Friday, November 2, 2018

Don't let the bumps slow you down: The road to college success

WSU Global Campus Virtual Mentor Robin Dimick and sons

Hi everyone. My name is Robin Dimick and I am one of the WSU Global Campus Virtual Mentors. I started mentoring for WSU in the summer of 2011 and have loved being able to stay connected with the school and the students. Go Cougs!

I am a 45-year-old mom of seven kids (only my two youngest are at home with me now), which is why my journey through education was nontraditional.🙂

Like many Global Campus students, my road to success was bumpy and had many stops and starts. I started my college career many times (originally 20 years ago) but couldn’t finish until I started an online degree with Green River Community College in 2006. I finished my AA, finally, in 2009 and started at WSU that fall. I graduated from WSU in May 2012 with two bachelor’s degrees; one in Social Sciences and a second in Criminal Justice. I got within two courses of a Master of Science in Justice Studies with Southern New Hampshire University online before I had to drop out to care for my youngest son. He is autistic and has some major medical issues.

Due to my son’s condition, his doctor told me right before summer break that he could no longer go to a traditional daycare setting and that I would have to try and find in-home care for him. I missed many days of work and was eventually given a leave of absence to care for my son. I had a difficult time finding an in-home provider for my son and was unable to work all summer. Since my son’s condition is degenerative, I knew I needed to find a work-from-home opportunity that would be more permanent. In August, I found a program of study that would allow me to learn the skills needed to work in the medical field while also telecommuting.

On September 24th, I started my new online studies in Medical Billing and Coding through Everett Community College. Unlike the social sciences and criminal justice degrees I obtained, medical terminology and anatomy are not subjects that come easily to me.

Luckily, I have been a Virtual Mentor for years and have been giving advice and sharing tips on how to get the most out of an online education for quite some time now. These tips and tricks that VMs (myself included) share each semester have made it possible for me to learn something that is not my strong suit.

Speaking of tips, have you tried the free tutoring available to WSU students? It can be a great resource! Not only can you leave a question for a tutor, but there is the opportunity for live tutoring through eChat.

One other great feature of eTutoring is the eWriting Lab. This feature allows you to submit a draft of your paper to a tutor, ask for specific feedback, and receive a tutor's response within 24-48 hours! If you haven’t used this free service before, be sure to check it out on the eTutoring website.

If you don’t already take advantage of the tips in the Virtual Mentor Forum (located in the Discussion Board area of your course), I would recommend that you do—you never know when the information might just save you. 🙂

Wishing you all perseverance and happy studying….

Robin ~ your WSU Virtual Mentor

Friday, October 12, 2018

Stay safe online! Cyber security tips from a Virtual Mentor

WSU Global Campus Virtual Mentor Terri Timpe

Hi there! My name is Terri Timpe and I have been one of your Virtual Mentor’s here at WSU since 2011.

Without the advent of online education, I would not have been able to attain my educational goals. Between owning my own business, managing a household of five, and working full time, attending face-to-face classes was an impossible task - so like a good many students nowadays, I did most of my studies online. I started out at Wenatchee Valley College in 2006, participating in what they called their “hybrid” program, where I received my AAS degree. I finished up at WSU, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s in Social Sciences, and have been working as a Virtual Mentor in some of your course spaces ever since.

Like most of you, I am utilizing my computer for many hours per day. I bank online, I order goods and services online, I correspond online, and of course, I work as your Virtual Mentor online. With internet and online use come certain potential dangers, but you can do your part to mitigate those risks.

