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Jul-10th-2019

5 Methods of Energizing and Motivating Your Students

qq6gG7OAre your students performing their very best in your class and completing all learning activities on time? Do they always want to be involved in class discussions, eager to be part of the conversations, while demonstrating what they have learned from the assigned reading? Or do you have a typical mix of students, with some who excel, and other who struggle to stay motivated and involved in the class?

For a traditional class, student motivation can be observed. In contrast, online instructors must watch for a different set of cues and develop conditions within a learning management system which are conducive to learning. There is a belief among some educators it is not possible to help students that you cannot see, especially with a quality such as motivation which cannot be visually assessed in a virtual environment. But a student’s level of motivation will influence all aspects of their involvement, from their engagement in the class to their participation in discussions and completion of learning activities such as written assignments.

With the many demands made of an online instructor it is possible classroom management can become the primary focus and it consists of tasks such as participation, feedback, acquiring class materials, and developing class lectures or posts. It can then become fairly easy to miss a student who is gradually disengaging from class until it is too late. This includes spotting a student who is lacking a sense of self-motivation or does not know how to sustain it when they are feeling discouraged, frustrated, or challenged.

While students are expected to be self-directed by nature as adults, it doesn’t mean they are equipped to meet the many demands expected of them as a student. This is the reason why an instructor must be prepared to identify their needs and have motivational strategies ready to assist them.

Motivational Indicators

It is possible for an instructor to gauge the level of involvement of their students in a class by the number of times they have posted responses in the discussion threads and the perceived amount of effort that is put into their written assignments. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is possible to accurately gauge how motivated the students are when an attempt of some kind is being made to complete their work.

The reason why is that motivation is an internalized state and challenges are acknowledged through statements such as “I’m not certain I can do this” or “this is too hard” or “this isn’t what I expected I would have to do” – anything that will result in a student deciding to give up, quit, or eventually withdraw from the class or their degree program. An instructor will know that this is happening if they have developed open communication with their students and as a result they are willing to share their frustrations and concerns.

Students Who Are Struggling

When students are struggling in their class it can be easy to first assume that they are not trying hard enough, they aren’t utilizing the feedback provided, they haven’t read the assigned materials, or any other number of possible reasons – without being able to pinpoint exactly what they are experiencing. At the beginning of class most students have the highest level of enthusiasm and a sense of hope about a new start, even if there is some anxiety or apprehension mixed in.

It is when a student attempts to participate in class that determines how long their excitement is sustained and there are many factors that can have a negative impact, including a lack of academic skills, feedback they do not accept or understand, a subject that is too difficult to comprehend or does not seem relevant to their lives, or receiving a grade they do not believe they should have earned. This causes an eventual decline in performance and one that may not be intentional or even consciously recognized until an instructor addresses it.

5 Methods of Energizing and Motivating Your Students

Instructors may not always know with certainty why students are struggling but at the heart of most issues is a willingness to keep trying and work on continued self-development, even when it requires them to acquire new knowledge or skills. What instructors can do is to develop a set of proactive instructional strategies that are encouraging in nature and supportive of students’ attempts and progress.

The following five methods have been implemented in my own teaching practice and what I have helped to coach online faculty with through my work with faculty development.

#1. Build Productive Relationships. While this should go without saying for any class, whether it is a traditional or online class, relationships with students always matters. It can have a direct impact on their ability to feel comfortable asking for assistance when needed and that can alert the instructor to potential problems. But developing this type of relationship in a virtual environment isn’t easy and a class that lasts only a few weeks can make it even more difficult.

How a relationship begins is with the attitude an instructor holds and it continues with an ongoing intent to be helpful and approachable. Students must know that their instructors care about them.

#2. Carefully Manage Your Communication. All forms of communication that instructors have with their students matter and must be cultivated with care that the intent of message is clearly made and the tone is not likely to be perceived in a negative manner.

When responding to a student, whether by email or a post in the classroom, it should not be done hastily or when an emotional reaction is felt. The reason why this is so important is that a negative interaction can be de-motivating to a student and a series of these types of interactions can cause a student to disengage from the class.

#3. Be Present, Available, and Accessible. If students are to stay engaged in the class and perform to the very best of their abilities they need to know that their instructor is readily available to assist them whenever they need help. This doesn’t mean an instructor has to be on call at all times or answer questions as soon as they are posted; however, there needs to be an established pattern that students can rely upon.

