3 Ways to Fight Social Media Distractions When You’re Studying

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re having a good summer!  I recently got an email from a student who asked a good (and very relevant) question.  I thought I’d share it here, and my response:

I’m currently in the process of reading your book (which by the way is the most helpful reading material I have ever come across) and I’m still a little confused on how to get rid of distractions/how to focus. Even if I do things like turn off my phone/social media/turn off the Wifi, my mind still remains distracted and I cannot help but think about possible notifications I have on my phone. Do you have any recommendations for this?

signs

Is social media keeping you from concentrating?  You’re not alone.

My response:

It sounds like you’ve taken some good steps towards fighting distractions! Here are my suggestions for what else you can do:

  1. Study with instrumental (non-vocal) classical or Baroque music in the background, if you don’t already. I find composers like Mozart help me tune out distractions and make it easier to stay focused. (In fact, I’m listening to a Mozart violin concerto right now.)
  2. Turn off the notifications on your phone completely! Don’t be a slave to the bell. Just check your social media, messages, etc., at certain times, rather than having your phone alert you when new things come in. This will, hopefully, reduce temptation and re-train your brain.
  3. Think of social media as a way to take a break after a good, productive study session. Say to yourself something like, “Okay, I’ll read my textbook for an hour and then treat myself by looking at Facebook for five minutes.”  This will give you positive reinforcement for studying; and alternating between deep concentration and something less taxing helps to keep your mind fresh.

I hope this helps!

Stefanie

Quick Tips Part 7: Using Technology for Group Projects

By Stefanie Weisman

Group projects are an unavoidable fact of life in high school and college.  Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that technology can make them a whole lot easier.  Here’s some great free software that will let you share documents, set up meeting times, work remotely, and lots of other cool “teamwork” stuff.

Google Docs: Allows you to share and collaborate on documents in real time.  You and other members of your group can make changes to docs simultaneously; the app will show you who changed what, and when.

Skype: If one of your members can’t meet in person, bring a laptop to the meeting and have him/her participate through Skype.

Trello: Trello is a project management program that can do wonders for group work.  With this program, you can share documents, make lists of tasks to be done, and keep track of progress.

Dropbox:  Allows you to store and share large files with a group.

Lastly, use a program like Google Calendar or MeetingWizard to plan meeting times.

What are your favorite group project apps?


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A College Student’s Guide to Creatively Keeping in Touch

By Natalie Posdaljian

Keeping in touch as a college student is vital for maintaining relationships with family and friends, keeping them in the loop and weaving your home life with your college life. Reliable ways of keeping in touch, such as texts, emails and chatting on the phone, can get redundant and don’t always provide the best insight into your life as a college student. Instead, spice up how you keep in touch with your family back home.

student video chat

Video Chat

Video chatting with a laptop isn’t new to the scene nor is it the most creative way to keep in touch. Expand your virtual horizons with the iPad Air 2, which is thin and light enough to take anywhere. Video chat with your family at a public park in your new town or while you enjoy a much needed caffeine fix at your favorite coffee shop. Or, your family can video chat you when they all get together for a birthday party or Sunday afternoon BBQ. Although you won’t get a bite of the cake, you can still chat with all your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

Snail Mail

With the speed, efficiency and reliability of technology, it’s understandable why snail mail is a thing of the past. Yes, you have to handwrite your letter, buy a stamp, stop at the post office and wait a couple days for your mail to reach its destination, but that’s what makes snail mail fun. The feeling of checking the mailbox and finding something addressed to you that’s not a bill or advertisement is priceless. Sending snail mail to your family leaves them obliged to write you back, giving you something to look forward to in the mail. You also can throw in a copy of the A+ paper you wrote. Snail mail is especially great for grandparents, who typically appreciate handwritten letters the most.

Vlog

A vlog (video blog) is a unique way to show others what a day in the life of a college student looks like. Whether you keep it private for your family to enjoy or you make it a public YouTube channel, vlogging is in. Model one of your vlogs off a cooking show, with a twist on ramen or PB&J sandwiches. Vlog a tour of your favorite spots on campus, such as where you get your morning coffee, restaurants you frequent, the gym and the library. Or keep it simple and just talk straight to the camera about school, your roommates, professors and anything else that’s on your mind.

Shared Photos

There are so many ways you and your family can share your photos. If you’re looking to keeping it virtual, create a private album on Facebook and make all your family members contributors so everyone can swap photos. Or, use a photo sharing site like Flickr or Photobucket. Take it a step further by sharing developed photos (yes, people still develop photos). Throw just a few photos into that letter you’re sending, or use an app like Groovebook to upload all of your photos for just $2.99 (college budget approved) to send your family a keepsake photobook.

Family Facebook Group

A private family Facebook group is great for quick life updates, such as acing that Calculus exam, or for sharing links to YouTube videos with each other. Having your family in one Facebook group creates a forum full of sharing, likes and comments between the people that matter the most to you. For those statuses or photos you can’t share with your entire following, a private group lets you share your silly selfies or embarrassing stories with those that will love you no matter what.

Author Bio: Destined to be an Armenian housewife perfecting her hummus recipe, Natalie Posdaljian instead chose a life of marine field biology and sriracha. Born and raised in southern California, her veins rush with salty seawater and sunshine no matter where she goes.  When she’s not saving jellyfish from extinction, Natalie is dancing in the shower, knitting on a plane or swinging in her hammock.


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Going to School with PTSD: Online Education and Anxiety

By James Hinton

I was an older student with an anxiety issue. After spending time in the Army, including several combat tours, I had been diagnosed with PTSD. Being around large numbers of strangers worried me. Noisy settings where I was not completely in control gave me the need to run for it. I would even feel a touch agoraphobic if I was not close to something I could bunker up within.

When I made the decision to obtain a college degree after getting out, these all presented me with significant problems. While some of the university classes I participated in had relatively small class sizes that enabled me to learn faces fairly quickly and find a certain degree of comfort with, large classes were a daily struggle. I would have to position myself close to doors so I could bolt outside for relief if needed. More boisterous classes could result in frequent, embarrassing episodes where I just plain had to get out.

Eventually I made it through and obtained my Bachelors, but it was not a particularly easy or enjoyable process. My struggles had frequently led to my considering quitting, which had only caused the depression that comes with PTSD to get worse. Preparing for class had been an anxiety inducing process that involved my wondering whether I’d make it through to the end, or have to make a dash for the door yet again.

I still wonder sometimes how I made it to graduation.

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How to Develop Good Reading Skills in the Internet Age

By Samantha Levine. 

It’s no laughing matter how dependent our society is on the use of technology and the Internet. The great thing about it is that we are exposed to so much information, but this can also be very overwhelming. As we learn to read from screen to screen (laptop, cell phone, tablet), we have readjusted the way we receive information, which is causing our attention span to be much shorter.

When skimming through an article, you may not realize how much information you can actually miss. A great tip to increase retention is to read the headlines of a topic and ask questions about what you think it will be about. While reading, see if you are able to answer your own questions, and then make note of it. This helps you to read quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

man on iphone

Can you read on this tiny little screen?

I’ve noticed that the faster I receive information from the web, the faster I move on to read something else; and more often than not, I’m distracted by an ad to the right and left of the story I’m reading. However, thanks to my very awesome grade school teachers who taught me to love reading, I learned a few tips that can keep you on track:

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Opinion: What Traditional Colleges Can Learn From Online Colleges (Guest Post)

By Kelly Smith. Kelly works at CourseFinder.com.au, an Australian online courses resource. She also provides career advice for students and job seekers and works as a freelance writer.

The benefits of online education are immense – there’s been a lot of talk lately about the next wave of online training that will completely revolutionize the education sector. Zachary Karabell of The Atlantic pointed out the huge future benefits of this radical change: “The costs of obtaining needed credentials will plummet, and the ability to create more tailored, vocational programs aligned with the skills employers need will increase exponentially.”

It goes without saying that there are several things traditional schooling institutions might learn from their online counterparts even today. Read on to see some of the most valuable aspects of online learning that should be adopted by stationary colleges.

columbia

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Facebook Depression: Is It A Real Diagnosis? (Guest Post)

Tara Heath is a journalist who lives in California. She loves to write about health and wellness and parenting. She knows there are many dangers that come with social media and wants to help share her tips and thoughts on staying healthy and safe.

Almost everybody with access to a computer knows about the social media site Facebook. If you’re a parent, chances are your children use it, and more than likely, you use it yourself.

While social media sites are basically part of the culture for anybody under the age of 40, they tend to have more of an impact on high school and college-age teens. They are the ones most likely to be regularly active on Facebook, and they’re also the ones most likely to visit the site more than 10 times per day according to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Unfortunately, this relatively new technology may be taking a toll on some teens and young adults in the form of something controversially known as Facebook depression.

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What is Facebook Depression?

Facebook depression is a relatively new term designed specifically to reference feelings of depression and anxiety that many teens feel due to social media sites, much like the depression teens experience on the playground when they aren’t accepted by their peers. Only, in the digital age, Facebook depression relates more to friend requests and friends unfollowing them on the web than face to face interaction.

In some cases, teens may do things that could be considered risky in order to feel accepted, and then brag about their activities. This has led some researchers to believe that kids who don’t feel accepted on social media sites may be more likely to engage in risk-taking activities like doing drugs or having unsafe sex. Some teens even engage in self-destructive behavior like posting pornographic images of themselves or sending them to others at their school in a misguided attempt to be accepted.

Is Facebook Depression Real?

Facebook depression might sound like a strange term to some parents who may not understand the role social media really has in their child’s life. However, 22-percent of teens check their Facebook profile and information 10 times or more per day and 77-percent have cellular devices capable of giving them this access no matter where they are.

That’s why Facebook depression is a real thing. However, it may not really be any different than the feelings commonly associated with not being accepted by peers – the same feelings children had on the playground long before tools like social media sites were available.

depression

With social media becoming more and more a part of the culture each day, it’s important that parents realize how it can negatively affect their children. The internet can be an excellent tool for children to learn and grow emotionally, but it can also be problematic if parents ignore its growing role.

As a general rule, you should be monitoring your child’s Facebook account until they are older teens – children under 13 likely shouldn’t have their own Facebook account at all. By being vigilant as a parent you can make sure your children stay safe and don’t experience any of the depression that can come with sites like Facebook.


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Are MOOCs the Future of Online Education? (Infographic)

Have you ever taken a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)? What was your experience?
MOOCs
Source: BestCollegesOnline.org


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6 Great Apps For College Students (Guest Post)

Great apps for college students

Great apps for college students

Mobile devices like smart phones and tablets have become thoroughly integrated into the educational community. Whether or not professors use these devices, a growing number of college students have access to them. In the eyes of many, such devices are little more than distractions for students – but, on the other hand, their utility cannot be denied, and they’re not going anywhere! Here are 6 apps that can be particularly helpful for college students.

1. iStudiez Pro Think of this app as a student planner for a new generation. iStudiez Pro allows you to input everything about your academic schedule – classes, class locations, homework, deadlines, etc. You can check into the app to keep track of your week, and receive automatic updates when deadlines are approaching. The app also allows for coordination with extracurricular events, helping you to keep your whole college life in order.

2. Evernote This is a great note-taking app that can sync across all of your devices for easy access. With Evernote, you can take notes, take pictures of whiteboards and lecture photos, and even record voice reminders and notes to listen to later. It may be an adjustment at first, but you may find it’s an easy and convenient way to take notes and keep track of lectures.

3. ShareFile ShareFile is an advanced file sharing and cloud computing service used frequently in business environments. However, the services available in this app are becoming increasingly useful for students, as more and more of the college experience occurs online. Use this app to send and receive communications efficiently and securely, and take advantage of the cloud computing for incredibly convenient data storage. With access to a cloud network, students can store work online instead of on devices, meaning it’s accessible from any device that can access the Internet – a very convenient perk on a college campus.

4. Amazon Student E-books are becoming quite popular for students, as they often amount to cheaper alternatives to big, expensive textbooks. These electronic books can be purchased through various providers, from Barnes and Noble online, to Amazon, to the iBooks library. However, Amazon Student offers students another way of making textbooks more affordable – it allows you to scan barcodes of textbooks, and then performs a search to find those books wherever they’re cheapest. Additionally, you can use the app to sell back used textbooks to Amazon in exchange for gift cards!

5. IFormulas This is a pretty straightforward app, but for students toiling away in math and science courses, it’s pretty handy. Basically, it provides an incredible library of over 380 mathematical formulas that can be useful for various classes and applications. Of course, you don’t want to get caught using this app during a quiz or exam in class – but as a handy reminder, or even study tool, on your own time, it can be quite useful.

6. iTunes U This is a pretty revolutionary app that allows you to access and download legitimate course material from top colleges all over the world. Depending on your specific need or area of study, selection can be limited, but the app can also be a phenomenal reference tool. Of course, the notes from your own courses should be your priority, but if you’re looking for extra research, clarification of material, or even support for a paper or project, iTunes U might be worth looking into.


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