Sharing Your Student ID Number 
One very important way to help keep those risks at bay is to keep your student information secure! Sometimes you may be tempted to share your student ID number in emails, in assignment headers, and in discussion board posts. You should treat that number like any other sensitive personal information, and here’s why:
  • Your ID is connected to records that contain your date of birth, gender, address, phone number, parents’ names and addresses, Social Security number, and other private, sensitive information. Someone with your ID may be able to gain enough information about you to steal your identity and commit identity fraud (such as opening bank accounts or applying for credit cards in your name). 
  • Your ID is used to protect your information to comply with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA requires that faculty and staff keep your information private. This means your Virtual Mentor or your Professor wouldn’t ask you to post that information in a public space. Ever. 
  • Your ID would be used as a WSU Employee ID if you were to ever work for WSU. If you were to be hired by WSU then that number would be attached to even more personal information within HR records and payroll records (like direct deposit bank information and tax data). 
Typically, you will only be asked for your ID when contacting WSU to reach an instructor, advisor, financial aid assistance, or the registrar, for example. That employee may ask for your ID and other information to ensure your privacy. But BE CAREFUL about giving your information to anyone who contacts you unsolicited by phone or email, as they might not actually be from WSU. If you have any concerns or suspicions, don't provide your personal information. Instead, contact that WSU unit directly, using the contact information listed on one of WSU's official web pages.

Be Aware of Email Content 
Another little tip about keeping your information secure is to be aware of the content of emails you receive. With the recent rash of “phishing” emails, one has to consider that the point may be to gain access to WSU email accounts and therefore your student ID and all of the information tied to that identification number. My rule when dealing with any email – even those that I am positive came from a legitimate source – is to NEVER, EVER choose any link provided in the email. Phishers are getting sneakier and sneakier, and I have seen some very realistic emails come through that are very clever at copying proprietary logos and making their return email addresses look pretty legit.

To be on the safe side, I open my web browser and enter all sites through normal channels, entering my information in the appropriate login page instead. Because, really, you just never know – the few extra seconds that it takes to log in through a bona fide webpage may save much heartache and financial loss.

These and many such tips are some of the treasures you can find in your Virtual Mentor discussion board forums. As a student, one of the best ways you can connect with your fellow classmates is to post a tip or trick that has worked for you, and the VM discussion board within your course space is the ideal place to do this. We welcome and appreciate your input, so please do feel free to “post away”! See you in the classroom!

Terri Timpe, WSU Global Campus Virtual Mentor

Friday, August 31, 2018

Virtual Mentor shares key to success

Greetings and welcome to Fall semester from Fallon, one of your Virtual Mentors!

I began my higher education journey at Clark College in Vancouver before transferring to WSU Global Campus. Like many of you, I wanted to be sure that I started out at WSU successfully. With tons of organization and reaching out when I needed help (from professors and VMs) I graduated summa cum laude in 2012.

I had taken online classes at Clark (using two different systems) so I felt comfortable learning another learning management system. In the past eight years I've used Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard and Angel. Each one provides students with different tools and a different interface. The one thing that stayed the same throughout, for me, was having an online calendar.

I used my calendar to add all of the due dates for the entire semester and every class. To find the due dates I made sure to read each course schedule and syllabus carefully. Then I used a different color for each class and made sure to set reminders for long-term assignments (such as essays and group projects). It helped me stay on top of each course and allowed me to double check if I had something due even if I was away from my home office. There is something to be said for peace of mind!

Since graduating, with the help of my handy calendar, I went on to earn a Master’s in Women's Studies from San Diego State University (2015). I now work in Student Services at Pacific University in Hillsboro, Oregon. I'm immensely thankful for my time at WSU and learning all that I did from my classmates and from the Virtual Mentors (before I became one myself!).

As you start your classes this Fall be sure to read through each syllabus and course schedule. Once you know what you need to do you can figure out when to do it! Also, if you are new to the Blackboard environment consider reaching out to your Virtual Mentors. We're here to help!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Virtual Mentor highlights opportunities for Global Campus students


Left to right: Robin Dimick, Terri Timpe, Butch the Cougar, and Diane Allen

Hi everyone! 

