Campus closed for winter break

The university is closed Wednesday Dec. 20 – Monday Jan. 1 for the winter holidays. The university reopens Tuesday Jan. 2.

Spring deadlines

Applications for spring are due to the Office of Admissions by Jan. 8 for undergraduate students, and to the Graduate School by Dec. 15 for graduate students.

Please review your program admission requirements, and check out our Become a Student page for more information about enrolling at UA Little Rock.

Questions about online programs

If you have any questions regarding our online degree or certificate programs, please use our contact form to email us or call (501) 569-3003 and leave a voice message. We will look into your inquiry and start responding to messages in the order they were received when we return to campus Jan. 2.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to explore our website (including our FAQs) for more information about UA Little Rock Online programs.

Blackboard Student Support

BlackboardBasics

At Your Fingertips: Blackboard Student Support

By now, you’re probably at least familiar with the concept of “online courses.” However, you may be wondering “How do I access my online courses, and who’s going to help me if I have a problem?”

Blackboard is UA Little Rock’s online learning management system where students can access their course work, such as assignments, media, tests, and grades. You can also communicate with your classmates and instructors through the Blackboard interface via discussions, messaging, and video collaboration.

Blackboard’s technology accommodates a variety of learning environments. While students who take classes on campus may use Blackboard as a digital extension of their classroom, for fully online students, Blackboard is the classroom.

One example of how online students can have an engaging classroom experience without ever stepping foot on campus is through Blackboard Collaborate. Collaborate allows you to engage in real-time discussions with your classmates and instructors using a chat-room format with webcams, microphones, and screen-sharing, creating a face-to-face experience as if you were in a physical classroom together.

Because the technology is potentially new to many students, UA Little Rock offers Blackboard Student Support to assist those who may struggle with accessing or navigating their online courses. Some of the resources offered through UA Little Rock’s Blackboard Student Support include:

Blackboard Orientation

New students are encouraged to attend a Blackboard orientation workshop at the beginning of their first semester. Thirty-minute sessions are offered on campus in Dickinson Hall, Room 101, during the first week of the fall and spring semesters. If you’re unable to make it to campus or need a quick refresher, check out the online orientation on the Blackboard Student Support website at ualr.edu/blackboard/orientation or the optional “Blackboard Student Orientation” course your “Courses” module in Blackboard.

Blackboard Student Support Website

You can find answers to most of your Blackboard-related questions on the Blackboard Student Support website. Here you’ll find the online Blackboard orientation with video tutorials, written step-by-step “how-to” guides, support articles, and more. Make sure to visit and bookmark ualr.edu/blackboard so you’ll have quick access to these resources throughout the semester.

Blackboard Student Support Staff

If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, the website also features a support request form and phone number to contact our support team directly. Located on UA Little Rock’s main campus in Dickinson Hall, Room 105, our Blackboard Student Support team is dedicated to helping you troubleshoot your online courses, either in person or at a distance. You can stop by the office or call between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email anytime throughout the week. Please note: Support staff will try to respond to your support request within 24 hours, excluding weekends and U.S. holidays.
Visit ualr.edu/blackboard/contact to contact our support staff.

UALR Students Help Preserve Veterans Oral History

A group of students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock are participating in a project that will help bring veteran stories to a new generation.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., (L) and Dr. Sherry Robertson.
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., (L) and Dr. Sherry Robertson.
The Veterans History Project is a program of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center where the first hand, oral histories of veterans, along with pictures or artifacts, are collected and preserved. The project relies on veteran volunteers to contribute their stories.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., visited UALR on March 23 to talk with students, faculty, and veterans about the importance of the project.

“These gentleman, this group, really didn’t talk a whole lot about the war. So, that’s another reason that it’s so important. They just came back, and not only rebuilt our country, but they provided the security for Europe as they rebuilt,” Boozman said—referring to World War II veterans.

“There’s so many great reasons for doing this,” he continued. “It’s good for our veterans. It’s good for history, to make it such that we keep this stuff for generations to follow.”

Boozman’s office is responsible for promoting and delivering the stories collected on behalf of Arkansas to the Library of Congress.

Twenty-five UALR Donaghey Scholars are participating in the project through an honors composition class. The students will be interviewing veterans across the state and submitting their accounts. Anyone who has had the Veterans History Project training is permitted to collect veteran accounts.

The Library of Congress does not verify the accuracy of these accounts, but according to the VHP website, these stories are not meant to replace official record of the federal government or of military service.

So far, UALR has plans to interview 15 World War II veterans; however, there are 250,000 veterans in the state of Arkansas—which gives students plenty of stories to collect.

