Thursday, December 6, 2012

Google+ In The Classroom

  As we embark on a new adventure as students at Jacksonville State University we face many challenges and we make many decisions that will effect the rest of our lives. As for some of us college life may be one big party after another, but for most of us this is a time in our lives that we take very seriously as we try to do our best in every class and knowing that this could very well make us or break us.

                                               photo credit: sourabhj via photopin cc

 Being a college freshman has been quite interesting for me, a thirty-five year old mother of three. As you can Imagine, my schedule is pretty full. Between making sure my children are up and ready for school and getting them out the door on time every morning, to now doing that for myself as well. I drive forty five minutes to school where I then park the car and "sprint" to most of my five classes that I have on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I have fifteen minutes between classes and then have to rush home after my last class so I will be there by the time my children arrive. Then there is homework, dinner, a little house work, children getting bathes, bedtime for the children around eight thirty, and now finally I have a little time to myself. Now it's time for my homework, and maybe a little  time with my girlfriend if I'm lucky, before we head off to bed. With this sort of schedule, I have come to appreciate anything that keeps things simple. In spite of the day that it rained all day and I left my umbrella at home, or the week that my computer crashed and I lost all of my research for two classes, my biggest challenge this term has been communicating with my professors.  Most of them prefer to be contacted via email. Well I couldn't list the number of times I tried to email my psychology professor just for GEM to tell me it cannot send the mail and to contact the postmaster. Gem is our email system that is down for maintenance about as often as not. Sometimes it wont let me send an email and other times I either don't get a response from my professors, or it takes them several days to respond. This can become very frustrating. It seems to me that a concept as simple as speaking to your professor should be just that,"simple".

  The only professor I have not had any trouble communicating with this term is my English professor. During the first few classes she took the time to teach us all how to set up a google plus account, which was fairly simple. She then had us all add each other and her into a circle that we named English 101. From this point on we were able to correspond with her and with everyone in the class through google plus. This was an easy was for us to communicate with our professor and get a response almost instantly. We asked questions and shared comments and concerns with her and with each other. We also has hangouts which was a way for us to work together in real time without having to physically be in the same room. Half way through the term I was wishing I had google plus in all of my classes.

  I did a little research and found out that there are other teachers out there that also see the advantages of having google plus in the classroom. A theatre professor named Michelle says there are ten ways she uses google plus for her classes. She mentions circles and hangouts among other things. Madonna Kemp, an English Professor at UTC, uses social media in her classroom as well. She favors Facebook or Twitter, but believes in some of the advantages I mentioned earlier. One of her students says"I like being able to communicate with my professor on Twitter because it is a more relaxed situation, and takes away a lot of the formality and stress of talking to teachers about assignments." ITS of Syracuse University also agrees that social media can enhance communication among students and teachers.

  For me, Google Plus has been a real life saver during this semester. While everything else has been frustrating and stressful, Google plus has been helpful and simple, enabling me to easily communicate with my English professor and helping me to keep up with any class news. As we move forward in our journey, I can only hope that JSU will adopt a new method of communication between students and teachers and I surely hope that more teachers are willing to try Google Plus. I believe it would benefit us students and the teachers as well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Has My English Class changed Me?

  I can remember being in high school and socializing with practically everyone. I had a lot of friends and between them all there was hardly a dull moment. I was very outspoken and never shy, until it came to my writing. I was very good in English but when It came to having to write about something and share it with the class I would become so anxious that I would usually play sick and stay home. Back then we didn't really do any research outside of the school library and I felt like my writing skills were weak. Also, I guess I felt that no one else would really relate or care to hear what I had to say anyway.

