Three years ago NMCC English instructor Dr. Jennifer Graham began researching the retention rates of online students. Collaborating with former NMCC instructor Dr. Lynne Nelson Manion, who now teaches at Eastern Maine Community College, Graham explored the barriers students experience in online learning, why some struggle in the digital environment, and the factors that can ensure their success.

The result of years of research, hundreds of student surveys, and a combined 30 years of online teaching becomes available May 1st in their new book Online Survival Guide: Navigating the Terrain of Online Education. Published by educational publisher Kendall Hunt of Dubuque, Iowa, the book aims to help students understand, adapt, and thrive in online learning environments.

“When they spoke to me about their vision for the book I knew right away that I needed these two to become Kendall Hunt authors. Their hard work, attention to detail, and fresh new material is something I had never encountered in my time at Kendall Hunt. Never have I had two professors who were more of a joy to work with due to their amazing communication and desire to develop something helpful for their students,” said Kendall Hunt representative Danny Pinto.

While the book’s research is based on college students, the content is applicable to any student learning online. The book is not written for any particular platform, or learning management system, but offers tips, tools, and tactics relevant to any digital curriculum.

With a timely release date of May 1st, Graham and Manion embarked on this project without knowing that world’s entire educational system would be thrust into online learning this spring. When asked about the timing of the launch, Graham said, “While the recent changes in education are challenging, we are lucky to have technology to help us get through these difficult times. Lynne and I know from our research that online learning requires a different approach from students. The good news is that we also know there are simple strategies available that all students can use to improve their experience in online classes. Our goal has always been to identify what those strategies are and make them available to students.”

The book tackles myths about online learning, explores different types of course structure, and exposes potential student pitfalls such as time management, which plays a different role than in structured classroom education. “For the online learner, the virtual classroom can be a scary place. Our survival guide is designed to offer online students and parents of online learners a ‘virtual hand’ to navigate this terrain. Our tips and strategies represent hundreds of online student and faculty experiences. Our goal is to extend a virtual hand to each and every online learner to let them know they are not alone in the virtual classroom,” said Manion.

With the subject matter suddenly relevant to a much wider audience, the authors have scheduled a free training webinar on Wednesday, April 22nd to provide tips and insights to parents whose children are now learning online. The training is called Pause, Reflect, Reset: Successfully Navigating Online Learning at Home; the authors will be live between 1pm and 2pm EST.

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