Friday, March 30, 2012

First Online Class After Being Laid Off? Yes You Can Succeed!

Going Back to School After Being Laid Off - Photo by Jason V on Wikimedia Commons
Many of my online students are displaced workers. They might have worked twenty or more years, planning to retire in a few years. Those plans of retirement after faithfully working for most of one's adult life came abruptly to a halt as the place of business announced that it would be closing its doors forever. Although the announcement was not completely unexpected with the economy's downturn, it hit hard. Really hard. Now what?

Going back to school has been a solution for many misplaced workers who find themselves starting over. Experience in a dead job does not pay the bills and unemployment benefits do not last forever. Returning to school has provided the answer for many of these hard-working, dedicated folks who have been dealt a tough hand.

"I haven't been in school in over twenty years. I'm not sure that I can do this." I get these sorts of messages every semester. It is natural to fear the unknown, but I have found over and over again that students who fall in this category typically have amazing resilience, a great work ethic, and absolutely can excel in online classes by following a few tips.

How to Prepare for an Online Class - Photo by Kenny Swartout on Wikimedia Commons
Before taking an online class

Misplaced workers often have a wealth of services available to them. Make sure to research what help is available and get good, sound advice. Carefully choose classes that will be useful to one's future aspirations. Many classes sound similar but only certain ones may count toward a major area of study, degree, or certification.

Campuses typically offer computer coaches on campus, via telephone, and/or through email, which can be very helpful to those who have little or no computer knowledge. Taking a basic computer class, some of which may be offered for free, can help folks become familiar with common computer terms, shortcuts, and can offer valuable practice with the opportunity to ask questions and get helpful answers. Be familiar with using a scroll bar, drop down menu, and other common ways of moving around on the computer screen. Getting some practice with a typing tutor can be quite helpful in improving speed on the keyboard as well.

If you have a computer that you plan to use for an online class, ensure that it meets minimum requirements for an online class. The college will typically have a preferred browser, such as Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. You may need to download certain programs. Some class documents may be created in a program like Microsoft Word or Excel. Although some online classes may have these documents in a form that can be accessed from any computer, students who do not have those programs on their computers might find it helpful to access the class the first couple of times on campus in order to print the course calendar, syllabus, etc.

If the college offers an orientation class, utilize it. These are designed to give students a hands-on look at how online classes work and usually give you the opportunity to practice a variety of student tasks, such as finding documents, participating in discussions or forums, submitting a document, taking a quiz, etc.

If you have access to the online instructor's email, feel free to send him or her a message before class starts introducing yourself. Plan to purchase textbooks and other required materials, if applicable, before class starts. Be careful about purchasing textbooks online and in other places – a few online classes require a code to get into the class and the code is typically tied to the purchase of the textbook.

Anyone with special needs related to a disability may be eligible for certain reasonable accommodations; however, the student should notify the college of these special needs per the school's disability services. The college may also offer tutoring services upon request. Take advantage of these great opportunities – some of these services may be free!

Tips for Successfully Completing an Online Class - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
What to do when an online class starts

The college will identify a start date for the class. Plan to enter the class on the date that it begins. Any student that has not accessed the class by a certain date will usually not be allowed to enter after that point. The class should have a syllabus, a calendar of assignments, and how establish communication with the online instructor. Additional important information regarding how the class works may be located near these documents.

Plan to carefully examine class documents and familiarize yourself with the layout of the online classroom. The vast majority of questions will more than likely be answered by these initial documents for the class. Although the class may look completely foreign initially, after a few weeks, you'll get into a routine, and the various parts of the class will become much more familiar to you. Be careful not to click on any quizzes or tests unless you are ready to take them and are sure that you have enough time to complete them.

If the instructor gives students the opportunity to receive the announcements or news feeds via email, ensure that you have information entered into the system to allow that to happen. Instructors may email reminders of assignments or other important details within the class via the announcements or news feeds, and this can be a helpful reminder to ensure that you complete assignments on time.

