This is a great article written by one of our Ecampus students sharing his perspective of being an online learner.

When I first decided to enroll in an online bachelor’s degree program three years ago, almost every person I told had a different reaction. These ranged from “Good for you!” to “Are you sure you can handle that while working full time?” and the ever-present “I could never do that.”

Now, as I approach the completion of my program, every time this topic comes up in conversation it seems like many friends, family and co-workers who are already living busy lives feel that online learning is something that might work well for others but not for them personally….Read More

If you’re new to the quarter system, you may be surprised that you are already approaching your first midterm exams. Some of you may even have some this week!

There are many ways to study for exams. If you already have a system that works for you, that’s fantastic! If you’re interested in some new ideas and tips, read on and we’ll walk you through some recommendations.

1. Review your syllabus for exam dates, proctoring requirements, points awarded (what percentage of your class grade) and format (essay, multiple choice, etc.). If you are unclear on any of these, reach out to your instructor or TA for clarification early. You’ll want to make sure they have enough time to respond, and you still have time to take action based on what you hear back.

2. Develop a study plan for each exam. Determine what resources you’ll need, many many days/weeks you have to prepare, and about how much additional time you’ll need to plan for on top of weekly course requirements to fit in exam preparation.  Check out the exam preparation worksheet and the 7 day study plan for some ideas on engaging with this process.

* if you are using a proctor, make sure you know when to be at the location, how to get there, where to park, where the building is located, what materials you can bring, etc.

3. Engage with the material in active and variable ways. This is an important part of the memory and recall process. While reading and reviewing notes is important, incorporating additional methods will help with retaining the information. You can create your own study guide or outline if one isn’t provided, create and use note cards, complete the practice questions in your textbook, and/or teach someone else about what you are learning. Review the Active Studying worksheet for some ideas.

4. Organize a study group. Although you might not be in the same town as your classmates, study groups are still an option! If you haven’t yet, check out the student page on Google Apps for OSU (Links to an external site.). Google Hangouts (Links to an external site.) is a great option for holding virtual study sessions, and all students can log in with their ONID email. Need some ideas on how to make the most of a study group? Take some tips from the Academic Success Center on How to Conduct a Successful Study Group.

5. Take care of yourself! Managing stress, getting enough sleep, and other self-care items go a long way in exam performance. Pulling an “all-nighter” isn’t likely to improve your test scores, and isn’t recommended. Check out our Ecampus Student Success blog post on Beating the stresses of exams.

The video below take a more thorough look at test preparation, and discusses some ideas for incorporating exam review into your daily study habits as an ongoing process.

If you have an exam in the next day or two that you’re feeling unprepared for, read over some recommendations for Emergency Studying (Links to an external site.). Do your best, and think about how you can take a more proactive approach for your next exam.


Don’t miss out on this chance to chat with OSU participants from all around the world! Share your experiences, exchange career tips and build your professional network — all online, from any device.

Our online, cloud-based platform makes it easy and fun for you to participate. After signing in from your home, office, smartphone or tablet, you’ll participate in 1-on-1 chats with other attendees. The chats are text-based and timed, allowing you to quickly meet new people, exchange contact information, and walk away with several new connections you didn’t have before. Each chat is saved, making it simple to look back at your history, review your notes, gather contact information and follow up.

Here are some ideas on how to get the conversation started:

  • What suggestions do you have to improve my civilian resume?:
  • What do you do professionally?
  • What suggestions do you have for civilian success?
  • Can I ask for your advice on ____?
  • If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be?

Don’t wait, register now to attend!

January 26, 2017 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST)


Bradley Fuster, special assistant to the provost for innovative learning at SUNY Buffalo State, recently contributed an article to US News & World Report discussing the proper etiquette when talking with instructors online. Although there are numerous situations when you would communicate with an instructor online, these are just a handful of possible scenarios.


• Ask questions, but make sure they are good, thoughtful questions: Questions about subject content are generally welcomed. Before asking questions about the course design, scour the syllabus and learning management system information to be sure the answer isn’t hiding in plain sight.

• Participate in discussion forums, blogs and other open-ended forums for dialogue: That’s what they are for. Be sure to stay on topic online-successand not digress into irrelevant personal stories, offer too much information or use the class as your own personal soapbox or diary. Make a point, and make it safe for others to do the same.

• Be polite: The rules of common courtesy certainly extend to online courses, but remember that online professors get a lot of emails, so there is no need to send an email just to say “thanks.”

