Not Just for Students: Clever Ways that Teachers Can Use Instagram in the Online Classroom

In the previous article, we looked at the benefits of Instagram from the standpoint of students. This article looks at how teachers can use Instagram as a powerful teaching tool in the online classroom. The power of Instagram creates meaningful online interactions between students and teachers, keeping both parties engaged and informed.Instagram and the Online Classroom

For instructors, Instagram makes it easier than ever to post reminders and notable factoids discussed during regular class time hours. Teachers can simply upload pictures of relevant material (such as textbook chapters, learning resources, etc.) to share with their students. Teachers can also post motivational memes and other encouraging photos that will help build solid relationships with students by promoting lighthearted exchanges of everyday information. Additionally, instructors may post review reminders to encourage students to stay on-track with their homework and/or with remembering notable items that might be present on a quiz or test.

In return, students can also provide valuable content for their instructors as part of this positive exchange. For example, students might post subject-specific pictures from their own lives that illustrate concepts explored in class. Additionally, students might provide a sort of “photo essay” for instructors, which is a practical, lighthearted way for instructors to gauge student progress on an infrequent basis. A teacher can post a relevant picture, and the class can post their thoughtful reactions to this picture using certain teacher-specific guidelines.

Of course, when it concerns Instagram and the online classroom (or any classroom for that matter), it is crucial for both teachers and students to remain professional in all of their interactions. It is equally important for instructors to check with higher education administration to fully understand any guidelines regarding acceptable social media activity.

Want to learn more about how teachers can use Instagram in the online classroom? Contact us today.

The Role of Instagram for Students in the Online Classroom

instagram and the online classroomWhen people think of Instagram in the classroom they typically think of problems students have goofing off on social media and sharing pictures and video when they should be paying attention to what the teacher is talking about. When it comes to online learning and the digital classroom though, Instagram might be a useful tool instead of a useless distraction.

Instagram and the Online Classroom

For those of you not familiar with Instagram as a service, it’s a social media platform that specializes in sharing pictures and video both among Instagram users and within other social media platforms. For those whose entire classroom experience takes place over the Internet, the ability to quickly share images and video with classmates can be a necessity. Instructors may also find the video-sharing capabilities of Instagram to be beneficial for making announcements and for getting lectures into a student’s news feed.

The real power of Instagram isn’t the speed with which this media can be shared though; it’s that Instagram posts across different platforms. This means that someone can post an image or video once, and it will shoot across several different social media websites. This can be extremely useful for teachers, or for group projects when someone wants to make sure everyone sees an update, but that person doesn’t want to post and re-post the same content a dozen times.

Any technology that allows for faster, more streamlined communication across great distances is going to find a use in the online classroom. The key to Instagram is to use it to enhance the learning experience. For more information about social media and its place in the online classroom simply contact us today!

More Tips On How To Research Effectively When Writing Term Papers

You already know you have a paper due at the end of the semester, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until after spring break to start working on it. Here are some top tips on how to research effectively when writing term papers.

How to Research Effectively When Writing Term Papers

  • Start early: You don’t need to read every single source thoroughly at this point, but you need to get started early enough that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to find good sources. Starting early also lets you know if your topic is valid–if you can’t find enough research to support your argument, you’ll need to re-think your argument. Further, if you have access to a college or university library, you may need to use ILL (Interlibrary Loan) for a book or article that your library doesn’t have in the system, and those can take weeks to go through.
  • Mix-up your keyword search: Students often get frustrated because their keyword search doesn’t yield good results, but then they don’t experiment with other keyword combinations. Use keyboard shortcuts to yield more results. For instance, in EBSCO Host, Wom*n will give you results for both “women” and “woman,” with the asterisk standing in as sort of wild card. This trick will work with any word that can have multiple endings. Talk to a librarian for more shortcuts like these to help you with your search.
  • Use your library’s database system: Speaking of EBSCO Host, use your library’s database system for finding scholarly articles. Don’t rely on Google for your papers. If you don’t know what constitutes as a scholarly source, ask your instructor. As a general rule of thumb, a scholarly source is any printed source that includes a bibliography as a reference and is written by a reputable scholar in the field. Articles should be peer-reviewed, meaning they’ve gone through a rigid process of fact checking and editing before being published in a scholarly article. Blog posts, websites (including and especially Wikipedia), magazines, tradeback books, and newspapers are all examples of sources that are not academic. Unless your prof states otherwise, use scholarly/academic sources.
  • Don’t limit yourself to “full-text only” articles: And we’re back at the start again with the top tip of starting early. Limiting yourself to only reading articles that are available in a full-text format limits the amount of knowledge and research that you can use. Start now so that you can get articles from other libraries around the country using Interlibrary Loan. If you’re in a bind and the due date is looming, then sure, search for full-text sources. But now while you have time, look at books that are on the shelves as well as articles that you can get from another location. You will end up with a more thoroughly researched essay, and your instructor will recognize that you put forth a good effort in finding useful research to support your essay. (Pro tip: instructors can tell when students are only using the first two sources that popped up on a Google search.)

