All posts in PhD

Let’s Make it Easier-There’s an App for That!

Let’s Make it Easier-There’s an App for That!

As we all know technology is part of our lifestyle in some form, shape, or fashion. With being a student, technology is most helpful provided you allow it to be. Since I am user of technology for the most part, I still had to make adjustments during my doctoral studies. When I started my program in 2008, I was unaware of the tools/apps there were available to make my life easier. There were the usual Endnotes (free from my school), Zotero, and RefWorks (all web-based) that was used for bibliographies and article tracking. At that particular time that was ok but as I advanced in the program those really didn’t work for me or I was just stuck in my “own way” of doing things.

At the time I had a “system” that I devised to keep track of articles via printing them out, on my desktop, and email. Yes, I know archaic at best but it worked for me. I downloaded the articles and put them in a folder via my desktop/email and they were labeled according to subject matter. I liked to take notes on the articles hence; I had to print them out, talk about calling the Tree Police I would be in BIG trouble <lol>. Then I discovered Dropbox (web-based & mobile) and EUREKA, I could move this mess of articles to a “cloud” and have access anytime. Now once again, there was no iPad at the time so I literally lugged these articles around (great upper body strength).

When the iPad came out I was sooo excited (including the fact I love gadgets) so I could open my articles on my iPad, read, highlight, etc. via an app-PDF. Now I will fess up that I am an avid MAC/Apple person so this is from that perspective but most of the apps discussed are applicable to PC as well and/or have an equivalent. Also, I’m sort of an app/software “junkie” so I have a lot and use a few or the same ones all the time. I will indicate if the app is only applicable to Mac. Most apps can be used on smartphones and tablets (Mac & PC) for they have come a long way.

For organization I sort of used OmniFocus and Devonthink both of these are very powerful and have a bit of a learning curve. If you invest in these (~39.99 and up, look for student discount) make sure you take the time to see if it is for you (free 14 trial period), and if it is make sure you use it. As I stated earlier, reading articles on an iPad or tablet is a heck of a lot easier than lugging around the actual paper. The app I used was PDF Reader (Mac) but was introduced to GoodReader (Mac) and what a great app. GoodReader works with Dropbox and allows one to make folders, annotate, etc. Evernote is another good app if you do not want to spend a lot of $$$, and it works on mobile/desktop, synch across devices, allows for sharing with others, web clipping, and a whole lot of other stuff (also has a premium subscription). Then there is the Google suite that has a lot of interactive tools as well but I’m not a fan of them.

For conducting the interviews, transcribing, and analysis I used the following items. Interviews-Skype and Tape-A-Call (iPhone), Transcribe-Dragon Speak (big learning curve), Analysis-HyperResearch (Mac) but most folks use NVivo or MAXQDA, which was not available for Mac (unless you used Bootcamp or Parallels) when I needed it and now it is. Now some of you still do things manually and will not make the digital switch but if you are always on the “go” and willing to step out and try something new, you might want to think about trying at least one item. Take advantage of student discounts that these companies give for it is quite a bit cheaper than the full price. Also, look for a trial period for some of these software companies and apps offer these to introduce their product.

Here is a link (http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/apps.html) that lists quite a few apps, “Mobile and Cloud Qualitative Research Apps”. I am a QualGirl so I am not familiar with apps for quantitative research but still look at the apps for they can be used for many things. So get your Geek on!! TTFN!!

Back to School/Get Ready-To Get Ready

This time of year the majority of school aged children are returning to school after a summer break. Their parents are purchasing uniforms, new backpacks, and much needed school supplies. The kids have to get in the right mind-set of returning to school and get ready for their first day. The same goes for adults when returning to school. Starting an online program can have an extreme learning curve if you are a “first time” online student.

First and foremost one has to have all the technical equipment up and working. There are no excuses such as “my computer froze/crashed” or “I lost my internet connection” unless there is a major storm going on. One must have all the required up to date software, as well as proper operating system for Mac and PC. As an online student you need to have an external hard drive and/or a thumb drive if you do not want to spring for one. Now one can save things in the “cloud” like Dropbox, Evernote, etc. just to name a few. Once all the tools are checked and rechecked now comes the time to check into the classroom.

I was very excited to get started in my new online program at University of Phoenix (UoP) when I embarked on my Master’s program in 2004. It was a bit intense because the environment was new and assignments were already required such as student bio, introduction, reading assignments, and the never-ending discussion questions a.k.a. DQs. This is where accessing the classroom early pays off big time. As a word of warning, if you are new to the online environment, and you are a procrastinator you might want to rethink your decision. If you are not somewhat technically inclined, this is not the environment for you. The instructors will not “teach” you how to use the Office products or how to login to the classroom. There is no time to learn how to use a computer and to do the assignments because the classes are 6-8 weeks depending on the institution.