My name is Diane and I've been one of the Global Campus Virtual Mentors (VMs) since Fall 2009. I am a graduate of WSU Global Campus (it was called WSU Online back then) and my major was Business Administration/MIS. If you’ve been in one of the courses in which I’ve been a VM, you might recognize me from the above photo. That’s me on the far right, goofing around with fellow VMs at the 2013 ASWSU Global Rendezvous. If you haven't been to Rendezvous, make this year the year you attend. ASWSU Global offers you and your family free or discounted fun at this annual event. Rendezvous is usually held in March and is a great opportunity to meet with your academic advisor, attend a one-credit course, and network with other Global Campus students, faculty and staff. Be on the lookout later in the school year for more information about Rendezvous (and in the meantime, check out Rendezoo on Aug. 26).

My path to WSU's Global Campus may have been similar to yours. I completed an AS while working, and had stalled out because I wasn't able to attend classes in person. When we moved to Washington—although I wasn't 100% thrilled about leaving Hawaii and swapping flip flips for fleece—I learned about WSU’s online program and realized I could transfer my AS from California. That, and picking fresh berries straight from the vine, helped me look forward to it. Corny but completely true. By Spring 2009 I was very familiar with WSU’s online program because I’d been taking courses one or two at a time for several years. I was very happy with the quality of the program, so when I was offered the opportunity to remain a part of it by joining the VM group, I jumped at it. Also corny but completely true.

Something we probably have in common is that we have a lot to do. Hopefully you've had a chance to take a break during the summer, get some fresh air and exercise and maybe even sleep in once or twice. Wellbeing Online has a program to help encourage us to take care of ourselves even when super busy, the CyberCoug Fitness Club, which will partly reimburse your cost for a gym membership. You can find out more about it on WSU's Wellbeing Online website. In addition to physical wellness, the website has an interesting collection of articles on many aspects of wellness such as emotional, financial, intellectual, and occupational. The articles are well written and just the right length for a good read during a short break from work or study.

My advice is to take advantage of all that WSU Global Campus offers students, and I hope to "see" you in the Blackboard Learn course space, or at the next Rendezvous.

Diane Allen, VM

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Global Campus students enjoy free day at Wild Waves

ASWSU Global Senator Morgan Atwood recaps the recent Global Campus student event in this guest blog post: 

On Saturday, July 14, over a hundred Washington State University Global Campus students, their families and friends had a blast at Wild Waves Theme and Water Park in Federal Way, Washington at the first ASWSU Global event of the summer!
Wild Waves Theme & Water Park logo

The event provided a chance for WSU Global Campus students and their guests to enjoy a day in the sun, ride some crazy rides and water slides, meet their student government leaders, and eat a catered BBQ dinner—all thanks to ASWSU Global, the WSU Global Campus student government!

“I was excited to see the email for this event because being a Global Campus student, you don’t get to connect with students as much as being on campus, but this way you can,” said Sarah Paquet, humanities major.

Nikki Morford, a Global Campus social sciences major, added, “It’s been awesome! I really like that it involves our families. I feel like a lot of online students have families and work, and are unable to have that face-to-face contact. These events allow us to involve our families while having interactions with other students. I’m definitely going to more events!”

From 4-8 p.m., students gathered for dinner in the picnic pavilion, where they met fellow WSU Global Campus students, played games, and learned about all that ASWSU Global has to offer.

 Several students and guests serving themselves at outdoor BBQ buffet at Wild Waves
Global Campus students and guests
refuel on BBQ dinner at Wild Waves
Students also had the amazing opportunity to meet WSU Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales. Gonzales is enthusiastic and passionate about Washington State University and its students. She taught students the Go Cougs! call, and energetically spoke about what is being done for WSU Global students! She shared that she loves attending Global Campus events, and we were so grateful to have her!

If you missed this event, don’t worry! ASWSU Global has several face-to-face events each year! They are all fun filled, family friendly, and a great way to connect with your campus and other students! These events include snow tubing, Homecoming, football tailgate parties, and much more! Keep an eye out for these events throughout the year!

Mark your calendars for our next event: Rendezoo at the Oregon Zoo! On Sunday, Aug. 26, Global Campus students and up to three guests can enjoy free admission, a catered lunch, and browse the resource fair, where students can meet WSU staff and learn about different resources available to them. Space is limited so register on CougSync today!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Tools to keep your Blackboard posts error-free

Text: It's really nice to know there is additional support if you need it

Hello Global Campus Cougs!

