How to Work in Groups in Online Study

A lot of students now opt to study online because of the sheer convenience that this medium of education offers. However, studying online has its own challenges. You have to be a motivated individual who is dedicated and keeps up with the online classes and assignments, and collaborates with other individuals to form study groups for better understanding of the subject. Now you’re probably aware that study groups are one of the many ways that enhance the process of learning and assignment completion. However, how does this process function online? How can you ensure that you find like-minded individuals who are as dedicated as you? Here, we provide you with a few tips that tell you how to work in groups in online study successfully.

Tips for Online Group Work

An online study group allows students from all over the world to conduct virtual meetings. More often than not, it is the online university website that offers students the opportunity to develop forums for various subjects. A group is created and moderated by one student who then monitors who can be a part of the group, and the different discussions that are occurring in the forum. This medium is extremely advantageous for students who are bound by time and cannot spend too much traveling and meeting everyone personally. But can virtual group study be as effective as real group study? Yes it can, if the following tips are adhered to.

Be Proactive
As mentioned earlier, in order to benefit from online group study, you have to be an active member of any forum you join or create. Not only will you be exposed to a multitude of perspectives of different people from different parts of the world, you will also be able to offer your opinion and point of view on a subject. This will make the entire study session more interactive and thorough.

Seek other Proactive Students
Again, not only you, the other students who join the study group should be as proactive as you are. There are a lot of individuals who join study groups just to benefit from what is being discussed, but do not participate in any way. Such individuals should not be allowed to be parts of such groups because it is unfair to those who are really putting in an effort to make the process of combined study work.

Keep Discussion Groups Small
When a discussion group is overcrowded it becomes difficult to monitor ongoing discussions and dissuades students from participating in the group. As such, these groups should be limited to 4-6 committed individuals who regularly update discussions and keep the group active.

Meet Online Regularly
All group members should decide a specific time (considering all time zones) to meet online on specific days. This is so that discussions can occur simultaneously and time isn’t wasted waiting for an answer from the others. A lot of groups tend to meet on Skype or such messengers where conference calls can be easily made. Moreover, Facebook pages are also created to make this process simpler. Just ensure that every member is comfortable with whatever medium of communication you choose.

Define Member Roles in Group Meetings
Before you meet online ensure that every group member has been given specific material to prepare and provide inputs on so that you can have active and meaningful discussions. They should also be given a role to play. For instance, there should be one individual who will initiate group discussion, while another one will ensure that the discussion remains on track. Another individual should be responsible for keeping a record of the chat or the discussion and for recapping the discussion in the next online meeting.

These are some great tips that will ease the process of working in groups in online study. Remember that it is definitely more challenging to collaborate such a group and work effectively; but to be able to bring together different people from different parts of the world to communicate and study together at their convenience is also one of the biggest advantages of online learning. Use this medium well to make the most of it. Be prepared to meet people of all kinds. You will find that this is a highly enriching process.

Difference Between Online Classes and Traditional Classes

Difference between online classes and traditional classes

Progressing and climbing the career ladder demands value addition to your skills in the form of acquiring or upgrading your knowledge. However, as a full-time working adult, taking a course or choosing a college that gives you enough time to juggle both work and education has become increasingly difficult. Here is where the dilemma of choosing between online classes and traditional classes arises. It then boils down to a simple question, are you willing to trade your handsomely paying job for a college degree that could give you an even better pay?. But, coming to an objective answer to this question is easier said than done.

A lot of factors have to be considered before you invest time, effort, and money in gaining education. In the following article, we take a look at some of the very important aspects of online classes and traditional classes, and what each setup has to offer.

Online Classes Vs. Traditional Classes
Classrooms

Virtual or online classrooms give you the freedom to attend or access them from any place. You can simply login to your classroom from your home, from a coffee shop, or while commuting to work. This arrangement ensures optimum utilization of time as it allows you to work during the demanding office hours, and study at your leisure. The only drawback of this situation is that it is a solitary activity unlike a traditional classroom. This reduces your chances of meeting new people and being exposed to a certain environment that could have been.

The first important point to be noted about traditional classes is that they are bound by geography. They are always conducted within the confines of a classroom, putting a limitation on the number of seats, and thus reducing its reach to aspiring students. This may also demand staying on a campus, as classes conducted by visiting faculty could be scheduled at odd hours. On the plus side, conventional classes allow one-on-one interaction with professors and fellow students, fostering long-term relationships and building networks.

