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 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.

How to Deal With Conflicts With Your Online Instructor (And Maintain A Positive Relationship)

Online instruction is becoming more and more popular as a form of education, and why not? Students pay less for the courses, they have more flexibility on their time, there’s no need to show up to a physical classroom, and as long as students have an Internet connection they can get the lessons they need. Some things never change though, and one of those things is conflict between students and instructors.

Fortunately for students though it’s often possible to resolve conflict with an instructor by taking measured, reasonable steps.

how to deal with conflicts with your online instructorHow to Deal With Conflicts With Your Online Instructor

Step One: Remove Emotion, Define the Conflict

The first step to resolving conflict with your online instructor is to take a deep breath, and relax. Conflict by its very nature can lead to hot tempers and angry demands, so it’s best to take a day or so and make sure you can think through the conflict before you do anything you might regret. Once you’ve calmed down examine the situation on its facts; is there a conflict here? If there is, can you define what it is? Maybe it’s the way your instructor graded your essay, or you need to get an extension on a project due to extenuating circumstances, but make sure you can define it simply.

Step Two: Contact Your Instructor And Arrange A Meeting

Online instructors, just like physical ones, will have office hours or days when it’s best to contact them (you’ll find the information in your syllabus). Email or call your professor and ask if you can schedule a meeting at a given time or on a given day. If a face-to-face meeting is possible that’s typically the best option, but if you can Skype or discuss things over a phone call that’s often better than discussing your situation purely through text since there’s facial expression, tone of voice, etc. to help convey meaning.

Step 3: Lay Out The Situation and Your Problems With It

When you have your meeting lay out the situation as you see it, and the difficulties you’re currently facing. Don’t make accusations or try to lay blame, but instead try to reach across the aisle and communicate openly. If you don’t understand something then ask for clarification. Once you’ve laid out the situation as you see it, ask if what you’re seeing is accurate, and give your instructor time to explain his or her side of things.

Step 4: Discuss Possible Solutions

Once the problem has been laid out the next step is to discuss methods that can be taken to solve it. If you feel that your grade on an essay wasn’t as high as deserved an instructor might be willing to consider your points and alter the final grade. Alternatively the instructor might suggest that he or she review your next paper to ensure that you get the grade you want. It’s important to work with your instructor to find a solution that’s fair and reasonable.

If you go through all of these steps you’ll be able to bring your concerns to your instructor, and hopefully find solutions to fix the problem as it exists. There’s no guarantee that it will work, but if you’re respectful, honest, and open about the issues you’re having then you’re much more likely to get them resolved than if you aren’t.

For more information on dealing with online courses and conflicts simply contact us today!

Appropriate Email Etiquette in the Online Classroom

An online classroom provides a unique way to interact with your instructor and peers. You may feel comfortable enough with them to joke around, and you may even think you can address your professor more as a peer than an authority figure. However, the written word is often misunderstood, and you still are the student, not another professor.  You can run the risk of misrepresenting yourself through email and on discussion boards if you aren’t careful. Here are some tips for email etiquette in the online classroom:

Email Etiquette in the Online Classroom

  1. Always address your professor with respect: Consider your professor to be your boss, and address her with the same level of respect. NEVER address your professor by her first name unless you have received explicit permission to do so (heads up, you won’t). Use appropriate language, i.e. no slang or swear words. Your written word is the only way your instructor knows you. Make a good impression.
  2. Don’t sound angry: When you’re upset about a grade or comment your professor made, it’s natural to feel angry and defensive. Use email to your advantage though. Your professor can’t see your emotions here, so this is a chance to demonstrate your maturity and respect even in the midst of your internal anger. Instead of making accusations, ask for clarification as to why you earned the grade or comment in question. Approaching a conflict respectfully and with a congenial tone will go a long way. Remember, your words are the only way your professor knows you. Just like number 1, make a good impression through email.
  3. Never EVER make a threat: Sometimes we forget that emails are permanent. If you have a true problem with a professor, seek help from another source like your academic advisor. Your professor will take your words seriously, which can result in serious consequences for you. Don’t even joke about a threat. Just. Dont.
  4. Avoid jokes among peers: Online discussion boards are the online equivalent to a classroom discussion. The main difference is inside a classroom, everyone is participating at the same time and can understand your attitude and tone when you make a particular statement. Your peers can feed off of your instructor to determine whether or not you are being appropriate. Abide by the blanket rule to not tell jokes and you’ll be fine.
  5. Respect your professor’s time: Just because you’re up and writing a paper at 11:00 on a Tuesday night does not mean your professor is also awake and ready to answer her emails. Sending her a second message at 2 am will not make her answer your question any sooner. In fact, you may get the opposite result. Abide by the virtual office hours she has set up, and allow an appropriate amount of time to pass before re-sending her your question. A good rule of thumb is up to 24 hours on a weekday and 48 hours on a weekend, unless your professor has stated otherwise. Remember, as an online professor she is serving hundreds of students. In order to keep an appropriate work/life balance, she will have to set boundaries. Observe and respect these boundaries.

