Category Archives: Learning Support

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.]

Papers Due? Try the Writing Lab for Help!

Do you have a paper to revise? Are you trying to figure out MLA and APA citations? Would you like to brainstorm ideas for a scholarship application essay?

The Writing Lab can help! Stop by the Center for Academic Success (CAS, Room D120), where the lab is located, to consult one-on-one with writing faculty:

  • Get help with everything from starting on your academic paper to citing sources correctly.
  • Faculty will not proofread for you, but we can help you learn how to proofread.
  • Sessions last 15 minutes on average. Bring your assignment instructions with you so that Writing Lab faculty can help you effectively.
  • You can also find many helpful writing handouts and tutorials online.

Take advantage of this FREE resource for Parkland College students. We’re here for your success.

Writing Lab Hours
Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–4:50 p.m.
Friday, 9 a.m.–1:50 p.m.

[Dr. Umeeta Sadarangani teaches English 101, Humanities 109, and a variety of literature courses, and she serves as the CAS writing specialist and the Writing Lab director.]

It Only Matters How You Finish!

Parkland College Student Trustee Crystal Bates (above, third from right) details below her determined journey to get to, and succeed at, Parkland College.

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Life threw me a couple of curve balls long before I had ever chosen to take swing at bat:

I was recruited by the US Navy at age 17 and spent two years doing secure communications in a foreign land. I had joined because my options were to go to college, join the military, or enter the workforce with zero training or experience.

I came back home and the years slipped away from me; I was busy trying to have fun with the least amount of responsibility possible. I worked retail for almost 10 years before retail took a big hit because of the tight economics. The job was not fulfilling, and each day I dreamed of how I could escape this tedious work that made me feel so mundane. Soon, I was laid off from my job and so worked various short-term jobs to pay the bills and take care of my daughter.

Next thing I knew, four more years had passed, and I was pregnant with twins! This was a shock; I believe that most of that pregnancy I really thought the doctors were kidding. After 34 weeks in, we found out that one of the twins was in distress and had to be delivered immediately. Realization set in when I was holding two healthy, and happy babies. Now I was a mother of three. This was my title, my work. But all the while, I’m dreaming of a better life for my children and me. How was I ever going to accomplish anything with three small children? With passion and unbridled determination.

I had a fire burning inside me, and the only way to put it out was to invest in myself for the benefit of my children, myself, and others. Dreams that I was in school, receiving an education that no one would ever be able to take away from me, drew me to Parkland College, where I knew they held the keys to my dreams.

Application for admission, assessments, orientation, student ID—before long, I was officially a Cobra! Upon meeting with a counselor, she revealed the degree of my dreams: Associates of Arts in Psychology. I signed up for fall classes immediately. Was I nervous? Super nervous.

As a matter of fact, I would come early just so I could find friends to keep the panic attacks at bay. The circle of friends I have made have been some of the best friends a person could ask for! We help each other with assignments and are there for each other for social and emotional support. These connections with students and our professors has kept me at Parkland for my (now) fifth year, as a nontraditional student.

I have had to take longer than most, but I graduate in the spring of 2017. Has it taken me longer than that of traditional students? Sure it has, but I have a 3.2 overall GPA, all because I took considerable time on assignments and made sure that my grades were a high priority. Also, because I have determination and passion, I have held two offices in Student Government. I started out as a student senator and have currently been voted and sworn in as student trustee.

My time at Parkland is coming to an end, and I am so sad. This is such a great institution with amazing professionals who make it their personal goal to see each and every student succeed. I have been so fortunate to have built such amazing social connections because Parkland feels like an educational “family”. Besides fantastic professors, the Center for Academic Success has assisted me in ensuring that my GPA is as solid as it is. CAS is an amazing tool that each and every student has access to. I cannot speak highly enough about our tutors and our Writing Lab! Use these free tools that help make each one of us better students and extremely qualified professionals in our chosen field of study.

Has it been hard to go to school with little kids? Of course. It is a balancing act, just the same as daily life is. But I decided to tip the scales in my favor and invest in my personal academic path. Do I plan to transfer? Absolutely. I am not done yet. I have developed an addiction to learning as much as I can, as long as I can. The end result will be a mater’s degree in clinical psychology. Being a veteran, I feel I have a duty to help my brothers and sisters in their struggles to maintain normalcy, and this is whom I hope to work with, for the most part.

Parkland, U of Cinti Sign Int’l Transfer Accord

The start of another academic year at Parkland College brings a new crop of international students arriving from all over the globe to begin or continue their studies in the United States. New for fall 2016, Parkland has recently concluded a transfer partnership agreement with the University of Cincinnati specifically for international students.

The UC International Transfer Degree program gives international students the opportunity to begin working towards a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati as soon as they arrive at Parkland College, with the guarantee of future admission and scholarships.

So how does the transfer partnership work?  Any international Parkland student can sign up for the partnership at any point during their studies and receive information about fulfilling the transfer requirements. Although the UC College of Engineering and the Art and Design programs are excluded from the direct-transfer partnership, students can seek transfer into more than 300 different UC academic programs. Once interest is indicated, the student(s) will be contacted by a transfer advisor from the University of Cincinnati, who will advise them in required coursework, regularly check in on students’ progress, and even facilitate a campus visit to UC!

Upon successful completion of the Parkland associate’s degree, the student will then be guaranteed admission to the University of Cincinnati, main campus. What is more, those students will automatically be eligible for a scholarship between $5,000 and $15,000, renewable for three years!

Transfer students from Parkland are also eligible to participate in UC’s Cooperative Education Program, ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. As a part of this program, students have the opportunity to take a paid job for a year as part of their academic program, gaining valuable experience while expanding and completing their education. In addition to positions in Cincinnati and all around the United States, the Cooperative Education Program places students in jobs around the world, including India, Germany, and Chile!

About the UC
Ranking among the top 150 National Universities by U.S. News and World Report, the University of Cincinnati has made clear strides, under Jon Weller, towards increasing its value among international students. More than 3,000 international students from 110 different countries around the globe call UC home.

Cincinnati itself possesses unique international flavor and celebrates a strong German heritage. Restaurants and nightlife drawing inspiration from all around the world are found in downtown, near campus, and along the Ohio River. Major international companies such as Procter & Gamble, General Electric Aviation, and Macy’s are also headquartered around the city.

Be on the lookout for upcoming events for international Parkland College students with the University of Cincinnati!

