Thursday, March 25, 2010

8 Big Mistakes Online Students Make

A good article from U.S. News and World Report (Thanks to Tod M. for sending this)

8 Big Mistakes Online Students Make by Kim Clark

Posted March 25, 2010

Teachers of online courses say students often fall victim to these common mistakes, which can cost them lots of money and hurt their academic records:

1. Not checking out the school. Since most employers and others colleges won't accept the credits, it's a waste of time and money to choose an unaccredited school. Verify a college's accreditation with the federal government. Checking with prospective employers or your current one to see what online colleges have served their workers well is a great way to find respected online schools. Finally, students just starting out with online courses may need lots of technical and academic support, so they will be happier if they opt for colleges that staff help lines when they are likely to be doing their homework—which often means nights and weekends.

2. Signing up for a course without budgeting at least 10 hours a week of study every week the course is in session—with no vacations! While online students save time on commuting, they spend much more time reading and studying, says Charlotte Babb, a Spartanburg, S.C., writer who has taught English and communications classes online and at two bricks-and-mortar campuses. It's better to find out the work expectations before you sign the tuition check, rather than be swamped when it is too late. Be warned: Many online courses require students to post thoughtful, well-written comments at least twice a day, at least four days a week. Some of Babb's University of Phoenix courses are so compressed that in the first week, students have to write a 700-word essay and complete five grammar quizzes. The rest of the five-work term is similarly loaded with papers and quizzes. Don't think, as one of her students did, that you can skate by while taking a long-planned honeymoon in the middle of the course. The newlywed got a zero for that week, Babb remembers. Students who want an A often spend 15 to 20 hours a week on the class, or about 100 hours over a five-week course, she says. The good news, she notes, is that some of the time can be broken up into 10-minute blocks at convenient intervals: before breakfast, during lunch, or even while waiting in line at the supermarket, if your school offers good phone apps.

3. Being unrealistic about your learning style. Do you do everything at the last minute? Do you need face-to-face interaction? Do you retain more by listening and watching someone talk than by reading? If so, online courses are probably a bad option. Nick Delzotto, a Honolulu teacher who has taught online and regular classes, says students who need lots of social support and are looking for a classic college experience will be much happier in a traditional college environment. Online courses work best for those who are very self-disciplined and can absorb lots of information by reading online.

4. Committing to an online course without first ensuring your technology matches the school's. Students with dial-up or slow Internet connections or with only limited access to computers are more likely to have trouble doing their assignments on time. And many online schools require students to turn in assignments in Microsoft Word or Excel formats.

5. Not checking out the teacher. "If they haven't taught online before, drop," jokes Babb. Teaching online is very different from teaching a standard course, and it can take teachers a few courses to learn the tricks, she says.

6. Taking on too much too soon. Ted Smith, a California geologist who has taught courses at traditional colleges and at three online colleges, suggests anyone making the switch to online schooling start with just one easy course—ideally, an online course on "how to succeed in an online course." "I have seen too many students sign up for a full load the first time and quickly become overwhelmed by the workload, technology challenges, or both," Smith says.

7. Thinking that since it is an online course, it is OK to "copy and paste." Smith says most of the reputable online schools and teachers use anticheating software such as and can easily catch cheaters.

8. Being unprepared or unwilling to cooperate with a virtual team. Many online courses require students to connect electronically with other students and prepare joint projects. Students who put things off until the last minute or don't cooperate often cause problems for such teams, Babb notes. Working with a virtual team is part of the education. "Learning to resolve and prevent these difficulties is a valuable skill in an employee."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ESU to launch dual degree program with China

Big news from the Emporia State University IDT department! We're headed to China!
IDT will be the first program from ESU in this program and one of the first graduate programs in the country for the AASCU-CCIEE program (at least that's how I understand it).
This also means that there may soon be opportunities for IDT students in the US to travel to China for the summer - How cool is that?

From -

Emporia State University will be one of 17 public universities in the United States participating in a program aimed at creating dual degree opportunities with selected universities in China. When ESU’s participation begins in 2011, the Sino-American 1+2+1 Dual Degree Program will bring Chinese students to the ESU campus for two years of their college experience, as well as offer students and faculty from ESU opportunities to study in China.

Early last year, ESU applied to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the China Center for International Educational Exchange (CCIEE) to join the program hosted by these two organizations.

“We’re pleased that the mission of our institution as well as the outstanding quality of our academic programs helped us receive favorable consideration,” said Dr. James Williams, ESU’s vice president for strategic partnerships and associate provost for enrollment management.

The partnership with AACSU and CCIEE will allow ESU to connect with new higher education institutions in China, identifying students who will participate in the exchange program. Chinese students will spend the first year of their college education in their native country as ESU identifies the courses needed during their second and third years on the Emporia campus. The students will spend the final year of their coursework back in their native country.

“The program helps us identify and target students at universities in China to come here to ESU, and in turn, gives our students the opportunity to experience education in China,” said Harry Imbeau, director of international education at ESU.

Imbeau’s position will expand to include direct responsibility for coordination of ESU’s interests in the 1+2+1 program. He will work directly with CCIEE to extend opportunities for faculty exchange and academic research above and beyond the student exchange opportunities.

Additionally, ESU will work directly within the context of the AASCU/CCIEE program to develop opportunities to expand the high quality graduate education programs ESU offers.

“As we initially sought entry into the partnership program, we were interested in working with AASCU and CCIEE to offer a dual graduate degree,” Williams said.

“Faculty interest on campus to coordinate this type of dual degree has been very high and this seemed liked the perfect opportunity to explore this new opportunity,” Williams continued, adding that both AASCU and CCIEE were very interested in the idea and have embraced the concept as part of the partnership.

As plans are being finalized, ESU officials hope that faculty in the university’s Instructional Design and Technology graduate program will begin instructing students in a dual graduate degree program.

“IDT faculty and the leadership of the Teachers College have been very supportive and excited about this opportunity,” said Dr. Tes Mehring, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are excited about expanding the opportunities for both our domestic students and students in China to participate in this outstanding learning opportunity.”

Imbeau, Williams, and Dr. Marcus Childress, chair of ESU’s instructional design and technology department, will travel to China in mid-June to participate in the 10th anniversary celebration of the AASCU/CCIEE 1+2+1 program as well as meet with colleagues from selected institutions to iron out details of both the undergraduate and graduate opportunities.

Over the last five years, ESU has worked hard to develop a greater international presence, said Dr. Michael R. Lane, president. “This new opportunity is recognition that ESU is an institution that provides outstanding opportunities for our students and faculty to gain a global perspective. I am pleased with both the diversity these programs bring to our campus and our community as well as the resources they provide to supplement campus-based programs,” Lane continued.

“This is an example of how ESU creates high quality learning opportunities for faculty, staff and students as well as opportunities for members of the Emporia community,” Lane said.

Imbeau, Williams and Childress will continue to work with faculty, staff and the community to create a successful experience for all.