Taking online classes can be a rewarding experience, especially for students who can’t otherwise fit college classes into their schedule. Contact us if you have further questions on how to maintain an appropriate email relationship with your peers and professors.

The Evolution of e-Learning: What Does It Mean for Your Students?

The teaching machine was the invention of Harvard Psychologist, B.F. Skinner who wrote his stimulus-response theory of human learning in the 1950s. Based on the early research of Pavolv, Skinner’s notion of the human brain was that it was composed of neural bonds he called S-R bonds. A stimulus causes a behavioral response and that pairing is permanently locked in or becomes a permanent neural structure when it is followed by a reward.

In 1954, Skinner was designing mechanical teaching machines that presented information then posed multiple choice questions. The student responded by choosing an answer. If correct, the student was rewarded with a “correct” or some such “positive reinforcement” and was allowed to proceed.

e-learningPresent day e-Learning uses much more sophisticated presentation tools than those available in Skinner’s time. Principles of learning used in course design now incorporate much more sophisticated new concepts of how learning works. Many new teaching methodologies are based on neurophysiology studies and concepts that have evolved out of information processing technology. However, the technical advances apply more to the presentation of course materials than to the assessment of student learning and progress.

The e-Learning software still calls for use of the multiple choice format for assessing learning acquisition. If the course designer wants to incorporate long answer responses such as essays into the assessment of student knowledge acquisition, intervention of a human scorer is still necessary.

In spite of those limitations, e-Learning is ideal for training mature learners, especially in the fact-based healthcare fields and the exact sciences. Detailed information can be presented in vivid graphic and animated form to students. The software can be expertly programmed to account for rates of acquisition of information. Lessons can be presented in a range of visual, auditory and mixed formats that can incorporate a world of available materials.

Knowledge acquisition and progress can be adequately assessed and feedback to the student can be presented to sizable numbers of learners in many locations. Studies have shown coursework delivered with minimal face-to-face contact with teachers is not less effective than face-to-face courses.

Please contact us with comments or questions.

Mobile Learning: A Revolution In The Making

The advantages of mobile learning and the steps that can be taken to optimize the mobile learning experience for healthcare students and professionals are boundless. With today’s technology, the opportunity to learn is literally in the palm of a student’s hand. There has never been a time in history when the power of knowledge has been so widely available to the world. Taking advantage of this technological breakthrough has enhanced the learning experience for every profession.

Mobile Learning Is The Future

America is the home of mobile tech and we love it. Here are a few facts that you may find interesting. Did you know that 58% of Americans own a smartphone? Did you know mobile learning avidity medical designthat 42% of Americans own a tablet? This means that the students of the future are increasingly going to demand learning solutions that fit their busy schedules. Why is this so attractive to students and professors alike? Mobile learning allows for convenience, flexibility, engagement and interactivity that is lacking in other instructional settings. The data is clear that mobile learning is the wave of the future.

Optimizing The Mobile Learning Experience

In order to optimize the learning environment for students and professionals, we must change the way we view learning. Learning is a lifelong process that doesn’t have an on and off switch. From the time a student wakes up until the time they rest their heads on their pillows at night, they are learning. Learning is a seamless experience that requires different tools for different situations. Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous Technologies in Education or WMUTE are the tools that can be used to optimize and revolutionize the learning experience. Click here

Design With A Purpose

Our core mission here at Avidity Medical Design is to develop curriculum that is informative, challenging, comprehensive and holistic. Staying up to date on trends in medicine is paramount to success. We design healthcare courses and review each course for technical accuracy. Regardless of the subject matter, we design courses that are engaging, innovative, and that support key learning objectives.

