys.
  10. Budweiser American Ale: Although craft beer lovers may shudder at the thought, Budweiser American Ale offers a craft-like quality from a big brewery. And at under $7 a six pack, it’s worth giving it a go.
  11. Genessee: This cream ale is decent and makes for a good summer beer. Although there’s no hiding its cheap ingredients, Genesee has a smooth taste and nice head.
  12. Sierra Nevada: One of the biggest breweries in the craft business, Sierra Nevada offers good beer in a large volume. Their beers can often be found on sale at discounted prices all over the US, but you’re most likely to find a great deal in California.
  13. Yuengling Lager: As America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling represents a part of brewing history. Although it’s not available everywhere, those lucky enough to live within its reach love both the flavor and price of Yuengling.
  14. Bud Light Lime: Bud Light Lime is perfectly made for an outdoor party, BBQ, or day at the beach. Although it’s still Bud Light, its lime flavor takes over to help you forget.
  15. Blue Moon: Believed by many uninformed beer drinkers to be a craft brew, Blue Moon is in fact made by Coors. Nonetheless, this big brewery beer serves up a pretty nice flavor and aroma for a good price and easy availability.

Online College Degrees for the Tech Savvy Student

Monday, March 21st, 2011

With technology constantly changing and evolving, there is always a constant need for skilled individuals with up to date training in the field. And for those students interested in information technology, computers, and technology, there are plenty of degree programs to pursue that will qualify students with the knowledge and skills they will need to land their dream IT jobs. Information technology degrees are offered at various degree levels and many schools offer these degrees commonly at the associate’s bachelor’s, and master’s degree level. Information technology degrees generally prepare students for careers within the technology field, but there are specialized and specific degree programs for different types which may include (but are not limited to): Network Administration, Information Systems, and Network Technology.

Network Administration degree programs are offered at a number of online colleges and universities and are commonly taken to prepare students for a career as a network server administrator. Network Administration deals with networks and computer systems and allowing information to be connected and shared through these systems. While specific requirements will vary between schools, students in network administration degrees generally study important concepts in the field such as IT fundamentals, technical writing, web development, systems administration and management, and network server administration. Network administration degrees also prepare students for external certifications related to network administration.

Information systems degrees are also offered at a number of online colleges and universities and common job opportunities for information systems graduates include (but are not limited to): database analyst, database administrator, and system administrator. Information systems degree programs courses teach students how to manage information in databases, improve the way that businesses and organizations systems operate, and how to examine business and information to determine needs, designate systems, and monitor the performance and effectiveness of those systems. Information systems degrees also prepare students to expand their professional skills in the field and develop professional information system skills.

Network Technology degrees, offered at many online colleges and universities online, prepare students for jobs in the IT industry, commonly technical specialist positions including those involved with (but not limited to): the design, implementation, and maintenance of network systems. Network technology degree programs provide students with the knowledge they will need to create, design, maintain and fix Internet connections and networks. Students will learn about wireless technologies, setup, server configurations, and security. The designated courses in network technology degree programs also prepare students to succeed in certification exams that will qualify them for careers in the information technology field.

The Importance of Accreditation in Distance Learning Schools

Monday, March 21st, 2011

As distance learning and online schools continue to become more popular and grow in enrollment rates and in the amount of schools, more individuals are taking to the convenience of online schools to fulfill their educational needs. And while distance education can offer students the same quality of education that traditional universities can, it is important for students to know that there still are factors and risks involved with enrolling with online colleges and universities. Accreditation of a school is extremely important when researching schools to attend and should be considered to avoid wasting time, money, and good job opportunities.

Accreditation ensures that the school you are interested in strives to provide its students with a quality education. Schools that are accredited have policies and procedures set in place to ensure that students are learning what it is they are supposed to learn to succeed. In addition, accreditation is a process that is voluntary on the school’s behalf, so schools that wish to become accredited contact accrediting agencies to be evaluated and awarded accreditation. The process involves the accrediting agency evaluating the school’s structure, policies, practices, and guidelines as well as curricula, training facilities, and staff. Once a school is awarded accreditation, it is temporary and accreditation must be renewed at set intervals, which is commonly set at every 5 or 10 years.

Accreditation not only helps to ensure that students are paying for and receiving a quality education, but it is also important for the professional and career world when it comes to landing a job. In fact, some employers will not hire individuals that have degrees from learning institutions that are not accredited. Having a degree from a school that is accredited ensures that students work hard for their degrees and that they completed the necessary work to earn their degrees. It also shows employers that students are qualified for the careers they are seeking and that they learned the necessary skills, concepts, and training needed to excel in the field.

Accreditation must be awarded by a legitimate accrediting agency. Accrediting agencies exist at the regional and national level and many online education sites list the legitimate accrediting agencies that are currently in existence. Accreditation should be an important factor when deciding on a learning institution, and research should be done in order to verify that schools are accredited when they say that they are. Accreditation guides are useful for those looking for more information on accreditation, as they serve as a legitimate means to find out more about the accreditation process and what it involves, what agencies are valid, how to spot fake agencies, and why accreditation is so important.