I’ve found it helpful to have multiple methods of contact that includes email, instant messaging, weekly office hours, sharing my phone number for times when students need immediate assistance, and posting a questions thread in the classroom. This allows me to develop connections with students and it can be very motivating for them to know I am accessible.

#4. Help Make Certain that Students are Adequately Prepared. I’ve found that academic under-preparedness can be extremely detrimental to the mindset that new students hold as they attempt to navigate the course and the requirements they are expected to complete. Even as established students make progress through their degree program they may still struggle with areas of development that can create a mental barrier and ultimately lead to a sense of defeat if they do not receive assistance.

What I’ve done is to share resources that address students’ specific developmental needs in the feedback provided and if I find sources that may benefit the entire class, I’ll share it in a separate classroom post. I’ve found that the more students feel equipped to complete their tasks, the more confident they will be as they make an attempt to do so.

#5. Develop and Use Proactive Outreach Strategies. It is imperative that an instructor always be aware of the classroom conditions and more importantly that they are aware of students who are not actively involved and present in class. It may be helpful to establish a mental baseline for expected performance and over time an experienced instructor develops an instinct for student engagement.

A discussion thread is one way to gauge if students are disengaging from the class. When I discover a student who isn’t posting messages or they are continuing to struggle with their written assignments, I’ll make outreach attempts. First I’ll send an email and try to engage them and if that isn’t successful I’ll make a phone call so that the student doesn’t completely disengage from class. I’ve learned that a personalized approach will go a long ways towards helping students sustain their self-motivation.

Sources of Motivation

Most research about motivation points to the sources of motivation, both internal and external. This means that students may be motivated by a sense of accomplishment (internalized) or a grade (externalized). With a limited amount of time available to get to know students for a typical online class, instructors may never know exactly what the source of motivation is for every student or be able to develop techniques to meet their individual needs, especially when classroom management and instructional duties require a significant investment of time.

What instructors can do is to address self-motivation as a driving factor for student success and use the methods provided above to help students feel self-confident, rather than become easily discouraged and willing to give up. When instructors bridge the distance gap and connect with their students, they will notice the results in the effort they make and the performance level they maintain throughout the class. When students believe someone cares about their progress, and is willing to support them as they make an attempt to complete the class requirements, an increase in self-motivation is likely to likely to occur. You have an opportunity to be that someone for your students and what it takes is showing an interest in your students and being aware of their involvement in class. Your interest in students not only can energize their involvement in class, it can transform and energize your involvement as well.

Dr. Johnson specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, online teaching, career management, and career development. Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA.

Feb-9th-2019

Investing in Your Child’s Education – It’s Cheaper Than You Think

lead_720_405Investing in your child’s education doesn’t always mean starting a college tuition fund or opening a CD in the name of your 10- year-old in hopes it will multiply before they get their college acceptance letter. There are ways other than financial help that may be more beneficial for your child’s education and they will not break your bank account. The following five suggestions may very well give a higher return on your child’s educational investment, especially if they are established early in his education career:

First: Homework. There are varying opinions among teachers regarding how much and what type of homework to provide. However, most teachers do agree that when a parent is involved in some way in the completion of a student’s homework, that student has a greater chance of success. Whether or not a child has someone help with their homework each night is a huge indication of whether they will understand the material. The fact is simple: even the best teachers must teach an entire group of students at a time while a parent can work one-on-one with the child. This is a very important factor. Teachers will jump through hoops just to arrange a few minutes a day to teach a smaller group of students. Student learning increases dramatically when teachers have a smaller number of students, therefore, the more one on one time that you have with your child at home, the more your child will learn. Every minute you can take to read or practice or review with them one-on-one will do wonders for their education.

Second: Respecting and Supporting your child’s teacher.. When I was growing up parents and teachers were on the same page. Somehow this has changed where the student and the parents are often opposing the teacher. This has horrible repercussions for the child’s ability to learn. Working together always works better than working individually. If a parent slips a word of disrespect or disapproval at the dinner table the night before, a student is far more likely to discredit much of what the teacher says the following day. By openly showing that you don’t support the teacher’s decisions you are teaching your child that it is fine for them to do the same thing in the classroom. If a student does not respect his or her teacher learning becomes far more difficult.