ICYMI – Watch the video of Sen. Boozman’s visit to UALR:

Mindfulness Group Aims to Abate Student Stress

“In the past, as a child, we used to breathe better. We didn’t worry about the future. We stayed in the present—playing and enjoying life. So, maybe it’s time to go back.” – Cai Carvalhaes

We’re halfway through the semester, and this time of the year can often be stressful for students. Luckily, there’s a way to defuse some of that tension and anxiety through UALR’s “Mindfulness Group.”

Cai Carvalhaes with UALR Counseling Services demonstrates a mindfulness exercise.
Cai Carvalhaes with UALR Counseling Services demonstrates a mindfulness exercise.
You may be asking, “What is mindfulness?” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

Cai Carvalhaes, a clinical social worker intern with UALR Counseling Services, leads the Mindfulness Group once a week. She says mindfulness is the ability to live in the present moment, and practicing mindfulness is useful for those who frequently experience stress and anxiety. In her group, she teaches exercises that focus on breathing and body movements. You are guided to concentrate on certain parts of your body—from head to feet— and become aware of what you’re feeling. When this awareness is achieved, she says, you’re able to release your emotions and feel more in control of the challenges that life presents you.

Carvalhaes, who is also a yoga instructor, began to feel anxious and experience panic attacks about eight years ago. Knowing she needed to do something about it, but not wanting to take medicine, she began to study mindfulness.

The idea of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School as a means to complement traditional treatments for a number of ailments ranging from anxiety to cancer.

Carvalhaes combines her experience with yoga and mindfulness in her teachings for the group.

Carvalhaes began the Mindfulness Group at UALR in January 2016, and says the student feedback has been positive so far. She uses psychometric scales to measure a student’s level of stress before and after the exercises. The results show that after the group meets, most students show a reduced level of stress and anxiety. Carvalhaes recognizes that students may develop symptoms of stress even after going through the mindfulness exercises, but regular practice can help reduce these symptoms over time.

“It’s necessary to practice,” she said. “If you don’t practice you won’t feel the effects. It takes a while sometimes, but anyone can do it.”

Carvalhaes said she tells her students to breathe in and out while they relax their minds, and the participants often feel better while in this state, even though they may not understand why.

“In the past, as a child, we used to breathe better. We didn’t worry about the future. We stayed in the present—playing and enjoying life. So, maybe it’s time to go back,” Carvalhaes said.

The UALR Mindfulness Group meets at noon every Wednesday in the Donaghey Student Center room 201T. It’s open to all UALR students, faculty, and staff.

Can’t make it to campus? Cai demonstrates one mindfulness exercise you can practice at home:

Mindfulness Exercise – UALR Online

Cai Carvalhaes, a clinical social worker intern with UALR Counseling Services, demonstrates a typical mindfulness exercise she might perform in her weekly Mindfulness Group.

Watch the video below for more from our interview with Cai:

Mindfulness – UALR Online

Cai Carvalhaes, a clinical social worker intern with UALR Counseling Services, talks about how practicing mindfulness can help students deal with every-day stress.

UA Little Rock Bookstore

At Your Fingertips: UA Little Rock Bookstore

UALR Bookstore – UALR Online

UALR Bookstore manager Brenda Thomas says her store offers convenient, affordable services to students both online and on campus.


At the beginning of every semester, there’s always one thing that students have to do – buy books. Luckily, the UA Little Rock Bookstore has everything students need, from books and supplies to university apparel.

The UA Little Rock Bookstore is owned and operated by Barnes & Noble and has been active on campus for 20 years. Bookstore manager Brenda Thomas has been working at the campus bookstore for 15 of those years, and she said that the UA Little Rock Bookstore’s purpose is to take care of a student’s book-related needs—whether that student be on or off campus.

Textbook search toolAs more online degree programs and courses become available, more students are ordering their textbooks online as well. UA Little Rock students can easily find and order their books through the user-friendly search tool at ualr.bncollege.com by selecting “Textbooks> Find Textbooks” and searching for books based on department and class.

“We have quite a few students who take online classes,” Thomas said. “They place their orders, and then we get their orders shipped to them.”

Thomas said the ability to ship books to students at a fixed shipping rate of $7.50 – no matter how many books are purchased – is a plus for students taking classes online and even for those who aren’t. In fact, the bookstore does more shipping than it does pick-up orders, according to Thomas, and orders within the state of Arkansas are shipped within 24 hours.

“I think it’s growing more because you have a lot of students that just place an order online, even if they live on University [Avenue], because it’s a convenience.”

In addition to being able to purchase books online, students may also rent their books online through the UA Little Rock Bookstore. The store will ship the rented book to the student, and when student is done with the book, they can return the book in store or simply print out a shipping label and ship it back through the mail for no additional charge.

