"Education is the most
powerful weapon which
you can use to change
the world".

-- Nelson Mandela



"Genius without education
is like silver in the mine."
-- Benjamin Franklin

Archive for the ‘online school’ Category

Ten Ways to Cruise on the Cheap While Taking Online Classes

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Summer has arrived; and adult learners may be wondering how to take a cheap vacation without skipping a beat in online classes.

Thankfully, the travel industry is happy to oblige by offering great deals on just about everything. Still, cruising may be among the best ways to save money on a vacation while continuing with online degree studies.

For the price of gas, food, a couple of nights in a mid-range hotel and activities, e-learners and their families or friends could sail away on the vacation of a lifetime.

Just check out these facts about cruising to an online degree:

  1. The costs for a 4-day cruise this summer begin as low as $184 per person (before taxes and fees) from Florida, New Orleans or Long Beach, according to today’s 90-day ticker from Vacations to Go, a  website that lists the best cruise deals, especially last-minute bargains. Additional special discounts may apply for past passengers and those over age 55.
  2. Cruise costs cover a bundle – ship transportation to exotic ports, 24-hour food, some beverages, lavish entertainment for adults and children, room service, twice-daily cabin cleaning and more.
  3. For 4 people staying in the same cabin, the 3rd and 4th persons pay just a fraction of the full fare, generally between 40-60% less. This is a kid-friendly deal for families, but also works well for family gatherings, friends and co-workers.
  4. Onboard credits are free money that is offered by travel agents, credit card companies or the cruise line. These are valuable because they are applied to the onboard account and may cover tipping fees, excursions, alcoholic drinks, shopping or other additional costs. A good travel agent can help explore this option.
  5. Most ports can be explored without purchasing expensive excursions from the ship. A good guide book from the library can give excellent tips about saving money while seeing the sights on your own.
  6. Most ships offer onboard Internet cafes and designated public WiFi hotspots. Some ships, like the new Celebrity Solstice series, offer data ports for Internet access in individual cabins, which is great for online students. Some Princess ships offer the use of individual laptops for the duration of the cruise on a first-come, first served basis. Discounted Internet plans offer cheaper rates then paying by the minute.
  7. To save money on Internet rates, online students may opt to gather web research ahead of time. Then on the ship, they can work offline and connect to the Internet only to turn in assignments or email instructors.
  8. Tipping is generally not mandatory on the ship; although there are suggested amounts per day to cover cabin stewards, waiters, head waiters, and other staff. Even when the tipping fees are automatically deducted from the onboard account, passengers may raise or lower the tipping amount at their own discretion. However, after observing how diligently the staff works on their behalf, the suggested tips — totaling about $10 per adult passenger per day — often appear to be reasonable to most cruisers.
  9. The 3,634-passenger ship, Independence of the Seas, not only provides extensive Internet access, it also offers rock-climbing, a water park, a surf park, ice skating, youth clubs, a full-size boxing ring and sports court, miniature golf, a fitness center, a casino, shopping — plus a multitude of other diversions for those who need extra study time to devote to online classes while family or friends literally dive into the fun onboard.
  10. Retirees, homeschooling families and others may find deeper discounts in the fall and winter, as vacationers return to school and jobs. And most cruises that are more than 90 days off usually require only a modest down payment, with the balance due at a later date. Also, bargains extend to world cruises and, amazingly, an online student could travel the world by sea while earning an online degree.

Of course, it is important to ask questions during booking about cancellation policies, passport requirements, taxes, port fees, the minimum travel age for an infant, and what is covered or not covered in cruise fees.

Still, cruising is a wonderful opportunity for online degree students to enjoy a vacation and stay on track with online school, In fact, it may be the perfect way to enhance one’s career while making loved ones happy.

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Popularity: 12% [?]

Posted by vida

Higher Learning Signs, They Are A-Changin’

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

As major newspapers fall out of business, signs of change are also evident in higher learning.

The signs reveal a neon pathway that is clearly visible to innovators and trendsetters, but surprisingly invisible to business-as-usual types.

These education trend indicators inspire tough sermons delivered by education forecasters — warning that traditional colleges and universities are slowly losing ground. And unless higher education administrators embrace rapidly changing technology that daily informs, connects and influences today’s children, these future college students will shun on-campus schools and stampede toward high-tech online schools.

Newspapers were warned in much the same way, soon after the public began receiving its breaking news on the Internet, rather than in paper form — and often hours before it hit the printing presses. But only now are the major newspapers tumbling out of circulation — after years of warnings. So perhaps traditional schools have sufficient time to act.

