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Writing as the Medium in Distance Education

written by: emgiglio•edited by: SForsyth•updated: 7/31/2010

Writing is the primary tool used in any distance education program or course. In this article, we will cover why writing is so important, what your writing says about you to your professor and classmates, and how you can improve your writing skill

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    Why Writing is So Important for Distance Education

    penandpaper You may be asking yourself "Why is writing so important in distance education?" Writing is one of the most basic skills we are taught when we are young. But college writing goes beyond being able to merely put together a string of words. Writing at the college level includes using higher level words, complex sentence structures and clear statements in order to effectively communicate your ideas and answers. Without good writing skills your professors and classmates will not be able to understand the points you are trying to make. Writing is often one of the heaviest weighted course requirements in any distance education course. Another very important aspect of college writing is the additional requirements of citing sources appropriately in your written work. Most colleges follow the APA (American Psychological Association) guidelines for citations. If you do not cite your sources, you can be penalized for plagiarism, a very serious offense in the academic world. Image Credit:www.imageafter.com

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    What My Writing Says About Me

    Your writing can say a lot about you, and in an online classroom, your writing is your face. You wouldn't leave the house with sauce on your face or dirt on your nose, so why would you let your sentences be "dirty"? There are several different types of writing that you will need to do in most online classes. There are informal posts in the classroom, usually in areas designated for questions to the professor or in introduction areas to meet your fellow classmates. These posts can be less perfect, but since you are trying to make a good impression, they should be understandable and concise. These student interactions are usually not graded. Another type of writing, one that is graded, is going to be the formal weekly discussions. These posts should be treated as a miniature paper, using proper citations, punctuation and correct spelling. When posting, do not use common internet chat room speak, such as LOL (Laughing Out Loud) or emoticons like :) . While they are cute in informal messages, they take away from the professional appearance that is required of weekly postings. Finally, the majority of your classes will require at least one final paper, if not several papers due through out the course. These papers show your professor that you understand the material and that you respect the material. Papers that do not use a proper citation format will usually lose a grade, and using slang will surely get your grade dropped lower, as well.

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    How To Improve Your Writing

    If you find that you are having trouble with writing in your college classes, there are a few ways to improve your writing skills. Most degrees are already going to include a requirement for English classes, including a writing course, but you may not be ready for this level of writing yet.

    One way to increase you writing skills is to take a basic writing course. These classes are sometimes offered by local community colleges or even the online university you are attending. Because they are technically review classes of what you should have learned in grade school and high school, they usually do not count towards the credits required for your degree. Even though you may not receive credit for it, the class will be an invaluable learning experience and will increase the grades you receive in later classes. Another option is to review websites on the internet that give instructions on basic English skills and writing in general. these sites are free and offer you the ability to study at your own convenience.

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    A Final Note on Writing

    dictionary 

    Writing is like any other skill. The more you practice, the better you will become. Write something every day, even if it is only a 100 word paragraph to yourself about your day. Look of words in the dictionary on a daily basis to expand your vocabulary. As time goes on, and your writing improves, you can go back and look at previous works you created to see where you have improved and how far you have come. Image credit: Cohdra