My name is Lois, and I’m one of your WSU Virtual Mentors.

My story is similar to many of yours…I put my university studies on hold for a bit while my children were young; as they got older, I had the time and motivation to complete my 4-year degree, but our frequent moves seemed like a road-block to me finishing up. During those years we were never in one location long enough for me to complete the couple years (at *one* university) that I needed to graduate, although I kept accumulating credits for work-related classes in various states. WSU’s Global Campus (then called the Distance Degree Program) was exactly what I needed! The online format allowed me to work on my degree through several moves (in WA, HI, and TX) and I graduated with much satisfaction in 2008.

Like the other VMs you’ve met in this series, I’ve continued to stay connected with WSU through the Virtual Mentor program. I know how grateful I was for an alternative to the brick-and-mortar path to a degree, and I like to be involved in helping others reach that same goal.

One question Virtual Mentors are often asked is “Can I edit my post?” In most graded discussion forums, it is not possible to edit posts after they are submitted, but there are a few tricks that can help catch errors before you submit, especially if you make a habit of using them.

Composing in Word can catch grammar and spelling errors and is always recommended. In addition, these Blackboard tools can be used to see how the post will look once it is submitted and give an additional chance to catch last minute errors or formatting problems.

1. The Preview tool:

After composing your message, select the icon that looks like a computer screen in the upper right of the message window.

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2. The Save Draft feature:

Create a post like you normally do, but instead of selecting Submit when you are finished, select Save Draft.

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When you do this, your discussion board post will be saved, but it will not be visible to other students, and you can come back and add to or edit it.

You will be able to see your draft post in the list of posts in the discussion board with the word “draft” to the right of the title. When you select your draft to work on it again, it will show the formatting that it will have in its final, submitted version. You can select Edit at the bottom of the post and fix any problems you see in your post.

Make sure you actually select Submit when you are finished editing or your work will not be posted to the Discussion Board for a grade.

I hope you find these tools as useful as I do,

Lois

Friday, June 22, 2018

Secret to better Blackboard post viewing revealed

Greetings Global Campus students!

I am Ellen Lutz, next in line to visit with all you Global Campus students here in this blog! I graduated from WSU Global Campus (then the Distance Degree Program… a.k.a. DDP) in 2007 with a BA in Social Sciences. Since that time, I have remained active in WSU’s online education community as a Virtual Mentor (VM). WSU’s DDP gave me the opportunity to earn a degree I would not have otherwise achieved and working as a VM has given me a way to pay that gratitude forward. 

Three weeks ago you met Assistant Lead VM Alina Zollfrank, with her wonderful introduction to the VM program and ways to build community within the virtual classroom. Today, I am going to take a different route and share with you a tip that I hope will be useful to you as you work in Blackboard.

At least a couple times each semester, the issue of those pesky, difficult to read posts comes up. You know the ones where you have to scroll left to right to read everything? They are both frustrating and annoying! This happens because the default message settings have Word Wrap turned off.

The good news is, this issue can be easily remedied by changing the HTML settings from the Bb Message Menu. Here’s how:
  • Open a New or Reply Message window 
  • In the Message Menu, select HTML 
  • A pop-up window will open with HTML coding (or a blank window if you have not yet typed into the message body)
  • In the upper right-hand corner, select the check box next to Word Wrap
  • In the bottom right-hand corner, select Update
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Once you have followed these steps, automatic word wrap should make for a much more enjoyable reading experience. No more scrolling back and forth to read posts!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Meet Alina Zollfrank, Global Campus Virtual Mentor 

Alina Zollfrank
Global Campus Virtual Mentor Alina Zollfrank
A shout out to all you WSU Global Campus students from Alina, one of your Virtual Mentors!

I attended this campus (back then called Distance Degree Programs, or DDP) when my daughter was a toddler and I was pregnant with my son. The flexibility of online learning, together with the amazing support from fellow students, my instructors, and my advisor, made it possible for me to graduate right after a semester on semi-bed rest and an early labor.