Thomas said she tries to keep the bookstore content fresh—whether that’s through participating in events like Grad Fest or having giveaways.

“Every semester, we like to bring in something that we didn’t have before,” Thomas said. “That way, when they come in here they always see something new.”

You can browse the UA Little Rock Bookstore’s offerings and promotions at ualr.bncollege.com.

Veteran Student Success

At Your Fingertips: Veteran Student Success


The Office of Veterans Affairs has made it its mission to help military veterans and their eligible dependents achieve academic success at UALR. Accredited by the Veterans Administration, the UALR Veterans Affairs office assists military students and dependents with the enrollment process and files the necessary paperwork to ensure that they receive their educational benefits.

Kathy Oliverio, the director of Veteran Student Success at UALR, said that the UALR Veterans Affairs office essentially works with the student veteran to make sure their tuition is paid.

“Our Veterans Affairs office is the go-to place for anyone who is on the VA educational benefits. Any veteran will go there, and it will be the starting point for them to get their educational benefits to start, and then to continue, and to be certified,” Oliverio said. “In essence, they’re the money folks. They’re the people who allow our veterans to actually have their education paid for.”

The UALR Veterans Affairs office also serves as an ambassador between the veteran student and UALR administration, offering support in special situations that may require individual adjustments.

Oliverio — a veteran herself, having served 20 years in the United States Air Force — said that she works closely with veteran students in her role as well.

“I look out for the veteran on the academic side of the house. I make sure that the veteran, once they get to UALR, and sometimes even prior to, that they graduate, that they stay in school, that they get any help that they need — whether it’s tutoring or guidance as far as what classes they take,” she said. “I advise veteran students. Sometimes, they just like to talk to another veteran.”

Oliverio noted that the needs of the online veteran student are no different than those who attend the physical campus in Little Rock, and the university is committed to helping its veteran students no matter where they complete their studies. “A lot of our online students are active-duty, Air Force military,” Oliverio said. The online classes benefit active-duty military, because there are occasions when a student will be unable to complete face-to-face classes due to military obligations.

In fact, UALR currently has active-duty military students in Korea, the United Kingdom, and scattered throughout the U.S., according to Oliverio.

“Online is perfect for them,” Oliverio said. “No matter where they go in the world, they can access everything they need to do.”

For more information about the services UALR offers its military students, please visit the Veteran Student Success site at ualr.edu/military.

UALR ranked among state’s ‘Best Online Colleges’

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has been ranked among “The Best Online Colleges in Arkansas” by TheBestSchools.org.

Ranked at #2, UALR is recognized by the site for its extensive degree selection, its study abroad programs, and its variety of online degrees, such as master’s degrees in criminal justice and education.

TheBestSchools.org staff made its decision for best online colleges in Arkansas “based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs,” according to the website.

The site has several lists that include the best colleges and degree programs, the best tuition-free colleges, and the best entry-level jobs. It also provides student resources, including school accreditation information and a college and university cost index.

Source: thebestschools.org

University Writing Center

At Your Fingertips: University Writing Center


College is often more about honing one’s skills than producing a final result. For the past 35 years, the University Writing Center at UALR has provided support for students who wish to improve their academic writing abilities and, as a result, produce more well-written compositions.

The Writing Center staff work with students across all majors and are committed to providing quality feedback to help students improve the clarity of their writing.

Dr. Allison Holland, director of the University Writing Center, said that the goal of the Writing Center isn’t to edit or fix a student’s work; the goal is to provide guidance to students, so they can eventually work on their own.

“You work with the writer not the paper, and a lot of people say, ‘You fixed my paper for me.’ And the answer is: there is no fixing of a paper,” Holland said. “To you this is one paper among many papers you might write over the course of your career as a student. We want to think about this as one of a progression of things that you will do.”

In addition to Holland, the Writing Center is staffed by student interns who will look over your paper with you. Holland made it clear that they don’t proofread, but rather give suggestions on how to improve your work.

“We offer a free service to students who come from across the curriculum, who bring in papers they need to work on for their assignments–whether they’re research projects or personal pieces. And we work on them from the beginning to the end of those processes. We don’t edit and proofread their papers, but we can help them brainstorm, get started, and generate ideas,” Holland said.

Students who are taking online classes can submit papers to the Writing Center staff electronically through the Online Writing Lab (OWL).

It’s important to divulge as much information as possible about your assignment if you’re submitting it online, the OWL website states. Interns usually take about 48 hours to respond to submissions submitted through the OWL, so you should plan accordingly when submitting your drafts.

Whether you’re seeking assistance in person or online, it’s clear that the Writing Center staff are eager to help you succeed; however, you must also be willing to make the effort.