Administrative visionaries must integrate online classes and online degree programs into their education foundations, or risk going the way of the dinosaurs — into extinction.

In past blog articles, we stressed this message in:

And now, the Chronicle of Higher Education also warns traditional colleges and universities that they may be in trouble.

An article by Kevin Carey, “What Colleges Should Learn From Newspapers’ Decline” (April, 3, 2009), chronicles the chain of events that could determine the fate of many public, and some private, honorable institutions of higher learning.

Hopefully, colleges and universities will heed the warnings, rather than ignore them like the newspapers did.

Our local newspaper lost weight over the past couple of years, shedding reporters, departments and pages. Now it hits the driveway — or the ditch — as a mere shadow of its former self. Soon, it will reach its unplanned resting place of intangibility on the web, a fleeting flicker of information traveling unceremoniously along telecommunication pathways.

And just as a newspaper era will soon be gone, so might ‘Taps’ be chosen among the repertoire for a slew of hallowed halls of education — unless the powers that be finally set their antennae on the neon path to a brighter, higher education future.

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Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

Are You Ready for the Coming Economic Recovery?

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Everyone is clamoring for an end to the recession and its accompanying woes — including escalating unemployment, shrinking portfolios, sky-high foreclosure rates and vanishing credit.

But are you really ready for the coming economic recovery?

What Kind of Question is That?

Most of us consider that question to be a no-brainer. Of course we are ready to ride into the beautiful sunset again on our virile net worth and bulging status quo ante. Once again, we want to feel the invigorating breeze of a stable job with cool perks and flowing expense accounts.

And considering all we have been through, is that really so much to ask?

Perhaps not, but a lot depends on how the current economic climate has shaped, transformed and prepared each individual for a smooth ride to a new financial and employment reality.

Beat Anxiety . . . Be Proactive

Although anxiety over money matters is normal in the short-term, it can be debilitating. But those who actively prepare for economic recovery will have an advantage over others when jobs open up and employers ask the question: “So what have you done in the months, years since your last job?”

And they are going to want to see the evidence on your resume.

Ways to Move Ahead of the Line

Thankfully, while unemployed or underemployed, there are credible ways to prepare for the best future positions while leaving a resume paper trail.

  • Volunteer. A volunteer works for free but also strengthens current job skills, learns new skills and networks at the same time. The satisfaction of working as a volunteer can bolster confidence and provide a measure of career satisfaction during a difficult time.
  • Enroll in an online degree program. There are tens of thousands of e-learning choices; and the silver lining of a layoff may be the opportunity to go back to school and earn a college degree or certificate in a virtual classroom. In fact, this may be the best time to enroll in online schools and online degree programs. After all, less household income generally translates into increased eligibility for grants, scholarships and low-interest loans for college.
  • Become a consultant. After leaving a job, take stock of your job experience and skills. You may be able to shop those skills to local businesses, or even back to former employers. Employers often lay off workers due to the high costs of salaries plus benefits. The same employer might be willing to pay more money per hour on a per-job basis for the same services, but without the burdensome price tag of payroll insurance, health insurance and retirement benefits. You may even win enough clients to consider a permanent change to being your own boss, while keeping job skills current in case you decide to reenter the job market.
  • Remain current in your career field. It is important to glean nuggets of information from trade journals, technology magazines and forecasting sources in order to see the direction your industry or field is headed. A combination of spiraling technology and disruptive innovation is taking many careers into uncharted territory. If you have a heads up, you can prepare for it.

These strategies also help to balance the invisible time of looking for a job by filling in resume gaps.

The coming economic recovery may not look like our vision of what it should be. And being ready for it may involve a willingness to fit into new molds, not the anachronisms with which we became comfortable.

But with thoughtful planning and diligent preparation, that ride into the recovery sunset should be smoother, more beautiful and more satisfying than ever.

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Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

New Micro Lectures Trim the Fat, Keep the Meat in Online Degrees

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

College students already experience variety in how distance learning lectures are presented — via streaming video, lecture notes accessed from a web page, audio over the Internet, etc.

But now, e-learners may also watch the length of some online class lectures shrink as well. And get this: Lectures may shrink to as little as 60 seconds. Yes, 60 seconds!

The concept of learning anything from a 60-second “micro lecture” may bring on the guffaws; but condensing lectures into bite-size bits of key information is working well in a few online degree programs. And these incredible shrinking lectures may become a staple of future distance learning courses.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the combination of micro lectures with relevant assignments, discussions and practical learning activities allows online school students a unique opportunity to experience an innovation in pedagogy.

