Understanding the Different Classes of Firewalls

For the enforcement and the tight control of security and the flow of traffic within and given network or between networks, the firewall is one very important piece of software and also hardware that is entrusted with these functions. An understanding of how the firewall is able to achieve its functions through the capabilities a firewall is able to provide. These are the capabilities which determine the type of firewall to be sourced to meet a certain and specific set of security needs.

Most of the firewalls will work through the packet filtering method which is one of the most effective methods of implementing security for the network through validation of data packets. The validation of the data packets is usually based on a number of factors which are the destination and the source internet protocol (IP) addresses, protocol, type of service, the source and the destination ports and port numbers, the differentiate services code point, the time range and a host of other parameters associated with the internet protocol header. These criteria are usually tested and matched for all individual packets so as to guarantee or deny these packets. This packet filtering comes about or rather is implemented through the use access control lists (ACL) which are found on switches and routers. The ACl has the advantage of being very fast when coupled with the application specific integrated circuit. Having seen these features of the packet filtering firewalls, the most obvious strong point for this type of firewall is that it is most common and can be found in about every component of the network. The packet filtering firewall is found in switches and routers as mentioned earlier, the wireless access points, the virtual private network aggregators are other devices on the network which use this type of firewall. The downside with the packet filtering firewall is that it is static and has been exploited by hackers who channel suspicious traffic through the TCP 80 port which grants unobstructed access.

The proxy firewalls also called the application firewalls work on a more complex model which can be explained by the Open System interconnection (OSI). This model seeks to explain the   transmission  of information from one computer to another application on a second computer. The information is passed through layers to make sure security is not compromised. The information according to the OSI model is passed through seven different layers starting with the application layer (7th layer) which is usually the interface in the form of programs used on the computer. The next layer is the presentation layer which is the translator between systems and converts the application layer information to a format acceptable to various different systems. Encryption is done in this layer.

The session layer is the fifth and manages service requests between computers. The transport layer provides reliable ordering and communication of data by preparing the data for delivery to the network  transmission  control protocol. The third layer is the network layer at which data is referred to as packet and this layer is responsible for routing and IP addressing. The data link layer handles the reliability of data which at this point is referred to as a frame. Finally, the first layer is the physical layer which is now composed of the devices which we can see as well as their electrical characteristics. The application firewalls work at layer seven which is the application layer just as the name suggests and they give a buffer often acting on behalf of a client. It is also patches easily in case vulnerabilities are identified. The only disadvantage is that they are slow in the manner that they handle data and traffic.

The next type of firewall is the reverse proxy firewall which will work in a similar manner to the application firewall. The difference lies in that the reverse proxy firewalls are deployed for the servers and not clients as in the case of application servers. The effectiveness of this firewall lies in the reverse proxy understanding how the application behaves and the intelligence to do away with problems like the buffer overflow.

A last form of firewall is the packet inspection firewall which takes care of session information and is even able to perform deep packet inspection to enforce compliance and scan for viruses all the time making sure that operation speed is superb.

These are the basic types of firewalls and which are chosen dependent on security needs and on to which many features have been added by different security vendors to make them better adapted for use.

Hansens Lepresy

Since the beginning of time, Hansen’s disease has been recognized as a problem. Reported in Egypt in as early as 1350 BC, Lepresy is the oldest disease known to man; this is according to the Guinness World Records. Frequently, Lepers have lived outside of society. This is partly due to the fact that for a long time the disease was believed to have been caused by a divine, often times associated with demons, curse or punishment. This idea changed in the middle ages, when people started to believe that lepers are loved by God, and that it is humans that have cursed them

Another reason for secluding the Lepers what that in the past it was believed that leprosy was highly contagious. If was even taken to the extent that leprosy could be spread by the glance of a leper or an unseen leper standing upwind of healthy people. Today we know that the disease is much less contagious than we once believed in the past. Lepresy is caused by a mycobacterium that will multiply at a very slow rate. The disease mainly affects the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes. The organism has never been grown in cell culture, because of the difficulty that is involved with doing so. This difficulty is as a result of the fact that the organism is an obligate intra-cellular parasite. This means that it lacks many necessary genes for independent survival. This is also evident and provides proof for it having such a slow rate of replication.