“If you’re going to have someone climb a rock wall, it’s good to have a rope on them to help pull them up as they go; but the truth is they still have to use their hands and feet to get to the top. We’re someone who stands beside a writer and talks about different options they might have—for places they can put their hands or feet or organizational development,” Holland said. “And we encourage them to climb, but we climb with them.”

Disability Resource Center

At Your Fingertips: Disability Resource Center

man using sign language in front of camera
Clint Brockway signs during a Spring 2014 commencement ceremony at UALR.

“The failing is not on the part of the student with the disability,” Reed Claiborne, an access consultant with the Disability Resource Center, said. “The failing would be on not providing accessibility.”

The Disability Resource Center (DRC) is one of the many resources available to UALR students both on campus and at a distance. The DRC works with faculty and students to make sure facilities and resources are accessible to students who need them.

Claiborne said that the focus of the DRC is not so much the student’s disability but the barriers that a student may face as a result. For example, a student on campus may have mobility issues, and the elevator isn’t working. The elevator is the barrier. Of course, the DRC’s work spans further than infrastructure. If a student has difficulty hearing and the course requires lectures, then the DRC coordinates with interpreters to provide that student the access they need.

The DRC also works with online students. Reed said interpreters are sometimes needed for online lectures as well. If a video doesn’t have subtitles, the DRC can transcribe the video for that purpose. There are also instances of students with visual disabilities needing materials that would typically be put into a picture or .pdf format typed out for them, so their devices can appropriately read the materials to them.

Students are getting involved too. UALR has a “Students Beyond Barriers” Facebook group where students communicate and share technological innovations regarding disabilities. Claiborne mentioned a time when a student in the Facebook group shared a link about a watch that reads braille, for example.

The DRC is working diligently to provide accessibility to students who need it. However, Claiborne made it clear that the ultimate goal is to create a classroom environment, online or otherwise, that accommodates all students. “If the class is already designed where (students) don’t have to jump through hoops,” he said, “everyone has done their job.”

If you need assistance or would like to learn more, visit the DRC website at ualr.edu/disability.

Ottenheimer Library

At Your Fingertips: Ottenheimer Library

UALR Ottenheimer LibraryThe Ottenheimer Library website is among many online resources available for UALR students. Not only can you search for materials from the Ottenheimer Library online, but you can also find articles and materials through a number of academic databases, research guides and journals organized by subject matter, and reserved course materials. Additionally, the Ottenheimer Library offers several services at a distance that many students may not know about.

Research Assistance

The library’s helpful staff makes life easier for distance learning students at UALR. If you need help with research, the staff is more than willing to help through the Internet. Through the library’s “Ask Ottenheimer Library” page, students can call, chat, email, and even text library staff for assistance.
You can also request a consultation appointment with a librarian – in-person or remotely. Library staff have Blackboard Collaborate services available, which allow you to live chat with library staff while sharing your computer screen. This may help you and the library staff communicate more effectively and make it easier for them to render service in some cases.

Resource Shipment

Do you live more than 50 miles away from the UALR campus? If so, you may be eligible to have resource materials shipped to your home. The library staff can even scan articles or chapters for you. This service is a major plus for those students who live too far away from campus—making driving to the library unfeasible. The library’s website lists counties that are generally ineligible for this service.

Interlibrary Loan Service (ILLiad)

Using this service, students can have articles and books shipped from other libraries, through the WorldCat database, to the Ottenheimer Library. It only takes the Ottenheimer staff 24 hours to process each order. Once the order arrives, you’ll be able to pick it up at the Ottenheimer Library, or if you live more than 50 miles from campus, the Ottenheimer staff can have the materials shipped to you. The delivery time varies, so plan accordingly. Order requests may be made through the library’s website.

ArkReach

The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) is another useful resource for UALR Online students. CALS has over 1 million resources available for check out—including books, magazines, movies, and games. With the ArkReach service, students can check out materials from CALS and have them delivered to the Ottenheimer Library for pickup. And as mentioned before, if a student lives more than 50 miles away from campus, the Ottenheimer Library can have CALS resources shipped to your home. All you need is a CALS card, which you can request at cals.org. The form only takes a few minutes to fill out, and it’s worth doing to have access to CALS resources.

Access To Other Libraries

This may come as a surprise to many, but as a UALR student, you have access to other libraries across the state. By using an ARKLink card, you can go to participating academic libraries and check out materials. A list of participating libraries is available at arklinklibraries.org.
Applying for a card is simple; just fill out a short form on the Ottenheimer Library’s website. It only takes the library staff 24 hours to create the card, and then they can mail it to your residence or you can pick it up at the library.

So whether you need help with a research paper or access to a multitude of academic media, UALR’s Ottenheimer Library is equipped to help both online and on-campus students succeed.

