All posts by Lori Wendt

Top Four Reasons to Earn an Online Business Degree

Thinking of studying to earn a degree in business? You might consider the benefits of taking your classes online! Parkland College offers business degrees, certificates, and classes you can take completely online. Here are the four top reasons an online business degree might work for you:

Flexibility. People are busy and their time is valuable to them. Online courses allow students to work at times that are convenient for them and stay on schedule to graduate, so they can advance their careers. Here is what a couple of our students had to say:

Parkland allows me to complete an entire degree by taking online classes. This is important to me as an adult with a full-time career.Robert M.

I only needed a few courses to complete my degree, and Parkland online courses have fit my busy schedule perfectly. I will be graduating this spring rather than having to take summer classes. I appreciate the freedom that online classes provide! – Julie P.

Opportunity. Parkland College prides itself with transferring students to top universities to continue their degrees, and with preparing students to move directly into the workforce. Local employers tout the quality of Parkland graduates.:

It has been my pleasure to hire many Parkland students over the last five years for the U of I Community Credit Union. These students possess the ability to adapt and learn their environment along with contributing to the team in their departments. Parkland students accept the challenge of learning and appreciate the environment in a workplace that allows them to excel. – UICCU staffer

Support. Parkland offers the same quality education and support to its online students that it offers at its campus. Our online students notice our commitment to our systems; they also notice our employees’ commitment to them.

They [Parkland] are continuing to update their systems for students to stay up on what is going on in the world.

Parkland staff is always helpful and knowledgeable whenever I have questions. When taking classes, I always feel as if the professors want you to succeed.

Affordability. Last, but certainly not least, Parkland students have the business savvy to notice a good deal when they see it.

I feel that the tuition is reasonable for all that a student really gets at Parkland, which includes the right education and tools I need to succeed in the workforce.

Parkland College’s online business apply to a variety of degree and certificate programs that can be completed without coming to a campus classroom. So, GO AHEAD, invest in yourself!

[Lori Wendt is the learning management system specialist for the Professional Development and Instructional Technology department at Parkland College.]

Three Good Reasons to Take an Online Course

Usually, when you see this headline, you expect to see reasons like “greater convenience” or “lower costs” or “a more comfortable learning environment.” And while all of these are true, here are three reasons to take an online course you might not have considered.

1. Technology education. Most, if not all students will be working with “others” sometime in their future careers. To be successful, the use of technology is very important. Taking online courses now at Parkland College helps prepare you to communicate with others using today’s technology, including virtual meetings and collaborations through email and social media devices. Business and management instructor Mark Kesler says he encourages all of his students to be comfortable in the online learning environment: “I highly recommend all my students take at least one online class before they leave Parkland.”

2. Cultural diversity. Students all around the world take Parkland’s online courses. By enrolling in an online course, you get the chance to meet students from other countries. Students benefit mutually from learning about each others’ cultures and educational and life experiences. Often, you can get a “study abroad” experience without leaving the comfort of your own home.

3. Career skill-building. Taking an online class requires discipline, punctuality, and self-motivation, all excellent skills to have in the workforce. Online courses create a solid foundation that prepares you for your next step, whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution or starting your career.

So, while online courses are recommended for their quality instruction, transferability, and affordability, they offer so much more than just that for students. Online courses can provide a broad experience that shapes the future of your employment and life goals.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead, sign up for an online class today!

[Lori Wendt is the learning management system specialist for the Professional Development and Instructional Technology department at Parkland College.]

***Parkland celebrates National Distance Learning Week, Nov. 7-11.***

Knowledge Base: DIY Online Technical Support

It’s no surprise that Parkland students take online classes for the convenience they offer: Students can work during the day and take their classes at night—at home, in their pajamas. However, taking classes this way can create an issue when students run into problems of a technical nature and all of the help desks are closed.