What are you waiting for? Start searching for sources now so that your term paper will be well-researched and well written. For more information on how to be successful during the research process, contact us today.

How To Research Effectively When Writing Term Papers

Writing term papers isn’t easy no matter what class you’re taking, but it’s something you’re going to have to do sooner or later. And the first step to writing a great term paper is to make sure you do good, effective research. While it might seem easy in the age of the Internet it’s easy to stumble into mistakes when it comes to checking your facts. That’s why it’s important to follow these tips.

How to Research Effectively When Writing Term Papers

Tip #1: Only Use Reliable Sources

How to Research Effectively When Writing Term PapersThere are billions of websites in existence, but not all of them are equal when it comes to doing research. Wikipedia is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to an unreliable source, but opinion blogs and user-created content is typically not what you should be citing in a term paper. Generally speaking you want something published by a newspaper, a scholarly journal, an encyclopedia, or other reference source to provide credible information for your term paper.

Tip #2: Know What You’re Looking For

The key to research is to know what you’re looking for. For example the topic of depression is huge, and it’s difficult to get more than general information on the topic. If someone is attempting to research the correlation between depression and veterans who have served in war zones though that is much more specific. The narrower you can make your search terms the more likely you are to find information that’s specific to your particular paper.

Tip #3: Utilize All Your Resources

When doing research it’s important not to get pigeon-holed. While the Internet has plenty of sources (Google Scholar and InfoMine are just two solid examples of free academic sources), it’s important not to forget that books are still on the shelves and ready to be cracked open. There are still scholarly journals and periodicals being published, and many of them can now be found in ebook format. To top it all off there are human resources such as librarians who can help you direct your queries in order to find the best information as quickly as you can.

For more information on how you can come out on top in your classes simply contact us today!

How to Work With Your Classmates in Discussion Groups For Your Online Classes

Online classes are different from traditional courses in a variety of ways. Their schedules are more flexible, you don’t have to be in a physical classroom, and work is handed in via email instead of passed to the front of the room. Online classes are still How to Work With Your Classmates in Discussion Groupsthe same in many ways though, and one of them is that students should get together to discuss the material they’re all trying to learn. One of the most common ways this happens is to create online discussion groups either in a forum-style setting, chat room, or via a Skype connection so that students who can’t get together physically can still talk.

Before you decide to try to work with your classmates online though, you need to make sure you’re ready to deal with any drama or problems that might ensue.

How to Work With Your Classmates in Discussion Groups

Tip #1: Establish Some Rules (And Enforce Them)

In order to make sure everyone in a group is on the same page it’s important to create a list of rules for everyone to abide by. These rules will help keep discussions on track, and they can help everyone feel secure. For instance a discussion group might install a rule that says “respect other members and their wishes,” or “this is a place for discussion and learning. If you can’t be civil you’ll be asked to leave.” Once the rules are established make sure you have a moderator who can take action to enforce those rules.

Tip #2: Try To Avoid Miscommunication

In any group setting it’s almost a given that someone is going to say something that will be misinterpreted. Rather than jumping all over someone or getting snarky though it’s a much better idea to ask what that person meant. If you can keep a civil discourse then you’ll get much clearer communication, and be able to learn more about both the subject matter and your fellow students at the same time.

