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Distance learning is an efficient way of attending school when you are not able to quit your day job and you have family responsibilities. Having finished two distance learning courses in Axia College, I have compiled the following topics and guidelines for a successful experience in distance learning.
Conducting Successful Library and Internet Searches
When tasked with assignments or tests that require supporting data and research, the school's online library is a great tool. It is especially important for your final persuasive essay and assignment. Axia's online library is very easy to use. You can get there by clicking on the Library' link on the upper right hand corner of your main login page. This online library provides multiple databases, like EBSCOHost and ProQuest. It also has several search options for locating the materials that you will need. Axia's online library has an Ask a Librarian' feature. It comes in handy when you are lost and need direction. It works just like a real library, only you don't get an instance response.
Another research option that you can use is the Internet. Internet search results can be overwhelming and confusing. The strategy that worked for me is to save the web pages and
articles that you think are relevant in your favorites' folder. Another good strategy is to document the search results and the web pages.
The most important aspect of online research is the credibility of your source. When evaluating your reference materials, you will need to analyze the strengths and bias of a source. In order for you to do this, you will have to find out the authors' affiliations to gain a better idea of where their loyalties lie and whether or not their information is both reliable and worthy
of reference in your academic paper. You also may wish to dig a bit deeper and find out about the institution, organization, and or business with which your author is affiliated. It is equally important to evaluate the site itself as there is an abundance of face websites out there.
Upholding Academic Honesty
Plagiarism is taking someone's words or ideas and presenting them as your own. Information is easily accessible these days so it's very easy to get carried away, get lackadaisical or just lose track when working on a research project, especially when you're using several sources: internet, books, newspapers, magazines, etc.
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The key to avoiding plagiarism is to pay extra attention and devote as much time and effort when creating your reference list and when citing your sources for your paper. It is important to cite all sources and all ideas according to Axia's rules and regulations that are not your own.
Developing Effective Study Skills
Keeping your high school study habits in the distance learning environment will not work. For one, the world of the distance learning student is very different from that of the traditional student, like the one you experienced in high school. Most of the time, you will find yourself
isolated in a stressful environment. Like myself, the typical distance learner has a full time job and a family to raise. There are a lot of competing factors for a distance learner's time - juggling work, family and school is not an easy thing to do.
One of the most effective tools I learned to develop an effective study skill is the SQ3R method. SQ3R means Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review. SQ3R forced me to become
an active reader. Analyzing and questioning the materials that I was reading helped me focused on the subjects being discussed. I only wished that I learned this method when I was in high school.
Knowing your learning style is very important in your independent studies. Most students aim to maximize learning while minimizing frustration and time spent studying. If you know your strengths and limitations, you can use techniques that take advantage of your highly developed areas while helping you through the less developed ones. You can find your learning style by taking assessment tools like Pathways to Learning' and Personality Spectrum' provided in Axia's IT105 course. Identifying your learning styles will help you quickly adapt to Axia's learning format.
Managing Time Wisely
If you are enrolled in more than one course, I found that the best tool is to have an electronic calendar or a daily planner to keep track of your time and schedule. Mapping out your days or weeks in order to cover materials, assignments, attendance and participation requirements for
all courses will help you feel organized. Every Sunday, make a habit of reading all required materials for the following week. This will help you understand how much time you need to give each assignment or post.
Like myself, the typical distance learning student has a full time job and has a family to raise. In order to keep this balanced, make sure that you log all family tasks and schedules in your calendar so you can see the big picture. Check this calendar every morning to prepare your day.
With your electronic calendar or daily planner, you can easily set the priority level of each task. Mark as high priority those tasks that will have a negative impact if not done, like assignments. Mark as low priority tasks that can wait, tasks that are not important, or tasks that that don't add benefit to your academic goal, like hanging out with friends. These low priority tasks can be move later in the day or even next week, after all high priority tasks are completed.
Managing your time wisely is crucial since you only have twenty four hours in a day. Also, there are many tasks in life that are necessary in order to survive, like eating and sleeping. These two things alone can take a significant part of your daily time. Jarkoff (2006) stated that "Time is not a resource that can be stored for use some time later. Making a deposit of 3 hours in to the time bank,' which could be withdrawn and used at a later date, may sound like a wonderful idea but due to current scientific and technical limitations it is just not possible. There are only 24 hours in the day, no matter how we look at it." (Mastering A Skill, 10).
Setting and Achieving Goals
Identify your short-term and long-term academic goals. This will serve as a map to your road to success. A good example of a short term goal is I will complete this week's
assignment'. A good example of a long-term goal is I will obtain my associates' degree in two years'. Having these goals are good but you will have to be disciplined and focused in order to achieve them.
Some obstacles that you might encounter in achieving your goals are apathy and procrastination. One way to overcome apathy is to weigh the pros and cons of not caring for your goals. For example, list as a short-term goal to finish your assignment this week. The negative effect if you don't do this is, important grade points will be deducted from your grade
and more work will pile up. If you do this, you would be eligible to receive maximum grade point. I found that pros always outweigh the cons when it comes to important tasks. Procrastination is a different challenge. This is the one that could prevent you from accomplishing your goals. Having an effective time management skills and tools will allow you to control procrastination easier. Having a calendar or schedule of tasks and appointments easily available and accessible will give you a big picture of which tasks will be in jeopardy if you procrastinated.
Overcoming these obstacles and keeping focused and discipline will guide you to your main goal, and that is to obtain a degree from Axia College.
Jarkoff, S. (2006, April). Mastering A Skill. Retrieved February 18, 2007, from