How to Avoid Problems in an Online Class
If problems arise in an online class

The majority of problems are usually avoided by completing the above steps. Most of my students who are displaced workers tend to be highly motivated, organized, and have a wealth of practical experience to enhance class discussions. Once they find their way around the online classroom and become comfortable using a computer, they tend to successfully complete complete assignments. However, a few problems may arise, so here are some helpful tips to avoid problems in an online class:

Complete assignments well before due dates. It can be quite helpful to print the calendar of assignments and develop a schedule for completing each one. Many of my students highlight each assignment as they complete them so that they will have a visual display of what assignments have been completed and which ones are still pending. Feel free to email the instructor if something does not match. If an assignment or score is supposed to be visible and is not, a setting might be incorrect, but the instructor may not know that tweaking is necessary unless questioned by a student.

Dedicate specific days of the week and/or times of the day to complete assignments. Mark these on your calendar just as you might mark an important appointment or meeting. Displaced workers are often juggling numerous responsibilities at home, and assignments can easily be missed. If you know that you may be particularly busy during a certain point in the semester, you might wish to notify the online instructor well before the due date to see if the instructor might be willing to extend the availability of an assignment, but realize that extensions may be rare depending on the type and size of class.

Carefully read all directions for completing assignments. For example, some tests might have more than one correct answer. Discussions or forums, group projects, tests, or other assignments typically have specific instructions. The instructor will typically identify whether a test allows multiple attempts or if only one attempt will be granted. Be careful to follow honor code policies throughout the course. If a grading rubric is provided, carefully study that document to determine how to earn maximum points.

Avoid plagiarism and copyright violations. Many people who have been in the workforce for many years may find written assignments in particular to be a bit difficult. Be careful not to copy information and images from the textbook, online sources, or other places unless you have specific permission to do so with proper citations. Most instructors are looking for original work. If you truly understand the material, you should be able to put that information into your own words. Tutors can be quite helpful with writing skills.

Take advantage of opportunities for extra points. Most students plan to complete all assignments and may think that they would not need any extra credit; however, if an instructor offers the opportunity for extra credit or optional study resources, it can be to your advantage to complete these assignments. These opportunities can help a student earn extra points and/or may help one to understand the material to a fuller extent. I have seen a couple of extra points make the difference in a letter grade for quite a few of my students.

Ask questions if you have them. Online instructors are at a disadvantage because they cannot read body language of students. If an instructor is teaching a traditional class, he or she can usually easily tell the difference between a student who is sleeping in class and one who is sincerely trying but does not completely understand the directions. Whenever a student fails to complete an online assignment, the instructor may not know whether that person has decided to drop the course, could not find where to complete the assignment, or simply forgot to complete it. That instructor may assume that all students understand assignments unless he or she hears otherwise, so maintaining effective communication can be helpful in troubleshooting any problems that might arise. Contacting the instructor two weeks before the deadline is more likely to get favorable results than emailing the instructor 15 minutes before the due date. If the online instructor has listed a home phone number for contact, ensure that you call at an appropriate time of day.

How to Succeed in First Online Class - Photo by Gordon Griffiths at Wikimedia Commons
Succeeding in an online class

Yes, taking an online class may seem like a huge step for someone who is going back to school after many years in the work force. Don't let the fear of the unknown prevent you from achieving your goals. Most careers today involve using computers, so an online class may give you helpful experience with computers in addition to knowledge of your chosen field of study. Some of my students who are displaced workers tell me that being laid off was one of the best things that ever happened to them because it gave them the opportunity to do something that they had only dreamed of doing in the past.

I wish you the best and hope that you find these tips to be helpful in helping you to meet your future goals! Find more great resources in the Student Survive 2 Thrive site map.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Free Medical Terminology Practice Test: Fractures

Fractures, or broken bones, can occur in many different manners and may appear and a variety of forms. This free medical terminology practice test can serve as a great review on the basic terms for fracture types. Some of the terms for broken bones have names to which we might relate, such as the greenstick fracture, in which one might imagine trying to break a stick that is green that breaks on one side and not the other. Others may be a bit more challenging!

How to use this practice test
  1. Click on the first flash card to enlarge.
  2. Click on the next thumbnail at the bottom of the screen to advance to the next slide.
Each main type of fracture is described with four possible answers. The slide immediately following each gives the correct answer.

