So Your Prof Wants to Use MyLearningSpace? YAY!

MyLearningSpace. When you hear this name what do you think? Dreaded discussion posts? Online quizzes? Posted lecture material? What you should be thinking is YAY! If your professor sets up their course to include MyLearningSpace (MLS) they must really want you to succeed. What some of us, like my 5th year self know, is that MLS is an amazing tool for students to use to be prepared for success in university.

Who’s going to benefit from reading about all the tools and benefits of MLS?? First years. You! Anyone who may not have taken the time yet to fully explore all the possibilities that MLS has to offer. So for those of you who don’t feel like you know the ins-and-outs of MLS, read on to discover all the tools that are there to set you up for success.

MLS was implemented at Laurier in 2010. Its features include:

  • Live Classroom – time for some Centre for Student Success promotion here!
  • Course Content
  • Progress Summary
  • Tools for Self-Reflection
    • Grades
    • Dropbox
    • Quizzes
  • Discussion Boards
  • Calendar
  • Link to wlu.ca homepage

How to Access the LIVE CLASSROOM:

A Peer Mentor from the Centre for Student Success will be on the Live Classroom on Tuesdays this term from 6-8pm.

Step 1: Pick “No Semester” on homepage

Step 2: Choose “Laurier Brantford Writing & Study Skills”

Step 3: Click on “Writing & Study Skills Support and Course Modules”

Step 4: On the left hand navigation panel, select “Live Classroom”

Step 5: Once you click to enter the Live Classroom, enter as a guest (remember to give yourself a name!)

While the Live Classroom is not designed for full consultations, this is a great spot to answers to general questions you have about an assignment or to get a second opinion on things like your thesis statement, citations, or grammatical rules.

 Course Content

Content

As can be seen in this mind map, the content section of MLS is for much more than lecture slides. Not all professors may post all of these resources; however, if they are posted, it is in your best interest as a student to know where to find them!

Progress Summary

This is a new section that I personally just found in my time researching for this post. This summary is a tool for self-reflection on how well you, as a student, are utilizing MLS. For each of your courses, you can see a summary that includes:

  • Grades received
  • Objectives
  • Content – number of visits and percentage completed
  • Discussion posts – number of posts read, threads created, and replies posted
  • Dropbox submissions
  • Quiz statistics
  • Login history

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Additional Tools for Self-Reflection

In addition to the Progress Summary feature of MLS, there are many other built-in tools that allow you to track your progress in each class.

Using the dropdown arrow, titled “Assessments,” you will find several tools to track your progress.

The “Grades” option keeps track of all your submitted marks and shows you a breakdown of what each assignment is worth.

The “Dropbox” is a place to submit your assignments electronically. Sometimes professors will upload feedback and comments for assignments submitted to the dropbox. These comments can be used to try and improve your mark on the next assignment due.

The “Quizzes” feature is not simply where you find the quiz you have to take. When you click on the dropdown arrow beside the quiz name (see screenshot below) you will see the option for “Submissions” and “Reports.” Through this you can sometimes see the answers that you submitted and what the correct answers actually are to learn from your mistakes.

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Discussion Boards

There are sometimes different types of discussion boards offered for each course. This is especially true for online courses. Some types include General Course Questions, Administrative Course Questions, Current Events, and specific boards for the designated discussion group you have been assigned to. Take advantage of all types of boards, not just the one that you get a participation mark for. By posting your general questions to the discussion board, rather than through email, you are giving the rest of the students taking the course an opportunity to benefit from the answers of questions that they may have had as well. One of the goals of online learning is to facilitate a sense of community. The discussion board is the best way to feel part of a community of learners.

Calendar

The calendar feature is useful to help plan out your term. If you’ve had a Term Schedule created for you at a Personalized Study Schedule appointment then you will understand the benefits of this. You can view your calendar from several different perspectives. You can view by agenda, day, week, month, or list. You can also organize by seeing only one course at a time or all of the courses combined onto one calendar.

While these are just a few features of MLS, I encourage everyone to take a minute to explore MLS and to reflect on how effectively you are using this site to enhance your success.

Happy studying and good luck with the last few weeks of the term!

Brittany
Peer Mentor

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The Benefits of Using a Librarian

Now that midterms are coming to an end, it’s crunch time! These last few weeks of class can be difficult to get through with all of the assignments and papers that are due ̶ but don’t worry ̶ there’s a lot of help available!

More often than not, those two or six papers that you have due at the end of term will require some research. For those research papers, what is more useful than going to the librarian to get assistance with the research process?

