A Guide To Helping Modern-Day Students Succeed

If you work in the world of higher education then you know that your job role extends beyond simply teaching a syllabus. You have a duty to help young people (or older people, in the case of mature students) to gain the necessary skills to succeed in life. Essentially, you’re helping young people to enter the “real” world and make something of themselves. That’s no easy task, despite what some people say about teaching being straightforward. And if you want to make sure that you do your best as an educator in the modern world then this guide should give you some pointers.


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Teach them to think outside the box.

These days, going to university isn’t quite as extraordinary as it used to be. Increasing numbers of young people make the decision to pursue university education after sixth form. People are no longer going to stand out in the job market simply by having a degree. The best way to make sure your students separate themselves from the crowd is for them to… well, separate themselves from the crowd. University is an opportunity to think outside the box. It’s an opportunity to try new things and gain new skills that’ll prove useful in the stages that come after graduation. You need to teach them to expect more of themselves.

Obviously, you can’t do everything for every single student. The whole point of university is that it’s a learning curve. Your students have to learn to do things independently, but you have to guide them to that realisation. Give the minimum reading requirements, but suggest that they read beyond your requirements. Encourage them to come up with their own talking points in essays (if at all possible in the type of subject you teach). And you could start thinking outside the box too. Maybe you could look into trips for college students. Travelling is an opportunity to teach your classes in a more vibrant and engaging manner than is possible in a classroom. You need to help your students to expand their minds. Get them to do more than the bare minimum. They need to learn to think independently if they want to be successful in the world that comes after university.


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Be a better teacher.

There’s always more you could be doing to learn and grow in your profession. If you want to help students succeed in the modern day then you have to be a modern teacher. In other words, you need to keep learning to make sure that your knowledge is up to date. The world moves forward, so your lessons need to move at the same pace. Otherwise, you’ll be giving your students knowledge that isn’t going to help them in the real world. After all, if you’re teaching them things that are already old then they’ll be even further behind when they graduate in a few years. If you want to be a better teacher then keep learning. Make sure you’re giving every single student the tools they need to succeed. Beyond that, it’s up to them.

Everything You Need To Breed Success In Digital Education

Digital education is a fast-growing trend, and whether you are taking a full degree online or just topping up your knowledge in one of your life’s passions, you are in excellent company. Millions of people around the world are educating themselves online, and millions more plan on joining them in the foreseeable future.

So, if you are interested in investigating this learning medium, there has never been a better time than today. Whatever your interests, there are options, and the reality of online learning is that it’s not a question of ‘should you take a course,’ it’s more ‘where do I sign up.’

That said, there are a few things you should understand about educating yourself in the digital realm. And for this reason, I thought I would use today to explore some of the things you ought to be doing to ensure your success. The following ideas and strategies apply to virtually any course you can think of, so it makes no difference if you are doing a degree or taking part in a simple MOOC for fun. There is a reasonable amount to cover, so let’s get into it right away.



The basics

You don’t need much to start learning online, but there are a few essentials. A computer is one of them, and, of course, you will need a reliable and speedy Internet connection. There’s more information here on why speed is important for everything from watching TV to enjoying the benefits of a fully connected home, but it’s also essential for online learning. You will be downloading a lot of course materials, and possibly need to take part in live video conferencing or lectures, too. It’s imperative that buffering doesn’t ruin your experience, so make sure your broadband connection is as fast as possible.


Get technical

Another critical thing to consider is how comfortable you find using technology. Ultimately, your success will be down to a couple of things: your knowledge of the subject, and your ability to use a broad range of computer software on a daily basis. The chances are that you know how to use email, set up accounts on forums, and use a webcam - as well as how to make the most out of your computer’s word processor. But not everyone finds it easy, and if you count yourself amongst those people, it might just be worth looking into a course in basic technology first. Even if you are well-acquainted with using computer programs and online technology, it might be worth increasing your expertise. At the end of the day, the more you can get out of your tech and the quicker you can use it, the more time you can spend learning.


Setting expectations

Before you even begin your course, don’t assume that online learning is any easier than going to a regular university. It’s not. If you do a reputable institution, you will find that your tutors and course leaders have almost exactly the same expectations of you as they do their traditional students. So, you should also have those same expectations for yourself. Half-hearted attempts at learning anything will almost always result in failure, so be prepared to put a suitable amount of time aside for your studies.


Try before you buy

If you are having doubts about starting an e-learning course, consider trying one of the many free ones out there first. While none of them will give you the scope of, say, an online degree, they will provide you with a deeper insight into whether or not the medium is for you. Not everyone is suited to online learning - some don’t have the time to put aside, while others find they bounce ideas better in a real classroom. So, starting out small is advisable for a variety of reasons, and I would suggest anyone with interest in doing something like a degree checks out a free course first. Not only will it give you a few ideas on how easy or difficult it will be to learn at home, but it will also make sure you don’t blow a lot of money on a course that might not be to your tastes after all.