I hope you enjoy using this review on types of fractures and visit my Student Survive 2 Thrive site map for more great educational resources!

Fractures Practice Test
Study Guide for Fracture Types
Fracture Common With Osteoporosis
Compression Fracture Definition
Stress Fracture Definition
Hairline Fracture Definition
Simple Fracture Definition
Closed Fracture Definition
Fracture in Which Only One Side Breaks
Greenstick Fracture Definition
Fracture in Which One Bone is Pushed Into the Other
Impacted Fracture Definition
Open Fracture Definition
Compound Fracture Definition
Fracture in Which the Bone is Splintered or Crushed
Comminuted Fracture Definition
Fracture Above the Wrist Bones
Colles' Fracture Definition
Fracture That Doesn't Show Up on X-Ray
Occult Fracture Definition
Fracture That Results From Osteoporosis
Pathological Fracture Definition
Skeletal System Study Guide

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trace a Drop of Blood Through the Body - Circulation Made Simple

The heart, a double-sided pump has the amazing ability to pump approximately 5 liters of blood through an average adult's body. Many people in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, or other healthcare-related classes may find it helpful to review the pathways that blood may travel through the human body.

These flashcards include the main structures as blood is pumped throughout the body. In an effort to keep things simple, I only included the largest blood vessels, but the arteries eventually move to smaller vessels until gas exchange occurs in the capillaries.

For more detailed information related to the circulatory system, feel free to check out these great links:
  • Blood Flow Sequence is a pdf file with this simplified information as well as diagrams.
  • Map the Human Heart offers an interactive animation where you can enter a pulse rate and see what the heart would look like pumping at that rate. They also offer quick heart facts.
  • The University of Utah offers an animated heart with corresponding ECG. You can select various heart rhythms to see how the heart appears in each.
How to Use These Human Blood Circulation Flashcards

  1. Click on the first image below to enlarge. 
  2. Click on the next thumbnail at the bottom of the screen to scroll through all the slides.
You may wish to find more of my resources, such as:
Visit the Student Survive 2 Thrive site map for additional free flash cards, practice tests, tips, and other resources.

Trace a Drop of Blood Through the Human Body © Katrena
Free Medical Terminology and A&P Flash Cards © Katrena
Blood Circulation Pathway © Katrena
Blood Circulation Through Vena Cava © Katrena
Blood Circulation: Vena Cava to Right Atrium © Katrena
Blood Circulation: Right Atrium Through Tricuspid Valve © Katrena
Blood Circulation: Tricuspid Valve to Right Ventricle
Blood Circulation: Right Ventricle to Pulmonary Artery © Katrena
Blood Circulation: Pulmonary Artery to Lungs © Katrena
Blood Circulation: Lungs to Pulmonary Vein
Blood Circulation: Pulmonary Vein to Left Atrium
Blood Circulation: Left Atrium Through Mitral Valve
Blood Circulation: Mitral Valve to Left Ventricle © Katrena
Blood Circulation: Left Ventricle to Either Carotid Artery, Auxiliary Arteries, or Aorta © Katrena
Blood Circulation: Aorta to Vena Cava © Katrena
Simple Blood Circulation Flash Cards © Katrena

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Free Medical Terminology Practice Test: Pathological Skin Conditions

Pathological skin conditions are often quite challenging for those who are studying these medical terms. Some familiar words appear among the list, particularly those that we have seen or experienced. For example, someone who has experienced third degree burns is likely to remember identifying characteristics. Some conditions have very similar names while some lesions with similar symptoms might have names that vary widely.

Some folks might find unusual ways to remember a term, such as Willy Wonka's line in the 2005 film about Veruca being the name for a wart or remembering that a callous person might have thick skin! A knowledge of prefixes and suffixes can be helpful. For example, leukoplakia involves white patches.

Directions for Using the Practice Test on Skin Conditions

This practice test gives identifying information about a pathological skin condition with four possible choices. The correct answer is highlighted on the following slide. Click on the first slide to enlarge. Then click on the next thumbnail at the bottom of the screen to advance to the next slide.