For more information, including the library’s operating hours, visit ualr.edu/library.

‘Reinventing the Classroom’

Harvard Professor Discusses Experimental Course Design in Clinton School Lecture

Harvard Professor Harry Lewis speaks Jan. 12 at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock.
Harvard Professor Harry Lewis speaks Jan. 12 at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock.
“The Internet is changing education. What are universities going to do about it?”
Harry Lewis, the Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, posed this question in his Jan. 12 lecture, “Reinventing the Classroom, Rethinking Education,” at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

Lewis’s lecture focused on the advent of the Internet and its effect on typical lecture halls at universities across the United States.

Lewis asserted that access to the Internet has lessened the need for teachers, because more frequently people are using the Internet as their primary resource for learning. This practice negates the “hydraulic model” for education, which describes how an instructor takes information from its source and transmits it to his or her students, Lewis said.

More universities are using digital media, such as video lectures and tutorials, to educate students, according to Lewis. He said that while he agrees digital media and the Internet are valuable tools for education, there’s still a need for social interaction among students. Lewis wanted to increase student presence and engagement during lectures. So, instead of doing what a typical professor might do, such as removing the video curriculum or issuing pop quizzes, he took a different approach and altered the way his classroom environment works.

Lewis developed a class called CS 20, “Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science.” Unlike other computer science courses at Harvard, where students gather in a lecture hall to listen to their professors, the environment in CS 20 allows students to spend their time in class solving problems together, thus creating a more engaging format learning environment, Lewis said. The digital media provides the lecture, and the students use classroom to discuss and apply the course topics.

Lewis admits that the course is experimental, but the results have been positive. This is true, at least, from the students’ point-of-view. Lewis read a few examples of the anonymous feedback he’s received so far. In general, the students seemed to really enjoy the environment and the problem-solving activities. Lewis said that even the negative responses were somewhat positive; one example he gave was from a student who did not like Lewis’s instruction but enjoyed the classroom environment and the teaching assistants.

Lewis says that lectures aren’t going anywhere, but the positive feedback he’s received is a result of an environment that encourages creativity, skepticism, and teamwork. Coming from a person whose high-profile students include Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, it could be an experiment worth trying.

To watch Lewis’s Clinton School lecture, visit clintonschoolspeakers.com/.

Sources:

http://harvardmagazine.com/2012/09/reinventing-the-classroom

http://clintonschool.uasys.edu/events/reinventing-the-classroom-rethinking-education-harry-lewis/

http://clintonschoolspeakers.com/

Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Finals

woman studyingPreparing for final exams can be stressful for any student, but it doesn’t have to be. These practical study tips will help you get through even the toughest exams calmly and confidently every time.

Choose a time and place

In today’s world, distractions are easy to come by. If you want to make the most of your study time, first you need to schedule some time for studying. You’ll want to choose a time when you’re most alert and least distracted. If this is in the morning, try waking up an hour earlier to study before school or work. If it’s in the evening, make sure to pick a time when you’re not too tired or have other responsibilities to worry about.

Once you’ve determined the best time to study, find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted, such as a home office, library or coffee shop. If silence is too distracting to you, try listening to white noise (like a fan) or soothing instrumental music. Avoid TV and social media websites, and silence and put away your cell phone.

Start early

Most of the anxiety you might feel in the days before finals is often a result of procrastination. If you dedicate an hour every day to review your course materials throughout the semester and start studying for finals several days in advance, you’ll feel much more confident come test time.
Keep track of your old tests and quizzes and use them as your study guides, as those topics will likely reappear on your final exams.

Break it up

Cramming a lot of subjects into several hours at a time will overload your brain and cause fatigue, which will make it difficult for you to retain and recall important information during your tests. If you start studying early, you’ll have time to break up your study sessions into manageable chunks.
Work on one subject for 45 minutes to an hour, then take a short break. Allow your mind to recover during your breaks — grab a healthy snack, do light exercises, or rest your eyes and listen to music. However, try not to watch TV or surf the Internet during this time. Not only will this overstimulate your mind, but it may make it more difficult for you to start studying again.

Use study methods that work for you

People learn in different ways, and therefore should study in a way that works best with their learning style. Visual learners may benefit more from using color-coded flash cards, rewriting notes, or drawing pictures to illustrate ideas, while auditory learners may prefer listening to recordings of their lectures and reciting word associations. Take this short quiz to find out your learning style and related study tactics. Once you find the study method that works for you, test preparation will be a lot easier.