Uncertain today, is the method of   transmission  of Hansen’s disease. Many people believe that it is spread person to person in respiratory droplets. What we do know though, is that most of the population is naturally immune to the disease. The disease is chronic, and often times patients are classified as having paucibacillary, which is a form of multibacillary Hansen’s disease.

Myths About MRSA Infections

MRSA Myth #1: Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus is a new Problem

This is simply not true. MRSA has been it a problem in the hospital environment for years. Microbial resistance first showed up shortly after the introduction of penicillin into mass use. The medical community has had a problem with resistant bacteria for a long time and it has known about it. Every hospital in the US has an Infection Control Coordinator whose job it is to monitor infection rates in these institutions. The MRSA antibiotic susceptibility rates (along with those of other known super bugs) are monitored with incredible accuracy because the hospital must know when an antibiotic isn’t working. It is important for an hospital to know when their antibiotic formulary choices are no longer effective.

MRSA Myth #2: MRSA Infections are not Deadly

If not identified quickly and treated appropriately, death from MRSA infection is a real possibility. It is important to have culture and susceptibility testing on the wound to be sure the antibiotic regimen is appropriate. This test procedure takes about 48-72 hours. This testing will identify what type of organism is causing the infection and determine the appropriate course of antibiotic treatment. The worst treatment is the antibiotic treatment that will not work. It is a terrible costly waste of precious time and money.

MRSA Myth #3: MRSA is Transmitted by person-to-person contact.

Yes, this is one mechanism of   transmission  from patient to patient, and as it may be the primary means acquiring a MRSA infection, this fact underscores the need for diligent hand washing by anyone in contact with hospital patients. What is not often addressed is that MRSA can also be contracted from equipment used in the hospital and also from the environment.

MRSA Myth #4: MRSA is the only Resistant organism

Not true! Methicillin resistant staph aureus is the organism that has gotten the recent press coverage, but there are a number of other multiply-resistant microorganisms out there. For instance, the organism that causes TB has developed resistance which is well documented. Beyond these, there are a number of other super bugs we should all be concerned about.

MRSA Myth #5: MRSA Infections are limited to Humans

Believe it or not, MRSA can infect animals, too. In addition to person-to-person  transmission , MRSA infections can also be transmitted from person-to-animal. MRSA infections have been found in dogs and cats and other animals. The presence of MRSA in animals is manifested in the same way as human infection. We should be concerned about the health and safety of our pets, too.

How to Cure Ringworm?

Ringworm is a very contagious skin fungal infection. It can affect all individuals and even animals. During the infection stage of the ringworm, they produce fungal spores that can be transmitted to others. When you become exposed to fungal spores, you are at high risk to develop ringworm. But ringworms are treatable, and ringworm cures are very helpful to remove and kill fungal spores.

It is very essential to kill the fungi, and prevent the spread of ringworms to your body and to other people or animals. Here are some tips that will help you:

– Perform environmental disinfection regularly. It is important to maintain a clean environment because fungal spores can be present anywhere, especially to places where the infected person has been exposed to. Bleach is common in every household, and is very effective in disinfecting the environment. You just need to make a 1:10 bleach and water solution, and use it in decontamination of floors and surfaces. This will effectively kill the fungal spores, and prevent its transmission.

– Use a vacuum with HEPA filters. High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing or Arrestance (HEPA) filter removes at least 99.97% of airborne particles such as dust and fungi. It is very useful in cleaning carpets and upholstered furniture to remove fungal spores.

– Isolate infected pets. It is very important to separate your infected pet from other animals. You should not touch or come in contact with the infected pet because you can contract the fungal spores that cause ringworm. Consult your pet’s veterinarian so that you can determine what type of treatment will help your pet resolve its ringworm.

– Do not share personal articles. Sharing is a good act but if you have ringworms, it is a big no to share your personal items to others. Your things are contaminated with fungal spores. You should keep them and disinfect them using bleach.

– Keep a clean body. Fungi flourish in dirty areas. Proper personal hygiene should be observed to prevent the spread of ringworm on your skin. It is also important to perform regular hand washing after treating your ringworm, and after touching or treating your infected pet because you can obtain fungi spores from it.

– Maintain a sweat-free body and wear comfortable clothing. Fungi thrive in hot and moist areas of your body such as armpits, groins, and areas which have folds especially to obese individuals. You should keep yourself dry and avoid wearing tight clothes.