                                                      photo credit: boeke via photopin cc

   I have really shocked myself at just how much I have been able to open up with my peers here at JSU, particularly in my English class. Before this class "BLOG" was not in my vocabulary. I didn't really read blogs and I certainly never saw myself writing any. I guess I still didn't really see the point. I didn't think anyone would read them and, to tell you the truth, didn't really want anyone to read them. I was scared. Now here I am writing a blog post every other week and I find myself looking forward to them and now hoping that someone is reading them. One of my favorite posts of mine is" Is College Good Enough" where I shared a little bit of my life's experiences and what urged me to come to college. Looking back at some of my older posts I see that in this one I am a lot less reserved and more open about myself. My other favorite post is" Why Did I Choose College? " where I opened up even a little more about who I am and what it important to me.


                                                 photo credit: emdot via photopin cc

  In the post" Share Or Die: But How Much Are We Willing To Share" I changed it up a bit. Instead of writing about me and my experiences I wrote about someone else's experience and how I felt about it. In this one I thought I did a nice job of keeping it interesting from the title, to the imagery, and also in my writing.
   I find myself enjoying to write now,  for the first time in my life. I am also enjoying reading my peers' posts. My least favorite class in high school has become my favorite class in college. I feel that I have really grown as a writer this semester and I plan to continue with my blog posts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why Did I Choose College?

    I was asked a while back-why college? The basic answer I gave was that I simply wanted to improve my financial situation. But the more I thought about it I realized that is not the only reason why I wanted to go to college.

                                               photo credit: courosa via photopin cc

  I am a mother. I am always preaching to my children that their education is very important. I encourage them to always do their best, especially when it comes to their school work. I have taught them at an early age that college is the key to a happy and productive future. One day I was having a conversation with my six year old son who was in the first grade. I was telling him how important it is for him to make good grades and go to college and he said to me " that's why you did, right mom." That was a year ago and he has no idea just how much he had made me think. As a mother I try to teach my children everything, but sometimes they end up teaching me. I had been putting great emphasis on something I wasn't even willing to do myself and my son had called me out on it. I want to lead my children in the right direction and I can't do that from the couch in my living room. The best way to lead them is for me to do something with my life myself and hope they will later follow my lead.

                                                    photo credit: Mubina H via photopin cc

 I do admit my financial situation needs improvement. I have worked a lot of jobs over the years, but wouldn't consider many of them a good job or a job that was taking me places. I began my working journey
many years ago in fast food as many young adults do. I've since then worked in a dental lab, a quality control
lab, drove a forklift for a warehouse, and spent many years on an assembly line. Most of these were just not for me. I like to be challenged, and if I'm not I get bored. The one position I did somewhat enjoy will now require me to have a college degree, so yet another reason why I felt the need to go to college.

                                              photo credit: Susan NYC via photopin

 Even though I have worked a lot over the years I have also spent a lot of my time as a stay at home mom. I enjoy being a mother, but doing laundry and warming bottles is not very intellectually stimulating. It seemed like my only connection to the outside world was the television, everything from the news to the Oprah show.  There wasn't much need for algebra or a big vocabulary and as they say "if you don't use it you'll lose it!' I was beginning to feel ignorant, oblivious to the online world or anything else outside my own living room. I settled for a lot of low paying jobs partly because I couldn't make my mind up what I really wanted to do and partly because I was settling. I'm tired of settling.

                                                 photo credit: ACS Amman via photopin cc

 Even though I am still not exactly sure what I want to do for the rest of my life I feel good about my decision to go to college. Luckily my family is supportive. My girlfriend does more than her share of helping with the children and household chores so that I am able to race out the door every day, rushing from class to class, and spending more time on campus than I do at my house. They say patients is a virtue, well my family is showing me a lot of that lately. Hopefully one day they will look back and respect me even more for this decision. While in college I hope to sharpen my basic skills in math and English and pick up some new skills as well. I hope college is a place where I can also express myself, share my opinions with others, and over all  grow as a person and become a more productive member of society.

                                          photo credit: jef safi \ 'pictosophizing via photopin cc

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Share Or Die: But How Much Are We Willing To Share?

  In an essay written by Hanna Brencher she talks about doing volunteer work after college at a time when jobs are hard to find and money is hard to come by. She shares an entire year of herself  devoting her time to helping others. Is this absurd? How can she survive on such little money and devote most of her time to simply helping someone else for a whole year?