Healthy body=healthy mind

After all the time you’ve spent preparing for your exams, you don’t want to let physical factors like fatigue or illness keep you from doing your best.
• Go to bed early and try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, especially on the nights before your exams.
• Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day, and maintain physical activity while you study. Even light cardio and calisthenics will keep your blood circulating, delivering important nutrients to your brain.
• Eat balanced meals and take vitamins, if you can. Don’t skip breakfast! Avoid alcohol and “junk foods.”

What study tactics work best for you? Share your ideas in the comments!

Study tips for this article were contributed by Alyssa C. and Jeffrey Townley in the UALR Writing Center; Leah Jackson with the UALR TRIO Program; Aaron Jones with the Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy; Rachel Hook and Charles Bryant of UALR eLearning.

Professors: A Student’s Greatest Resource for Success

male professorA variety of free resources are available at UALR to help students succeed in their courses, such as the Ottenheimer Library and Online Writing Lab. However, one of the most significant resources students have is often overlooked and underutilized—professors.

Developing professional relationships with your professors can be beneficial in more ways than just academic. Aside from gaining valuable academic advice related to your coursework, most professors regularly interact with other individuals in their field or industry. Having an amicable relationship with your professors can lead to opportunities both inside and outside the academic realm.

Professors are people too.

Many students are intimidated or put off by their professors. The truth is, professors are people who happen to be knowledgeable and passionate about a particular field of study. If you take the time to talk to them about their field, you’ll find they are often very enthusiastic about sharing their experiences with you.

Take advantage of their posted office hours.

Typically, professors have a designated time during the week in which they are available on campus or online to speak with students individually. This is the perfect opportunity to seek additional guidance within a course, ask questions about a topic you don’t understand, or discuss papers and projects. Some students also use this time to build rapport with professors by asking about upcoming events, industry functions, or campus lectures which provide an opportunity for students to network with industry professionals in their field of study.

It is okay to ask for help, but be prepared to do the work.

Most professors are happy to offer academic assistance to students, especially those willing to make the effort. That being said, know what it is you do not understand. If the professor asks you what it is you don’t understand, be prepared to tell them specifically or you may come off as not willing to try.

Forget excuses.

Chances are your professor has heard them all before. Not only that, but making excuses makes you look irresponsible. Just be honest—without going into too much detail—if you missed an exam or assignment. Let them know you would like to make up the work, but be prepared for some brutal honesty. Some professors don’t allow make-up exams or late assignments, so you might just have to accept your grade and work harder on the remaining assignments.

Be respectful.

When you talk with your professors, do so in a professional way. Use their title when you address them in conversation if they have one. Even if you are upset with a particular professor, always be respectful and calm. Yelling, whining, and making threats just make you look immature and build barriers to productive communication. Remember, respect is a two-way street—you have to give respect to get respect.

Talk to them about common interests.

You can try starting with topics discussed in the course. Professors often share their personal experiences in a particular field of study or with research they have conducted. Ask instructors for more information about topics you find interesting, and don’t be afraid to share your related experiences or knowledge with them. Not only will you learn something fascinating, but it could lead to internships and other opportunities.

If you can, attend any special lectures or events they are hosting.

UALR sponsors several events throughout the academic year that are often sponsored by particular departments and hosted by professors. Not only will it give you a chance to interact with your professors in a casual environment outside of the classroom, but it may also allow you to make contacts within your field or industry of interest. Online students may especially benefit from attending these events, since very few face-to-face interactions—if any—occur in the online classroom. You’re more likely to establish a deeper connection with your professors if they can put a face to a name.

Keep in touch.

When the semester is over, don’t let your new professional relationships fall by the wayside. You can take more courses with your professors, continue to attend their events, email or call them during office hours, and maybe even connect with them on social media. Many UALR departments, programs and clubs also have Facebook groups or pages that you can follow for further discussions and networking opportunities.

Time-Management Tips for Student Success

Cartoon about time management with kidsBetween school, work, family and social obligations, finding time to get everything done can be a challenge. This is especially true for students taking online courses that have a lot of work-at-your-own-pace assignments. However, with a time-management plan this doesn’t have to be an obstacle. The following tips can help you develop a basic strategy for completing your online courses (and other tasks!), reduce stress and work more efficiently.

Get a planner or calendar.

Calendars are a great way to keep track of tests and assignment due dates. iStudiez Pro is one of many great digital options (you can also try the lite version for free), or you can order a traditional planner online through the UALR Bookstore when you order your textbooks.
Blackboard also has a built-in calendar feature that allows you to create date reminders. Read our Calendar tutorial for more information about the Blackboard Calendar.

Write things down.

You may want to get a dedicated notebook or a planner with a “notes” section for assignments. Whenever a new task or assignment comes up—like studying for a test or picking a paper topic—write it down. Not only will you have a physical reminder of the things that need to be done, but each new task will also encourage you to look over the other tasks that need to be completed.