Sometimes the thought of librarians and library research does not cross students’ minds; however, when conducting research, the library is one of the first places you should go! Books and journal articles, or the librarians themselves, will be able to give you an overview of your topic, and the librarians can help you find more resources to start your research. Personally, whenever I have consulted a librarian for research, I have come out of the office satisfied with the progress we made. I don’t know about you, but I have definitely experienced the frustration of searching for hours, trying to find a useful article for my topic, and not being able to find anything. Librarians are there to give you the tools to effectively research your topic.

http://lblearningservices.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/2c2e0-keep-calm-and-ask-a-librarian-123.png

First, you need to be able to contact the librarians!

http://biblio.laurentian.ca/research/sites/default/files/pictures/research_process_simple_version.jpg

After you’ve connected with our librarians, they can help you in a number of ways:

  • How to locate databases (Houdyshell 77).
  • How to determine which databases are useful for your particular topic (Houdyshell 76).
  • How to find print resources that are available for your particular topic.
  • Understanding the research process (Houdyshell 77).
  • How to use keywords, synonyms, and search terms to research effectively (Suarez 530).
  • Think about the development of your topic (Suarez 530).
  • Show you how to use interlibrary loan: http://library.wlu.ca/services/request-from-other-libraries (Suarez 531).
  • Help you distinguish between scholarly/academic/peer-reviewed articles and popular articles (Suarez 531).
  • And much more!

For your next research assignment or paper, be sure to contact the librarians for a new perspective on the research process!

Best of luck researching!

Rebecca Good

Peer Mentor

References

Houdyshell, Mara. 2003. “Navigating the Library: What Students (and Faculty) Need to Know.” College Teaching 51 (2): 76-80.

Laurier: Inspiring Lives. 2014. “Laurier Brantford Library.” Accessed November 10, 2014. http://library.wlu.ca/help/location/brantford.

Suarez, Doug. 2013. “Making Sense of Liaison Consultations: Using Reflection to Understand Information-Seeking Behaviour.” New Library World 114(11/12): 527-541.

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Graphic Organizers: Visual Ways to Organize your Thoughts

As a student, I understand the difficulty of starting an assignment or seeing relationships between course concepts. However, there are tools that we can use to make these situations feel less stressful.

One strategy I like to use while brainstorming for essays or while studying involves graphic organizers. These are visual representations that aim to clearly show relationships between ideas or concepts.

Benefits of Using Graphic Organizers:

  1. Understand concepts better (see connections within the big picture)
  2. Remember concepts better (by making connections, the information will be easier to recall)
  3. Focus on main ideas and keep information concise

Below, I have explained four different types of graphic organizers that you can use.

  1. Venn Diagrams

This type of graphic organizer is effective at illustrating the similarities or differences between two concepts.

For example, one circle represents concept A and the other circle represents concept B. Where the circles intersect, you write similarities between the two concepts. In the other spaces, you write information that is unique to that individual concept.

Venn

  1. Timelines

This type of graphic organizer is effective at illustrating the chronology of events. By putting events in the order they occurred, you can consider how previous events may have led to newer ones.

Time

  1. T-Chart

This type of graphic organizer is beneficial to use when comparing two things. On one side, write information about the one concept and write information about the other concept on the other side. All of your information is side-by-side, which makes it easier to see similarities and differences.

If you want to be able to see these similarities and differences in an even clearer way, you can line up common themes across the chart.

T

Notice how common ideas are side-by-side in example B. This strategy makes it easier to compare.

  1. Mind Map

This type of graphic organizer is effective at illustrating connections between concepts in a hierarchical way. In other words, you develop connections by building ideas off of other ideas.

mind map

(Foreman 2014)

Overall, graphic organizers are an effective tool that you can use while essay planning and studying. Since there are many ways that you can map out your thoughts, make sure you choose the graphic organizer that will work best to achieve your goal (i.e. comparing two things, chronology, etc.). Once you start using these tools, you should notice that your comprehension and recall of course information will improve.

Good luck!

-Kayla Goetz

Work Cited

Foreman, Paul (2014). Mind Map Inspiration. Retrieved from: http://www.mindmap      inspiration.com/top-10/

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Managing The Little Time You Have

With “mid-term alley” just around the corner, lecture attendance may be starting to become a little sparse. The deadlines for midterm exams and assignments often tempt students to skip class so they can finish off papers, or quickly cram for a test. I am sure that almost all of us have been in this boat, and can relate to the pressure of being swamped with due dates. I thought I would share some advice for how I manage my time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Make a list of assignments: Grab a pen and paper, and write down everything that you have due, and when it is due. I like to put my assignments in chronological order.