That is why Parkland now offers a unified support desk and a 24/7 DIY (do-it-yourself) knowledge-base that is full of articles to help students with simple technical issues. Here are some ways you can use the knowledge base:

Example 1: Say you forgot your password. You can go to http://kb.parkland.edu and type “forgot password” into the search bar (see below) and click Search.

kbexample1

You’ll find that the results link you to an article titled Resetting your ParklandOne password. Click the article link, and you’ll get a step-by-step guide, including visuals, that walks you through the process.

kbexample2

The nice thing about the ParklandOne program is that when you forget the password, the reset will be good for all Parkland systems (Wi-Fi, student email, and my.Parkland; Cobra Learning will be added to this list in December 2015).

You can also search for Cobra Learning assistance as well. The search engine for the knowledge-base will search WITHIN the article as well…so even if you don’t know the exact terminology of the issue, you should be able to get a smaller number of articles from which to choose to get a resolution.

Example 2: Say you lost your Internet connection while taking a timed quiz in Cobra Learning! If you go to the knowledge-base search and type in “lost Internet connection”, it will give you a link to an article titled Cobra Learning – Tips for Taking Quizzes (see below).

kbexample3

In this article, you can find steps on how to try to regain entry into a quiz after losing Internet connection or if your browser freezes up, as well as other recommended tips for taking quizzes in Cobra Learning.

kbexample4

So, while we can’t offer you 24/7 tech support, we can offer you the next best thing: a knowledge-base with articles written specifically for Parkland users and arranged in a way that is easy to search and locate the assistance you need when you need it.

We are always open to requests for additional article topics, so if you can’t find your answer, let us know, and we’ll work to create one and add it for future reference.

 

[Lori Wendt is the online support specialist for the Professional Development and Instructional Technology department at Parkland.]

 

2015: An Online Learning Odyssey

“Hello, Dave. You’re looking well today.”

These iconic words are from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science fiction movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nearly 50 years ago, people were envisioning a time when we communicated with artificial intelligence in the same way we communicate with humans. And today, we are close to that, with Apple introducing us to Siri and Windows 10 giving us Cortana. (Hopefully, they won’t refuse to open the pod bay doors).

"2001: A Space Odyssey," MGM 1968
From “2001: A Space Odyssey,” MGM 1968. Images available at http://www.imdb.com/

Even the idea of taking online classes seems like a page from Kubrick’s screenplay. One of the benefits of taking an online class is the ability to take it alone, when it fits our schedule and without having to interact with others. One of the drawbacks to taking an online class is also the ability to take it alone, without having to interact with others. This creates a paradox, for sure, but is online learning truly AI communication? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

Every day we see more and more evidence of human-to-computer interaction: people with cell phones and other mobile devices. Even toddlers in shopping carts are being held captive by electronic devices. What we’re seeing less of is the human-to-human interaction, where people talk to each other without electronics in their hands. Often they’ll say it’s easier to communicate with texts and emojis than it is to talk. But they don’t realize that as long as there is someone on the other end, you ARE communicating with someone. You are interacting with others. In fact, you are interacting with others in ways our ancestors never dreamed of, and you are doing it frequently. So, this human-to-human-via-computer interaction can be a positive thing.

However, it seems that students in online courses stop just short of that interaction when in their classes. They log in—alone. They do their work—alone. And they log out—alone. So, the challenge for Parkland College’s online teaching faculty is, “how do we get students to interact with the course and with other students?”

Faculty are working on this. They are creating courses online that are rich with engaging content. They are creating adventures (video lectures, study guides), mysteries (assignments, quizzes), and conversation (discussions, groups). The key for students is to engage with the content and with other students. And provide feedback to faculty. (Remember those emails you get asking you to complete a course evaluation form?)

Parkland students should never feel like Dave, all alone in the vast space that is online learning, because online learning is not like HAL. The pod bay doors will always be open and welcoming. All you need to do is come in.

Three Key Reasons to Take Online Courses at Parkland!