For more information about events or the UC International Transfer Degree, contact Chris Jackson (cjackson@parkland.edu) or visit the International Admissions Office, U234.

A Snazzy New Room

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I am incredibly excited to be teaching this semester in one of our new Innovative Learning Labs. Funded by Title III, these rooms were designed by faculty to be modern, collaborative, versatile, and awesome.

I am teaching in the larger of the two, with high ceilings and natural light. Six Apple TVs line the walls with another on a mobile cart, and the professor or the students can share their computer screens with one or all of the TVs. Versatile seating and tables can be rearranged in a million different ways. Color on the walls and in the upholstered furniture departs from the usual institutional classroom feel. Note the lack of a large board for lectures, and really, the lack of any natural front of the room.

What? A math class with no front board? Yes, that is exactly what I’m doing.

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I hope for this room to affect my class from two aspects:

  1. Super cool technology that I can harness in all kinds of creative ways
  2. An open, casual room that just feels different and has a subtle influence on the way students feel and collaborate

I must confess that I feel completely unqualified to harness the potential of this room, but I’m enthusiastic and willing to brainstorm with others. With the help of our instructional designer and other creative colleagues, I hope to use this opportunity to infuse my class with engaging activities and digital materials that enhance my students’ learning in meaningful ways.

And with the sound-muffling baffles, it sort of looks like the inside of the old Tardis. And that’s just cool.

[Erin Wilding-Martin teaches mathematics  at Parkland College. The article above is a repost from her Developmental Math Redesign blog.]

Joining Forces: Business Training, Community Education

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Have you heard? Effective July 1, Parkland College Business Training and Parkland College Community Education will join forces, with the united goal of providing opportunities to transform lives through personal and professional development.

Parkland College Business Training and Community Education is positioned to be a “one-stop” for the community’s various demographics, interests, and needs. Through an array of high-quality, customer-driven programs, the department will provide professional growth, career-enhancing training, workshops, social and travel outings, and personal enrichment opportunities.

Services include workshops for individuals who want to upgrade their job skills or train for a new career; corporate and customized training and consulting for area employers; special programs for the underemployed and unemployed, including the Highway Construction Careers Training Program; the Traffic Safety Program; and enrichment classes for all ages, such as College for Kids, computer skills, health and wellness, home and garden, recreation and leisure, and travel classes.

By joining forces, the new department is positioning itself to be self-sustaining, expanding its team and services, and following best practices for the continuing education industry.  The department’s solid core values allow for collaboration, professionalism, diversity, progress, and excellence in all aspects of day-to-day operations and in the opportunities provided to the community.

If you want to learn specific skills to be more productive in your job, we offer workshops just for you!

Popular business training programs of Interest:

For a full list of workshops for your personal and professional interest, check out www.parkland.edu/businesstraining or call 217/351-2235.

Pride, Honor at 2016 GED Reception

Last Tuesday (June 7), six students participated in a reception honoring our 2016 GED graduates, held in Parkland’s student union cafeteria lounge.

Hosted by Parkland College Adult Education, the reception offered us a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of students who have passed General Education Development, the high school equivalency program, since last June at the Parkland campus.

Each GED recipient wore a cap and gown as they walked across the union’s stage, the action symbolizing the next step in their academic development. They were deservedly proud of their achievements and, in like manner, we were proud of them. Getting a GED is no small feat; a post about last year’s reception can attest to this. Reaching this moment was exciting, as it marked their transition to college or new career opportunities.

The GED reception concluded with refreshments and time to receive personal acknowledgements from friends, family, and Parkland administrators, including President Tom Ramage and Vice Presidents Pamela Lau and Seamus Reilly. The presence of our administrators emphasized the significance of this moment.

Parkland College congratulates our 2016 GED recipients and gives its best wishes for their successful futures.

Brooke Jean, Daniel Carnell, Brittany Coleman, Isabelle Seamon, Shannon Stoeckert, and Amanda Wyatt were honored at the 2016 GED Reception.
Brooke Jean, Daniel Carnell, Brittany Coleman, Isabelle Seamon, Shannon Stoeckert, and Amanda Wyatt were honored at the 2016 GED Reception.

***Interested in obtaining YOUR GED? Our free GED Preparation classes help qualified individuals learn the reading, math, and other skills necessary to pass the GED exam and are tailored to the individual’s level of readiness. Find out more at our web pages or call 217/351-2580 to schedule an appointment.***

[Tawanna Nickens is dean of adult basic education and workforce development at Parkland.]

Talk the Talk, w/Help from the Presentation Center

Taking a Parkland College speech class this summer? Does your upcoming syllabus include a team project demonstration? No worries; let our Presentation Center help!

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Stop by Room C151 with your individual or group presentation project! Trish Barker, one of our COM faculty, will be in the center to help Parkland students and employees with:

  • Organizing or creating oral presentations
  • Creating visuals
  • Overcoming public-speaking anxiety
  • Creating a presentation assignment (faculty)
  • Coaching students through practice sessions (faculty)

We’re open during the 2016 early summer session, May 16–June 2:

8–9 a.m. Monday–Friday
12:30–2:30 p.m. Monday–Friday

A full summer schedule soon will be available at the Presentation Center’s web page.

[Associate Professor Jody Littleton teaches speech communication and serves as Parkland’s Study Abroad coordinator.]

 

Busy Restaurateur Thanks Parkland for Degree Push

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Although he’s too much of a gentleman to say it, Brian Farren probably scoffs at the notion of being “too busy” to return to school.

After all, this is the man who has a full-time job as an operations manager at FedEX and helps run the successful downtown eatery that bears his name while constantly taking classes and raising a family.  The 2015 Parkland graduate will complete his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Illinois University in May 2017 (Organizational and Professional Development) and is now contemplating grad school in addition to earning both personal fitness and life coaching certificates.

Brian recently took time for some Q&A with me about life as an adult learner:

How involved in Farren’s pub are you?

A: We have had Farren’s for a little over 16 years. My involvement comes and goes as needed. Day-to-day, I would say I am hardly involved at all; my wife deserves the lion’s share of the success we have had with that venture. We first met while employed at the same restaurant, so we are both capable, but hospitality is definitely her calling. I would consider myself the best pinch hitter she has. I am working an event for her this weekend because she will be out of town with our kids.

How has the Adult Re-entry Center helped you accomplish your academic goals?

