Successful Educational Online Networking:

Posted: January 23, 2012 in SLIS
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“Study Anywhere… 24/7 Online Format… Live Anywhere” (SJSUSLIS, 2011).

Adapting to one’s environment is a necessity.  Being an online/long distance student requires numerous changes of thought and behavior as an individual must evolve beyond the traditional classroom setting.  “Students in an online program need good technology and the skills to go with it.  Much of this comes down to a positive attitude and a willingness to experiment and try new things” (Faires, 2011a).  This educational experience may be debated as a more realistic representation of the modern day work setting, whether one is attending school or not in this fast paced technological society.

An online student will desire “success over chaos [emphasis added]” (Irwin, 2008).  Chaos can hopefully be prevented by recognizing skills that you may or may not have that are best suited for online education. Atrributes include strong time management skills, strong organizational skills, self-motivation, the ability to enjoy working independently, and comfortable with technology (Faires, 2011b).

“A crucial part of succeeding in an online class is keeping track of the progression of the material, because the weekly structure can become invisible to the online student who is not tuned in” (Faires, 2011c).  Being on online student does not negate many of the personal skills attributed to a traditional educational setting, and still makes use of most of those skills, such as; dedication and attitude (readiness to work and desire to learn), hard work, prioritization, time allotment, utilization of tools, correspondence, acceptance of feedback, accountability, and equal contribution to teamwork (participation) to name a few whether present in a classroom or online only.  Most of these skills still apply, but, for online students staying up to date/current with work, reading, etc., must be fueled solely by inner motivation.  For example: will you read and utilize the course content on a frequent basis as if it were being presented in a classroom on a projector screen?

Not only do online students need to stay up-to-date with work/reading, remain engaged, implement basic organization, but, also it is important to maintain frequent online communication (Faires, 2011c).  Correspondence is quite efficient and with ease through online social software with regards to presenting and developing your “identity… presence… relationships… conversations… groups… reputation… [and] sharing”, as was demonstrated in Smith’s Software Building Blocks (as cited in Stephens, 2008).  For many, individual work is preferred and teamwork is usually one of opposition or dread.  Yet, our preference doesn’t always match the requirements, nor, is the lack of teamwork (including online students) an experience that should be underappreciated.  “Teamwork is an opportunity to practice leadership [emphasis added] and mentoring in a safe environment” (Irwin, 2008).  Ken Hancock highlights that teams are especially important in online schools because, retention of information is minimal by reading or hearing alone.  Retention is higher when involving teamwork, discussion, responding to fellow students/faculty and then much more easily implemented in future situations.  And, to elaborate further, learning/comprehension is proven to have a higher success rate when one is able to present/teach rather than just absorb (2007).

Teamwork can give rise to enthusiasm and trust which are essential skills as a contributing and reliable member of any team used globally in the real world (Irwin, 2008).  For the majority of the professional world, we collaborate with, partition work with, and forward our findings with our fellow colleagues.  Teamwork involves a lot of work and is an essential part of most jobs due to the accuracy and quality of work which come from the core concepts of having enthusiasm and a plan (Irwin, 2008).  Regarding teamwork, “the choice is really yours.  You can have a normal functioning team or a dysfunctional team.  And if you want a positive experience, then you simply recognize and portray the, or perform the behaviors that are necessary” (Hancock, 2007).

All online students will come from various technological backgrounds.  But, for many, no matter how well versed you may be with various software and hardware, there is always updates, newer editions, and programs that may have yet to be used due to the lack of the need for it.  New programs/software will be necessary and for even those that have a more hands-on approach to learning, additional assistance may be necessary.  The FAQ/Help/Tutorials documentation or web links found along with most software and hardware will elaborate in more depth or branch off on an entirely new concept that one may have yet to learn on their own.  Online students should recognize learning these processes will require time dedicated to practice and implementation.  Thus, a successful online student not only reflects their skills/talents, but also exemplifies the correlation between the success and reputation of the school as well as the faculty hosting this online learning experience.

Online students may never meet another online student in their particular program in person.  That clearly displays how dependent and necessary online contact has to be.  Email, discussion boards, collaborates, private sessions, or instant messaging (video, voice, or text chat) are the gateways to theoretically reduce the distance out of distance learning.  Buckland’s Redesigning Library Services, clearly states; “We have many more tools now, but the ideas remain the same.  People can make connections and talk to each other” (as cited in Stephens, 2008).  For online contact and teamwork to be successful, all students and fellow classmates need to utilize the same programs, software, and hardware that is compatible with one another for there to be fluidity.  Guidelines should be provided by the institution and should not be disregarded or its significance minimalized.  And, always remember; “Each professor has a different way of doing things, different requirements and usually different software for us to master” (Faires, 2011c).

References:

Faires, D.  (2011a).  3. Technology Tools and Literacy: Introduction and Objectives [Course Content].  Retrieved from SJSU SLIS Course SP12 Online Social Networking | Steiner 3 D2L Site.

Faires, D.  (2011b).  5. Personal Skills: Assess Your Readiness.  [Course Content].   Is Online Right For You?  Retrieved from SJSU SLIS Course SP12 Online Social Networking | Steiner 3 D2L Site.

Faires, D.  (2011c).  5. Personal Skills: Tips for Success [Course Content].  Retrieved from SJSU SLIS Course SP12 Online Social Networking | Steiner 3 D2L Site.

Hancock, K.  (2007, February 8).  Working in Teams. SLIS Colloquia Series Web Seminar [Video File].  Retrieved from http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/slis/colloquia/2007/colloquia07sp.htm#feb0807

Irwin, E.  (2008, June 6).  The Monster Inside Library School: Working in Teams [Video File].  Retrieved from http://amazon.sjsu.edu/html-dfaires/203/irwin_cam_custom.mp4

SJSUSLIS.  (2011, October 29).  Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) Overview [Video File].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj58UEVRqYY&context=C3df4716ADOEgsToPDskK38Uh0-639Ls2m6hnFC4cm

Stephens, M.  (2008, October 8).  The Ongoing Web Revolution.  Library Technology Reports, 43(5), 10-14. Retrieved from http://alatechsource.metapress.com/content/g838585854375852/fulltext.html

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