I hope you find this practice test helpful and educational. Visit the Student Survive 2 Thrive site map for more great resources!

Pathological Skin Condition Practice Test © Katrena
Free Medical Terminology Practice Test © Katrena
Student Survive 2 Thrive Med Term Quiz © Katrena
Skin Condition Common in Infancy and Childhood © Katrena
What is Eczema? © Katrena
Another Name for Athlete's Foot © Katrena
What is Tinea Pedis © Katrena
Another Name for Cradle Cap © Katrena
What is Seborrheic Dermatitis? © Katrena
Skin Condition Where People Have White Skin and Pink Eyes © Katrena
What is Albinism? © Katrena
Large Elevated Scar With Irregular Shape © Katrena
What is a Keloid? © Katrena
What Condition Causes a Butterfly Rash? © Katrena
What is SLE (Lupus)? © Katrena
What Are White Patches on Mucous Membranes? © Katrena
What is Leukoplakia? © Katrena
Skin Condition Common With AIDS © Katrena
What is Kaposi's Sarcoma? © Katrena
Medical Term for Fungal Nail Infection © Katrena
What is Onychomycosis? © Katrena
Another Name for Thickened Skin on Weight-bearing Areas © Katrena
What is a Callus? © Katrena
Medical Term for Wart © Katrena
What is a Verruca? © Katrena
Skin Condition Where Dermis Thickens & Hands & Feet Swell © Katrena
What is Scleroderma? © Katrena
Skin Condition That Looks Like a Dimple on the Back © Katrena
What is a Pilonidal Cyst? © Katrena
Medical Term for Senile Warts © Katrena
What is Seborrheic Keratosis? © Katrena
Medical Term for a Mole © Katrena
What is a Nevus? © Katrena
Skin Condition Common in Diabetes With Foul Odor © Katrena
What is Gangrene? © Katrena
Common Rash in Teenagers © Katrena
What is Acne Vulgaris? © Katrena
Blisters on Mouth and Skin With Musty Odor © Katrena
What is Pemphigus? © Katrena
Medical Term for Poison Ivy Rash © Katrena
What is Dermatitis? © Katrena
Burn That Causes Redness and Swelling but no Scar © Katrena
What is a 1st Degree Burn? © Katrena
Most Common Skin Cancer © Katrena
What is Basal Cell Carcinoma? © Katrena
Skin Condition That Causes Red Cheeks © Katrena
What is Rosacea? © Katrena
Medical Term for Ringworm on the Head © Katrena
What is Tinea Capitis? © Katrena
Full-thickness Burn That May or May Not be Painful © Katrena
What is a Third-degree Burn? © Katrena
Medical Term for Lice Infestation © Katrena
What is Pediculosis? © Katrena
Skin Condition That Causes White Scales © Katrena
What is Psoriasis? © Katrena
Medical Term for Shingles © Katrena
What is Herpes Zoster? © Katrena
What is an Overgrowth of Skin on a Corn © Katrena
What is Keratosis? © Katrena
Fast Growing Skin Cancer That Crusts © Katrena
What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma? © Katrena
Medical Term for Ingrown Toenail © Katrena
What is Onychocryptosis? © Katrena
Skin Infection That Crusts and Oozes Liquid Like Honey © Katrena
What is Impetigo? © Katrena
Precancerous Skin Lesion Due to Sun Exposure © Katrena
What is Actinic Keratosis? © Katrena
Skin Rash Caused by Human Itch Mite © Katrena
What is Scabies? © Katrena
Skin Cancer That Tends to Spread or Metastasize © Katrena
What is Malignant Melanoma? © Katrena
Viral Rashes That are Infectious © Katrena
What are Exanthematous Viral Diseases? © Katrena
Partial Thickness Burn With Blisters © Katrena
What is a 2nd Degree Burn? © Katrena
Medical Term for Ringworm © Katrena
What is Tinea Corporis? © Katrena
Flaky Scales on Overgrown Skin © Katrena
What is Hyperkeratosis? © Katrena
Free Skin Rash Study Guide © Katrena