A: I returned to school at Parkland College in August 2013. I first contacted Billie Mitchell, who was the director of the Adult Re-entry Center at the time. She listened to my goals and, using my transcripts from previous credits earned, helped me tailor a course of study to accomplish them. My journey was then handed to Tony Hooker, who finished what Billie had started. Tony was encouraging and helpful while I completed my studies at Parkland and always made himself available to answer my questions.

What advice would you give to prospective adult learners?

A: Get in and get started as soon as possible. Start slowly in order to reacquaint yourself with the learning environment, but don’t wait. The sooner you start, the sooner you will finish. Do not let the fact that you may be older than some of the other students bother you. You can be a great resource to them and you have the opportunity to bring maturity to the classroom that few others can provide. Adult life brings distractions that were not there in younger years, so keep your attention on your priorities and stay calm. Don’t try to do too much; you will finish if you stay focused.

Is there anything you would like to add?

A: I never thought I would have the desire to return to school, but as I near the end, I am glad that I decided to complete my education. The job market continually gets more competitive. Completing your education can provide what is needed to take advantage of future opportunities. I am grateful that I found the Adult Re-entry program at Parkland and that I took advantage of such a great local resource.

[To get started finishing your degree, contact Tony Hooker with the Parkland College Adult Re-entry Center at ahooker@parkland.edu or 217/351-2462.]

 

New Student Email System Coming March 21!

On Monday, March 21, 2016, the current student email system and Cobra Mail will go away and be replaced by a new, single student email system, Microsoft Outlook. Students will no longer need to hassle with checking two separate Parkland accounts, and email addresses will remain the same: username#@stu.parkland.edu.

Outlook IconOther benefits include advanced email features and a much larger mailbox quota of 50 GB. Students will be able to access Parkland email via a web page or download the email client onto a personal device.  Since summer 2015, students have been able to access the Microsoft Office 365 suite for free, but beginning on 3/21, Outlook will also be made available as part of that suite.

There are a few important things that students and faculty will need to be aware of prior to the email change:

  • Existing messages will NOT be transferred to the new system, but students will have access to the old stu.parkland.edu email system through the end of the spring 2016 semester.
  • Cobra Mail will not be transferred to Outlook and will not be available for reference after 3/21.  Students and faculty will need to forward any Cobra Mail messages they wish to retain to another email account prior to the changeover.
  • If your Parkland student email account is currently forwarded to another account, you will need to set that up again in the new system, as those settings will not transfer to Outlook.

For information on how the Outlook widget will look within Cobra Learning , please check out https://kb.parkland.edu/page.php?id=60731.

If you have any questions about the upcoming email change, please contact the Tech Service Desk at 217/353-3333 or TechHelp@parkland.edu.

Mapping the Future: Careers in Transition

It is never easy trying to plan for the unknown. This is especially true in the uncertain times our community and state are currently facing. Will there be funding? Will I have a job? If I change jobs, how long until that position is affected?

Positioning yourself for the next chapter in life can be overwhelming; where do you even start? A road map for success would be helpful, especially during times of unwanted career transitions (i.e. downsizing, layoffs, closings, etc).

Your Future Ahead Road Sign

Looking for a job—a really good job you actually want—will take time and a lot of effort. Changing careers is challenging because rarely will you meet ALL the must-have requirements, but there are things you can do and anticipate in your search that will help you shine.

We welcome you to learn from Rick Galbreath, SPHR, who is a nationally published author, public speaker, trainer, consultant and founder of Performance Growth Partners Inc. with over 25 years of experience. Rick will be at Parkland College Business Training from 8am to noon March 29, 30 and 31, presenting on “Mapping the Future: Career Transition Workshops.”

The Job Search: What I Want Next
Tue Mar 29     8am-noon

The Resume: Showcasing Your Talents
Wed Mar 30     8am-noon

The Interview: Landing the Job
Thu Mar 31     8am-noon

For more information, contact Business Training at 217/351-2235 or businesstraining@parkland.edu.
[Jessie McClusky-Gilbert, CPP, is program manager for Parkland College Business Training.]

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.]

 

SPARK Celebrates Five Years!

Where can you find the best work of Parkland College students? Check out SPARK, Parkland’s award-winning, open access institutional repository!

This month, SPARK, which stand for Scholarship at Parkland, celebrates its fifth year showcasing the best scholarly and creative works of Parkland students. Each year, SPARK adds papers and projects by students participating in the A with Honors program, selected posters from the Natural Sciences Poster Session, podcasts from Anthropology 103’s Ethnographies of Parkland Student Life project, and prints, product designs, and digital media from the Graphic Design Student Exhibition.

Operating on the Digital Commons platform created by BePress, the collection now holds nearly 1,400 entries from over 450 student, faculty, and staff authors, and has seen over 100,000 downloads from around the globe. Take a look at this readership activity map to see how far SPARK reaches:

SPARK Readership Map link
Click on the SPARK Readership Map to connect to the web page.

Parkland was among the first community colleges in the country to recognize the value of establishing a digital collection of academic and creative student work, and SPARK has proven to benefit students in a variety of ways:

  • Students whose work is included in the repository are able to share their work with not only future transfer institutions or employers, but also with  a larger, more global academic community.
  • Current students are able to use SPARK to model their work after the successful work of others.
  • Students get real-world application of skills as they prepare their projects for publication.

Five years ago, SPARK began with a mission to highlight Parkland’s commitment to excellence in learning. As we look to the future of SPARK, that mission remains unchanged, and we are excited to welcome not only new student work but also to begin using SPARK as a platform for sharing educational resources created by Parkland faculty.

[Cheri Cameron is the archivist at the Parkland College Library.]

Keys to Persistence: Black Student SUCCESS Project

I founded The Black Student SUCCESS Project in 2008 with a goal of increasing the retention and graduation rates of Black students at Parkland College.  I drew heavily from Dr. Vincent Tinto’s Departure Theory, which states that academic integration and social integration are keys to persistence for college students, particularly students of color.

BSSPThe idea for this project is to provide interesting and relevant activities and programs designed to create opportunities for students to learn, engage, connect, and dare I say it?  Have fun!  We have talked about academic topics: Test Anxiety, Gen Eds, and Career planning. We’ve discussed tough social issues: AIDS and the Black Community, Domestic Violence, and Race Relations.  We also have addressed Emotional Intelligence and Healthy Relationships, and every spring, we enjoy the University of Illinois Black Chorus.