Parkland College has offered online/distance learning for a long time and, for many reasons, we are still one of the top schools in the state of Illinois for online instruction.
Reason #3 – Quality: Online courses at Parkland are taught by the same instructors who teach in our classrooms.  And many of them have undergone additional training to help them to become effective and efficient online instructors.  So, we can proudly say that we have quality instruction happening at Parkland College, regardless of the method of delivery.
Reason #2 – Transferability:  Our online courses meet all of the same criteria for our classroom courses and are, therefore, accredited and accepted at most transfer institutions.  As always, we defer to the transfer institution for how they will accept the credits to be applied to a baccalaureate degree, but our courses are fully compliant with the Illinois Articulation Initiative and undergo regular review for continued compliance to ensure the quality of our courses.
And Reason #1 (And probably the most important reason) – Affordability:  It’s been said that you can expect to pay the same for an online degree as you would for one at a “brick and mortar” institution.  And for in-district students at Parkland, that is true.  Our online course rates for in-district students is the same as for the classroom instruction.  So, that makes Parkland an easy choice for getting your degree in a timely fashion—no worrying about conflicting class schedules.  Just take the online version and work at times that are convenient for you.
But wait… it gets better!  Out-of-district and international students pay substantially more per credit hour for classroom instruction.  However, Parkland is able to offer the online courses at a much more affordable rate than the classroom version.  For out-of-district students, the cost is $192.50 per credit hour; for international students the rate is $282.50 per credit hour.  Even at these rates, Parkland is the smart choice compared to other online institutions.

Tuition1

 

Further good news with the affordability of online courses is that they are fully eligible for federal financial aid.
So, make your money go further this summer and take your courses from anywhere in the world.  Parkland College will go with you and ensure you are getting quality, transferable courses at the best possible price.
Get started by choosing the link on this page that best describes your situation.  If you have any questions, please contact admission@parkland.edu.  See you online!

What is Online Learning, Anyway?

Distance education.  Distance learning.  Online learning. Virtual learning.  People use these terms interchangeably to mean a “mode of delivering education and instruction to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting, such as a classroom” (Wikipedia).

Distance education
Distance education. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

It may surprise you that the first distance education class in the U.S. took place about 300 years ago! In the 18th century, students could gain secretarial skills through mailed lessons (later called correspondence education).  Mailed lessons eventually evolved into televised courses: Schools recorded lectures on VHS tapes and made them available for students to check out and view in their homes.  Students would then send the completed lessons back to their instructors.

As the Internet became more prevalent, distance education offered the ability for “real time” interaction between instructor and students.  The Web brought about the opportunity for peer communication as well, much like students in a classroom, except for being in a virtual environment. Parkland College has offered this type of learning since the 1990s and is one of the top community colleges in the state of Illinois in online offerings.  We also believe that we have some of the best online faculty as well.

What does this mean for you? It means that, while its delivery systems are evolving, distance education is still serious business, and the rules for success at it remain the same:

Online learning is NOT always easy; it’s not just “browsing the Internet” or “chatting.”  You must research, write, and submit papers, just like in the traditional classroom.  You take quizzes, tests, and exams using a special software or learning management system (Cobra Learning at Parkland).  Faculty interact with you through topic boards  and class discussion, and they post grades of your online work.

Online learning takes discipline; there are generally no set hours to “attend” class or instructors in front of the room reminding you of due dates.  Faculty will give you the tools to help with your success, but it’s up to you to use them efficiently and effectively.

Not enrolled in online courses?  It is still a good idea to know how to use the Cobra Learning system for your classes. Many of our classroom faculty utilize Cobra  to distribute and receive materials as well as for testing.  So, log into the Cobra system and, along the right side below your profile settings, you will find a widget called Help for Students.  There you will find video tutorials to help you learn how to use Cobra.

Your success in all courses–classroom and online–is important to us.  Please take advantage of services we make available to ensure that success.  The STAR help desk, the Library, and CAS (Center for  Academic Success) are just a few of the services that we recommend, whether you’re taking an online class or not.

Words to the Wise about Online Classes this Spring!

Taking your first-ever online class? Well, even if you are not, here are five tips EVERY online student should heed this spring:

1.   Communicate clearly via email with a proper subject line.  Identify yourself by name and by the course and section number in which you are a student.  Also, include a brief descriptor in the subject line, like “Exam 4 question.”  Then, in the body of the email, carefully describe your question or issue.  By providing additional details, your instructor (as well as tech support) can more quickly respond to your inquiry.