While a student, I served as a senator and treasurer for the ASWSU-DDP student government. I know all about the juggling act online students perform in their daily life, and my gratitude for this program led me to become a Virtual Mentor right after obtaining my BA in Social Sciences. I have been happily giving back to WSU and this program’s committed, diverse students ever since 2007. For several years, I have also worked in the capacity of Assistant Lead Virtual Mentor, so you may see my name popping up in course spaces here and there. As a previous exchange student from Germany, I have a particular interest in global education that transcends real borders and perceived barriers.

Virtual Mentors are all about making your online learning experience a smooth one, whether it’s to help you become comfortable in the course space, troubleshoot Blackboard issues, hunt down WSU resources, or—something very dear to our VM hearts—effectively communicate and connect with fellow students to build a healthy, supportive learning community. It’s not unusual for me to come across a student new to online learning who is feeling overwhelmed by all the nooks and crannies of the course space along with the almost immediately urgent deadlines. What do I tell them? Explore. Breathe. Explore some more. Watch the Blackboard tutorials and check out everything on the main menu. Read the tips your Virtual Mentors post in the VM Forum throughout the semester because they can make a difference for your comfort level and overall learning. Then, explore some more. And ask, always ask when confused or concerned because the odds are an experienced classmate who has been in the same boat will step up and lend support. We’re all in this together.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Student Ambassadors: Shaping the Global Campus Community

Grissel Gutierrez, Student Ambassador for Global Connections and Global Campus accounting major, reflects upon her experience as a WSU student leader in this guest blog post:

The advertisement for an open student ambassador position in the Global Campus eNewsletter caught me by surprise. I read through the job description at least a hundred times, sometimes thinking, “Yes! That’s me! I’m going to apply!” and then I would read the job description again and think, “I don’t think I can; not enough time, just no.” But the more I thought about it, and the more times I read through the job description I increasingly wanted to be a student ambassador. I didn’t want my college years to be academics and nothing more. I had a surge of determination to be the student leader that I knew being a student ambassador meant.

As student ambassadors, we have the opportunity to shape Global Connections programing. Seeing firsthand the process of taking an idea or a student need and materializing the abstract into a web-based event is amazing! In collaboration with other student ambassadors, we come up with online events that could be helpful, meaningful or just fun for our Global Campus peers. From mental health webinars to exercise tutorials and cooking with a professional chef, Global Connections programming is shaped by student ambassadors.

I can describe my experience being a student ambassador as stepping into the heart of the Global Campus community. We come together to inspire meaningful, relevant programing in hopes of meeting the needs of our peers. However, our goals are not merely to meet the needs of the Global Campus community but also to promote school spirit, engage significant interactions and most importantly, to provide an enjoyable and full college experience.

The opportunity to serve my fellow Global Campus students has been gratifying and fulfilling. I enjoy the collaboration with the other student ambassadors in our endeavor to best represent and serve students like us. I am so grateful for the valuable work and life experience I continue to gain on my journey as student ambassador. My advice to anyone curious or considering taking on any student leadership role is to get involved and don’t hesitate; develop the leader in you.

Learn more about Global Connections Student Ambassadors on the Global Connections website. If you’re interested in becoming a student ambassador, watch for information on how to apply in August.

Virtual Mentors: Ready to help you navigate Blackboard Learn

Text: It's really nice to know there is additional support if you need it
Do you ever wish that you could connect more with fellow Global Campus students in your courses? Have you had a question about how to do something in your online course space, but didn’t know who to ask? A Virtual Mentor may be able to help you out!

Virtual Mentors (VMs) are all current and former Global Campus students, enrolled in Global Campus courses each semester to help you get the most out of your online learning experience. Virtual Mentors aren’t teaching assistants—so they can’t answer your questions about course content—but they can assist you in a lot of other ways. They can help you learn how to easily navigate Blackboard, show you how to personalize your profile and set up subscriptions, guide you to WSU resources, and more!