Black Student SUCCESS Project workshops have become the best-attended on campus, and all students all welcome.  Look for our posters and flyers around campus and drop by.

***Our next workshop is this Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1-2 p.m. in Room U140.   Chief Bill Colbrook will share on keeping safe, underage drinking, and how to interact with the police.  It should be a good one.***

Stop by. We’d love to have you.

[Donna Tanner-Harold is a counselor in Parkland’s Counseling and Advising Center and coordinates Black Student Success Project activities.]

Big changes for Parkland Office 365 & faculty/staff email!

We are so excited to launch Microsoft Office 365 on campus, and bring several big advantages to students, faculty, and staff. With this transition comes a bit of housekeeping, so we ask for your cooperation, patience, and an opportunity for dialog regarding any issues you may experience.

For Students:

As of July 23rd, students will need to enroll and use the new online ParklandOne Password Station to set up a new ParklandOne password for Office 365 access (this will also change your password for My.Parkland and email, so you’ll only have to keep track of one password). The process will require entering your current My.Parkland username and password and providing your mobile number (to be used only in the event that you need to recover a forgotten password). When enrolling in the new ParklandOne Password Station, you need to have your mobile phone with you to complete the enrollment and password change process. You will not be able to access your Office 365 account until you have enrolled in Password Station.

Important: Students who have already registered and downloaded Office 365 applications must enroll and change their ParklandOne passwords. Failing to reset your ParklandOne password will prohibit access to Office 365.

ParklandOne Password Station

Here’s how to get to Password Station: http://one.parkland.edu

Detailed instructions can be found here in the KnowledgeBase article, “ParklandOne Password Station – Getting Started” – https://kb.parkland.edu/page.php?id=54224

Office 365

Your Office 365 email and apps can be found here: http://connect.parkland.edu/office365

Detailed instructions can be found here, in the KnowledgeBase article, “Office 365 for Students – What Applications are Included?” – https://kb.parkland.edu/page.php?id=50960

 

Contact the Parkland Tech Service Desk (http://parkland.edu/TechSD) with questions at TechHelp@parkland.edu or call 217.353.3333. Summer hours are Monday – Thursday, 7:30 am – 6:00 pm

 

For Parkland Faculty/Staff:

Parkland Faculty/Staff email will change from GroupWise to Office 365 over the weekend. For these individuals in advance of Monday:

  1. You should have a desktop icon on your office computer which will allow you to easily access the Outlook client.
  2. Just to clarify, use your username and password that you typically use to log in to the network on your office computer. If unsure of your password, go to ParklandOne Password Station to reset – http://one.parkland.edu
  3. All of your email, calendar items (up to two years into the future) and contacts have been, or are in the process of being, migrated. If you do not see all of your information when you first log into Outlook Monday morning, it is likely due to the fact that data is still in the process of being transferred. Please be patient and check again at the end of the day to determine if anything is missing. If you determine that something is missing, contact the Tech Service Desk at that time so that they can follow up and determine the cause.
  4. To access the new Outlook email online, go to http://connect.parkland.edu/office365
  5. There are “open lab” sessions scheduled for the following times to provide walk-in assistance and answer questions:
    • Monday, July 27 – 8:00 am – 12:00 pm – D107
    • Monday, July 27 – 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm – D107
    • Tuesday, July 28 – 10:00 am – 2:00 pm – D107
  6. The GroupWise system is still available for viewing via the web access interface (http://webaccess.parkland.edu). You may log in using your previous username and password and view any mail, archives, calendar, and contacts, in order to verify that your data is complete in the new system. You may not receive or send mail from GroupWise going forward.
  7. There are a variety of KnowledgeBase articles available to assist you with questions at http://kb.parkland.edu, also available from the front page of the portal. Here are a few specific articles that you may find helpful:
  8. Instructions for Outlook set-up on mobile devices will be available in the KnowledgeBase by Monday.

For assistance the Tech Service Desk hours are 7:30 am – 6:00 pm, Monday – Thursday, and they are located in A184. Contact them via phone at 217.353.3333 or email at TechHelp@parkland.edu

 

 

 

Why Don’t Our Employees Show Up On Time?

We’ve heard it from manufacturers to health care to education: Every industry is affected by the lazy employee rolling in 5, 10, or even 30 minutes late. HOLD UP! Is it really the employee’s fault? That’s right, could it be partially the employer or supervisor’s fault?

Soft skills, essential skills, common sense–whatever you want to call it–isn’t pre-programmed into us. We humans as a whole learn by hearing, doing, and seeing behaviors performed (some good and some bad). If we weren’t shown, we haven’t practiced, and no one took the time to explain to us why something is so important, why would we know how and when to do it?

Here’s some food for thought:

  • Are the supervisors modeling the appropriate behaviors?
  • Are the supervisors properly trained (performance management, constructive feedback, conflict management, etc.)?
  • Is the environment toxic (hostile, workplace gossip, safety concerns, etc.)?
  • Is the workplace invested in cultivating its employees vs. terminating the employee?
  • Are the employees effectively trained and oriented to the company culture and expectations?

Don’t give up on the “lazy” employee or the employee who isn’t producing or functioning at the level you desire. Instead, SHOW them, TRAIN them, and give them the TOOLS to SUCCEED.  Learn how through these popular classes from Parkland Business Training:

Time Mastery: Maximize Your Time
Making Teams Work

Semester Countdown: 6 Tips to Prepare for Fall

Only six weeks remain until Parkland College’s Fall Semester 2015 begins.  Here are six tips to make the most of the time remaining. After all, just a little preparation can yield big dividends, such as a smoother transition into a new round of lectures, labs, and learning experiences!

  1. Register for classes; don’t wait. Walk-in hours are available at the Counseling and Advising Center. Mondays and Wednesdays are generally the best days for continuing students.
  2. Check on your financial aid or any other grants and scholarships you may be expecting to pay for your classes.
  3. Pay for classes online by August 4 or risk losing your schedule!
  4. Fall books will be available in the Bookstore August 10, so make sure you get what you need before the first day of class.
  5. Find your classes and the best places to park. Even if you have attended Parkland in the past, be sure to know where you’re going on that first day.
  6. Check out the Fall Convocation in the Student Union on Thursday, August 27, at noon. You’ll enjoy free food, a chance to win an iPad, and lots of information on Parkland student clubs and organizations.

[Tim Wendt is Parkland’s director of Enrollment Services.]