Schedule your day.

Writing in her diaryThis is where you make the most use of the calendar and notebook mentioned above. Whenever you have a free moment, schedule a set time to complete each task. Be realistic about the amount of time needed to complete each task and schedule additional days if needed.

Some things to consider when scheduling your day to reduce information overload:

• Work in short, concentrated bursts spread out over the day or week rather than one long marathon session. Try to limit working on coursework to three hours or less as retention rapidly deteriorates after more than three hours of intense focus.

• Plan to start major projects the same week they are assigned and assignments the same day if possible and avoid the stress of getting things done at the last minute.

• Schedule breaks as well as study sessions. For every hour of intense focus, plan to take at least a one ten-minute break. This will reduce study fatigue.

• Plan your focused study around the time you feel most alert instead of most convenient. We are more alert in the mornings and afternoons and less so at night.
Block times for regular assignments.

• For assignments and tasks that occur daily or weekly, schedule a set block of time that you will complete these tasks every week. For example, you might decide to read your weekly journal article at 10 a.m. every Monday.

Break projects into manageable portions.

For big assignments and projects, think about the steps to complete the project and make those individual tasks. So instead of facing one insurmountable project, you can deal with several smaller tasks over a period of time.

Leave some wiggle room.

Plan to finish assignments at least a couple of days before the due date. This will give you some wiggle room should unforeseen circumstances arise.
wiggle

10 Tips for Success in Online Courses

Have regular, reliable access to a computer and Internet service.

laptopdrop You should have at least one back-up computer—either personal or borrowed—in the event your primary computer goes down.
Additionally, you need to have a reliable way to access the Internet. It is strongly recommended that you use a wired broadband connection to access Blackboard, especially when taking exams or submitting assignments.

The Blackboard Student Support staff strongly advises against using wireless Internet cards that plug into your USB port. Every semester, there are students whose grades suffer because their wireless Internet cards lost connection during a crucial moment (e.g. during an exam or while they were uploading an assignment). With that said,…

Back-up your work.

Anything can happen. To avoid losing important assignments, projects, and portfolios, you should make it a habit to frequently back-up your work on something other than your computer’s hard drive. Keep a flash drive or external hard drive handy, and plug it in while you work on your assignments. You can save your latest versions there when you reach stopping points. If you want access to your work wherever you go, working in Google Drive is a reliable solution.

Start early; don’t wait until the last minute.

Liz Lemon gets the rainbow wheelGet an early start on your course work. It can be tempting to put off course work, especially if it is not due for a week or more. Just keep in mind that this work will need to be done eventually and the longer you wait to start, the greater the chance you’ll get overwhelmed with other assignments. If you start each assignment as soon as it become available, you’ll be less stressed and have more free time in the long run.

Even if you don’t start immediately, certainly don’t wait until the last minute to get things done. Time and time again, students run into problems at the last minute when submitting work, taking tests, or posting responses. You never know what’s going to happen in the future and waiting until the last minute is an invitation for trouble. Don’t be that student that missed an assignment because your computer crashed right before your assignment was due.

Develop a schedule.

The best way to stay on top of tasks is to develop a plan. Treat your online courses the same as a face-to-face course by scheduling a set time everyday to doing your online course work (e.g. reading lecture notes, watching course videos, working on assignments). Having a routine will help you stay focused and help avoid procrastinating.

Check your online course at least once a day.

Phone likeJust like you wouldn’t attend a traditionally class only one-third of the time, you should check your online courses at least one time everyday. This will help you stay current on class discussions and announcements posted by the instructor. Also, checking the course regularly will help you stay on task.

Test the course tools.

Becoming comfortable with the course tools and layout will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Testing the course tools in advance is advantageous because it helps familiarize you with how those tools work before you will need to use them for class. This also allows plenty of time to troubleshoot problems without the added pressure of having an assignment due.

Participate.

Being an active member of your class is crucial to succeeding in your online courses. Participating helps you retain information relevant to the course while exposing you to different perspectives that you may not have considered before. Participating in class is also a good way to get to know your fellow students, which can be harder to do in an online environment.

Something else to consider is instructors remember the students who actively participate in class discussions and ask thought-provoking questions. Being on an instructor’s radar can be a good thing, especially if you are looking to expand your professional and academic relationships.

Take advantage of online office hours.

April Ludgate asks for helpInstructors typically have a designated time during the week in which they are available on campus or online to speak with students individually and in small groups. During an instructor’s office hours, you have the unique opportunity to seek individual guidance within a course, ask questions about a topic you don’t understand, or discuss papers and projects. Most professors are happy to offer academic assistance to students, especially those willing to make the effort. That being said, if the professor asks you what it is you don’t understand, be prepared to tell them specifically or you may come off as not willing to try.