By trimming the fat and keeping the meat, students remain engaged in learning the material and have little chance of becoming bored. Within the micro lecture framework, they are quickly introduced to key facts, and then are assigned practical homework to bring relevance to the material. In addition, instructors may require additional reading assignments and other activities to further enhance successful learning.

The elimination of excess makes sense for some lectures; but not all subjects are candidates for the shorter lecture format.

Therefore, instructors and administrators will continue to determine what information is vital and what is unnecessary in using micro lectures as another creative, efficient and flexible way to teach students.

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Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Back to School

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

There is no doubt that these are tough times — tough for business, the unemployed and the economy as a whole.

But like weeds pushing through a crack in the sidewalk, the survivors among us continue to press forward.

These comrades — our neighbors, co-workers and friends — are energized by adversity, strengthened by misfortune and transformed by life’s unfortunate circumstances.

In fact, rather than hiding out until the dust settles, many of these brave souls are returning to school.

And in true anomaly fashion, while fixtures along the business landscape topple like dominoes, enrollment in online schools, public universities, junior colleges and trade schools is booming.

These ’survivor students’ are training for new careers, upgrading current skills and earning online degrees and professional certificates. And these adult learners are now free of the barriers that would normally prohibit scholastic participation — being too busy, unable to qualify for financial aid, the high price of gas, and lack of motivation. But hard times have changed all of that.

Careers as paralegals, medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, teachers, nurses, information technology specialists and health care administrators suddenly seem expedient, with online classes for some taking as little as 1-2 years to complete.

Like these survivors, we should also strive to discover creative solutions that may not pay off today, but could offer hope for a better tomorrow. Higher education accomplishes this in a way that few options ever do.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson so pointedly stated, “Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.”

So take advantage of the ‘bad times’ to lay a foundation for the good times to come.

Take a page from survivors: enroll in online school.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

No Daydreaming in Class for Future Students

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

The newborns of today are headed toward an education future where they may never experience the ‘daydreaming in class’ kind of boredom that is familiar to so many students.

Instead, motivation and a love for learning will guide each child through middle school and the high school years.

And parents will appreciate not having to pay the expensive fees of a private school education. Instead, their children will experience a free, high quality public school education.

Change is on the horizon for the entire education landscape, or so says ‘disruptive innovation’ guru Clayton Christensen, co-author of the book, ‘Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns’. In a Harvard Business School interview in August of 2008, Christensen states:

Computer-based learning is an exciting disruption because it allows anyone to access a consistent quality learning experience; it is convenient since someone can take it virtually anywhere at any time; it allows a student to move through the material at any pace; it can customize for a student’s preferred learning style; and it is more affordable than the current school system.”

He advocates that all of the different learning styles of students will be accommodated by the e-learning model of the future. A majority of students will learn predominantly online or via software tailored to each individual student’s learning needs.

Christensen purports that the one-size-fits-all model of traditional education is on the way out, along with outdated textbooks and teacher-centered classrooms. He also maintains that college and university administrators who are unwilling to incorporate distance learning into their long-term plans will find it difficult to compete and survive.

As younger students embrace e-learning, online schools and online degree programs are expected to continue to thrive. Future high school graduates may find it difficult to choose traditional colleges when e-learning has been their primary educational reality.

Already, iPods and iPhones have introduced a new dimension to classroom learning. And inexpensive mini-computers, called netbooks, are forecasted to become the next must-have tool for college students. But innovations in the public school system may signal the next wave of major national education change.

Future students may wonder about daydreaming; but they will not miss it. It will lie silently upon the rusty pile of old school tradition, while e-learners enjoy the fruit of an education transformation that has been a long time coming.

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Popularity: 7% [?]

Posted by vida

Hope Translates into Dollars with Online Degrees

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

As President Obama steps forward after the inauguration to take over the reins of national leadership, hope springs anew in the hearts of many who have experienced layoffs from jobs, financial hardship, housing challenges and a myriad of other disappointments.

But in this new day as the hard work of economic recovery continues, one time-tested solution involves individuals returning to school to earn extra dollars by working toward a college degree. And although it may seem like a daunting undertaking, a college education generally translates into a better job, more money and a higher standard of living.

According to a 2002 U.S. Census report, average annual earnings are $25,900 for high school graduates, $33,000 for associate’s degree graduates, $45,400 for bachelor’s degree graduates, and $54,500 for master’s degree graduates. Of course, earnings vary depending on the career field.

Online degrees in accounting, nursing, business management, criminal justice, information systems, paralegal studies, engineering, education and health care are among popular choices; and online classes may be found in traditional colleges and universities, online schools and junior colleges.