                                                     photo credit: PMT.CR via photopin cc

  Well I believe what Hanna did wasn't simple at all, not simple minded at least. I think sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to really achieve what we want to achieve and in doing that sometimes we may even learn something new that we weren't even trying to learn. And believe it or not we can get by on a lot less than we may think.

                                               photo credit: Canned Muffins via photopin cc

  But do we share enough? I mean how much of our time, or money, or our hearts, or even our home are we willing to share with others? Some of us may use excuses like we just don't have the time in this fast pace world we live in to take the time out of our own lives to do volunteer work. Some of us may drop a dollar in a cup outside of a Wal-Mart around the holidays but are we so willing to give our day to the homeless by serving in a soup kitchen on Christmas morning or by opening our home to someone who is cold? Human beings are tribal. We naturally tend to worry more about our own family and friends first. But that it no excuse for selfishness.

                                               photo credit: twenty_questions via photopin

  I believe in a simpler time people may have been more eager to share with others. Maybe people were less judgemental and maybe people trusted people more and were less afraid to open their door to a stranger or devote their time to a friend. But I say that today technology has provided us with a new way to share, the internet. We can do so much with the internet, a technology that once did not exist. As long as we use it mindfully it is a good way to share. We can use it to share our thoughts with others who may need them to help them think differently. We can use it to share photos and videos with our family and friends. And we can take the time to teach these methods to others who may not know how to use them. Though the american dream is wrapped around money, helping others can be much more satisfying.

                                        photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Is College Good Enough?

  I am in my freshman year of college. Now having said that, I don't really know how good college will be for me but I certainly hope it is worth it. I admit that what urged me to come to college was simply money,ironically  the very thing that kept me from going to college years ago. You see, after high school I didn't have the money to go to college. Instead I leaped into the real world thinking I knew enough to survive. I assumed I would find a job that interested me, begin at the bottom and simply work my way up the ladder. After many years of thoughtlessly jumping from one job to the next and wandering if I would ever manage to stay with a company long enough to receive any benefits I started working for a company in their quality control department and I actually liked it. I was working in a lab, wearing a white coat, and performing extensive tests on different products. I made more money than I ever had and was actually beginning to save money, but then the inevitable happened...the company closed. They went bankrupt leaving me looking for a job once again. This time I had a taste of what it was like to work a job I didn't hate, but rather liked, so I tried to find something else in that field. I quickly discovered that without a degree I was out of luck. I began working a factory job and, once again, living from pay check to pay check. So the main reason for my coming to college is because I am tired of working a job that I hate and still being broke. I want to feel successful.

photo credit: <a href="">Kheel Center, Cornell University</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

  Now that I am here I admit I have asked myself if this is the right decision for me.  Is college going to help me? While trying to research this for myself I read What Is College For and found out that "a research survey this year found that 74 percent of graduates from four-year colleges say that their education was very useful in helping them grow intellectually, 69 percent said that it was useful in helping them grow and mature as a person, and 55 percent said it was very useful in helping them prepare for a job or career. Moreover, 86 percent of these graduates think college has been a good investment for them personally"

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Well that does sound promising but what if college isn't enough? I do worry that even with a degree I may not have the experience employers require. Why Your College Degree Is Not Enough says "It's hard to land a job without experience. In today's job market, experience trumps a degree every time." I also soon read that schools can teach you some bad habits. In The Bad Habits You Learn In School I read that "schools  do many things well, but they often cultivate habits that can be detrimental to future leaders." It went on to say how college graduates fear failure and they are sometimes only interested in getting their own work right, not worrying about the rest of the team.

  During my research I stumbled upon a list of a few facts at Gear Up about people who graduate from college that I found interesting:

                      * They live longer

                      * They are physically healthier

                      * They are more likely to get jobs and keep them

                      * They are more likely to enjoy the work they do

                      * They have more options and can change careers more easily

  All of that certainly sounds good to me. I also found an article in The New York Times that says college is a good investment for most graduates and that the evidence is overwhelming. According  to the New York Times "A new study even shows that a bachelor's degree pays off for jobs that don't require one: secretaries, plumbers and cashiers."