Commute
Online classrooms do not require students to commute, as they can be attended from anywhere. The expense these classes demand is that of good Internet speed. Given this, virtual classrooms can be attended without any disturbance from the comforts of your own home.

Unless you are staying on campus, pursuing a conventional type of education demands that you compulsorily commute everyday. This means you have to commute at a given hour and for a given time period. This means that one has to incur an additional expense for the necessary commute.

Scheduling
The best part about virtual classes is that you can attend these classes anytime you want. On days when a guest faculty/teacher will be hosting a class, you can record the same and listen to it at your convenience. The freedom in scheduling classes works in favor of every student as it gives one enough leeway in making time to study in a tight schedule.
A traditional class setup demands that you attend classes and be present for each lecture at a designated time. This may push you to quit your job, hire a babysitter, or simply make attending impossible if the given time seems too inconvenient. The greater drawback of this arrangement is that the classes cannot be rescheduled either. This means that once you miss out on a class, the only way of catching up with the curriculum is through other students’ notes.
Cost
Online classes only charge a tuition fee. This makes the cost of studying extremely affordable. Sometimes, the fees can be covered over a couple of months paycheck. This is beneficial for those who do not have the option of quitting a job and taking up a full-time course. It also works in favor of those who cannot spend too much but are seeking a worthy opportunity to study.
Student Loan
Without a shadow of a doubt, traditional classes are an expensive choice. The costs can be massively high, which means, sometimes aspiring students have to borrow a loan and then repay it along with interest. The fees charged by traditional schools and colleges includes their recovery of infrastructure, electricity, building rent, maintenance, besides the tuition fees.
Despite these differences what should remain the same is the quality of education both the methods of classes provide. The option that provides the best education should be the logical choice, as a small compromise can truly work in your favor for a long-term goal. While many would prefer one of the two options, there are a few students who opt for both to get better perspectives on subjects and to invest their full-time in learning the subjects, its techniques and applications thoroughly. Thus, picking the right method of learning will absolutely depend on your priorities and circumstances.

Virtual Office Hours for Students

When you teach students in junior high or high school, you often have to assign work to be done outside school. Unfortunately, more often than not, the work has gotten to a level with which the students’ parents are no longer comfortable in offering help. If this is the case, your students will more than likely have many questions for you outside school hours. To avoid answering all the questions during class time, and therefore having to extend deadlines for assignments, you can set up virtual office hours for students when you are available to answer questions.

What are Virtual Office Hours?

When you go to college, professors have office hours that are times that they are available in their offices to answer student questions. You can usually stop by or email them during this time and they are able to answer your questions and address your concerns. They do this because university students only spend three to four hours in class each week, and do most of their work outside class. If you teach younger students, however, you see them every day and you often teach longer hours than professors do. Students also have to take busses home or have other obligations outside their full-time school day. In order to answer their questions, you have to get a little creative. This is where virtual office hours come in. If you and your students have access to the internet, you can tell them you will be available during certain hours of the evening. During that time, they can contact you virtually and expect a quick response.

Email

Email is one of the most obvious ways to allow your students to contact you, and it has many benefits. First, there is a written record of your contact with your students, which is very helpful if there is ever a question about your professionalism. Second, you are able to respond whenever you can, which means you don’t have to sit in front of your computer waiting for emails. However, email is sometimes slower than some other forms of communication, and if you do not set times during which you will respond via email, you can find yourself responding to students during all hours of the night. Furthermore, you may find yourself stuck to your computer if you do not have your professional email setup on your smartphone, or if you do not have a smartphone at all.

Chat

Chat programs are wonderful, and they provide all the same benefits as email in keeping a written record of conversations. If your students have Gmail or Live.com accounts, they have a built-in chat program that signs on as soon as they start their email. All you need is an account on the same server as theirs and they can add you to their chat contacts, which allows them to see when you are online and chat with you. There are also several chat programs that allow you to use many accounts all at once, such as Nimbuzz or IM+. These programs are also available for most smartphones, so you can be on the go and answer questions at the same time.

Google Voice

If your students do not have access to the internet, it may be worth looking into having a Google Voice account. Google Voice gives you a phone number that is not your true number. Therefore, when you give it to students, they are not calling your personal phone. Students can text it or call it, and you can get messages either at your computer or your cell phone. This is a great way to help students when they need it.