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Distance Learning Continued..., Your Work and Equipment

I aplogize to our online readers how I have dropped the ball on this one. Back in October ( see archives), I started this series and never finished it. So let's pick up where we left off. Today, I want to relate some key aspects to your online distance learning.

First, Look over your work.This is key for keeping your staying power online.
Second, ALWAYS check your work for grammatical and spelling errors. Most word processing programs can do both.
Third, follow whatever document formats and specs the instructor gives you. Which word processing program, font and font-size,etc. Make sure you check these out with your instructor. Usually they are posted and given to you in the introduction or some other place online. UMA spells them out in the welcome and introductions to the course work.

Fourth, have the right equipment. Know the minimum software and hardware requirements for your computer. Are there any specific programs you must have? Any online programs that are a part of the course work or in order for you and the instructor to stay in touch. Have one of the better anti-virus programs so that you are receiving or sending malicious viruses back and forth in your work. This can happen when uploading or downloading programs as well. PC's are more susceptible than are Apple/Mac computers but both can become infected.
Last but not least, check the speed of your internet connection. Some online courses only run properly with fast internet connections. If you need more details on your connection, check with your ISP (Internet Service Provider).

And if ever in doubt, your online course instructor or school should be able to help you out with any of these.


Interesting Article-'Stranger Danger'

Here's the link to the article:


Hoping for a Joyous New Year!

Dear UMA Community,

Trudy and I want to wish you a blessed and joyous new year, 2009!
For all of us, the world economy is in trouble, the hope of peace is still illusive in several corners of the world and perhaps some of our loved ones and friends are going through difficult times. What better reason for us to renew our imagination and practical ways to seek a world, full of children and adults, who will carry out the great ends of humankind: to act justly, promote peace and to pursue life and the best it has to offer!

Blessings to you and yours...

John and Trudy Coumou Shepard


Yoga in the Classroom

Kyra Schlosser of Bristol, WV shares her yoga project with us. Kyra states, “I believe that yoga and the Montessori method are made for each other! Yoga uses movement to encourage the child to quiet the mind and make sense out of the chaos around them. Concentration and self-awareness are developed.”

Download the MSWord document (zip file) that accompanies this post

Thank you, Kyra!


Montessori and Adult Health Care

Thought many of us might be interested in how Montessori education comes full circle with age. Check out this article on NYTimes:


Again the subtle persuasion of television

In our work with children, we may sometimes need a reminder of how powerful and persuasive the media is. Recently a study sponsored by the Rand Corp. suggested a link between TV shows with exposure to sexual content and higher levels of teenage pregnancy. Read more at:


Sensorial Project

Jennifer Brazier, co-director of The Clarksburg Children’s House – A Montessori Preschool in Glen Elk, WV, shares her original project for the Sensorial area of the classroom.

Thank you Jen!

Download the "Whole and Half" pdf for this presentation.


Distance Learning cont. "Study Habits"

Okay, now for the mundane and difficult YET perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT component to your success in online distance learning:

Study Time!

First, create a plan tailored for you. It will include: the best times when you are fresh and alert, enjoy plunking type on a computer, less distracted and when you are not competing with wanting time away (for instance, to play outside- yes, I said play which we all need even as adults; rather be fishing or whatever...).
Second, map out a calendar with a schedule of times devoted to study, typing, research, etc. Create a pattern to your weekly study time. Oh yes, turn off your phone, pager and/or cell phone.
Third, let your family and friends know that you are taking an online course and your weekly study times. This is most important! So when they call during your study time you can, without guilt say, "I'll have to get back to you. I am studying right now."
Fourth, create a place to study. Some like one solitary place that becomes like a security blanket for study. Others, like myself, may have a number of places we go to get things done. I have 4-5 coffee shops where I can tune out every distraction. They are my offices. Or perhaps you enjoy a library or public place where most gathered there are settled into a quiet but productive time of reading, writing or contemplation.

All of the above helps you create a Study SPACE or a Study ZONE that is suited just for you!


Distance Learning con't. "Know With Whom You are Studying"

The second best practice I want to mention here is making sure your expectations of taking an online course are somewhat aligned with the program you sign up for. I say "somewhat" since there is no program out there that can meet one's expectations entirely. We all have to bend a bit- that's reality. How much? That's a different matter.

So here is how to approach expectations:

1) Read every bit of information you can on the institution's course outline, their policy and procedures, schedule, study costs and more... . For instance, UMA offers a prospective student a clear prospectus concerning the course. You can find most of what we are about and the UMA course on the left hand navigation of the homepage (see:
2) What are the teacher's expectations? This is a tough one. Some schools list the expectations upfront on their website. Others, want you to contact them with specific questions you may have based upon your individual needs. You know your lifestyle better than anyone and will it fit the time, effort and interest necessary to take a particular course? When in doubt, contact the school and talk with someone.
3) What sort of support does the staff offer? This is crucial. Some schools consider themselves just that: Distant. The less they hear from you the better. They are offering you a course, an instructor and perhaps a certification or degree. That is it. For some, that is all they want. Others like, almost require, more frequent communication from the teacher, school or prof. Bottomline, you have to know your learning style and what you prefer when it comes to support. My personal bias is that most of us want to know there is someone on the other end of a phone or there is a quick turn-around time via email. The more interaction or interactivity with a program is usually better.


New Fall Series on Distance Learning

For the beginning of the Fall School season, we are offering our students and those interested in taking our online course, a series on "Distance Learning Best Practices", plus other assorted tidbits, helps and hints.

So to start things off, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

First, do you have the time to devote to an online study course? Many think that the convenience of online work means less hours required to complete the same amount of work in a classrooom setting. Online class work takes the same, if not more time initially, than an onsite college or vocational class. An online course may save you commute time plus you get to choose your own hours. But typically, students don't weigh the temptation that comes with online work. Let me put it this way. We say to ourselves: "There is often something else more pressing, I can fit in my online studies when I have nothing better to do, I am not facing a strict deadline with my teacher or evaluator,...," and the list of excuses builds from there.

And if you are starting out new to online distance learning, the style of course work, emails, working with an email program on your computer, time between sending a lesson and the response time,... all this and more can add minutes if not hours to your weekly work schedule. Add to that family time, socializing, meals, and the vast minutiae of stuff that enters our day to day living and online time for homework and lessons can easily be forgotten or thought to be not as pressing as other demands.

Here is UMA's suggested TIME REQUIRED to complete UMA course work:
10- 15 hours per week. This is equal to a 9 credits course load at a university or college.

Okay. That's the start to this series. More later.