Perks of February: family day, groundhog folklore, and the chance to appreciate your CUOL courses all the more when they help you avoid this month’s bitter weather.

In this Issue:

Rockin’ out in CUOL

 Stories from the field

CUOL Summer Course Offerings

”You’re hired”

Tech Corner

Midterm Exam Schedules

Want to catch a Sens game for free?

Rockin’ out in CUOL: Claire Samson looks at the best & the worst of nature

The earth throws some awfully powerful stuff our way – from avalanches to earthquakes to tsunamis – and new CUOL professor Claire Samson wants to teach more people about it.

Photo courtesy of Sabrina Doyle

At least in part, it was because of a dedicated belief in lifelong learning that Claire Samson pushed to join the CUOL bandwagon. Not only would the medium allow her to reach many more people outside the classic early-twenties undergrad, but it also provided room for personal growth within herself.

Throughout her career – indeed her life – when things begin to stagnate or become too comfortable, Samson like to bring in change. This has taken her from working as an engineer and geophysicist in the aerospace industry to being a professor and chair of the Earth Sciences department at Carleton University.

This move online is just her latest step in self-reinvention. “After a few years of successful classes in the Bell theatre, I felt the need to have more… and the demand was there.”

The class, Natural Disasters, is a popular one and often fills quickly. In addition to the 150 students in class, she now has another 350 pairs of eyes watching her from their computer screens.

Studying natural disasters pulls you in two opposite directions, Samson says. On one hand, it’s a “fun” subject because it deals so much in the extremes, with colossal and beautiful energy (lava fountains, for example). But on the other hand, she adds, they also bring about much human suffering.

Samson, a slight woman who just recently ran her first marathon at the age of 50 (she’s now 51), knows that lots of students generally struggle with staying caught up with online lectures, and to them she preaches the old saying: a drop of water hollows the stone not through force, but through persistence. She’d know. She started training for the marathon two years before race day, when she couldn’t run a block without getting winded. You can’t wait till the last minute with these things, she says.

While she says she was nervous at first at the thought of having technology so ingrained in her lectures, after the first few classes she admits it’s not nearly as intrusive or awkward as she’d imagined. In fact, it’s almost more convenient; when a tech error arose (not CUOL related) then the videographer was there to help and she didn’t have to wait for tech support.

“I’m thrilled that with this medium I can reach more people”

Like the rock in her office that shows streaked shock marks from where an asteroid pummeled into it billions of years ago, Samson just wants to make an impact.

See some amazing videos of lava streams here:

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Stories from the field: CUOL at the ground level

In Ottawa and around the world, CUOL is becoming a part of students’ lives. Do you have a story to share? Let us know and you could win Sens tickets and be featured in our next newsletter! It could be funny, inspirational, or just kinda neat – so long as CUOL was somehow involved. See last page for more information.

I am so grateful to be able to take my courses through Carleton University Online!  Waking up in the morning, looking out my window, I groan thinking about having to leave the house with everything covered in snow, but wait… I don’t have to because I am doing Video on Demand! I am able to sit in my comfy pajamas, grab a hot chocolate, and watch my lectures in bed! Doing courses through VOD is like sitting in class with a remote control as you are able to pause your professor to write a note or go back to something you missed.

Every so often, my younger siblings or parents will come into the room wondering what I am watching, and will enjoy a laugh as one of my professors, Michael Runtz cracks a joke. I am even able to take my lectures with me on my vacation. Doing my courses through CUOL was the best decision I could make!

-Amanda Testa

During the exam period last semester, I was contacted by an old friend from my hometown that I had not seen or spoken to in six years. Coincidentally, she noticed me sitting in class while watching the lectures via CUOL from our hometown.

I was extremely surprised to learn that we have lots in common such as the same program, classes, and career aspirations. We met up during Christmas break to catch up and instantly reconnected. We have been talking on a regular basis ever since and look forward to seeing each other again and helping each other out in our remaining years of study. CUOL has allowed me to make new friends, and even reconnect with old ones. I believe that CUOL is an invaluable tool for achieving two main goals of university: breaking barriers to education such as distance and fostering friendships. Thanks CUOL! 

-Jordan Gauthier

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CUOL Summer Course Offerings (subject to change)

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“You’re hired!” A CUOL guide on using your video classes to snag that summer job.

Are you looking ahead to summer employment and wondering how you can best market yourself? Did you ever consider that, if you twist it right, your online courses could give you that professional boost?

“There are many ways students can market their skills,” Phaedra Gryz, a career counselor at Carleton’s Co-op and Career Services, writes in an email.

“However, the first step is for students to be capable recognizing their skills, which many are not.” For instance, during the interview say your potential future boss asks you what skills you would bring to the job.

“Well Mr./Mrs. Potential-Boss,” you begin, oozing confidence, “I’m a very good self-initiator. During my online course this past year, I managed to stay on top of my lectures, watching each one as it became available.”

“This,” – and here try not to sound too vainglorious.. we’re going for tactful self-promotion – “was during a full course load and fitness schedule.”

If you participated on a class forum, or organized a study group outside of class, that could be a great show of communication skills in an online/technological medium (something many employers look for).

To help you find the best way to professionally present yourself, the career centre (located at 401 Tory Building) has a workshop called “Make the most of your degree” that allows students to work together to identify what they have accomplished in their degrees and how that relates to the work world. For distance students unable to pop by the Tory building, there are also a series of online workshops.

Covering everything from resume writing to graduate school applications to guidelines for international students, the workshops come complete with audio narration.

For more tips, students can go to the ‘resources’ tab of mycareer which helps students in their self-assessment.

“These resources coupled with speaking to one of the career counselors or employment advisors in our office would absolutely prepare students in marketing their skills from their education,” Gryz adds.

Carleton has an entire centre devoted to helping you on your career path. Some highlights are:

– tons of career workshops

– degree-specific resume writing tips

– one-on-one guidance & resources

And more! Check them out in 401 Tory Building, or online in the MyCareer section of your Carleton Central account

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   This month’s feature: Tablets      

Like that Barbie dreamhouse or mega-monster truck from ye days of olde, tablets are the plaything of modern days. No doubt about it – they’re neat. But to what extent is it a valuable addition to your life, versus being a new (and pricey) toy with glitzy marketing? For a hard-on-cash student, is the investment worth it?

With the exception of impressive iPad sales, most tablets don’t seem to be selling well (the embarrassing launch of Canadian tech darling RIM’s Playbook being one example). CUOL consulted a panel of recently graduated Carleton engineers and self-confessed techies about the merits of the tablet.

On the pro side, they are useful for consuming information and media – such as surfing the web, checking email, watching movies, and reading books. But when it comes to actually “creating” stuff – say an essay or PowerPoint – they become relatively useless. The combination of mp3 player, internet, and e-book all in one is handy, but you can’t beat the keyboard and mouse on traditional desktops, laptops. And while the tablet does have size on its side, many netbooks are getting thin and light enough that the advantage gap is shortening.

“They are hip and ‘with it.’ But they can’t be used to do anything meaningful for society,” said one panelist, who preferred to remain anonymous.

Apple is currently piloting a program at Stanford’s School of Medicine to replace textbooks with iPads. The idea is to make the learning more interactive, while also easing the weight load off the back and using less paper.

There are countless other examples of tablets being used in businesses, and they certainly are technologically impressive, but probably not crucial for students. The panel concluded that if it was a toy that you would play with a lot, and money wasn’t a huge issue, then treat yourself. Or you can wait; it’ll be interesting to see where the technology moves next.

Do you have a tablet or experience using one? CUOL would love to hear your thoughts. Do you have any preferred model? What do you use it most for? Do you use it to view your CUOL lectures? Let us know!

CUOL Midterm Exam Schedules (February & March 2012)

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Want to catch a Senators game* for FREE?

Just email CUOL a short story, detailing your experiences as a CUOL student or professor, we have Sens tickets (including dinner at the Senate Club and parking) to give away, so every submission will get entered in a draw! We’ll set you up with a pair of tickets! Stories should be 150-300 words, and can focus on a funny tale, an enlightening moment, or some other way CUOL has affected your life.

*Each winner receives two tickets each at 100-level seats, and includes free parking and dinner.

Congratulations to CUOL student Amanda Testa and Jordan Gauthier, and to distance student Christopher Neville. They won a pair of tickets to see the Senators play, courtesy of the Ottawa Senators.

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