2.  Participate! It’s vital to your success.  Some of the key reasons for this include attendance and grading.  Your “appearance” in the course needs to be complemented by interaction and engagement in order to validate your attendance.  You may even lose points for not being attentive in your courses.  Be involved, and contribute to your online learning experience!

3.  Beware of the browser that you use and the version of the browser that you have.  The Cobra Learning home page has a “system check” link for you to confirm that your web browser (and other components) is compatible with the system.  The most recent versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome for PC and Safari for Mac users are recommended for optimum performance.

4. Learn how to use discussion boards and how to post correctly in discussion topics.  For many online courses, the discussion boards are the very heart and soul of the online class.  This is the place for thought exchange, reading reflections, and interactivity on the subject.  It is important to learn and master how the discussions work and how to post and reply correctly.  Seek assistance if you are unsure.

5.  Spellchecker does not always find spelling errors.  It does not, for example, alert you to words that sound alike, so “their” and “there” can fool a spellcheck program, but it won’t fool your instructor.  The preferred way to proofread is to have someone review your work for you to ensure that you have an error-free submission.

Check back for more tips on how to be a successful online student at Parkland College.

R Factors: Instructor Tips for Online Students

Finish your online class in strong fashion by reflecting on four “R factors” your online instructors want you to remember:

Research:  Do not consider the Internet as the only research tool for your online course assignments. Most libraries, like Parkland’s, have online resources available, including live chats with real librarians during library hours! Do not rely on sites like Wikipedia or About.com unless your instructor has indicated that those are viable options for your assignment. Always ask about a site of which you are unsure.

Report Formats:  You may be required to submit your written assignments in a specific document format. Likewise, your preferred document format (.wps, .odt or .pages) may not be viewable by your instructor. So, pay attention to detail about the types of documents they are willing to accept, and if possible, send a test document to them PRIOR to the assignment due date to ensure that they can open and read your file.

Review (Tests):  Some courses may require you to do some exams via proctor, meaning that you will need to be monitored during the exam. Parkland has testing centers on campus for students in online courses who need to take a proctored test. Note: Distant students must work with the instructor to make arrangements for taking proctored exams at a different location.

Replies: Your online instructor may not reply immediately to your question or comment. Most online instructors do their best to reply to email within 24-48 hours. For grading of discussions and assignments, they may take up to a week after the due date before finalizing grades. Continue working on assignments while you await their response, and rest assured that they will respond to your request.

 

 

Three Myths about Online Learning

Don’t believe everything you hear, especially when it comes to taking college classes online. For example:

1.  Online classes are easier than classroom versions.  False!  Parkland’s online courses are interactive, engaging, and require attentiveness on the part of the student.  Not only will you have required assignments and activities in the online environment, but you’ll also have offline readings as well.

2.  Online learning is just a bunch of emails back and forth.  False!  The software programs available to online learning providers, like Parkland, allow students to see, hear, and respond to instructors.  Many courses include discussions, readings, and video activities, in addition to tests and assignments.  Most students in online classes report as much or more interaction and engagement as in a campus-based classroom.

3.  Online classes aren’t as effective as their classroom counterparts.  Again, false!  Online classes at Parkland are part of the regular academic departments and are taught by the same instructors who teach in the classroom.  Many offer the same exam schedule and cover the exact same material in the online version as in the classroom.

Parkland College prides itself on being one of the leaders in distance learning in the state of Illinois, so you can be confident that your online education will be a valuable experience!

Online Students Ought to Know…

…that you need to schedule the times on your calendar to work on your online course. 

This is a must! Not only should you be scheduling the due dates for course work, but you should be scheduling time to work on the assignments prior to the due dates.  Waiting until the last minute can cause undue stress for you in the instance that you have a question for your instructor and cannot reach him or her.  It’s important to plan ahead on all assignments!