Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

What is a Peer-Reviewed Journal?

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  My professor told me I have to cite using scholarly, peer-reviewed journals.  What does that mean?

College students are often asked to include scholarly peer-reviewed journals as sources for citations.  If the school offers an online library, it can be easy to search for these journals by simply marking the box under the search line that lists something like “search for peer-reviewed journals only” or “scholarly peer-reviewed”.  By marking this box, anything that comes up in the search should be appropriate to use for college-level assignments.

A peer-reviewed journal insures that the article is of the highest quality and reflects sound research.  Library.usm.main.edu does a nice job of explaining the peer review process:

  • Articles submitted by authors are evaluated by a group of peer experts in the field.
  • The reviewers recommend whether the submitted article be published, revised, or rejected.
  • This review process is often performed “blind”, meaning the reviewers do not know the names or academic affiliations of the authors, and the authors do not know who is reviewing their work.

Ulrich’s Periodical Directory Online is a link where the journals’ title can be submitted to get a report about whether the journal is actually peer-reviewed. 

What is meant by scholarly journals?  CalPoly explained, “Scholarly journals contain articles written by, and addressed to, experts in a discipline. They are concerned with academic study, especially research, and demonstrate the methods and concerns of scholars. The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report original research or experimentation and to communicate this information to the rest of the scholarly world. The language of scholarly journals reflects the discipline covered, as it assumes some knowledge or background on the part of the reader. Scholarly journals always rigorously cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. Many scholarly journals are published by professional organizations.”

Related Articles

How to Publish or Self-Publish Your Book

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  I am thinking about publishing a book.  What do I need to know about finding a publisher or trying to self-publish?

It can be quite challenging to get your first book published through a large publishing house.  Many new authors find that they must end up self-publishing.  Some are choosing to self-publish now because of the way that the industry is changing as well.

Seth Godin, is a well-established author who used to use the big publishing houses, recently decided to self-publish.  Godin decided to do this because he had enough customer relationships and felt he no longer needed the publisher.  Publishers can offer a lot of advantages for a new author.  However, once an author is established and has identified their audience, they may not be as necessary.  According to the Wall Street Journal Godin is quoted as saying, “Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don’t know who reads their books. What the Internet has done for me, and a lot of others, is enable me to know my readers.”

If you decide to go the publisher house route, here are some things you must keep in mind.  There is a very high probability that publishers will turn down you book unless you have an agent, a strong proposal, a very unique book idea, and most importantly a strong platform.

The word platform gets tossed around quite a bit in the publishing world.  What they mean when they say they want you to have a strong platform is that they want you to have a “following” of people that will probably already want to buy your book once it comes out.  They would like to see you have a popular blog, a TV show, a radio show, are a celebrity or have written previous books, etc.  If you don’t have a platform, there is a good chance that they will turn you down.

If you do have a platform and want to use a publishing house, you will need to start the process by finding an agent.  To do this, you must develop a query letter.  Once you develop a good query letter, you will send this to agents that handle the type of writing that interests you.  I suggest reading Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents.

Once you send your query letters to agents, you may get some that respond.  If so, you must be prepared to have a strong book proposal to give them.  There are plenty of books about how to write a book proposal based on the type of book (fiction or nonfiction). There is a very specific format about how to write a proposal and it is important that you stick to that format.  The proposal will contain several things including some brief information about the proposed chapters.

Many people think they need to have written the complete book prior to finding an agent. This is not true.  It is good to have one solid chapter to send to the agent, though, in case they do like your proposal.  Do not send this chapter until it is requested though.  It is important to start with the query letter. If there is interest, then you would send the proposal.  If there is interest, then you would send the sample chapter.

 

If you cannot get a publishing house to publish your book, many people go the route of self-publishing.  There are some very simple ways to self-publish including using Amazon’s CreateSpace. Sites like this have made it easier and less expensive than ever before to get your book published.  The nice thing is that the days of having to print large amounts of books that require storage are gone.  With sites like Createspace, books are printed as they are ordered.

Self-publishing has changed the publishing industry.  Because of sites like Amazon, many stores like Borders have had to close their doors.  People have enjoyed the ability to have a variety of book choices and the ease of ordering online.

If you do decide to self-publish, be sure that you have a good editor and an indexer.  Createspace and others like them, offer help with a lot of things like cover design and more.  The more things that you need help with, the more it will cost.  However, these sites have made self-publishing a much easier and more realistic choice for authors than anything offered in the past.

How to Teach Online Classes

I’m testing doing some radio podcasts.  This initial show has issues with the music in the first few seconds but it is just a test . . . Anyone interested in learning how to teach online courses may want to listen to this for helpful information though. Click on the picture to hear the podcast or click here.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/btrplayer.swf

Listen to internet radio with DianeHamilton on Blog Talk Radio

Bloggers and Social Media Junkies: 5 Tips to Improve Your Writing

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  What are some things I can do to improve my blogging and writing skills?