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  Well after researching the topic and applying what I found into my life's experiences, I have come to the conclusion college is not enough, but merely a stepping stone in ones life long quest for success and prosperity. I believe for many people college is the beginning of a new era for them. Up until this time they are usually spoiled by parents and high school teachers. So for a lot of freshmen this is probably their first real taste of being responsible for their own actions, going to class without being told, and learning to research things on their own. Also a lot of them may be just now working their first job. For me it is a little different. I have worked jobs, and have learned responsibility. Now I need to learn calculus! I need to develop better people and communication skills and leadership skills. And then I need to work and apply these skills at work and in my day to day life. Then and only then will I feel successful.

Friday, October 5, 2012

     Many people believe going to college is the answer to a solid future. It has even been said that the purpose for going to high school is to prepare you for college. Whether you are interested in becoming an investment banker, or you want to fix cars for a living, college seems to be the answer.
  It seems to be the only path to a career which will provide financial security and stability. Or is it? Some would argue that college may be a waste of money.
       So what do I think? I believe Russell Hvolbek said it best, “Moreover, the goals of business humans are to make money and do it as efficiently and quickly as possible. They desire exact facts and data to help them make money. Business humans live for this goal.” It has certainly been my goal and I have yet to succeed. My parents encouraged me to go to college after high school but I had other plans. I started working full time right out of high school. I thought it would be a waste of my time and their money to go to college since I was working and making money already. I thought I had it all figured out. I would start at the bottom and with some hard work, in time I would make my way to the top. After all these years my work ethics haven’t changed and I do still believe in that approach, however, it didn’t work for me. When things didn’t exactly go as I had planned I was devastated. I found myself, about fifteen years later, only making a small amount more money than I was when I first began working. And to stress even more the importance for me to have a more solid income, I now have three children to support. I think college will provide me with the knowledge and skills I need to be better qualified for a position that will help me to better provide for my family.  
   But what if I’m wrong? What if I spend the next four years working hard toward a degree that leads me to nowhere? I have to admit that is a real fear of mine and with keeping in mind the increasing number of college graduates who are out of work right now, I believe it to be a legitimate fear. Then I read an article by Dr. Nate Kornell Ph.D. in Psychology Today and it opened my eyes to the possibility that a bigger pay check may not be the only reason I chose to come to college. I would like to have a more clear understanding of the world I am living in. Before college I mainly spent my recent days tending to my children’s needs and sitting on the couch watching television. The only connection I had to the outside world was watching the news.  I want to grow as a person. I need my life to have more meaning. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy being a mother, but I want there to be more to my story than just that. I believe that the more I understand the world I am living in, the better chance I will have of finding my place in it.                                                 
  It seems that there are several others who believe there are more advantages to attending college than just increasing your financial worth. Mike Rose, a professor of education at UCLA  says it makes complete since for people to be concerned with the economic benefits of going to college, but that there are many other reasons to get a college education. He says and I quote,” not just learning things to make a living, but also learning things to enable you to do things with your life, to enable you to find interests and pursuits that may in some way or another expand the way we see things.” I also read an article at COLLEGE the blog that tells that college will help us to develop courage and determination. Well I can tell you that has proven to be true already for me. In just a few short weeks here I have already experienced great anxiety and I have had to face and overcome some fears. I have also obtained knowledge and learned some new skills that have already proved to be useful in my day to day life. So as for the question at hand, “what is college good for, “ I believe college is good for me.  My experience here has thus far been a good one and has already impacted my life in a positive way. So as I hope that there is a great career in my future, and that college will help me to get to it and to be successful at it, I believe college is helping me to achieve other goals as well. But, of course, that it just my theory, what do you think college it good for?
                     What Is College Good For?  By Telisha Taylor