– Use a natural ringworm remedy. Natural ringworm remedies are found to be effective against ringworm, and they are absolutely safe to use. They are medicinal herbs that use leaves or extracted oil to cure ringworm such as turmeric (Curcuma longa), coconut oil (Cocos nucifera), mustard seeds (Brassica nigra),cassia leaves (Cassia fistula), holy basil leaves (Ocimum sanctum), butea seeds (Butea monosperma), and papaya seeds (Carica papaya). They are applied directly over the ringworm patch. Carrot (Daucus carota) and spinach juice (Spinacea oleracea) are also helpful in treating ringworm because they contain large amount of beta-carotene, which are very good for skin care.

– Apply topical creams. Topical creams are effective for ringworms that have mild symptoms. They are over-the-counter medications that help to relieve ringworm symptoms and kill fungi that cause ringworms. Topical treatment should be used for 2 to 4 weeks to effectively eradicate the fungi. Topical medications include Miconazole (Micatin, Desenex, Daktarin, Monistat-Derm, and Decocort), Clotrimazole (Mycelex and Lotrimin), and Terbinafine (Lamisil AT, Lamisil, and Lamisil Dermgel).

– Administer anti-fungal pills. Anti-fungal pills are systemic treatment for severe cases of ringworm. It is recommended to consult your physician so that you will be advised on the proper dosage and length of treatment using oral anti-fungal medications. Anti-fungal pills include Griseofulvin (Gris-PEG, Grifulvin V, Fulvicin P/G, and Griseofulicin), Itraconazole (Sporanox and Sporanox PulsePak), Terbinafine (Lamisil), and Fluconazole (Diflucan).

Five Things You Will Want to Know About the Honda CR 500

If there ever was a member of the Honda CR series that was popular, then it has to be the Honda CR 500. This, by the way, is the same machine that Robbie Knievel used for his entire jumping career, which featured an astonishing twenty world records. It is still remains a popular machine, the fact that its production was stopped by Honda, as did the production of the entire Honda-CR series. As such, many people continue to search for information regarding the Honda CR 500. And if you happen to be one of these, then you will find our discussion on ‘five things you will want to know about the Honda-CR 500’ interesting.

1) One of these things you could want to know about the Honda CR 500 is its engine power. This is something that motorcycling enthusiasts are very keen about, a factor on whose strength alone many have been known to make significant purchasing decisions. As it turns out, the engine power of the Honda-CR 500 (at 491 cc) maxes at 69 Horse Power – at 8,500 revolutions per minute, quite remarkable power by any stands.

2) The second thing you may want to know about the Honda CR 500 is about its transmission. As it turns out, the Honda CR 500 comes with a complete five-speed gear box. This is a remarkable feature, for a machine that was first developed in the 80s – and considering that there are ‘modern’ motorcycles that are yet to attain the complete five gear speed transmission up to this date.

3) The third thing you may want to know about the Honda-CR 500 is about its suspension, especially if you are a person who cares about the ‘comfort of your rides,’ as do many people. As it turns out, the Honda CR 500 comes with a complete and refined suspension, a remarkable thing, seeing that many motorcycles come with what can only be described as ‘crude’ suspension: whose effects the users are left to contend with.

4) The fourth thing you may want to know about the Honda-CR 500 is about the colors it comes in, especially if you are a person who cares about aesthetics – as every proper person is supposed to. Now although the Honda CR 500 came only in flash red when it was first released in 1984, it has evolved over time (color-wise), so that today, we have it coming in many literary ‘hot’ colors: flash red, the so-called nuclear red and the so-called fighting red. So, Honda-CR 500 mainly comes in red, but different hues of it for variety.

5) The fifth thing you may want to know about the Honda CR 500 is regarding what led to the discontinuation of its production by Honda. As it turns out, the reasons were mainly environmental, and not mechanical (or to do with popularity), as one would imagine. Yet in spite of the discontinuation of its production, Honda-CR 500 remains a much-loved machine, with strong sales on the specimens of it that are still on the market, and the pieces of it that emerge on the ‘second hand motorcycles’ market every now and then.