The Internet has turned lot of people into writers.  Bloggers and social media junkies may have great ideas to share but may lack some writing skills that could help improve the message they want to convey.  I know I make a lot of mistakes when I write.  I try not to, but when you blog as much as I do, it is inevitable.  I never intended to be a writer.  However, I found that I liked sharing information, so writing became a means to an end.  When I write my books, I use a professional editor.  Not all of us can be editing experts. It could be very expensive and inconvenient to have to use an editor for every blog and social media posting.  However, there are some simple things that can help to improve writing skills. 

1.  Don’t End Sentences in Prepositions. The problem is that many people have no idea what a preposition is.  Susan Thurman, author of The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need, claims there is a trick to helping recognize a preposition.  “Look at the last eight letters of the word preposition; they spell position.  A preposition sometimes tells the position of something:  in, out, under, over, above and so forth.”  My seventh grade teacher suggested we think about a box.  For example:  in the box, over the box, and so forth. The following are the most common prepositions according to Thurman.  Try to avoid ending a sentence with any of these words:

  • About
  • Above
  • Across
  • After
  • Against
  • Along
  • Among
  • Around
  • At
  • Before
  • Behind
  • Below
  • Beneath
  • Beside
  • Between
  • Beyond
  • But
  • By
  • Concerning
  • Despite
  • Down
  • During
  • Except
  • For
  • From
  • In
  • Inside
  • Into
  • Like
  • Of
  • Off
  • On
  • Onto
  • Out
  • Outside
  • Over
  • Past
  • Since
  • Through
  • Throughout
  • To
  • Toward
  • Under
  • Underneath
  • Until
  • Up
  • Upon
  • With
  • Within
  • Without

2.   Learn to Spell without Spell Check. If you rely too much on a spell checker, you may find that words you meant to write are replaced with words that have entirely different meanings.  I can’t count how many times that a student has sent me a note saying to “please excuse the incontinence”.   It is best if you take the time to learn to spell correctly so that you don’t have to rely on a device that may change your intended meaning. The following are fifty of the most commonly misspelled words according to author Gary Provost of 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing:

  • Acceptable
  • Apology
  • Appetite
  • Architect
  • Assassinate
  • Autumn
  • Calendar
  • Changeable
  • Conscious
  • Correspondence
  • Criticism
  • Deceive
  • Discernible
  • Embarrass
  • Eminent
  • Existence
  • Fascinate
  • Grateful
  • Hygiene
  • Imaginable
  • Immediately
  • Irrelevant
  • Jewelry
  • Judgment
  • Lovable
  • Miscellaneous
  • Mischievous
  • Mortgage
  • Necessarily
  • Occasionally
  • Occurrence
  • Omission
  • Orchestra
  • Potatoes
  • Professor
  • Pseudonym
  • Quarrelsome
  • Religious
  • Reservoir
  • Rhythmic
  • Scissors
  • Syllable
  • Tragedy
  • Umbrella
  • Vanilla
  • Vengeance
  • Weird
  • Wholesome
  • Youthful
  • Zealot

3.  Vary your sentence length.  Some of my students like to write in either really long run-on sentences or overly short monotonous sentences.  Try to vary your sentence length.  Notice how the first sentence in this paragraph was longer and more complex.  That was followed by a shorter more succinct sentence.  It makes your writing easier to read if you vary the sentence length and mix it up a bit. 

4.  Ask yourself some questions once you have finished your draft.  Does the initial paragraph let the reader know what your paper, blog or article is going to contain?  Do you have needless repetition of ideas?  Is your tone and tense consistent?  Does one paragraph advance to the next in a smooth fashion?  Does each of your paragraphs contain a topic sentence that conveys the thought you have developed throughout that paragraph? 

5.  Work on expanding your vocabulary.  Rather than learning overly complicated words to express what you want to say, try varying the way that you say things by using a thesaurus.  If you are talking about a house, perhaps refer to that house as a dwelling or a building in the next sentence.  If you find that you are using the same word over and over, check out some alternatives words in a thesaurus to add dimension to your writing.

I know I am guilty of making some of these mistakes.  Through practice, we can all improve our skills. 

What is the Difference Between a Citation and a Reference?

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  What do professors mean when they say to include citations and references?

Students are often required to have both citations and references when creating their college assignments.  There can be confusion as to what the difference is between a citation and a reference.  Cornell explains, “a citation occurs when you use a specific source in your work and then follow up with the proper bibliographic information; plagiarism issues arise when you use a specific source, but fail to indicate what you have borrowed, and/or fail to provide proper bibliographic information a reference is the bibliographic information that guides readers to your source.”

It may seem easier to understand when given examples of each.  Here is an example of a citation:

“Canadians can celebrate that smoking rates have dropped dramatically in Canada in the past three decades” (Reutter, 2001, p. 13). 

You may also paraphrase what others have written.  Here is an example of how to do this correctly:

According to the Canadian Lung Association (2008), most people who quit smoking use a combination of methods. 

These should be included within the body of the document. They should not be confused with references.  References should be included on the separate Reference Page.

An example of how to list references on a Reference Page is listed below.  Keep in mind that formatting will not show up correctly on a blog.  The first line of each reference should be at the left margin and each following line should be indented 1/2 inch.  Here is an example without the indentations showing up:

References

Canadian Lung Association. (2008). How to quit. Retrieved May 26, 2008, from http://www.lung.ca/protect-protegez/tobacco-tabagisme/quitting-cesser/how-comment_e.php

Reutter, L. (2001). Health and wellness. In P. A. Potter, A. G. Perry, J. C. Ross-Kerr, & M. J. Wood (Eds.), Canadian fundamentals of nursing (2nd ed.) (pp. 2-30). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Harcourt Canada.

It is important to note that many students think they should just include references to show the sites they visited or read to complete the assignment.  This is not correct.  References should be listed to explain where the citation information was obtained.  If a citation was not listed within the document, it doesn’t make sense to list a reference.

How to Market You or Your Product Using Social Media

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane: I just wrote a book that is available through Amazon.  I’m just not sure about the best way to market it?  Any suggestions?
 
That is a good question.  The tips I’m about to give can also be used to market things other than a book. 
 
You could market it through several ways.  I would create a link to it on your site like I have links on my main website to Amazon.  If you don’t want to do that, you could offer it directly from you as a PDF through your site and charge them using PayPal
 
You might want to make a video (3-4 minutes at most) and put it on Youtube.  At the end of the video make mention of a free offer or newsletter and where to go for more information.  If they go to that site, it should be a capture page to get people signed up  to receive free newsletters (through a site like aweber.com) to get them interested in you and your book. 
 
You definitely need to be on Facebook and create fan pages like the ones I have for each of my books there.  See:
 
 
I would be on Twitter as well.  You can tie all of your Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. accounts into one area on sites like Hootsuite . . . but I like to use Posterous a lot. It is like a blog but it has a great share information toolbar that you can get that and it also allows you to share your updates on multiple sites like Hootsuite does. 
 
If you want to learn about social networking and “how to do it” . . .for a reasonable price you can go to  Letsgetsocial and sign up to get their videos.  I watched them and they are really very informative.  They are designed to teach people how to be media managers but people who don’t want to do the job of media management can learn how to do their own media management from them. 
 
I gave a presentation yesterday to a local group here where others were presenting to career-seekers … they all agreed that Youtube is one of the biggest things you can do to get noticed. 
 
I watched a video a while back on Pitchengine.com about videos and they had some good information.  They are more costly though. You might watch their video for information.  If you are going to spend that kind of money, you need to have a major product to promote.  Books probably won’t have the return to support that. 
 
Talks are another great way to promote your book . . . so are radio interviews.   You can go to radioguestlist.com or other sites like that to find people looking to interview you.
 
Blogging is one of the best ways to get your name out there.   I like to use WordPress because it is free and uncomplicated. 
 
You can also release press releases on prweb or other such sites.  I am on wooeb who also has press releases that are not as expensive.  You can send out free releases on pitchengine.
 
You might check out some books . . . .I liked a book called Career Renegade . . . had some good ideas.  (on a different side topic . . .I liked the book The Happiness Advantage written by ex Harvard professor – very entertaining)

The Top 10 Most Common Writing Mistakes

 

Ask Dr. Diane: What are the most common writing mistakes that your students make?

While it is not unusual to see spelling and grammar issues, I’ll assume that readers realize that they should check for such things and just list the top 10 most common other issues I see here. I hope this posting will give some insight into how to set up your papers so that you can avoid making these common mistakes.

  1. Papers not set up with double-spacing – To set your paper to be double-spaced, be sure you are on the home tab in Word and go to the paragraph section of the tool bar.  There is an up and down arrow icon that you can click on.  When you do this, it will give you choices of how to set up your spacing. Pick 2.0 to set double-spacing. 
  2. Papers should not have an extra space between paragraphs – Remember that papers must be double-spaced throughout in APA.  Word sometimes defaults with an extra space between paragraphs.  To change this, click here.
  3. Papers must have headers/numbers set up correctly through the header/number function in Word – To learn how to do this, click here.
  4. Papers must be set up with an introduction/body/conclusion – Your introduction and conclusion need to be strong summaries of what the paper will or has included.  For more about how to write an essay, click here.
  5. Papers should not be written in first person – Remove the “I” or “Me” from your writing. For an explanation of the meaning of first person, click  here.
  6. Citing and References confusion – Citing is the act of quoting a source.  For example:  “Citing is the act of quoting a source.” (Hamilton, 2010)  This is not to be confused with references.  References are included on a separate page with the title References at the top.  You must include references whenever you cite.  The reference explains who deserves credit for the citation.  Many students list references but no citations.  That is not correct.  You need both. 
  7. Paragraph length confusion – Students often either write in overly short or overly long paragraphs.  A good size paragraph is at least 3-4 sentences but should not be so long that it takes up an entire page or more.
  8. Papers should be left justified and not blocked – Students sometimes write in blocked format.  That is not correct.  Papers need to be left justified.  The setting for this is on the home tab under the paragraph part of the toolbar.
  9. Over citing – I see a lot of students who tend to write entire paragraphs of citing and forget to include their own writing in their work.  Although citing is important, it is also important to have your own points and statements.  Remember to make your point and then follow that up with citations to back up what you have written.  As a professor, I am looking to see that you have learned the subject and are not simply restating what others have said.
  10. Forgetting title page – Students often forget to include a title page.  It is very important that all papers include a title page that is correctly formatted in APA format. For helpful examples of APA formatting, click here.

For more help, see the following articles:

15 Ways to Improve Writing Skills for Students and Everyone Else

Removing Extra Spaces Between Paragraphs

How to Add Headers and Page Numbers in Word

APA Style:  5 Essential Tips for APA Style Headings

Citing Long Quotations in APA 6th Edition

Sample APA Paper – 6th Edition

Adding 2 Spaces After a Period to Meet APA 6th Edition Requirements

What is the Difference Between a Citation and a Reference?

Is Wikipedia Reliable?

PowerPoint – Resources and Examples to Make the Perfect Presentation

The Top 100 Vocabulary Words Adults Should Know

Sample APA 6th edition paper in PDF Form

Explanation of First, Second and Third Person Writing

Anthropomorphisms:  When Not to Use Them

Have Some Fun With Common Grammar Mistakes

TerriblyWrite Blog

What is a Peer-Reviewed Journal?

How to Paraphrase and Avoid Using Direct Quotes

Can Spell Check Make Things Worse? The Most Misspelled Words

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  What are some of the mostly commonly misspelled words?
I post a lot of information about spelling and grammar for my students.  There are certain words that many people tend to misspell.  For a list of the top 100 misspelled words, click here.  I often ask students to quiz their family and friends to see how they do with some of the more commonly misspelled words . . . For fun, ask people to spell the following words that seem pretty simple and basic to see how well they do.  I think you’ll be surprised at how many times people misspell these:

Calendar

Embarrass

Questionnaire

Accommodate

Definitely

I think a lot of students tend to rely heavily on the spell check function.  The problem is, if you don’t really have a good idea of how the word you are looking for is spelled in the first place, spell check may offer solutions that are not even close to the word you had intended.  I often have students send me an email saying something like, “I apologize for the incontinence.”  I kind of think they were looking for the word inconvenience .  .  . but I guess you never know.

For some extra tips on improving your spelling, check out an article by powa.org by clicking here.  Here are some tips from that article that may be helpful to you:

Suggestions for Spelling Improvement

1. Don’t look words up while you’re composing. Wait until your thought-flow runs its course. As you write, highlight or mark any words you aren’t absolutely sure about. Then later when editing, your attention will go right to these words and you can look them up all at once without interrupting and losing track of your thoughts. By looking up words later, you also can concentrate on learning to spell them correctly so you won’t have to look them up again. You might even consider keeping a list of Target Words to concentrate on.

2. Every time you write a word ask yourself whether you know how to spell it. There are only two possible answers to this question: yes and no. Maybe, probably, and I think so all count as no. If the answer is yes, keep on writing, but if the answer is no, mark the word to look up. Most spelling errors come not on words like “cataclysmic,” which you know you need to look up, but on words like “front,” where you think the odds are with you.

3. Notice what part of the word you’ve spelled wrong. Hardly ever do you spell a whole word wrong. Usually one or two letters need to be changed. Find the trouble spot by comparing the dictionary version with the version you’ve already written down. Sometimes a memory prod will help you get those letters right next time. For example, you might learn to spell “environment” by remembering that it has the word “iron” in it.

4. Watch out for words that sound like other ones. Here the problem isn’t so much spelling as using the wrong word, as when someone says, “I don’t care weather it rains.” Besides “whether” and “weather,” some other frequently confused words are listed below. These words are especially treacherous because computer spell-checkers won’t pick them up.

a — an — and
our — hour — are
accept — except
personal — personnel
cite — site — sight
quiet — quite — quit
cloths — clothes
roll — role
desert — dessert
soul — sole
do — due
than — then
led — lead
there — their — they’re
loose — lose
to — too — two
moral — morale
wear — where — were
new — knew
who’s — whose
no — know
your — you’re
past — passed

E-Books vs. Traditional Books

 

Ask Dr. Diane:  Which do you like better .  .  . e-books or traditional books? 

I am often asked about my preferences for e-books vs. the traditional book for use in the classroom setting.  I teach for many different online universities.  Some of these universities use e-books and others do not.  Initially I was leery about using them because I am a page bender, a highlighter and basic destroyer of books, in order for me to get the most out of them.  Technology has improved though and you can now do more to the e-book to mark things of interest.  Also there is the option of printing out a few pages here and there if you really want a hard copy. 

When I wrote the book The Online Student’s User Manual, I had no intention of offering it as an e-book.  However, within weeks of its publication, one of the universities where I teach asked for it in that format so that they could make it required reading for all new students. Needless to say, I got over my reluctance quickly and made it available.  I also made it available on Kindle: http://amzn.to/aCvMI1

Through time and experience using them, I realized that e-books are a great option for many students.  A typical example is the student who attends a regular university and doesn’t want to lug a ton of books all over campus.  However, my students are online students.  Many may tend to have an ease with technology which is why they chose online learning in the first place.  Some of my older students may have more of an issue with it than the younger ones.  However, the portability and ability to read at work online or print things has made them accept the transition and appreciate it more.

Advice: How Do I Get People To Read My Blog?

Today’s Question for “Ask Dr. Diane”: Hi Dr. Hamilton right now I am up and promoting my artist Bianka and would like to ask you, how do I get people to read my blogs and visit my artist website. I am new to blogging and would like to know how to start people talking about them. If you can give me some insight on this it will be gratefully appreciated.

There are a lot of good books that give helpful advice about blogging.  I liked the last two books I read:  Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields and Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz by David Seaman.  I also think there are a lot of bloggers like Seth Godin and others that list helpful advice on a regular basis.  Some sites like Mashable and Problogger can be helpful as well.  If you type in the question ‘How do I Get People to Read My Blog”, into Google, I think you can find more advice than you probably can handle. I think some blogs are really good to follow for advice as well.  It can take some time to get blog followers.  You need to post regularly and post information that is targeted toward the people you want to have follow you.  Remember to include your blog address on everything . . .your signature line on your email, your twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc. pages . . . You’ve done one important thing already by responding to a blog (in this case mine). By posting helpful information on other people’s blogs, people can find you as well.  You can go to forums like these to chat with others about it:  http://bit.ly/aDqmQq  . . . http://bit.ly/bbCG5H.   You can start with Twitter as well by following people and posting things from your blog there . . . check out these articles:  http://bit.ly/18qgK3  and http://bit.ly/Zq4Qt.  I’m not sure if the price is still as reasonable as it was (I assume it is), but programs like letsgetsocial.com byKate Beck can be very helpful.   She gives some good advice about how to set up social networking sites.  Her aim is more about starting a social networking business, but I feel her videos are just as helpful to someone like you that is new to the social networking scene.  One big piece of advice is to be sure you are spell checking what you type.  You want to come across as professional as possible.

What is an ePortfolio or Career Portfolio and How Do I Create One?

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  When I graduated from high school, I was told to set up a career portfolio.  What is that and how do I do it? 

For a complete explanation for “what is a career portfolio” click here.  The basic definition of a career portfolio is a collection of things that represent your skills and accomplishments.  Like a resume, it contains your education, awards, honors, work experience and strengths. 

There are several ways to develop a career portfolio.  You can find sites where you can pay to upload media you have designed or other things you would like to highlight to potential employers.  There are also a lot of free sites like Linkedin where you can display a lot of your information for others to find you and see your skills and abilities. Many professionals such as educators, journalists, artists and others have used career portfolios for years.  Recently many other types of job-seekers are finding that they want to be able to showcase more of their skills and abilities as well. 

It can take a bit of a time commitment to initially set up your portfolio, but in the end, it will be easier to update and add things once it is prepared. 

Quintcareers.com gives the following examples of things you should include in your portfolio:

  1. Career Summary and Goals: A description of what you stand for (such as work ethic, organizational interests, management philosophy, etc.) and where you see yourself in two to five years.
  2. Professional Philosophy/Mission Statement: A short description of the guiding principles that drive you and give you purpose. Read more in our article, Using a Personal Mission Statement to Chart Your Career Course.
  3. Traditional Resume: A summary of your education, achievements, and work experience, using a chronological or functional format. If you need help developing a resume, visit Quintessential Careers: Fundamentals of a Good Resume.
  4. Scannable/Text-Based Resume: A text-only version of your resume should also be included. More information about this type of resume can be found at: Quintessential Careers: Scannable Resume Fundamentals.
  5. Skills, Abilities and Marketable Qualities: A detailed examination of your skills and experience. This section should include the name of the skill area; the performance or behavior, knowledge, or personal traits that contribute to your success in that skill area; your background and specific experiences that demonstrate your application of the skill.
  6. List of Accomplishments: A detailed listing that highlights the major accomplishments in your career to date. Accomplishments are one of the most important elements of any good job-search. Read more in our article, For Job-Hunting Success: Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments.
  7. Samples of Your Work: A sampling of your best work, including reports, papers, studies, brochures, projects, presentations, etc. Besides print samples, you can also include CD-ROMs, videos, and other multimedia formats.
  8. Research, Publications, Reports: A way to showcase multiple skills, including your written communications abilities. Include any published papers and conference proceedings.
  9. Testimonials and Letters of Recommendations: A collection of any kudos you have received -– from customers, clients, colleagues, past employers, professors, etc. Some experts even suggest including copies of favorable employer evaluations and reviews.
  10. Awards and Honors: A collection of any certificates of awards, honors, and scholarships.
  11. Conference and Workshops: A list of conferences, seminars, and workshops you’ve participated in and/or attended.
  12. Transcripts, Degrees, Licenses, and Certifications: A description of relevant courses, degrees, licenses, and certifications.
  13. Professional Development Activities: A listing of professional associations and conferences attended — and any other professional development activities.
  14. Military records, awards, and badges: A listing of your military service, if applicable.
  15. Volunteering/Community Service: A description of any community service activities, volunteer or pro bono work you have completed, especially as it relates to your career.
  16. References List: A list of three to five people (including full names, titles, addresses, and phone/email) who are willing to speak about your strengths, abilities, and experience. At least one reference should be a former manager. Read more in our article: The Keys to Choosing and Using the Best Job References in Your Job Search.

eHow has a useful article for how to create your online career portfolio for free. 

They also suggest the following tips and warnings:

Tips & Warnings

  • Creating an online portfolio will increase your chance of landing your dream job
  • Always be honest with yourself when displaying your qualifications
  • Give your website address to prospective employers to market yourself
  • Don’t be dishonest because it will backfire!
  • Only give your website to legitimate employers
  • Do not include official transcripts online because it includes your SSN
  • Only give your personal information to only jobs you have applied for
  • Do not include your web portfolio address on your online resume with any online career site such as Monster, Hot Jobs, Vault and Career Path. Read more by clicking here.

The Fox School of Business had an interesting article about how you should spend a moment to Google yourself to see what others might find out about you online.  They reference the following statistics:  44% of hiring managers use google, myspace, and facebook to do online background checks on candidates. Nearly 1/3 of these background checks lead to rejection of a candidate.

Some tips they suggest to create your own online image include:

  1. Join Linkedin.com.  This is a great site that will allow you to create a professional social networking “resume” and allows you the chance to connect to a lot of great contacts.  Your linkedin.com profile will also show up when you google your name.  Use this to your advantage and list all of your strengths, education, and experience using well written short descriptions. 
  2. Start a blog.  Starting a blog is not just for people with uncommon niche interests.  Find a topic you find interesting and is relevant to your professional life and write in it often.  Read other blogs on industry news and comment.  All of these small things will help to create a good social presence for your on the internet. 
  3. Check your Myspace and Facebook profiles.  If there is anything that would give an employer the wrong impression of you, take it down!  Pictures should be professional.  You can stand out from the pack if you use your myspace or facebook page as another tool in your job search strategy.  Not everyone has the attitude of “it’s just a social profile.”  Make sure all privacy settings are enabled so only close friends can see things about you.
  4. For those more web savvy people, start a website or create an online resume.  These can be great additions to your paper resume and you can certainly include a link to your online resume on your paper resume and in any footings or signatures of any emails you send to employers regarding your job search.   You can detail more experiences, share some volunteer experiences and even include pictures, showcase some examples of your work.  Be careful with this though….professionalism is of utmost importance.

A useful student-centered platform for building an eportfolio is available at eportfolio.org.  Once you register, you can set up your portfolio as a student, faculty or institution.  You can then control what goes into your portfolio, who can see it, and can create several versions of it to use based on who you want to view it.  There are fees for this based on how many megabytes of storage you would require. 

In schools, some students are being taught to create web pages using a virtual learning environmental (VLE) that are not as easily accessible outside of the environment in which they are created.  A good alternative for a student who wants a format that is easier to share outside a school environment, would be to get signed up with a free account on Linkedin.  Linkedin has added a lot of features that allows people to showcase more than just work experience.  Users can also import Google Docs presentations, include a WordPress blog, and there are many more options available to update and promote abilities to prospective employers or potential connections.

For an example of a Linkedin portfolio, you can look at mine by clicking here.  To see all of the options I have added to mine, you can send me a request to be linkedin with you.  I accept all invitations.  At that point, you can see how I have incorporated Google Docs, WordPress and other features to display my information.

Using Camtasia and Powerpoint to Make Videos for YouTube and Beyond

 

Ask Dr. Diane: How do you make those presentation videos that you put into your classrooms and here on your blog?

I personally use Camtasia and PowerPoint combined to create a lot of my presentations for my students. It is very simple to do. All that is required is to create a PowerPoint presentation as you normally would, then use Camtasia to record the voice over portion as if you were giving the presentation to a live audience. The software is simple to use and you can save it in different formats that are easy to upload to Youtube. For some information about Camtasia and its use, click here.

I teach a lot of online courses and find that this type of presentation is a great way to reach students who prefer more than simply reading directions on a screen. Camtasia will capture not only sound but can show your curser movement to explain directions in a way that is more effective to the visual and aural learner. For an example of these packages used together, click here.

Ask Dr. Diane: Tips for How to Successfully Teach an Online Class

Today’s Question: I know you teach a lot online and finally I will be teaching my first class (utilizing eCollege) soon.  I just wanted to know if you could provide me with some feedback so I might eliminate some typical rookie mistakes.

Answer:  That is a good question.  Each online college has a software they use to deliver the class.  Not all colleges use the same software.  It is interesting to see all of the differences that each of the software platforms provide.  I currently teach for 6 universities and use eCollege, Blackboard, OLS, Angel and sometimes even Outlook Express to access my classes.  I think you will find that eCollege is pretty simple.  Most of the course will be set up for you.  Usually you will have to add your own information such as your bio, updated due dates for assignments, any lectures or guidance, etc. 

As far as mistakes you might want to avoid, here are a few things to think about:

  • If you include lectures/guidance that have links to material on the web, be sure you go to each of them to see that they are still working.  Be sure you have a well-written lecture/guidance page that gives helpful advice about what they will be discussing that week.  I try to include links to areas that will help them write their papers that are required. 
  • Be sure you welcome each student in the introductory area.
  • In eCollege, it will probably default to showing you what has been posted since the last time you entered the class.  If you go into class, get out again, and haven’t accessed those areas to see what was posted, the next time you sign on, it will assume you went there and not show you any new activity.  The activity is still there . . . just not the reminder on the main page.
  • If you are curious to see how much time you or any students are spending in a class, you can go to the gradebook, pick user activity, click on the name and it will show you. 
  • Sometimes I like to post fun things in the chatroom . . . cute links to funny things like this Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHX-SjgQvQ  . . . it helps to show that I have a sense of humor.
  • I like to respond to as many of the initial discussion question (DQ) postings as possible.  The best style is to acknowledge what the student said, add a few things about that and then develop the discussion by asking another question. 
  • If students are not meeting the requirements of class, do not post it in the main discussions.  Contact them individually. 
  • I always respond to DQs and grade homework within 24 hours of it being posted.  I know the schools do not have this requirement.  Many schools give you a week or more to grade homework.  It drove me crazy when professors took a long time to grade my work so I don’t do that.  I think students really appreciate getting feedback quickly, especially in short 5 or 6 week courses where the feedback is necessary sooner in order to write the next paper. 

eCollege has some interesting ways of changing information. You must access this through the author tab on the left.  This is where you will go to change your dates, and add information.  If you have any more questions about the specifics of how to do this, you can contact me through my website at www.drdianehamilton.com.  You can also find out more information about my book, The Online Student’s User Manual there or by clicking here.

Ask Dr. Diane: Do You Have A Question?

I have dedicated  a section of my blog to answering questions about the topics I cover in my books.  If you have a question about online learning, personalities in the workforce, how to get a job or reinvent your career, personal finance, social media or any of the other topics I cover here, please  email me at diane@drdianehamilton.com and I’ll be happy to post it here with my response.

Ask Dr. Diane: How to Add Headers and Page Numbers in Word


Today’s Ask Dr. Diane Question: How do you enter headers and page numbers in Word?

Ask Dr. Diane: Starting Over In Life – How to Catch Up Financially

Today’s Question Is:    I am pursuing my Masters. I am divorced, 49 and just starting over in my life.  I now have a 30 year mortgage on a home (I look at it as an investment).  I really am worried about my future and how well off I will be financially.  Starting over has cost me a fortune but personally I am extremely happy, until I think about my future, and then severe anxiety.  Not to mention paying student loans.  Anyway do you have any resources for women like me?  I feel happy that I am an RN and am actually working but I want to be better off financially.

Answer:  Thanks for the question.  Having a masters can only help you in the long run.  It opens doors for you in terms of work possibilities.  You said you like being an RN.  Are you interested in teaching as well?  I like the site http://higheredjobs.com. They list teaching jobs for people with a master or doctoral degree.  I think teaching online could be a good part time way to get extra money and also set you up for a possible full time job in the future should you want to stay home, not be in nursing any more and/or not be worried about your age being a factor in finding new career opportunities.  I am almost 48 … and realistically we are not at our most marketable age.  I write about this in my book How to Reinvent Your Career.  It will be available on Amazon in about a month or so.  You can find out more here on my website and on my blog at www.drdianehamilton.wordpress.com or on Facebook.
 
Be sure you are putting the maximum amount away in your 401k or your IRA if you don’t have a 401k. After you turn 50, you can put an additional $5500/year away in your 401k to catch up if you are behind. Many people are working past the retirement age of 65.  If you have your masters and have some online teaching experience that you could be developing now, you will be able to supplement income nicely and not have to work a full 8-hour day.  The extra income could also help you pay off those student loans. 
To hear more financial advice, listen to my recent interview with Dean Voelker by clicking here.

Ask Dr. Diane: What are the Top 15 Writing and Grammar Mistakes You See as a Professor?

Today’s question is:  What are the top mistakes you see students make in terms of spelling and/or grammar?  Here is a list of some of the common mistakes I see on a regular basis:

  1. A lot should be written as 2 words and not as one word as in a lot.
  2. Cannot should be written as 1 word and not as two words as in can not.
  3. Use effect as a noun and affect as a transitive verb.  Example: Something may have a lasting effect.  The delay may affect your plans. 
  4. Use except as a verb and accept as a preposition.  Example:  He counted all of them except the last one.  Please accept my apology.
  5. When including numbers in your writing, be sure that you spell out the number if it is the first word in a sentence.  Example:  It is correct to write:  Fifty people were in the crowd.  It is incorrect to write:  40 people were in the crowd.
  6. Many people still get its and it’s mixed up.  You only use “it’s” when you mean it is.  Example:  It’s getting late.  Use “its” to show possession of something.  Example:  Its case is blue. 
  7. Irregardless should not be used as a word.  You might find it in dictionaries as you would ain’t.  However, it is not proper to use as a word.
  8. Many get lose and loose mixed up as well.  Lose sounds like looze and is used when something is lost.  Loose means not tight and is used as an adjective. 
  9. Use anyway as one word if you mean “in any event”.  Example:  She is going to the party anyway.

10.  It is correct to say between you and me and incorrect to say between you and I.

11.  It is correct to say I couldn’t care less and incorrect to say I could care less.  Interestingly only 1 in 5 people say it correctly. 

12.  When to use e.g. and i.e.  Use e.g. When you mean “for example” and use i.e. when you mean in other words. 

13.  Use farther when you are talking about a more advanced point.  Example:  Drive farther down the road.  Use further when you mean to assist.  Example:  He was trying to further his ambition. 

14.  If someone is from Scotland, they are Scottish and not Scotch.

15.  When to use I or me . . . It is correct to say it has been a good year for Bob and me.  It is incorrect to say it has been a good year for Bob and I.  Take the words “Bob and” out of the sentence and it helps to tell you if you are correct.  For example:  It has been a good year for me sounds correct.  It has been a good year for I does not.

Ask Dr. Diane: First Time Online Student Questions

Ask Dr. Diane:  This week’s question is actually a compilation of several questions my “new to online learning” students have asked this week.

  1.  How much time does a student have to complete an online quiz?  This varies by school and by quiz.  In most of my courses, there is no time limit on taking the quiz.  However, many of the quizzes are set up so that you can only take them once.  If you get out of it, they often do not let you get back into it.  If you have technical difficulties, you might be able to call technical support and have them reset the quiz for you.
  2. How many discussion questions do I have to answer each week?  This also varies by school.  I have schools where I post one or two discussion questions each week that we get into a lot of depth discussing.  I have others were we have 5 questions.  Most schools require that you not only answer the initial question but that you also respond to some of your fellow classmates’ responses to that question. 
  3. How much time will I need to spend online each week?  This is a complicated question to answer.  Most of the classes I teach are asynchronous which means you can access the class during the hours of the day when it is most convenient for you. If a class is synchronous that would mean you would have to be online at a specific time.  In asynchronous classes, like the ones I teach, the majority of times students will spend will depend upon the course being taught.  It has been my experience that first-time 100 level courses require more reading than they do a lot of writing.  As you progress into master level courses, more research and writing will be required.  If you are reading more than writing, the time you spend online would depend upon whether your books were online books or regular books.  Even if they are online books, you could technically print them out.  I have some students say they spend about an hour a day online while others spend much more time.  A lot depends upon your learning style and that week’s assignments’ requirements.
  4. How are assignments submitted?  Each school uses a software program to have you access their classroom materials.  This software is called a platform.  The schools where I work use: OLS, Angel, eCollege and Blackboard.  The software for each school may differ to some extent, but in general, you will post answers to questions by responding in a way that is similar to responding to an email or a blog posting.  To upload assignments, it is very similar to uploading a file as you would if you were attaching it to an email. 

I answer a lot of these questions and more in my book:  The Online Student User’s Manual.

Ask Dr. Diane: How to Become an Online Professor

Ask Dr. Diane:  How Do I Become an Online Professor?
 
Today’s Question:  One of my goals is to teach for an online university. Is a Masters enough or do I need a PhD? What can I do to enhance my chances? Do I need teaching experience or does work experience with education qualify me?

These are all very good questions.  A lot of these questions are answered in a book by Dr. Danielle Babb called Make Money Teaching Online.   http://www.amazon.com/Make-Money-Teaching-Online-Credibility/dp/0470100877/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1.  Dr. Dani gives some great advice.  She was on my doctoral committee and she really knows her business.  I highly recommend getting a copy of her book. 

There are some schools that allow you to teach with a Masters.  Some schools do prefer a PhD – especially for teaching higher level courses.  I think the best site to find online teaching jobs is www.higheredjobs.com.  Your best bet to enhance your chances of getting accepted is to apply for actual jobs that are listed on sites like Higheredjobs as well as through other sites like www.monster.com.  I have seen the University of Phoenix on Monster but not on Higheredjobs – so it is important to look at several sites to find all of the jobs out there. It is good to have online teaching experience but not all schools require it.  They like to see that you have real world working experience which is helpful when you are participating and sharing in the classroom.    

Ask Dr. Diane – Today’s Question About: Online College Student’s Learning Style

I am happy to answer questions about online learning, understanding personalities, careers and job changing, personal finance, and more . . . To see the list of things I write about, see the categories to the right. 

Today’s question:  In an online-learning system, how do you identify visual and verbal learning styles, and then what is the right method to use. Maybe you can give me the information and recommendations about it. Thanks.

There are several instruments (tests) that can be taken to give you an idea of your preferred style of learning.  You may have heard of VARK, Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (ELT), or The Index of Learning Styles .

 Although it is the most helpful to do so, you don’t necessarily have to take a formalized test to know which of the styles best fits you. A student can try several different methods of learning to see which of them provides the most benefit. 

Some clues that you might be a visual learner would be if you like to:

  • Highlight or underline things to remember them
  • Prefer to re-write notes you have taken to better remember them
  • Find charts or graphs helpful
  • Find flashcards helpful

Some clues that you might be better with verbal learning would be if you like to:

  • Talk about what you have learned
  • Do well with audio books or like to record lectures
  • Read out loud to listen to questions asked and hear your answers given.
  • Like study groups

The following site offers a free learning assessment:  http://www.learning-styles-online.com.  This site could be a good starting place to give you a idea of what your style is and to suggest ideas of things you can do to help you learn based upon your preferred style.  

If you have a question you would like to ask me, please contact me by clicking here.

To receive a copy of my free online student’s newsletter, please click here.

Thanks for the great question!