Third: Use technology wisely. Technology plays an increasingly important role in education today. However, it can also be a huge distraction. Set priorities and rules for technology in your home. This may seem like common sense but common sense is not always so commonly realized, and technology is having a negative effect on the education of many students. For example, spending hours and hours on a gaming system before starting homework late at night makes homework much less effective. Children are less engaged in homework and the completion of it becomes a battle with parents as opposed to a learning routine that is established early in the evening. On the positive side, teach your child how to use technology to enrich and improve their learning by using online resources and materials.

Fourth: Get involved in the classroom. This tip is mostly directed towards parents of elementary-aged children. Many teachers appreciate parent volunteers. Time spent in your child’s classroom is invaluable! It will help you better understand events and situations that occur in your child’s classroom and life. It will help you understand different procedures and systems in the environment where they spend most of their day so that you can better help them with any problems that arise socially or academically. It also helps show your child that you value their learning and take time when you can to support them and their teacher.

Fifth: Communicate with the teacher. This is an under-utilized tool in education. Parents and teachers are both working for the same goal to help the same child learn. Communication is essential! Teachers could use your advice about how to help your child when they are struggling with something going on at home. Similarly, parents could use a teachers help when students are struggling academically. When parents and teachers work as a team the child can feel the network of support around him or her and both adults’ workloads are lightened. When you communicate a teacher knows you are involved and appreciate and respect the work they do for your child. They will include you on more information when they know you are interested. Communication is essential for parents and teachers to work as a team to help the child succeed.

If you can establish these five basic principles in your child’s experience early, then their chances of a higher education will increase significantly before they even start thinking of college. No matter how large a child’s college fund may be, if they do not have a foundation of respect and value for education, it will be much harder for them to succeed.

Emily Perkes is a Mother to three young children, First Grade Teacher, and enjoys helping her husband run their outdoor store from their home.

Dec-29th-2018

Getting Your Online Business Started

imagesAny business starts with an idea. Turning the idea into a profitable business takes time and dedication. It doesn’t happen overnight. There are a few fairly easy ways to turn your business into a profitable website.

Online businesses are part of the internet. The internet is full of people searching for things from all over the world. This is one reason to have a website. You will be able to reach many more people than a local business. In order to get your website started you need to have a domain name. This is the name of your business online. You can search through places like GoDaddy to find available website or domain names. Usually a domain name will cost about 7.99 and up for a year. You will need to pay this cost each year to keep your website or business name online. You want to be sure that your domain name fits with the type of business you have online. If you sell clothes you don’t want to use a domain name that goes with selling pet food. You also have to make sure this is a unique name that is only used by your business.

So you’ve got your domain name, but that’s not all. You have to choose a web host provider. In order for your website to function right you need a good company to host your website on their server. Some good web host providers include BlueHost, Startlogic and Resellers Web host. Make sure it is a reliable company with good reviews. You don’t want to have your website with error messages or saying this website is under construction. If you can’t see your website chances are other people can’t. If you wish to avoid this choice you may wish to use a company like Wix which will do these things for you for a monthly fee.

Now you need to list your business and product information. Even if your business is an Ecommerce website it is still important to have good content. In other words, describe your products well. Also make sure you have good pictures of your products. A picture says a thousand words. Even if you go through a company like Wix you are responsible for managing the pictures, products and information on your website. If your website is more of a blog or information website you may wish to go through WordPress which is free for blog type websites.

In order to be a profitable business you need to make money. You may need to use money to advertise but make sure you are reaching a targeted audience. You want people to come to your website who are looking to buy from you. There are several ways to advertise your website for free. Social media like Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways to do this.

In order to get the right people to your website, be sure to do some good SEO or Search Engine Optimization. WordPress Ecommerce is a great program to use in order to make this step easier. There is a learning curb but if you check forums and do some research you will learn how to do this step yourself. You may wish to hire a programmer if it is too complicated. Be sure to use good keywords and keyword phrases. If you are selling perfume, you don’t want to use keywords like pets, food or words that have nothing to do with your products.

These steps may seem a bit overwhelming, but study each one at your own pace. Stay focused and keep doing what you know to do. It takes time to get your website to be a productive online business but it is very possible. Keep learning and stay encouraged.

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