WSU started the virtual mentor program in 2003 with nine mentors. In 2010, the program won a first-place innovation award from the Center for Transforming Student Services. There are now 18 mentors in over 100 online courses.

You can find VMs in the dedicated Virtual Mentor Forum in courses which they’re enrolled. In the Virtual Mentor Forum, you can post requests for help, read the tips, and explore the resources that your VM has added to the forum. If you have a few minutes, go to the Global Connections Video Vault for some quick tips two Virtual Mentors provided in their Oct. 2016 webinar. 

So if you’re feeling isolated, lost, or frustrated in your course space, reach out! Virtual Mentors are are familiar with the problems you’re experiencing and are eager to help.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Meet Your Librarian: Erica England!

Erica England
Erica England
Introducing your WSU Global Campus Librarian: 
Erica England, First-Year Experience & Distance Learning Librarian

Understanding the resources you have through your campus library is an essential tool as you work toward your degree. Getting to know your librarian should help bridge the gap between your distance and the need for research. We've asked Erica some questions and her answers should help connect you with the library system.

How long have you worked with WSU libraries? What brought you here?
I have worked for WSU for just over a year now. Growing up as the child of someone in the military, I always wanted my dad to be stationed in the PNW—he never was, so I jumped on the chance as an adult.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I love helping students discover that research doesn’t have to be painful. And I always learn something when I sit down to help a student research a topic.

What is the least known or most mysterious feature available through the WSU libraries?
InterLibrary Loan & Summit materials. Many students don’t know about these services, so they miss out on so much research material. (As distance students, nothing is off-limits. We will make sure you have access to the same materials as our on-campus students.)

What one question do you get asked most often?
“Library school is really a thing?” Yes, it is. All librarians have to hold a master's degree.

What is one thing you’re working on for the library that you’re excited about and students can look forward to?
Virtual research consultations. A lot of distance students feel like there’s no one to help with research & we are trying to combat this. They can request appointments through our Book-a-Librarian request form (http://libraries.wsu.edu/Book-A-Librarian). 

As a Global Campus student, you also have access to Subject Specialist librarians—those with more specialized knowledge with reference and research help and instruction. You can connect with those individuals on the Subject Specialist page of the WSU Libraries web site.

Also visit the Global Connections Video Vault and check out the recording of Erica's webinar, Introduction to WSU Libraries for Global Campus Students. In the webinar, Erica gives a tutorial on fundamental library research tools, methods to get help for your scholarly projects, and library FAQs.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Global Campus students splash the day away at Silverwood Theme Park

Silverwood Theme Park logo
Eighty five Global Campus students, their families, and friends flocked to Athol, Idaho, on July 5 for a free day of amusement rides, crazy water slides, a BBQ lunch buffet and unlimited beverages at Silverwood Theme Park—all courtesy of ASWSU Global, their student government.  

Michelle Whitlow, social sciences major and ASWSU Global student involvement chair, summed up the Summer Rendezvous event at Silverwood as “a fantastic student engagement opportunity.”  “Meeting and mingling with my fellow leaders and students was truly an unforgettable experience that I will always treasure,” said Whitlow.

“Our group arrived at Silverwood and immediately found the Global Campus student booth where we were greeted by some very friendly ASWSU student leaders,” said Krystal Kincaid, Global Campus social sciences major. “We were really proud of our Global Campus and how well organized the event was. We felt so welcomed, lunch was terrific, and we had a great time riding all the rides.”

In addition to water park fun, ASWSU Global provides many family friendly events throughout the year for fellow Global Campus students to connect, including snow tubing on Mt. Hood, Homecoming and Apple Cup football tailgate parties, graduation receptions, and next up: Rendezoo.

The annual Rendezoo event is at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on Sunday, Aug. 13. Global Campus students and up to three guests can enjoy free admission, a catered lunch, and browse the resource fair, where students can meet WSU staff who provide support and services to online students. Space is limited so register for Rendezoo today!