Sheila D. McCray, MS, CCS, CCS-P, is the principal of Avidity Medical Design, an instructional design consulting firm specializing in creating e-learning and blended learning for both the educational and corporate sectors.

Students who complete courses developed by Avidity Medical Design will have the knowledge and confidence needed to optimize work performance and achieve greater job satisfaction. Contact us today about our services and how we can help your students achieve excellence in the field of healthcare.

Smartphones, Tablets, iPODs and iPADs: What Do They Mean for the Healthcare Classroom? Let’s Take a Look.

More and more students are discovering the benefits of taking college courses online using smartphones, tablets, iPODs and iPADs. Students can review lecture material, study for finals, and take exams at home or while sitting in a café or a restaurant, for example. Although many people have taken advantage of mobile technology for general education purposes, healthcare practitioners may wonder what smartphones, tablets, iPODs and iPADs have in store for the future of healthcare education.

smartphones, tablets ipods ipads avidity medical designAccording to an article found here, “44% of medical students are digital omnivores, using a smartphone, tablet, and computer routinely in an academic or professional capacity.” This has increased over the years ever since these options were made available to students.

Mobile devices are a great way for students to learn on the go, as well as in the traditional classroom. As stated in another blog, titled, Benefits of Mobile Devices in the Classroom, “The mobile approach can encourage student engagement with the content. For example, students can answer polls, tweet questions, and look up information during lectures.” The same is true for students in the healthcare arena, who are studying to become medical transcriptionists, medical coders, and registered nurses, for example. Using mobile devices, a student who is studying to become a medical transcriptionist can respond to polls about transcribing medications in discharge summaries, history and physicals, and emergency room records. A future medical coder can tweet questions about how to assign the correct ICD-10-CM code for a postsurgical mechanical device complication, or how to assign the correct CPT codes for injections, infusions, and critical care. A nursing student can research lecture material on patient case management, sterile gloving, and right and left heart catheterization. Using smartphones, tablets, iPODs, and iPADs each of these students can enrich their learning experience both in and out of the healthcare classroom.

Avidity Medical Design can help you develop healthcare courses that support and encourage medical mobile learning. We develop healthcare curriculum designed to help your students immediately transfer what they learn in the classroom to the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital setting. We specialize in both e-Learning and blended learning for both the educational and corporate sectors.

Sheila D. McCray, MS, CCS, CCS-P, the principal of Avidity Medical Design, has an M.S. in Instructional and Performance Technology and holds certifications in Captivate, Dreamweaver, Sharepoint, MS Office, and multiple healthcare-related areas. She is also a certified online instructor, medical coder, medical biller, and medical transcriptionist with an extensive background in healthcare information management. She designs curriculum for all areas of healthcare, as well as general education curriculum for K-12 students.

Feel free to contact us for more information on how we can incorporate innovative mobile learning strategies into your healthcare classroom.

Bringing the Online Classroom to Life

The educational system in the United States is changing at all levels, especially at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Some of the changes are due to budget cuts that have hit the educational system especially hard over the past several years.

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan stated on April 17, 2013:

Education is more than a set of numbers on the ledger line. Education is not just an expense–it is an investment. In fact, it is one of the most critical investments in the future that we, as a Nation, can make. America cannot win the race for the future without investing in education–it is that simple.

Avidity medical design instructional designerA gifted instructional designer needs to use the right software to develop effective curriculum regardless of budget cuts that may change the shape of the educational landscape. Furthermore, the curriculum must allow students to immediately transfer what they learn in the classroom to the real world environment. Avidity Medical Design uses Adobe Captivate, Lectora, Camtasia, and other e-Learning platforms to develop curriculum that allows learners to immediately use what they learn.

Today’s students have many opportunities for social interaction – opportunities that did not exist 20 or 30 years ago. For these students, online learning is simply an extension of their online social interactions through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks. Just as conversations come alive on Facebook, for example, student learning should come alive in the online classroom. Creative instructional design combines elements of various instructional design models to create a vibrant learning experience that engages students on a variety of different levels and in a variety of different subjects.

Contact us to learn more about how we can bring your curriculum to life, stimulate your learners, and motivate them to learn more about the subjects that you are teaching.