A lot of the institutions will allow you to experience an online class for a week to get a look and feel of the environment (highly advised). The online experience is marketed and geared towards the working adult. It is prefaced that you can have access 24/7 and work at your own pace, well…….. that’s only a partial truth. There are deadlines on top of deadlines that you must be aware of or there can be points taken off as much as a whole letter grade. My assignments were due on Sunday at 11:59 PST, which worked out for me more time for I am CST, and I used it wisely. Now you can work on the assignments from any mobile device for this has changed from when I started. Apps for the university were not as popular as they are now (if at all) and there were no iPads (seems like Twilight Zone).

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, the online environment is about organization, organization, and organization. The instructors do not remind you that there’s an assignment due, in fact they have very little if at all any interaction with you. This is a solo environment. The syllabus and planner/calendar will be your best friend therefore, work them together. READ, READ, READ, and READ the syllabus over and over. Put all assignments on your calendar/planner with alerts if you use a computer or mobile device. At UoP and Capella University you are required to provide an electronic signature that you have read the syllabus and you will be held responsible accordingly.

Once all the jitters and preliminaries have been taken care of, introductions, welcomes, expectations, now the fun begins. Well sit back, login, and get comfortable with your new surroundings. If you are a returning student you know the drill and the grind but at least you are prepared (at least I hope so). With all the caveats that online learning can present, I would not trade it for the world. It has come a long way and still has a long way to go as others begin to embrace it. Next month I plan to cover some of the tools that I used to assist me such as, apps, programs, storage, backup, etc. TTFN!!

Ciao

Ila

 

Dissertation Writing Pt. 2

This post is a continuation of the discussion on dissertation writing. In this post I will go over the tools and resources that I used to get started. Let’s open with pre-writing, which I deem to be getting the thoughts, ideas, and concepts on paper. There are a few methods; some better than others, left to one’s personal preference.

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Dissertation Writing Pt. 1

The Learning Curves and Preparation for Writing the Dissertation

As I stated in my first blog, I was not the traditional student. It had been over 20 years since I had been in school when I returned to finish my Bachelor’s degree. There was limited writing in my undergraduate program and the writing that took place the papers was very short in length. I then made the decision to embark on graduate school, and that is where the lack of experience became very real. I was not prepared to write graduate school, academic quality papers but I quickly learned.

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The Mechanics of My Online PhD Program

Since I have just completed an online doctoral program, I have taken a bit of time to reflect on the process. When making the decision to attend an online doctoral program one must do their homework. Look at all the programs, see how they are facilitated, ask if you can see a past syllabus, etc. just to get the feel of the class. When entering an online PhD program I highly advise one to have a plan of action for you only have seven years to complete the “entire” program (at least at Capella), which is from the first class within your course work through the final dissertation. Find out what the policies are in terms of taking a leave of absence for whatever reason. Understand the dynamics of the asynchronous classroom and the expectations of the instructor for they can vary from class to class and program to program.

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The Dish on Online PhD Programs

Hello followers! I am the new blogger for OnlinePhDPrograms.org. My name is Ila Allen, Ph.D. and I looking forward to giving and receiving information on All Things Dissertation via the online experience and the process that comes along with it. I am not the traditional student for I started late in life with education but have made a full circle in completing the course that I set upon. Education is for anybody who has the tenacity, discipline, and age should not be a stipulation by no means.

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10 Trusted Learning Tips for PhD Students

If you’re a PhD candidate, you’ve been in college long enough (hopefully) to know how to avoid mistakes freshman commonly make. Nonetheless, there is an inherent learning curve for any new experience and going after the most prestigious accreditation a university can give is no different. The following tips will help set you up to succeed in your PhD program.

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Top 25 Education Technology Sites in 2012

Top 25 Education Technology Sites in 2012

At every level of education, from primary school through doctoral studies, technological fluency is becoming essential to success. Though the education industry has not always been an early adopter of new technologies, the ubiquity of high speed internet connections and mobile communication devices now is leading some teachers, especially those who instruct young children, to embrace new tech in their classrooms. The following sites are some prime examples of ways that educators have integrated technology and education to enrich their students’ learning experiences.

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20 Best Sites for Helpful Dissertation Tips

If writing a dissertation was as easy as making a grilled-cheese sandwich, no one would write about it. But, search engines show thousands of entries focused on dissertation tools, tips, and guides. You’ll also find dissertation writing groups as well as psychologists who are willing to help you get that writer’s block removed from your head. The dissertation is the most important component of the doctoral process, including the proposal, the proposal defense, years of research and writing, and the dissertation defense. You can find sample papers online, including sample proposals, and we’ve included a link for the latter in this list. The blogs, articles, and tools listed here are the twenty best tip sites for helping you write your dissertation and what to expect from your PhD program.

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