Break your assignments into smaller chunks: Think about each of your assignments, and evaluate what you will have to do to finish each one.  I often predict how long each chunk of the assignment will take, and I record this time as well.

Create a Weekly Schedule: First put in all of your mandatory classes, work and extra-curricular activities. Next, evaluate your extra-curricular activities. Ask yourself if they are necessary, or if you can skip one or two of them to enable you to have more study time. After this, plot in when you will work on each of section of your assignments.

Schedule in Study Breaks: Planning to sit down and study for three hours straight is unrealistic – at least for me! It is important to plan to take a break. I like to work on an assignment for an hour or so, and then take a ten minute break, and then work on a different assignment for another hour. Taking a break helps me to feel refreshed and motivated to keep going.

Stick to the Schedule: Do your best to stick to the schedule you created. Now, if one assignment takes you longer than you expected, that is okay and you can always rearrange your schedule to accommodate. However, do your best to avoid deviating from your schedule to go to the movies or party with friends.

If you have any questions about scheduling your study time, feel free to drop in to the centre – we are more than happy to help you! We also have all of our scheduling resources available on our website (https://lbstudentaffairs.ca/academic-support/learningservices/studyskills.htm).

Hopefully these tips prove to be useful for you as you approach “mid-term alley”.

Happy Scheduling,

Anne Wyatt

Senior Peer Mentor

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Studying for Midterms: Strategies for Success

Studying for Midterms: Strategies for Success

Unfortunately, it’s that time of year again where we start to stress, feel a little overwhelmed, and underestimate how much we really know. Don’t worry; you’re not the only one. In this time of craziness, there are many ways that you can become prepared to tackle these midterms!

Become Organized

Start to figure out what you have to accomplish. I like to write a to-do list of all the midterms that I have to prepare for, and then gather my notes for each course. Once, I have all my resources, I start with one course and work my way through all the course notes and readings, highlighting all the information that I think is important and might show up on the midterm. After you have completed this step with all of your courses, the fun begins and it is time to test yourself on how much you really know!

To Do List

Flashcards

Flashcards are a popular way of studying for midterms. Most students will generally write down key terms on a flashcard and their definition on the back. Try only writing terms/concepts that you do not fully understand to save yourself time and to get the most out of studying. Test yourself daily with the terms until you fully understand them.

Flash Cards

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy is a ranking of learning goals that I learned in my Concurrent Education classes and also something I use when I study. Most of the time when students study they generally use their “lower order thinking skills (LOTS).” These LOTS include: Knowledge, Comprehension and Application. However, if you want to be VERY prepared for your midterms, you want to use your “higher order thinking skills (HOTS).” These HOTS include: Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation. Rather than trying to memorize “facts,” try to test your knowledge on the material with HOTS.

  • Analysis: Try to separate your notes into component parts by distinguishing important facts the professor would probably test you on; debate certain concepts that have different perspectives; construct diagrams to organize your information; find the significance of certain concepts and relate the concepts to the world and your own life.
  • Synthesis: Try to put the information of the course together by comparing concepts, proposing new ideas on the information, and organizing the information into different categories of similarities and differences.
  • Evaluation: Try to consider the purpose of the material you have learned, predict the reality or future of the concepts, or evaluate the worth of an idea.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Breaking down Concepts

With this activity you will need a stack of sticky notes. You will look at an individual topic and identify and generate ideas about the concept and write them on sticky notes. Afterwards, organize the sticky notes into categories within the concept to find common themes.

Summarize the Professor’s Lectures

Look through all the lectures given by the professor that will be covered on the midterm. Try to examine the lecture notes and summarize the lecture in a couple of sentences. Ask yourself, “What did I learn from this lecture?” “Why did the professor give this lecture (what was the purpose)?” “What course objectives did the professor accomplish in this lecture?”

Predict Possible Test Questions

Look through your lectures, course notes, and readings to determine certain questions the professor might ask on the midterm. This strategy will allow you to be prepared by looking at the midterm from the professor’s perspective and allow you to identify the most important information.

Peer Lessons

If you like studying in groups, this strategy is for you! Divide your study group into pairs and assign each group a problem/concept that the group needs more clarification on. Once the concept is assigned, use your textbooks and lecture notes, to brainstorm as much detail as possible on a piece of chart paper. Afterwards, show your thought process by sharing your work with the whole group and join in a discussion to make sense of the concept together as a group.

I hope these tips will help you succeed in your midterms! Remember that time management, organization, and critically analyzing your notes will help you become very prepared for your midterms!

Emily

Peer Mentor

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