Passing New GED Means $$–and More–to Students

Savannah Ross almost lost her chance at $100.

Savannah Ross walks the stage and earns $100 from Grandpa.
Savannah Ross walks the stage and earns $100 from Grandpa.

Her grandpa shared a story with me. He had told his granddaughters that if they got their GED, he would hand them 50 bucks, but if they actually “walked the stage,” he would hand them a $100 bill. Wednesday night, Savannah got her $100, thanks to a last-minute change of plans on our part.

The General Education Development (GED®) test changed in 2014. While many people struggled to pass the old test, this new one has proven to be a much bigger challenge both in difficulty and cost. The point of the change was to help those who had abandoned traditional high school better prepare for the rigors of postsecondary education and acquire better workplace skills, since high school equivalency alone usually does not lead to much of a secure future. Students must be able to push themselves farther than they have in the past, and the new GED is tailored to demand that higher level of ability. (Don’t believe me? Go to www.ged.com and try one of the practice tests. For a mere $6 you can see what our students are up against. The actual tests are $30/component or $120 for the entire test.)

Unfortunately, the students who need to earn their GED are usually the ones who have become disenfranchised in traditional school due to unaddressed learning challenges, social issues like bullying, negative conduct, or the fallout of family poverty and transience. Students who come in the door of the E building (where you can find Parkland College Adult Education) are often the walking wounded of the academic world. Their ages span 16 to 60+. They have already failed at school at least once for some reason. Their learning disabilities and social or economic issues have not gone away. They are often tentative and lack confidence in their ability to learn. They don’t trust us. They’ve never liked school. They usually come from harmful generational cycles.

But here at Parkland, we help them.

We challenge their self-fulfilling prophecies. Our Adult Ed teachers learn their names and stories. We build relationships with them, discover their abilities, and applaud their efforts. We introduce them to campus resources like the Office of Disability Services and the Center for Academic Success and community resources like the WIA office, local employers, and housing options.

Swiftly, with this scaffolding of support, many of our students start to succeed. They stop missing classes. They write more. They discuss in class. They start to see themselves as capable learners. They encourage each other. When one student passed the GED, she left a message on our classroom whiteboard encouraging her former peers to keep working. When we announced that 11 people had passed the GED, one woman called out, “I’ll be No. 12” —and she was! Number 13 passed without any fanfare at all.

This year, we could not boast 100+ GED passers as we have in years past. In spite of the increased challenges inherent in the new test, however, 13 Parkland Adult Education students passed it. Twelve of them are already moving through the steps to enroll in Parkland classes for the next school year. They’ll be in some of your classes, but you won’t recognize them because they’ll be just as ready as every other student in the room.

So back to our student with $100 in her hand today. In the past, we would have had access to the names and addresses of GED grads throughout Parkland District 505, so we would invite them all to participate in a big graduation ceremony in the Parkland Theatre. There were caps, gowns, speakers, board members, the traditional walk across the stage—the whole shebang. Now, with the new computerized test owned and operated by GED, we are unable to reach out to this large group, so we had to table the big ceremony.

Instead, we planned an informal reception on June 3 for our small group of 13 in the lovely new U building: a few balloons and cookies, and the chance for the students to celebrate with those they love. We decided it wouldn’t hurt to give them the chance to don the cap and gown. Only seven of them could attend, but to our surprise, those seven filled half the space with cheering family members. And at the last minute, Dean Tawanna Nickens decided to stand on the small stage, giving them the chance to walk across it as she read their names, shared their future plans, and gave them a small token from us.

So, Savannah “walked the stage” and got her $100 from her Grandpa… and so, so much more.

 

[Kellie Anderson is the program manager for Parkland College Adult Education.]

How to Know You’re an ‘Extraordinary’ Leader

I hate to break it to you, but not everyone is a great leader. We might strive to be, we might even think we are… but our thoughts can vary from reality.

Some leaders have been placed in the position as figureheads, some leaders have taken the role by force, and still others have earned the position, the title, and sometimes the prestige of leader.

Leader-Leadership-Abraham-Lincoln

So, what distinguishes an extraordinary leader from a good or average one? How do we know when we are an extraordinary leader? Of course, we all have opinions about who is a great leader, but several key factors can put you on the path of extraordinaryship (yes, it’s a made-up word, but I think it’s appropriate):

  • Character: integrity and honesty— ethical standards, etc.
  • Personal Capability: the intellectual, emotional, and skill make-up of a leader
  • Focus on Results: ability to have a positive impact on an organization
  • Interpersonal Skills: being able to communicate, inspire, build relationships, develop others, and collaborate
  • Leading Organizational Change: ability to have a strategic perspective, champion change, and connect

Learn how to become an extraordinary leader here or call 217/351-2235!

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!

New Technology Benefits for Parkland Students and Employees – Triple Play!

 

As part of the Parkland and IT strategy, Campus Technologies has been diligently working on making technology more accessible to all current students and employees. As part of this effort, the College was able to introduce new programs and provide employees and registered students with free and/or reduce-priced computer software and equipment. These programs consist of:

 

1 – Microsoft Office Suite: Rather than buying the Microsoft Office Suite, which is a very important tool for teaching and learning, every student and employee will now have access to five copies, free of charge, of Microsoft Office and Office 365 Online for use on personal devices (both Windows and Mac). Access to Microsoft Office is available immediately and can be acquired by following the instructions at the following Parkland Knowledge Base Article: Microsoft Office 365 – How to Sign Up and Get Started

 

2 – Lynda.com: As Campus Technologies migrates Parkland to Microsoft Outlook as the new email system, we will also be introducing a new online training resource called Lynda.com. Not only does this system provide training for teaching and learning, it also offers thousands of video courses on technical skills, creative techniques, business strategies, and other topics critical for the success of our students in the workforce. You can learn on the go with your mobile device, laptop, or at home on your desktop. This free service will be accessible to students and employees starting July 1.

 

3 – Affordable Laptops: Access to PCs/laptops is another important technology for the modern student. The Parkland College Bookstore has collaborated with Dell to provide our students and employees with Dell computer hardware at discounted prices. Coming later this summer, you can buy a selection of computers at a range of prices through the Bookstore and Financial Aid funds can be used towards the purchase.

 

We look forward to making more technology accessible to our students and employees. Feel free to contact the Tech Service Desk at 217/353-3333 or TechHelp@parkland.edu if you have any question regarding the information provided in this post.

Teach Them to Fish (So You Can Have a Break!)

man-fishTired of the constant line of employees knocking on your door? Can’t seem to do your own work? I get it!

When you are the leader of, well, anything, you are called on numerous times. Sometimes is it warranted, and sometimes you think to yourself, “You’ve got to be kidding me; I pay you for what, now?” Okay, so maybe that is a bit extreme (but you know it’s not).

The part of being a leader that isn’t always explained when you agree to take the corner office with the big desk and hefty paycheck is that you are now responsible for the cultivation (yes, cultivation) of your employees. They don’t always come fully equipped to do what we need them to do (What? You’ve never experienced this, EVER? Stop reading this now and call me, 217/351-2235. Seriously, I need your secrets!).

Cultivation means development, especially through education and training, per Dictionary.com (yes, I looked it up). In order for you to have more time, you need to cultivate your employees—essentially be their Miracle Gro—and help them grow into what YOU need, so that you can be successful and so your team, department, company, etc., can be the best.

Now, let’s go back to the title of this blog, Teach Them to Fish (So You Can Have a Break): Instilling confidence and assuring your employees that they have the ability to make decisions and solve problems on their own are keys to getting that much deserved break… and being left alone on your next vacation.

Learn how to cultivate your employees through our Leadership Series classes here or call 217/351-2235.

***

[Jessie McClusky-Gilbert, CPP, is Program Manager for Parkland College Business Training.]

 

Surviving the Post-Midterm Slump

Spring is officially here and it’s the last few weeks of the semester. Do you feel like you’re running on empty? Are you wondering how you’re going to make it through another five weeks of classes? Do you lack the motivation and energy you need?

You are not alone.

The post-midterm slump happens to almost everyone. Here are some suggestions to help you to hang on a few more weeks.

Manage Your Time and Get Organized.  If you don’t already have a study schedule, make one. Determine the assignments and tests that will be due before the end of the semester for each class you are taking, and then pull out a calendar (or make your own) and write down when you will work on assignments and study for tests.

Be Realistic. Check your midterm grades. Are you passing all of your classes? If so, keep up the good work! If not, talk with instructors of the classes you’re not passing and see if it will be possible for you to raise your grade. If you are in too deep a hole, consider withdrawing from that class and using the extra time to improve your grades in the classes you can pass. Just remember: if you are receiving any type of financial aid (grants, loans or scholarships), speak with a financial aid advisor at Parkland before withdrawing from a class.

 Spend Your Time Productively. Spend less time on social media and use that time to study, relax, read, exercise, deep-breathe or sleep.

 Reward Yourself. Set up rewards that are equal to the goal you’ve accomplished. Finish reading three chapters in your Psychology text? Treat yourself to a frappucino. Complete a 16-page paper for History class? Buy yourself some sandals or Chuck Taylors. You don’t have to reward yourself for every accomplishment, but for the tasks you’ve been avoiding, they can be very motivating.

Get Some Sleep. The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you have a choice between cramming for an exam and sleeping an extra half hour or more, you’re probably going to do better on the exam if you choose to sleep.

 Get Help If You Need It. Organize a study group or go to the Center for Academic Success (CAS) in D120 and work with a Peer tutor, an instructor or a CAS staff member.

And remember: ONLY FIVE MORE WEEKS TO GO!

[Jan Thom is a Student Development Advocate in CAS.]

Parkland’s Head is in the Cloud!

Office 365 Cloud 2
Office 365 image source: Zscaler.com

 

Announcing new email and Microsoft Office cloud services for Parkland College! This summer, the campus will be migrating to Microsoft Office 365 for all faculty, staff and students.

The college spent a considerable amount of time researching and evaluating various options.  As a result, the Executive Technology Committee approved the Infrastructure Technology Committee’s recommendation to move forward with the new email platform. The choice to embrace Microsoft Office 365 as our unified email system will provide many benefits to Parkland College, including cost savings and:

  • Increased email quota to 50GB
  • Eliminating the need for two separate email systems (Stu Mail and Cobra Mail) for students
  • Unlimited online storage on Microsoft One Drive
  • Lync (or Skype for Business), a messaging, conferencing, and collaboration tool
  • Video-streaming tools
  • Fifteen copies per person (5 PC, 5 Apple, and 5 mobile) of the full Microsoft Office software suite for all students, faculty, and staff

A video of Parkland’s Office 365 informational kickoff meeting is available below.  Additional information about using the Outlook Web App (OWA) can be found here.

Any Current Browser Will Do

Web-Browser-Logo-Collage
Image source: Blogspot.com

After extensively reviewing the supported browsers at Parkland College, the school’s Technology Infrastructure Committee has recommended an across-the-board standard for Parkland College.

The standard supported browsers include the following releases of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. The minimum supported versions of these browsers include:

  • Internet Explorer 11
  • FireFox 31
  • Chrome 39
  • Safari 7.0

This standard means that all applications supported by Parkland must support all of these browsers. Exceptions to this standard need to be reviewed and approved by the Technology Infrastructure Committee. Future College purchases of applications that do not meet this standard will require an approval by the Technology Infrastructure Committee plus a defined plan and timeline by the vendor to comply.

Now that this technology standard has been approved, Campus Technologies will be upgrading all Parkland workstations to the new supported standards. Also, all workstations that do not support the new standards will be placed on the list of machines to be replaced. Students, faculty, and staff can now feel free to use their favorite browser listed above to access any and all Parkland applications.

Happy browsing!

Adults: Get It Started at Parkland Open House

natasha
Natasha, a Parkland student, was the first adult student we served in the Adult Re-entry Center’s new office space in the Student Union.

Do you or someone you know have college credits that are figuratively collecting dust — not being put to use?

Have you thought about starting or completing your degree, but aren’t sure how to pay for it? Does your work schedule only allow for online courses, but you’re not sure how those things work? Are you not sure what sort of jobs are out there for Parkland College grads? Have you wondered how far a Parkland degree can take you?

For the answer to these and many other questions, you should come out to Parkland’s spring Open House on Friday, March 13. You will find an array of information sessions dedicated to these topics, among others.