• Use an online instructor as a reference: Be sure to ask professors for permission to list them as a reference, and find out what contact information they prefer. If a letter of recommendation is being requested, be sure to provide the professor with all of the details, a resume and at least one month of lead time prior to the deadline.


• Send a friend request to your professor on social media: It puts the professor in an awkward position and can disrupt a healthy student-teacher barrier.

• Share personal information, stories, or life drama: If assignments are missed or you are in need of a deadline extension, simply explain the situation to the professor. If more detail or documentation is needed, they will ask. Professors are not trained counselors, nurses, financial aid experts, dating gurus or BFFs.

 • Openly vent frustrations about a professor or class: Everyone has taken a not-so-great class at one time or another. When students take to social media and blast professors, the language used ultimately says more about the student. If there is truly a concern about a professor’s professionalism or ability, be sure to use online course evaluations to calmly and articulately offer feedback. If the course concerns are so immediate and significant that they can’t wait, contact a department chair or dean and make an appointment to express concern.

• Use emoticons, tell jokes or use sarcasm in writing or email communication: Keep writing scholarly, professional and topical. Sarcasm rarely translates to the written word, and it’s difficult for a professor to infer tone of voice from writing.

When communicating with your instructor online be sure to be timely, topical, professional and kind.

Looking to find a way to relax and recharge? Here are a collection of apps from the OSU-Cascades Student Success Center to help.

iPhone Apps: Meditation/Relaxation/Mindfulness

  • Bloom – Reminders to make healthy choices, stay connected with others, manage stress, strengthen your spirit, save money, advance your career, and enhance your creativity.
  • Breathe2Relax – Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing
  • Daily Body Scan – This is a stand-alone iPod ready audio track featuring expert contributor Stephen Cope from Wild Divine the makers of Relaxing Rhythms
  • Equanimity – App times mediation and provides mindfulness practice sessions.
  • Fluid Monkey – Relax as you enjoy interacting with incredibly smooth and responsive pools of liquid. Use all ten fingers to smear paint, jiggle gelatin, or fling brightly-colored balls through puddles of mud
  • iQuarium – Chill out while watching your Parrot Cichlid fish swimming in its tank, feed it, play with it, interact with it
  • Panic Attack Aid – Contains tools for breathing, explanation of physical symptoms, and distraction exercises
  • Relax Melodies – white noise ambience for sleep, meditation & yoga
  • Simply Being Guided Meditation – Voice guided step-by-step instructions for meditation and relaxation
  • Simply Yoga – Contains 20, 40, or 60 minute yoga routines that step you through each pose. Each pose is demonstrated by a certified personal trainer, simply choose your workout length and follow along in the comfort of your own home
  • Sleep Machine – Ambient noise application
  • Transform Your Life: A Year of Awareness Practice by Cheri Huber – inspirational quotes, encouragement, and daily assignments supporting awareness practice focused on compassionate self-acceptance

Android Apps: Meditation/Relaxation/Mindfulness

  • Breathe2Relax – Diaphragmatic breathing application
  • Buddhist Meditation Trainer – Personal trainer for relaxing and enlightening meditation. It features 10 levels of enlightenment with deeper quotes to meditate on in every level, all with a simple to use meditation timer.
  • Calming Music to Tranquilize – Calming Music to Tranquilize is a light music collection providing relaxing experiences through the balance and harmony in the Chinese Tai Chi way of meditation.
  • Daily Body Scan – This is a stand-alone iPod ready audio track featuring expert contributor Stephen Cope from Wild Divine the makers of Relaxing Rhythms
  • Easy Relax – Ambient noise application (i.e. white noise, waves crashing, rainforest, etc.)
  • iQuarium – Chill out while watching your Parrot Cichlid fish swimming in its tank, feed it, play with it, interact with it
  • Lightening-Bug Sleep Clock – Ambient noise sleep app.
  • Meditation Helper – A meditation timer which allows you to set a target for the length of time you want to meditate each day. It includes a widget that displays the number of consecutive days you have hit the target. It is thus useful not only as a timer, but also as a tool to help motivate you to meditate regularly.
  • Music Therapy for Refreshment – Medium Speed Alpha Wave (10Hz) set in 5 melodic music pieces provides a most relaxing way to restore your vigor, to bring about a refreshed mind.
  • Qi Gong Meditation Relaxation – Improve your physical health, relax and reduce your stress by learning Qi Gong, gentle movement combined with breathing
  • Relax and Sleep – Choose and mix from over 35+ ambient sounds which incl. thunder and white noise.
  • Relax Completely – free hypnosis session for deep relaxation
  • Relax Melodies – Relaxing noises and animations
  • Relaxing Sounds – Create your own relaxing sounds by combining sounds
  • Simply Being Guided Meditation – Voice guided step-by-step instructions for meditation and relaxation
  • Stop Panic and Anxiety – Used as a dysfunctional thought record diary; contains relaxation audio (guided imagery and PMR) and psychoeducation on panic and anxiety
  • Stress Reduction – Contains relaxation and PMR audio
  • White Noise – White Noise Lite provides ambient sounds of the environment to help you relax or sleep.
  • Yoga Workout Planner – A comprehensive yoga app embedded with animated yoga classes. Positions are shown in animations.
  • YogaPedia – provides nearly 100 unique yoga positions, tips and information
Photo Credit: Pete Boyle
Photo Credit: Pete Boyle

