Welcome to the MOOC

As many of you know, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are becoming quite popular as a new way for people to learn. We thought we might try a smaller version of some MOOCs here at Parkland College, but in a shorter, more quickly digested form. We also thought it would be a good idea to call these Mini-MOOCs. Not surprisingly, someone else thought that too and already took that catchy little name. So, for the sake of not stealing from others, we will call ours…I don’t know, Micro-MOOCs, Microscopic-MOOCs?

How about you just call it what you want for now.

In our first edition, we get an intelligent and entertaining look at a scene from the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie, North by Northwest. If you have seen the movie, this is an awesome companion piece. If you haven’t seen the movie, this short lecture will probably make you want to watch it. Either way, it’s some fascinating insight into filmmaking.

This particular scene involves a conversation, a shooting, and a child who’s tired of hearing gun shots all the darned time. We’ll let Parkland College instructor Matt Hurt explain the rest.

Introduction to Aviation

No, don’t worry; this isn’t a post filled with technical jargon on aviation. Since Parkland has taken over the Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois, and now launched this blog, I thought I might bring the world of pilot training a little closer to home for the Average Joe–or Jane. I’ll start with a bit of my background.

Sybil Phillips, Director and Chief Pilot of the Parkland College Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois
Sybil Phillips, Director and Chief Pilot of the Parkland College Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois

Why did I become a pilot? As a kid, I remember walking through the pasture on the farm where I grew up and when I heard an airplane fly overhead, I wondered about two things. What does the world look like from the pilot’s perspective? Where is that airplane going?

I thought that learning to be a pilot would require skills that were beyond my ability and would remain a dream. But then my sister took an aviation class and I thought, “if she can do it, so can I.”

Fast forward to college when I enrolled in Aviation 101 at the University of Illinois. I was hooked. I get to see the world from the pilot’s perspective now and it is really cool. I love the challenge of flying an airplane with precision and finesse because there’s always room for improvement.

I’ve learned lessons that not only apply to the flight environment but also translate to everyday life. Pilots develop self-confidence as a result of exercising judgment and making decisions in an environment which is sometimes tense. We learn to set priorities and communicate clearly under pressure. Aviators are disciplined and eager to assume responsibility. Deep down, we are all control freaks. But we have to be in order to operate safely.

Where did flying take me? I became a flight instructor and eventually became the Chief Pilot and every day I get to help others realize their dream of becoming a pilot. I work with great people and have gotten to know hundreds of pilots who fly all over the world. As corny as it sounds, I am living the dream.

What about you? Is aviation part of your dream? Visit our web page to learn more about our programs, and/or leave a comment below with questions you have about becoming a pilot.

Finishing high school early? Consider your options

In my last six years as director of Admissions and Records at Parkland College, I’ve noticed that more and more students are earning enough credits to graduate from high school a semester early.  In my opinion, there are some good reasons to stay in school for that final spring semester: Enjoy the end of your high school career. Go to prom. Continue to study for free.

But if your mind is made up, consider enrolling in a Parkland course or two for the spring semester. Even if you plan to study elsewhere the following fall, you can get a jump start on general education requirements at Parkland during spring 2015.

Instruction for spring semester begins January 12, but you need to be registered for class and have your books and tuition paid for before December 16. That means it would be smart to apply now for both admission to the college and for your federal financial aid. Have all of your spring enrollment business out of the way so you can enjoy the holidays.

If you wait until after the holidays, the last day to register for classes that start January 12 will be January 6, and the college doesn’t reopen from the holidays until January 5! So, although it may be possible to get registered in time, if you haven’t already covered assessment for math, English, and reading and completed orientation, that’s a headache you don’t need.

We also have a significant set of 13-week classes that start February 2. The last day to register and pay for those classes is January 27.

Call me or one of our admissions advisors at 217/351-2482 for assistance in getting started with the enrollment process. It’s not too early to do that if you’re thinking about enrolling for spring 2015, summer 2015, or even fall 2015. Questions? Please post them below.

Parkland Admissions, this is Lori: phone calls, roadblocks, and school…

Life is like a colorful patchwork quilt, full of different pieces & parts that somehow all come together
Life is like a colorful patchwork quilt, full of different pieces & parts that somehow all come together.


I receive a lot of phone calls. I’m not complaining; my role in Admissions is to field the incoming calls, answer questions, and distribute calls to the right or best resource.  My favorite calls are from folks who are kind, polite, patient, and have a sense of humor!  Of course, situations aren’t always funny when people call in. Sometimes there’s anger, frustration, misunderstanding, or even sadness.

Okay, this may sound like a “no-brainer,” but I’ll say it anyway: you can’t understand others if you don’t understand yourself. I’ve taken a few of those personality surveys and have found that I tend to have a lot of empathy toward others.

Sometimes I get calls from people who think they are too old to go back to school.  They tell me how old they are and that they feel silly or dumb calling in to ask about returning to school.  What is it about age that sticks a roadblock in front of us?  Sometimes I respond with my own story about being back in school right now, and I’m **…….hey I’m not vain, I just don’t like throwing the age thing out there as a personal merit badge, or bid for special attention or kudos.

Okay, so what prompted me to return to school after many (a lifetime, a dog’s age, a generation) years?  Like I said previously, I’ve been concentrating more and more on understanding myself.  I’m the type who likes to stay busy, be highly engaged, feel informed, and meet various challenges.  Even though I’m the kind that goes through each day with an easy sense of happiness, I was noticing more and more that the rut in my path of routine was getting deeper and deeper.  Time to reflect.

You’ve heard that there are certain things that you don’t have control over in your life, right?  Well, I started thinking (reflecting) on the stuff that I do have control over.  I figured time was going to go by no matter what I did, and I needed to think about what I could do with my time.  So, long story short, I am a student once again.

More on that later……for now (smile) keep your attendance perfect (or nearly so), your homework turned in (don’t forget to put your name on it), and participate in discussions (maybe raise your hand first, unless everybody’s free-stylin’).

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!

Go ahead, get ahead.