Scheduled speakers include:
• Tim Wendt, Parkland’s director of Financial Aid and Veteran Services; Tim will share his wealth of knowledge about “adult-centric” ways to finance a college education.
• Tony Hooker (yours truly) will show you how to put your existing credits to work, earning a Parkland credential while moving toward a bachelor’s degree.
• Lori Wendt from Parkland’s Distance and Virtual Learning office will be on hand to discuss online course delivery. I’ll also share a bit about what’s available online.
• Sandy Spencer, director of Parkland’s Career Center, will speak about what’s hot and trending with regards to careers.
• Jay Downey, a proud Parkland alumnus and managing director of The Downey Group, will speak about the impact Parkland has had on his life.

The time is now for you to make a move toward your academic goals, and Parkland’s spring Open House is the best first step! The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the new Student Union. See you there!

Early College & Career Academy Coming Fall 2015

Do you know an area high school student who wants a head start on a new career? Education for Employment System #330, along with Parkland College, is happy to announce the launch of its Early College and Career Academy, or ECCA, beginning fall 2015.

The new academy will allow high school juniors and seniors to enroll in dual credit classes at the Parkland campus. Six programs will be offered in its debut:  automotive technology, computer networking, criminal justice, certified nursing assistant, emergency medical services, and manufacturing.

Of course, Parkland has offered dual credit classes for some time now. However, ECCA students will not only receive dual credit; they will learn valuable hands-on skills to prepare them for the workforce. Several programs are even aligned with Parkland certificates and/or state licenses.

Transportation to and from Parkland, as well as funding provided for the program, will be determined by the students’ home high schools. This is a great opportunity for students in our area to experience higher education while still in high school and get a head start on their career goals.

Students who are interested should contact their high school guidance counselor. Information is also available at www.parkland.edu/ecca. The EFE #330/ECCA office can be reached at 217/355-1382.

 

[Renae Kirkton is the special projects coordinator for EFE System #330.]

A with Honors Projects: Create, Achieve, Succeed!

Parkland students, I’m going to tell you about a great way to expand your special academic ability or creative interest while you’re here with us—and gain recognition (and even money) for it through a little extra effort.

Completing an “A with Honors” project in your Parkland class this semester can both challenge and encourage you. Students do not need to be a member of the Honors Program to complete an A with Honors project.

Those who complete an A with Honors project can receive a $100 scholarship,* and students who complete three Honors projects, have a GPA of 3.5, and participate in the Honors Symposium (spring semester) are awarded a $500 graduation scholarship.

You can see some of our projects on the award-winning SPARK (http://spark.parkland.edu/).

A with Honors Project Proposals for full semester classes are due by Friday, March 13.  Thirteen-week class Project Proposals are due no later than April 3.  You can find the Proposal Form at my.parkland.edu (look under Student Services>>Academics>>Honors Program>>Forms tab).

As you can see above, it is highly beneficial to join the Parkland College Honors Program if you are eligible. You may join the Honors Program with a GPA of 3.0, acceptable credentials from your high school or another college, or a unique academic ability or creative interest. Membership in the Honors Program and completion of Honors Projects expand student horizons, challenge students academically, and provide students with recognition on transcripts and resumes.

In addition, students who graduate from the Honors Program are eligible to participate in Honors at the University of Illinois (most of its colleges) and at other universities and colleges around the state.

Finally, I want to encourage you all to participate in Parkland Scholars, a student organization that fosters academic excellence and success. Parkland Scholars works in conjunction with the Honors Program to sponsor campus-wide events and participate in service learning projects and activities.

If you are interested in joining Parkland Scholars or the Honors Program, please contact me: mjones@parkland.edu.

*must also be in the Honors Program.

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.

Veterans: Quick Tips on Using Your Benefits

 

Fresh from military duty and looking to begin (or finish) your degree for a new career? You can find lots of help to do just that at Parkland College, through the Office of Financial Aid and Veterans Services.

Kristina Taylor, veterans coordinator in the financial aid office, has a few tips for you on how to make the most of the GI Bill and other veterans benefits you have earned. Just click on the image above to begin the video.

Parkland College thanks you for honorably serving our country.

Annual MLK Celebration Honors Parkland Faculty

mlk-flyer2015Parkland College is a planning committee partner for the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Countywide Celebration. Parkland Director of Human Resources Kathleen McAndrew and I serve as representatives for the College on the committee each year.

As the City of Champaign’s website explains, this commemorative annual event celebrates the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recognizes excellent community service and humanitarianism by persons and groups in our community. Hundreds of residents attend each year.

This year, during the 14th annual event, Parkland’s own Brian Nudelman, an English professor and our service learning coordinator, will be receiving the Doris Hoskins Prestigious Community Service Award! The award honors individuals and organizations that engage in outstanding volunteerism and, in so doing, contribute to the well-being of the Champaign County community. We congratulate Brian on his hard work and service to the college and community residents. Below are the event details:

********

The Fourteenth Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Countywide Celebration
FRIDAY, JANUARY 16, 2015
4 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn
1501 S. Neil Street, Champaign

KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.

PRESIDENT OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS
FAMILY INITIATIVES
Descendant of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington

This event is free and open to the public.
Reception immediately following the program.

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.

Increased Bandwidth for the College

Bandwidth

Campus Technologies has successfully increased Internet connection bandwidth at Parkland College from 250 MB to 500 MB. The plan is to quadruple the original bandwidth to 1 GB by the end of 2015.

We made this current change with minimal cost to the college by switching to Champaign Telephone Company & Illinois Century Network and by taking advantage of new fiber-optic service provided by the UC2B Project (http://uc2b.net/about/).

This upgrade not only provides a faster connection to the Internet, but it allows the college to employ advanced technologies provided by cloud computing. Examples of transitions currently being explored include e-mail with significant mailbox size increase (e.g., Microsoft Office 365, Google, etc.), calendering, unlimited file storage, better video streaming technologies, and other technologies that directly impact teaching and learning. Parkland will also use the increased bandwidth to improve business processes, such as IT Business Continuity Planning (BCP).

Feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think of the changes.

7 Ways to TANK Your Grades While There’s Time

Okay, so you’ve checked your midterm grades on my.parkland and you’re doing  fine: No “underwater grades” (below C level), you’ve made a good impression on your teachers, and you just might succeed!

Don’t worry, though; there are still LOTS of ways you can take all that hard work and money and flush it away! Here are just seven!

from table 028
Flushing away your good grades is easy. Photo by Sue Jones.