An exciting new year with a new president who is raising new hopes may also signal a new career path for motivated, visionary individuals.

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Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

Why I Signed Up for Online School

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

What do the cities of Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Jackson Hole all have in common?

They are all places in which I have either worked on my online class assignments or prepared for the new semester  — completely by computer.

I live in sunny California; and this past year and a half has been a suave, yet challenging, entrance into the world of high-tech learning.

Frankly, I decided to pursue online education because I didn’t want to be confined to attending classes on a specific day at a specific time every week for 17 weeks at a time. I needed the flexibility to study around my husband’s work schedule, my own job, visits to Mom, and other family-related events.

Still, it was more than a little scary to go back to school, especially online school.

Sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn while watching American Idol or House was more my speed. And besides, I had heard that online classes were time-consuming and difficult to understand on your own. Worst of all, according to naysayers, there was no teacher around to help.

But in spite of what were rumored to be significant roadblocks, I joined the millions of men and women who have enrolled in online degree programs, online schools, online classes, online certificate programs and online vocational programs.

I signed up for web design classes and began a cool journey that — six online classes later — has left me full of pleasant surprises, but with no regrets.

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Popularity: 6% [?]

Posted by vida

Western Governors Offers 150 Scholarships to Train Rural Teachers

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

In order to help fill the projected shortage of math and science teachers in rural areas of the U.S., Western Governors University is making 150 additional scholarships available for eligible education students.

Made possible by a $3 million grant from the Department of Labor, the WGU Scholarships for Rural Mathematics and Science Educators are a wonderful opportunity for those who are willing to train online to become highly-qualified teachers and work in schools that may be off the beaten path.

The scholarships, in amounts up to $7,500, are additional to education scholarships already offered by Western Governors University. WGU offers a number of generous education and other scholarships in its quest to ease the financial burden of its incoming students, including military personnel and their spouses.

WGU is an online school that charges one of the lowest tuition fees among U.S. colleges and universities without sacrificing quality. It offers a number of accredited online degree programs in high-demand fields of study. WGU’s Teachers’ College is the only completely online teaching program to be accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Distance learning, also known as e-learning, is among the fastest-growing education trends. The ability to study from home, using a computer and an Internet connection, has drawn both adult learners and recent high school graduates back to the classroom.

Western Governors University uses a competency-based program to insure that graduates are able to do the work required of them once they enter the workforce.

This is a great time to pursue a college education; and Western Governors University’s scholarship program for rural educators offers a true bargain for 150 qualified students who will be chosen to receive quite a gift.

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Popularity: 7% [?]

Posted by vida

Online University Offers First Class Education at a Bargain

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

More than at any other time in recent history, the state of the economy is forcing people to make difficult choices about how and where to spend their money.

And deciding where to attend college is not easy, with most household budgets bursting at the seams with expensive gas prices, mortgage foreclosures, job layoffs and high food costs. 

But fortunately, as the majority of colleges and universities raise their tuition like clockwork each year, one online school stands out as offering a first-class education at a bargain tuition rate – Western Governors University (WGU).

Even in the midst of economic upheaval, Western Governors appears like an oasis in the desert.

Western Governors University is unique in a number of ways:

  • WGU is a private university with surprisingly inexpensive tuition, at $2,890 per semester (or $5,780 per year) for undergraduates for the 2008-2009 school year. After keeping the same tuition rate for a number of years, this year the tuition was raised only $100 per semester.
  • WGU is the only university to be accredited by four regional accrediting bodies, including the Northwest Commision on Colleges and Universities, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Regional accreditation is the highest form of accreditation. 
  • WGU offers generous scholarships to military personnel, teachers, healthcare professionals and others. The desire of the school is to expand the opportunity of a college education to all.
  • WGU is supported by 20 major corporations and was founded by the governors of 19 western states. This suppport enables WGU to remain on the cutting edge of technology and academic excellence. Google, Microsoft, AT&T and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are just a few of the companies that believe in WGU enough to be a part of their advisory board. 
  • WGU is the first accredited online school in the U.S. to utilize a compentency-based approach. Students must demonstrate competency in each academic area; and graduates of WGU are trained to become experts in their fields.
  • WGU specializes in helping adult learners fit college into their busy work and family schedules.  Helping students from all walks of life to realize their dreams of a college education and reach their career potential is the driving force of WGU’s mission.

Hopefully WGU’s commitment to distance-learning excellence will positively impact the future course of higher education. In the meantime, Western Governors University shines as an education model among both traditional and online schools.

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Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida