The issue of poor writing skills among college students has been discussed among college profs for years. In recent discussions in various online venues, profs are asking if this problem has gotten worse and what to do about it. And the primary issue is whether or not professors of subjects other than English should count off for writing errors.
I was pleasantly surprised to see in a recent discussion that 99% of college professors in all subject areas DO take writing into consideration when grading. I do teach English and writing, but I also teach other subject areas and I take writing competency into consideration when grading.
To take it a step further, I teach writing throughout all discussions and assignments in content courses. I have students complain that this is NOT a writing class so writing doesn't count.
First, my rubrics state that writing does count. Second, if you can't write effectively, then you can' communicate effectively. This is true not only in college classes, but also on the job.
In a digital world, writing is the first impression you make on peers, teachers, potential new friends, and on potential employers. These days, employers search for applicants' online presence and they see what you write online. Even in a casual online venue, writing counts. Perhaps the grammar/mechanics/punctuation aren't such a big deal in informal writing, but HOW effectively you communicate in any situation, formal or informal, says a lot about you to prospective employers.
If you are a student who needs help with formal writing, check out my virtual assistant program for college students.
If you are a professor who would like to help the students in your content courses learn how to communicate more effective, check out my book: Communities of Practice.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
This guest post is from my good friend Tara Ross, whose brand new book just came out last week. Her book is a must-read for all online instructors.
Daily Actions for Social Media Mastery: 75 Daily Challenges to Help you Expand your Reach, Build your Platform, and Establish your Online Authority
If you’re anything like me, just the title above makes you queasy. The idea of self-promotion seems antithetical to our teaching craft of helping others. However, in the new era of the unattached, non-salaried, non-tenured, contract-to-contract workers, we must take care of ourselves. What does this mean? Self-promotion.
The good news is that self-promotion in the age of social media is first centered on what we do best: helping others. How can these two things exist simultaneously? Read on!
First, you have to accept that you need to self-promote
Even if you don’t like it,
you have to promote yourself.
Teachers are universally horrible at being entrepreneurs. I’m sorry to say this, but it’s true. I’m a teacher, I’m the daughter of two teachers, I spend my life hanging around with friends who are teachers, I’m in several networking groups with teachers, and let me tell you what I hear A LOT:
“I need to find an online teaching job, but I don’t know what to do.”
The problem is that finding an online teaching job in 2013 is nothing like it was in 2000. Or 2007. Or even 2011. The industry has changed considerably in 2 years.
So once people recognize that it’s no easy feat to find an online teaching job, and that they are going to have to market themselves, they retreat to the next thing I hear a lot:
“If I wanted to learn how to market myself, I would have gotten my degree in marketing.”
Actually, it’s not exactly those words, but several variations:
“I just want to teach; I don’t want to sell myself.”
“I don’t have time to hunt for jobs.”
“I shouldn’t have to jump through all these hoops.”
These are followed by applying for a few teaching jobs a week with no response from the schools. Surprise! Schools are not really looking at your applications. They are weeding you out. With 600 to 2000 applications received for every teaching job advertised in online education, schools don’t have to look too hard; they just have to be effective at separating the serious from the half-hearted.
Demands for official transcripts to even be considered for a teaching job can clear out a lot of applicants due to the expense. Not having the right ‘keywords’ on a CV (and who knows what keywords they are looking for?), and not filling out the application correctly can weed out a majority of applicants as well.
Resiliency and creativity are critical.
What’s the answer to this system?
Making personal connections by helping people.
It used to be that you would connect with people at conferences, at networking events, or by calling Human Resources. While conferences can still be an extremely effective way to meet hiring administrators at institutions, it is expensive and not available as an easy strategy for most people.
Today, social media has upended much of how we conduct the business of networking. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and communities within Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ provide professionals with the ability to connect with hiring managers directly – an impossible coup in the years prior to the advent of social media.
The key is to find a valuable social media community (such as a group on Facebook or LinkedIn) and then establish yourself within that community as a helper and an expert in your field. Yes, this takes time, but it is effective. Building relationships with people in your industry via social media helps you to gain access to institutions, administrators, and decision makers. You promote yourself by helping others. You share your knowledge and wisdom freely. And here is what most businesses forget that is so critical to building those relationships:
Social media is not broadcast advertising like TV, radio, or print. It’s a two-way relationship where each party seeks to gain exposure while helping the other.
Simple, right? Well, the idea is simple, but few do this effectively. Why? Because you have to present yourself very well on social media, and you have to know which platforms to be on relative to your goals.
Second, build your social media profile fully.
I still have friends and family who are not on social media. In most cases, they are not ones trying to expand their careers. If you want to work in online education or you want to build a business online, you must build your social media profile robustly. This does not mean sharing your private life broadly. You control the information flow. But I highly recommend you build it in a way that allows people to create a connection with you.
Here are some tips:
· Upload a profile picture across your social media accounts. I know this sounds obvious, but I know too many people who want to teach online who refuse to upload their picture. Here’s the thing: people will not connect with you professionally if they cannot see you. If they get to know you over a long period of time, that may be an exception. But hiring members popping in and out of online groups, or scanning their newsfeed, are not going to connect with you emotionally or professionally without seeing you.
- Fill out all sections of your LinkedIn profile. Don’t skimp on this. You need to display why people should hire you. Plus, you need to allow them to find something about you that is familiar. In a recent case, a hiring manager chose one qualified applicant over other qualified applicants because the one applicant volunteered at an animal shelter and listed that on their LinkedIn profile. The hiring manager, who loved animals, felt a connection. Remember, too, that your LinkedIn profile is not your resume. You do not need to keep it brief. Fill out every section possible. Use relevant keywords for your field in the heading and in your top section so that recruiters looking for candidates like you can find you easily.
· Allocate time every day to be on social media. You cannot be an effective networker if you only get on social media once a week. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, make it a habit. Be purposeful, too: get in those groups and start sharing frequently. Don’t just talk about yourself; answer questions that others have. Share links to interesting articles you read. Refer people that you meet to others you think they need to connect with for career purposes. Build up some good karma.
· Once you have made some connections within groups, seek individual connections by sending a friend request on Facebook, or requesting a connection on LinkedIn. This is how you start a conversation about your goals and that person’s goals. These conversations help you jump-start your career search – your connections and your friends encourage you to apply and are on the lookout for your application.
Third, align your career goals with the appropriate social media channels
Establish your goals and then decide which platforms to be on.
I don’t recommend that you try to be on every social media channel or even all of the main ones. Decide what your particular goals are. For example,
· Do you want to find online teaching jobs? Consider Facebook and LinkedIn groups for interacting with others and Google+ for writing about your field and posting it on the net where it will be found. Google+ is indexed by Google and posting on Google’s social networking platform can fast track your content on Google’s search engine. You gain exposure and develop your perceived authority in your field.
· Do you want to connect with other online instructors for camaraderie, or potential research opportunities? Consider LinkedIn and Academia.edu. LinkedIn will help you find groups of professionals in your industry and Academia.edu can help you find researchers and their projects that may resonate with your goals. Don’t just join adjunct teaching groups, though. Be creative: find groups where key people in your industry may be hanging out and engage there purposefully.
· Do you want to develop multiple income streams so that online education is not your only gig? Consider setting up a blog to promote your content, joining membership groups of like-minded individuals who want to learn how to make money online, and being active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.
The bottom line is that social media is altruistic: your goal is to help others more than you help yourself. When you do that, you benefit through increased exposure and relationship building.
I provide step-by-step guidance in my book, Daily Actions for Social Media Mastery: 75 Daily Challenges to Help you Expand your Reach, Build your Platform, and Establish your Online Authority. It is available for immediate download on Amazon Kindle (you don’t have to own a kindle to read it), and it offers an up-to-date guide on how to leverage specific social media platforms to advance your specific career goals. It was written for a group of online professors, and the daily challenges included in the book were among the most popular in our group.
Remember: self-promote by helping others. Build relationships to meet your goals.
About the author:
Tara Ross is an educator who teaches about how to maximize your potential on social media, empower your goal setting, and develop strategies to achieve location independence. She writes about traveling, social media, and being a digital nomad at EdJourneys.com, and travels globally to demonstrate that location independence is not only viable but also necessary to your happiness.
She is a college professor of Political Science and Education, having taught in the online environment since 2000. She holds a PhD in Educational Leadership, and an MA in International Affairs. She enjoys traveling with her husband, Stan, bringing her laptop, and teaching while exploring.
Together with her husband and two sons, she own Ross and Sons Publishing, an independent book publishing company dedicated to working with authors to help them share their words with the world.
For more information about Tara, please join her over at http://edjourneys.com/
Topics guest post
Monday, December 2, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
So now the holiday is over and, looking back, how much grading did you have to do? I didn't have any grading, although I did check for questions once a day early in the mornings. If you found that grading took up too much of your time, you might check out these two low-cost time management solutions:
Grading Made Fast and Easy
Virtual Assistant for Online Faculty
Happy Thanksgiving and Safe Travels.
Grading Made Fast and Easy
Virtual Assistant for Online Faculty
Happy Thanksgiving and Safe Travels.
Topics time management
Monday, November 25, 2013
Teaching and learning is all about demonstrating mastery of course goals and outcomes. The best way for students to demonstrate mastery is through an activity chosen and produced by each individual student. We should always provide choices for ways in which students can demonstrate what they have learned.
Students are all different in the way they learn and the way in which they explain concepts to others. When students produce an assignment for assessment, they are, in effect, explaining concepts to their faculty, who, will grade their attempt at demonstrating mastery of the content. It stands to reason, that assessment projects should be different throughout the course.
Faculty complain about grading papers and yet they continue to assign multiple papers in every class. Frankly, I stopped doing that a long time ago. Only in pre-designed classes where I cannot change assignments, do my students write papers. They write a lot in the discussions every week and so they get plenty of writing practice, review, and revision without having to write one or more papers during the class term.
There are many ways to demonstrate mastery that are more effective as well as more interesting to produce and assess. Instead of assigning textbook homework and written essays, try some of these ideas. I guarantee your students will enjoy the diversity and you will find grading much more interesting too.
Topics assessment and grading