Do the research

As we discussed earlier, not every online course is equal. In fact, it’s fair to say that some are downright poor, but will still cost you a small fortune. The good news is that many of these borderline fraudulent online ‘schools’ are being smoked out, and people are cottoning on to the fact they might be ripped off and ending up with a non-certified qualification. It is vital that you do your research to ensure you don’t fall into a similar trap. For example, you could spend a lot of money and two years of your life doing a bunch of exams that aren’t recognized by any of the educational authorities. You should also understand that some of the free courses offered by the top universities won’t give you any qualifications, so if that is what you are looking for you will need to check the terms and conditions of every course you like the look of.


Have motivation

OK, so there are probably billions of people in the world who could look at a list of courses and think ‘I quite fancy that.’ But there is a chasm of difference between something piquing your interest and having the drive and determination to see it through to the end. And let’s be honest, learning in an online environment can be tougher than when you get to go to a classroom. It’s all down to you and your motivation, and you will need to propel yourself forwards to make sure your assignments are complete, and that you set aside enough time in the week to do some proper work. If you are umming and ahhing about taking the course, it’s probably best to wait a while until you have that steely determination in place.


Establish time management

When you are working on your education by yourself, you can be your own worst enemy. A lot of digital learning experts will tell you that the number one issue for e-learners is time management, and the reality is that it can be tricky to fit in dedicated time slots into a busy lifestyle. But the simple truth is that you have no choice. Unless you can establish a stable and regular working pattern - that you stick to for the duration of your course - you’ll find that you start slipping behind. And everything from the forum discussions you have with fellow students to understanding what your tutors are teaching will be a lot more difficult as a result.


Get involved

I covered communication between online learners in a previous blog post, and I’m going to repeat some of the thinking here, too - it’s that important. First of all, let’s clear something up. Online learning has something of a reputation for being a lonely experience, but these days this is not really the case. The truth is that whether you are joining forums with fellow students for discussions, or holding Skype feedback sessions with tutors, the digital education has a lot to offer when it comes to communication, comradery, and problem-solving. However, you do need to put yourself forward and get involved as much as possible. Shrinking violets can often hold back until it’s too late, and by the time they ask questions, the whole class has already moved on. Help is there for you if you need it, but you do need to speak up.



Create a positive workspace

Most people who do online courses do so from the comfort of their homes. But it’s important to avoid getting too comfortable! The trouble with learning at home is that there are constant distractions, and it’s easy to develop bad habits, whether it’s working on the couch or deciding to play with the kids. So, just like it’s important to establish time frames to work, you also need to develop a good place to work. It needs to be quiet, free from distractions, and also have a good Internet connection. Hopefully, you will have a room that offers all of this in your home, but if not, there is another option. Public libraries are, perhaps, the best alternative, although if your course gives you access to a university or college library, it’s well worth finding a regular desk there. The quiet atmosphere and access to many different resources will prove to be incredibly valuable.



As you can see, there is a lot to think about when it comes to educating yourself online. The research begins long before you even choose a course, and the time you put aside for learning and communicating with classmates and tutors is incredibly important. It’s not necessarily a cheap option, either. A quick glance at course fees for studying at Bachelors level in real life and online reveals there isn’t much difference in cost. However, as long as you are motivated, inspired by your subject, and choose the right course from the right provider, learning online can be a fantastic adventure. Good luck!

Why Geek Pride is Important

Geek-and-proud If you know me, you know that this topic is a major one for me. I just had a thought to formally write on my feelings after having finished Rutgers Geek Week at the end of March, connected with fellow student affairs nerds & geeks at ACPA in Indianapolis, and speaking on my learning for my final project in my graduate program. The latter event made me feel very strongly that this discussion is important.

When I was presenting, during the final question and answer period, I was challenged a lot on the branding I've chosen and using the moniker of "geek" as a badge of honor. Some were confused, others were wary due to negative stereotypes of geeks and nerds such as being "know-it-alls" or nonconformist or antisocial. It was hard to deflect and absorb everything in such a setting, since I didn't want to blow back on it too much since I needed to pass this presentation to graduate. I felt emotionally gut punched about it afterwards since I didn't expect such an antagonizing stance towards that out of everything I talked about and felt as though it hit to the core of who I am, making it all seem like it was foolish.

The work I and others try to do in this space is important. Geek pride is important because it fights bullying just because someone is a little different. Geek pride is important because it means creating a world where anyone can be proud of what they're into and pursue a life of passion. Geek pride is important because anti-intellectualism is dangerous for the future of our country. What I want to do is uplift all the awesome parts of what being a geek or nerd means; the passion, the community, the lessons and morals we hold dear that make us good people. I want to get away from the negative stereotypes and create spaces where people geek out about anything and everything they want, whenever they want, whether it is cars, comics, clothes, or consoles (tried really hard on that alliteration).

So here's to geeks, nerds, dorks, and dweebs. Make sure to bond with your closest friends for Geek Pride Day, which is on May 25.

Thanks for stopping by and keep spreading the good word.

Happiness is th...

Happiness is the only true measure of personal success. Making other people happy is the highest expression of success, but it's almost impossible to make others happy if you're not happy yourself.

via Inc.com (9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier)