One of the suggestions I always share with my own online students is to make use of a three-ring binder for their courses. Although this sounds very basic and old fashioned, having a ready, well-organized resource to refer to can be helpful in progressing successfully through a course. For example, if there is a power outage in your neighborhood, you will have a paper copy of your professors’ contact information so you can let them know. If the course site is down and you need to work on an assignment, you can refer to your three-ring binder for the directions.
Understandably, this paper method seems too old school to some, and a hard copy three-ring binder also has some limitations. There may be times you don’t have access to it, you may not want or be able to carry it with you, or you may not be easily able to share a document you have saved with a professor or classmate in your online course. Additionally, keeping information for an online class in paper copies doesn’t allow for the inclusion of multimedia components, and it also seems to go against the very grain of elearning, too.
Fortunately, the advantage of living in the digital age provides an easy solution to how to organize schoolwork for your online classes in a way that incorporates both the advantages of a paper notebook with easy access online from anywhere. Online students may easily create an electronic version of a three-ring binder that could be shared with others and printed out in case of emergency. This can even be done for free.
Here is how online students can use LiveBinders to organize their schoolwork.
What Is LiveBinders?
Take a few minutes and think about a paper three-ring binder and how it could be used to organize your coursework. You could create a cover by printing out the name of your course and slipping the paper beneath the clear plastic on the outside. You could insert tabs for different sections, such as the syllabus, course contacts, and calendar. Finally, you could print out these and any other helpful documents and insert them into your binder. This could be kept on your desk or wherever you do your schoolwork.
LiveBinders works the same way, only electronically. This short video clip provides a quick overview. From this, you can see how easy it is to create an electronic three-ring binder that may then be printed for a hard copy and/or shared with others.
For more detailed instruction if you would like to get started, view this video.
For your online courses, I would suggest creating a separate binder for each course or a tab for each class with subtabs. Some suggested sections would be:
• Course Contacts, including your professors, classmates, academic support services (e.g., the writing center), technical support, and your advisor;
• Course Documents: the syllabus, schedule, calendar, checklist of assignments, rubrics, and any other documents you will want to refer to frequently;
• Activities and Assignments: directions and other tips for each course activity, such as discussion requirements and project directions, submitted assignments;
• Shared Documents you may want to share with the class (e.g., a presentation)
• Graded/Feedback: graded assignments, comments from peers about your work, a document that perhaps summarizes feedback to help you make progress in the course and as a student (e.g., in a composition course, the strengths and weaknesses about your writing that have been shared by your professor and peers); and
• Resources, including general ones for the course, help with assignments etc.
You may also want to create a multimedia portfolio of your work to share with potential employers that includes a letter of introduction, a resume, final copies of course projects that demonstrate skills, transcripts, audio and/or video files of you presenting or otherwise displaying your talents within your field of study.
For any LiveBinder that will be shared, you should take care to remove or block personal information and protect access to the binder with an access code.
The fact that a LiveBinder may be shared electronically and contain multimedia components, such as videos, hopefully will tempt you into further exploration of the possibilities. Take some time looking through sample LiveBinders and considering the additional features and enhancements on the LiveBinders’s YouTube channel.
As with any other type of technology, start small with a simple electronic three-ring binder of materials that you can also print out to help you with your coursework. Then gradually try to learn something new, adding a new feature as you progress. Once the new document is added to the LiveBinder, print it out to make a hard copy as back up. This will allow you to reap the benefits of both the printed and digital options while staying more organized as a student.
Do you use LiveBinders as a student? Do you have other organizational tips to share? Please feel free to add them into the “Comments” section below.
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