How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

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antfancier
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How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby antfancier » Sun Feb 28, 16:11 2016

My husband is about six months into a two and a half year online masters program and I've realised that he is a terrible student. Part of it is just general organization skills (for example, not writing down references as he quotes them but instead waiting until he's finished the paper to start compiling a bibliography :kill: ), but the main problem is that he isn't suited to online learning. He's a smart guy, but gets flustered using the online learning systems. For some reason he doesn't want to email questions or interact much on the forums, even though I know he would be constantly speaking to tutors if he were meeting them face to face. He's already spent hundreds of dollars buying books and printing out papers, just for the one module this semester, even though they provide all the reading materials online.

I've been wary of saying anything to him lest I seem like a crazy emotional pregnant lady, but it's driving me crazy! What's the best way I can support him without seeming like I'm nagging or making him feel inadequate?

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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby rowan » Sun Feb 28, 20:38 2016

Many of the online learning systems have weird annoying things about them and you just have to kind of poke at them to figure out. Is there something specific he's having trouble with? Or does he just not "like" interacting online? I did much of a masters' degree online, and use online learning systems in the classes I teach, so feel free to hit me up for specifics. I've used D2L, Blackboard, WebCT and a few others. I haven't used Moodle, but I know people who do and could get answers about the tech side of thing.

Participating in the online class stuff was required for my classes. Even if it's not, as a college instructor, I see a strong correlation between participation in class and how well one does. If you don't engage with the material, you won't do well. If you can figure out why he doesn't want to email questions or interact on the forums it will help a lot.

I get wanting to read things on paper; I get the print books myself, just because I find it easier and want them later. Papers I don't; you can highlight in free acrobat now I think and put sticky notes. Writing down references is just a skill you need to work on no matter what format the class is in. You don't have to make a full bibliography but writing down the book and the page # as you go is helpful.
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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby Nerd1987 » Tue Mar 1, 12:05 2016

What I would do is bring it up at a neutral time (when you both are having a decent day) and be concise and mention that you think he is very capable and could do "even better".

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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby antfancier » Tue Mar 8, 16:21 2016

My husband finally finished the first two papers for this semester and it's a huge relief off both our shoulders.

rowan wrote:Or does he just not "like" interacting online?

Yeah, I think this is the problem (you should have seen him yesterday when we were doing our tax return!). He uses Blackboard, which I used years ago as an undergrad, but it is sometimes overly complicated. I'm going to suggest that he write down a 'map' of where he finds specific information that he'll need to go back to so it's easier to find next time. Do you have any specific websites or ways to search for academic articles or journals online? He has just been using google, but I'm surprised the university hasn't given him access to something like JSTOR.

rowan wrote: I see a strong correlation between participation in class and how well one does.

This is a really good point. He's studying through a British university, and I know at undergrad level at least, that's pretty different from college in the USA. I think he wasn't prepared for how much it was going to be left totally up to him to manage his time and create his own research assignments. He did get a bit more proactive with emailing his tutor towards the end, so maybe he just needed time to feel comfortable.

Nerd1987 wrote:What I would do is bring it up at a neutral time (when you both are having a decent day) and be concise and mention that you think he is very capable and could do "even better".

Unfortunately I have a British accent so I would just sound super sarcastic saying that, even if I was trying to be sincere. I played my usual move though and 'suggested' that next time he could write down the bibliography as he goes along. He agreed that would be better and then said the reason he didn't do it was because he didn't want to get confused with the word count! I laughed hysterically for a solid five minutes until I was nearly sick. It made him laugh a lot too, so there's that.

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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby rowan » Tue Mar 8, 22:09 2016

antfancier wrote:He uses Blackboard

I am not especially enamoured of Blackboard, as an instructor. Sometimes I forget to "release" a tool or something because in my mind (e.g. grades) should be always fucking visible. Also setting up gradebooks is a PITA and I've seen better content management of that but I'm sure that's irrelevant to him. ;) The suggestion of a "map" is a good one but he may have to re-find specific things for each individual course that may depend on where the instructor puts it. Horrible thing.

Do you have any specific websites or ways to search for academic articles or journals online? He has just been using google, but I'm surprised the university hasn't given him access to something like JSTOR.

Hm. Does the university library not have its own search? If you're just looking to find the articles, I find Montana State's library search pretty well designed, but unfortunately you won't be able to download the articles (unless they're open access). I mean I can tell you where to find most astronomy things for free, but that's perhaps only marginally useful (check on arXiv.org, most authors put up their submitted article there).

I played my usual move though and 'suggested' that next time he could write down the bibliography as he goes along. He agreed that would be better and then said the reason he didn't do it was because he didn't want to get confused with the word count!

Hehe! Well you can write it in a separate file, or if in MS word add it in a comment, which doesn't get included in the word count. ;) Or, y'know, on paper. *gasp* ;)

Glad he's getting more used to it and communicating with people. :)
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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby Sonic# » Wed Mar 9, 5:57 2016

Do you have any specific websites or ways to search for academic articles or journals online? He has just been using google, but I'm surprised the university hasn't given him access to something like JSTOR.


Besides scholar.google.com, the only ways I can think of are behind paywalls. JSTOR at least lets you search for content, even if you can't access most of it. There's also EBSCO, which has a number of databases I've used, like Academic Search Complete. And there's Project Muse, which is mainly for stuff in the humanities, and is searchable on the same grounds as JSTOR (most isn't free, but you can see it exists).

But yeah, I second rowan's suggestion to consult the library site, if there is one. Major libraries may even have their own research guides for particular fields or classes.

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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby Ucallthesebagels » Sun Mar 13, 12:40 2016

I sense that the disorganization isn't just something related to online classes - perhaps it's a skill lacking in other areas?

Online learning engagement varies depending on the modules and instructors. Writing papers is never fun but it's part of the learning experience. Perhaps discussing aloud the subjects over coffee or dinner would allow him to process information better and get into gear about finishing the citations etc needed.

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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby Nachos » Thu Mar 17, 15:55 2016

Online learning is haaaaard for some people. Especially own time management if that's not something you're used to and all. But I'm glad he got the things done :)
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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby geldofc » Wed Apr 6, 4:44 2016

online learning is hard coz u need to motivate yourself and be your own teacher. probably it's not for everyone and he should do what works for him i.e. go to class irl
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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby rowan » Wed Apr 6, 9:54 2016

That is not very helpful advice, geldofc. There are many reasons someone would choose online vs. class in a classroom, and it is a valid option for a lot of people.

Many online classes are just as effective as being in the classroom. I know instructors who are not very effective in an "IRL" classroom either. How effective a class does not especially depend on the medium.
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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby geldofc » Wed Apr 6, 19:13 2016

i've taken online classes too and i wasn't saying they're ineffective. it's just harder to motivate yourself and some things don't work for some people, and trying to make it work is pointless if you have other alternatives that work better for you
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Re: How do you help/encourage someone to study online?

Postby rowan » Wed Apr 6, 19:34 2016

I think you should try to make it work for you, before you just call it pointless, IMO. For any class. Given that this is for an online master's program, it's unlikely he can just take classes in person.
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