Now that the term is half over and we are heading into the home stretch, you may find yourself analyzing your performance thus far. You are now beginning to see what is and what isn’t working for you with regards to your academic learning strategy. It is easy to keep doing the things that are working for you, but the challenge is to find more effective ways for things that aren’t working for you.

Successful students are strategic thinkers who have found effective solutions to challenges that they are seeing in their learning strategy. They are able to step back and analyze why it isn’t working for them and then adjust their learning strategy to make it more effective, which allows them to persist.

Persistence vs Tenacity

The words persistence and tenacity are currently being used interchangeably in meaning and application. Those who persist or are tenacious, are finding ways to overcome a task or find a solution to a problem. However, they reflect two different trains of thought and levels of thinking.

One who persists will devise a possible solution to a task or problem and then will strictly follow the process to find the solution, regardless if the process is inefficient or flawed. Persistent learners put their head down and attack the issue at hand and work through the process. They will devise a plan of attack and stick with that plan until completion. They do not concern themselves with the effectiveness or how to improve the plan. These learners are characterized as those who “work harder and not smarter.”

On the contrary, the learners who are tenacious may have created an identical solution, but will constantly assess its effectiveness. They will utilize feedback throughout the process to ensure they are improving upon their strategy to create the most productive and efficient process in solving the task or problem. Strategic thinkers are characterized as those who “work smarter and not harder.”

The successful learner is the tenacious individual or strategic thinker. These learners have the ability to constantly assess their strategy throughout the learning process allowing the learner to create the most effective and efficient plan for success. They are aware of what is or isn’t working for them. They have the ability to develop a learning strategy and assess its effectiveness, which is the sign of a tenacious learner.

TENACIOUS LEARNERS are constantly seeking answers to these questions:

You can’t plan on doing things the same way and expect different results. The key is to continually assess and improve your strategy. Being a tenacious, strategic thinker is your key to being a successful learner. Be sure to continually assess and improve your learning strategy. Work smarter, not harder!

When writing an essay for an exam, pay particular attention to the words that are being used in the exam question. Understanding these words will allow you to provide the information your instructor is looking for as well as how to craft your answer.

Analyze: Break into separate parts and discuss, examine, or interpret each part. Illustrate: Give concrete examples. Explain clearly by using comparisons or examples.


Contrast: Show differences. Set in opposition. Compare: Examine two or more things. Identify similarities and differences. Interpret: Comment upon, give examples, describe relationships. Explain the meaning. Describe, then evaluate.


Criticize: Make judgments. Evaluate comparative worth. Criticism often involves analysis. If any of these terms are still unclear to you, go to an unabridged dictionary. Thorough knowledge of these words helps you give the teacher what he/she is requesting.


Outline: Describe main ideas, characteristics, or events. (Does not necessarily mean to write a Roman Numeral/Letter outline.)


Define: Give the meaning; usually a meaning specific to the course or subject. Explain the exact meaning. Definitions are usually short. Prove: Support with facts (especially facts presented in class or in the text.)
Describe: Give a detailed account. Make a picture with words. List characteristics, qualities, and parts.


Relate: Show the connections between ideas or events. Provide a larger context.


Discuss: Consider and debate or argue about the pros and cons of an issue. Write about any conflict. Compare and contrast.


State: Explain precisely.


Enumerate: List several ideas, aspects, events, things, qualities, reasons, etc.


Summarize: Give a brief, condensed account. Include conclusions. Avoid unnecessary details.


Evaluate: Give your opinion or cite the opinion of an expert. Include evidence to support the evaluation.


Trace: Show the order of events or progress of a subject or event.


Explain: Make an idea clear. Show logically how a concept is developed. Give the reason for an event.


Ellis, D. (1998). Becoming a Master Student. Houghton Mifflin: Boston