Ask for help.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are having trouble in your online classes. Talk with your instructor and fellow students for help understanding the course content. Forming a study group is not only a great way to get help but also an avenue for connecting with your peers. As mentioned above, take advantage of your instructor’s office hours.

For general computer and campus systems (accessing the campus wireless network, email, and BOSS), you can contact the IT Services Help Desk. Be ready to supply them with your NetID or T-Number. The Blackboard Student Support office can provide you with assistance with UALR’s Blackboard system in the form of tutorials, email and telephone support services.

Be honest.

Test-takerPlagiarism and academic dishonesty are serious offenses with severe consequences including failing the assignment and even expulsion from the course or the university. And while it might be tempting to plagiarize or cheat in an online course, just keep in mind that you will probably get caught. Instructors have an uncanny sense when it comes to student writing and can usually tell if the work is original. In addition, UALR’s Blackboard system comes with a variety of tools to detect academic dishonesty.

Instead of resorting to cheating or plagiarism, follow some of the tips mentioned above. Don’t wait until the last minute, develop a schedule, and talk with your instructor or peers if you are struggling in a course. Just remember, you can bring up a grade or retake a course, but the consequences of academic dishonesty can have lasting effects on your chances at future employment.

Helpful Resources
  • 88 Surefire Tips for Succeeding in College — A really great article about enjoying your college years while taking advantage of the opportunities and resources that college has to offer.
  • Procrastination — Some tips on helping you understand why you procrastinate and offer some strategies on combating this bad habit.
  • A Survival Guide for Accelerated Online Courses — This is a great article especially if you are taking a summer course, but the tips can be used for any online course regardless of the term length.
  • What Makes a Successful Online Student — If you are serious about doing well in your online course, take a look at Illinois Online Network’s tips on what makes a successful online student.
  • Academic Integrity — Read UALR’s policies on academic integrity and dishonesty.

5 Myths About Online Classes

You don’t need to have any experience with computers to take an online course.

While you don’t have to be a computer expert to take an online course, you will need to have a basic knowledge of computers. If you are considering taking a course online, first ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you comfortable using a computer on a daily basis?
  • Do you have regular, reliable access to a computer? How about to an alternate computer should something happen to your primary?
  • Do you have good written communication skills?
  • Do you know how to open your UALR email? Can you compose an email message and upload/download attachments?
  • How are your word processing skills? Do you know how to format a document including font sizing, line spacing, and adding footnotes, headers and footers? Do you know how to cut, copy and paste text within a single file and from one document to another?
  • How much do you know about file formats and saving files in different formats?
  • Do you know how to install and uninstall software on your computer?
  • Do you know how to find out which operating system you are using? Which Internet browser?
  • Do you know how to use the Internet? Do you know how to find online resources appropriate for research purposes?
  • Are you comfortable troubleshooting your computer when errors arise?

The good news is most of these skills can easily be learned online or on campus through the IT Services Student Computer Lab located on the first floor of the Ottenheimer Library in room LIB 104. Also see the additional resources section at the end of this article for a list of helpful websites.

Online courses are easier (or harder) than traditional courses.

The truth is online courses are really no different than courses held on campus. The only difference is the environment in which the course material is delivered. Once you understand how to navigate the Blackboard environment, the rest is just a matter of time management. If you are considering taking an online course for the first time, it might be helpful to talk with someone that has already taken an online class.

For more information about navigating UALR’s Blackboard system, please visit the tutorials section.

It’s less time intensive than a traditional course.

A lot of students have the misconception that because a course is online, they can complete their online assignments whenever they have some free time. Unfortunately, this approach leaves a lot of students struggling at the last minute to get assignments completed. Online courses are the same as traditional courses in that they require time spent “outside of class” to get everything done.

The best way to approach on online course is to schedule time like you would a face-to-face course. If you schedule several hours throughout the week dedicated to completing assignments for your online courses, you’ll find that the work is done in a timely manner without becoming overwhelming.

Online courses are just online textbooks.

Online courses are more than just text. There are a variety of tools in Blackboard that encourage peer-to-peer and student/teacher interactions including discussion boards, journals, blogs and wikis. Also, a lot of instructors use audio, video and web conferencing tools to engage and communicate with students.

It’s okay to be casual or informal in an online course.

Whether you are attending a class on campus or online, you must remember that you are communicating in an academic setting and should conduct yourself in a professional manner. This applies to all online correspondences related to your course from papers to emails and discussion postings.

It is inappropriate to communicate in your online course the same way you may communicate other places online. Avoid the use of text speak, poor grammar and/or spelling, and foul language.

Helpful Resources