1.  It’s cold and dark now in the morning…go ahead, sleep in. Sure, you know that when you went in early and looked over your notes in D120 before class, everything made more sense; but now… it’s dark! Don’t be smart and figure out what will propel you from the covers (i.e., set the thermost to go on when it’s time to get up, turn that light on, put the alarm clock across the room, get a cat, make coffee, whatever!). Just sleep your good grades away.

Big_feet_(521365548)
“Big feet ” by Cyndy Sims Parr. Creative Commons license (521365548).

2.  Hang out with people who aren’t studying. They’re having a good time! Plus, they’re not concerned with your goals and dreams, so they won’t mind if your grades go down.

3,  Don’t just celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Celebrate Thanksgiving Week!  You have a lot to be thankful for. Surely you’ll need more than just two days off to express your thanks.  What’s a couple of days of missed assignments or quizzes, anyway?

4.  Lost your notes? Don’t even bother to look for them. Look back over the old material before you do tonight’s work; that’s what successful students do! Find somebody else who can share? Review for the final? That’s the stuff that might get you on the Dean’s List, so you’d better not!

5,  Text, sleep, and get all that social stuff done in class. You started out the year paying attention and taking good notes, but now you’ve figured out where to sit so the instructor can’t tell if you’re sleeping or on your phone (well, s/he probably can, but….) You’ll figure this stuff out later, right? Like when you’re hanging out with your friends who aren’t taking classes.

6.  Don’t bother to withdraw from classes you’re not doing well in.  After all, it is such a pain: You should meet with an advisor and financial aid to see how withdrawing will affect your academic or financial aid standing, then physically go to Admissions (second floor, Student Union) to fill out a withdrawal form. And they want you to do this by a specific date? Ugh.

7.  Give up when the going gets tough. You’ve fallen behind, and it will take more work than you want to put into it to get back up to speed. Well, no, you don’t even really know how badly you’re doing, but… ask? Face your fears? Heaven forbid you should talk to your instructor or visit D120 and ask for some help; asking for help is a definite sign of weakness. At least, that’s what people say when they aren’t brave enough to ask for help.

So…drop your work into the tank…

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Photo by Parkland graduate Bill Gibbens; used with permission.

…OR,  if you don’t think these are good ideas, come on over to the Center for Academic Success (CAS) in D120! We’ve got pep talks, reality checks, course helps, and lots of students working their way to academic success, just like you! See you there, if you dare!

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Come over to CAS for steps to success! Photo by Sue Jones.

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.

 

 

Comadre, Compadre Mentors Shine in KC, MO!

Parkland’s Comadre and Compadre Program mentors and coordinators recently (and successfully) presented their conference proposal, “Meaningful Connection Between Latina/o Students at a Community College in Illinois” at the 2014 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies’ (NACCS) Midwest FOCO Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

For all the student mentors, this was the first time they attended or presented at a regional conference. Their preparation and passion for the topic moved all of those in attendance. A former college dean called their work “commendable and inspiring.” Another participant called the mentors “rock stars!”

The Comadre and Compadre Program at Parkland College offers individualized mentorship between academically successful Latina/o students with incoming Latina/o students. The program operates under the guidance of program coordinators Moises Orozco and Eduardo Coronel. As of today, the Comadre and Compadre Program has a total of 60 incoming Latina/o students and 10 mentors.

In their roundtable presentation, Comadre and Compadre mentors underscored some important trends and challenges within a rapidly growing Latino student population. They also discussed in detail the impact they are having with their mentees, and they highlighted the uniqueness of working with traditional and nontraditional college-age students.

Students were also able to attend both scholarly and poster presentations. Most importantly, they were able to network with prolific scholars in the field of Chicana/o studies as well as Latino leaders in the community.

The Parkland Academy Team (PAT) received the Parkland’s Inspire, Develop, Engage, Assess, Sustain (IDEAS) Grant last fall, to actively address the low persistence rate of Latina/o students on campus as well as to engage in community outreach. To achieve these two objectives, PAT created the Comadre and Compadre Program.

The mentors viewed their conference experience as extremely motivational and validating of their hard work. They are all eager to submit another proposal to a conference, but this time include the mentees in the presentation, so they can inspire others!

Presenters at NACCS Conference:

Mentors (pictured): Jonathan Mendoza, Wendy Ramírez, Angeles Rivera-Centeno, Alberto (AJ) Jiménez

Coordinators: Moises Orozco, Eduardo Coronel

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!

Student Union Ribbon Cutting 2014: Live Updates!

Thanks so much for joining us for today’s celebration of the new Student Union!

 

FREE! Chair massages, photos with friends, food at Student Union! 4:50 p.m.

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Beautiful group shot taken of entire crowd before refreshments and open house exploration begin, 4:35 p.m.group

 

Cutting the ribbon!

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Dr. Thomas Ramage, Parkland College president
Dr. Thomas Ramage, Parkland College president

Dr. Ramage announces $2.1 million Title III grant awarded recently to Parkland College, 4:30 p.m.: “We’re very pleased to have won this competitive grant from the Board of Education.”

 

Parkland Student Government President, Abby Vanderkloot from Monticello, addresses visitors next: “Say goodbye to the cold pizza and hello to the stone ovens that bring out fresh hot pizza all week long. With all of this new space comes new opportunities for student success.”

Abby Vanderkloot of Monticello, Student Government President
Abby Vanderkloot of Monticello, Student Government President

 

Vice President for Student Services Linda Moore speaks to Student Union’s design flexibility and sustainability, 4:25 p.m.: “Look carefully today and you will see a lounge that converts to book buy-back space for the bookstore, and a conference room that converts to a stage.”

Dr. Linda Moore, Vice President for Student Services
Dr. Linda Moore, Vice President for Student Services

 

Senator Chapin Rose comments at 4:20 p.m.:  “What a wonderful, wonderful facility…and if you’re standing around looking up instead of at who’s speaking it’s because of this beautiful facility. We appreciate what Parkland has done for our entire region. Congratulations, Parkland.”

 

Board of Trustee Chair Tom Bennett gives official welcome, 4:11 p.m.: “We have stood firmly behind the concept of giving our students quality ‘elbow room’ as they learn within our walls.”

 

Parkland President Tom Ramage leads off the festivities, 4 p.m.: “Our Student Union shines as an example of what is best about Parkland College and its mission.”

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It’s 3:59 and the Student Union lobby is abuzz with anticipation!

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Stop by campus at 4 p.m. today for the big event! Check out this gorgeous new space,  take in some food, and get to know how Student Services units help students at Parkland.