Tip #3: Figure Out What You Want

When you join a discussion group for your online classes you need to know what you want out of the deal. Are you looking to socialize with your classmates to help feel more like a traditional class setting? Are you confused about the material and need help learning it? Do you want to help others by offering your own insight? You need to know what you’re expecting before you join so that you can figure out whether or not this group is going to meet your needs. If not then you either need to try to change the group, or find one that’s more suited to what you require.

For more information about online classes and how to succeed in them simply contact us today!

How to Avoid Falling Behind in Your Online Classes.

how to avoid falling behind in online classesOnline classes are great for working adults who want to keep their jobs and earn a degree at the same time. However, the nature of online classes can make it easy to miss a lesson here or there or skip an assignment. Every misstep can add up to an ultimate F in the class. Before you get too far into the semester, make sure to take our advice on how to avoid falling behind in your online classes:

  • Put it on your calendar: Sure, you have a digital syllabus, but you probably aren’t checking it for due dates when you make appointments or schedule work meetings. Once you get a syllabus, make sure to input every single due date into your digital calendar so that you will always be alerted when an upcoming assignment is due. The old “I forgot” excuse is officially obsolete, and your instructors know it. This also helps you avoid over-booking yourself when you need extra time to prepare for an exam or write a paper.
  • Get your household on board: Your family members don’t necessarily need to know when every discussion post is due, but they should have a heads up about major tests and assignments. If you have a family calendar, put those dates up there so that your spouse and/or kids know when you need extra time to study or write a paper. If your spouse operates digitally, make some time now to go through all those dates together so s/he can input them into a calendar. This simple but important step can save a lot of headaches down the road.
  • Ask for help from your instructor: Instructors prefer that you adhere to deadlines and generally enforce strict policies for late work, but at the same time they’re human. If you have a good track record but happen to fall behind for one reason or another, send an email to your instructor. You will probably still have to pay the penalty for late work, but s/he will appreciate the heads up. If something more serious has come up that will affect several assignments, ask your instructor what you can do to get everything turned in and keep your grade up. Instructors are often willing to offer extensions when they are asked directly. They just don’t like to advertise this to the hundreds of students they teach each semester for obvious reasons.

Don’t fall behind this semester! Take these steps to stay on top of your online class and earn the grade you deserve. For more tips on how to stay organized when taking online classes, contact us.

Tips For How to Stay Organized in the Online Classroom

Keeping everything organized in college is hard to do, but for students who are taking online courses and thus never set foot in an actual classroom organization can be both a requirement and a nightmare. To stay on top of online coursework though it’s important for students to take these tips to heart.

How to Stay Organized in the Online Classroomhow to stay organized in the online classroom

Tip#1: Make Your Calendar Functions Your Friend

In the old days you could pin a calendar to the wall over your desk and mark out all of your goals and needs on it. An overview of the month let you see when tests were, when assignments were due, etc. While that still works it’s also possible to use a smartphone to set reminders so that tests and due dates don’t sneak up on you. Sit down with your syllabus and plot out the semester to make sure you know what it is due when.

Tip #2: Ignorance of The Course is No Excuse

When you first sign up for a course, whether it’s online or in-person, the teacher is going to give you a syllabus. Don’t just toss it in a drawer sight-unseen; read it. If you know what’s on the syllabus then you’re never going to be surprised when a test or quiz shows up. You’ll understand how you’re going to be graded, and you’ll know about big projects you need to complete from day one. While you might not know all of the material required for the course, you do know the date you’re expected to learn it by.

Tip #3: Make A Friend

While never actually spending time in a physical classroom is one of the big benefits of online courses, it can also be a problem if you attempt to tackle everything by yourself. If you make friends with someone taking the same course that you are it becomes easier to stay on track and keep to deadlines. It’s like having a workout buddy; even when you don’t want to crack the books or you forgot what day it is your friend will be there to help keep both of you on the road to success.

Tip #4: Make it a Priority

Life is complicated, and things happen. If you want to succeed with your online course though you need to make your education a priority and put your nose to the grind stone. There’s no two ways about it; dedication and attention to detail pays off.

For more information on how you can succeed in your online courses simply contact us today!