Using Serialization

A common problem in programming is moving the program data to another spot, such as a file on disk or another computer. For example, suppose a video game needs to store a saved file on the hard drive. Normally, the developer would have to write a method that takes all the game information and puts it into a format that can be placed on disk. Another method needs to be written to reverse this. The concept of serialization, used in some programming languages, bypasses this.

If a language has serialization libraries, this means that these functions are built in. You can input an object and have built-in language libraries convert the object to data. And of course, you can do the reverse. Instead of having to write code and create your own format for storing program information, you can just have the language do it. This has a wide variety of uses besides the video game save file mentioned in the intro. Suppose you want any program to store user-inputted data. You can simply put that data into a serializable object, that write it to disk. When the program starts up again, use the deserialization methods.

This can also be used for network communications. Consider the problem of writing client and server programs that can communicate with each other. Instead of having to process data, you can just serialize the object and transmit its data over the network. As long as the client and server know what class is being used, this works.

However, not all programming languages can be serialized. Generally, this is only a feature of higher-level languages. .NET has it with the Serializable attribute for a class. For Java, the java.io.Serializable interface is used. Classes that implement this interface can be serialized. Even low-level languages such as C++ have the ability, albeit not in the standard library. The popular Boost C++ library has functions that provide the serialization ability.

However, there are also problems caused by serialization. Many languages do not have backwards compatibility. So if you write a new version of the program and try to use it with existing serialized data, it can fail. Fortunately, some languages do have backwards compatibility features that avoid this drawback.

Serialization is a useful tool that all programmers should know about. It provides an easy way to store program data permanently and transmit it between multiple computers. For languages where serialization libraries are built-in, this is generally very easy.

HPV Information

One great thing about the information age is the amount of free information that exists out there. There are a lot of great things to be had out there and if you are a smart person, you can simply find it with ease. For instance, if you are looking online there is a myriad of information regarding diseases that you used to not know about. Of course I’m talking about sexually transmitted diseases, which are interesting to note and are increasing in irregularity. These modern times do not fair well for transmittable disease, because the more we travel and the more we throw caution out the window, the more we raise our chances of getting infected. If you are looking for good HPV Information, you are in luck. There is a long line of websites out there that have information about this.

Rewind time a little bit and you can really figure out that things used to be worse than they are now. You used to have to wait a long time to get any information about your disease. Not only that, before the computer age, you didn’t have early detection for a lot of things, and the death toll for cancer rose to astronomical levels. Not just in America, we’re talking worldwide, and if you wanted to learn more about diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases, you had to venture to school and take a lot of different classes. Now we are lucky and we can find information like HPV Information, with the greatest of ease. There is a lot of ease in gathering information, but it’s not as simple as you’d like to think.

There are a lot of different things that you need to know in life, and one of the must know things has to be HPV Information. Education is key to understanding what is out there and what can harm you. You wouldn’t risk your life by jumping out of a building or a plane, without at least having a parachute, and that is what education gives you in regards to sexually transmitted diseases. Education can lead to protection and if you are going to survive the onslaught of bacteria that is going to hit you while you are partying it up, you are going to need a good head on your shoulders and a smart wit.

HPV Information is readily available if you search for it online. In recent years, there has been a lot of attention in regards to this and many other diseases that you might see out there. You need to protect yourself and your partner. You need to be smart, and you need to protect yourself in any cases. If you have not been careful, then see a doctor fast, and enjoy the greater fruits of love that is available. HPV Information is not hard to find, it is easily found online and in many different areas. Even if you don’t see symptoms, you should at least know what is going on around you, which is the smart thing to do.

Flu Prevention and the Gym Member

Health officials’ warning this month of a potentially harsh flu season should be a red flag to avid aerobic-bunnies and gym-jocks alike. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warn that the flu is transmitted when flu virus in the air is inhaled after an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Transmission also occurs when a person touches a surface that has flu virus on it and then touches his or her nose or mouth. Those familiar with the typical health club milieu, then, can easily liken a workout in the gym to sitting in a veritable Petry dish…

Heavy-breathing members on closely-placed cardiovascular machines and in crowded group fitness classes, hundreds of kinds of shared equipment from dumbbells and weight plates to public restrooms and the corner water fountain provide countless opportunities for contact with the flu virus. So, short of ditching our fitness goals until mid-Spring, it would do us well to learn more about the flu, it’s prevention, and what we can do about it.

What is the flu?

The flu, or influenza, is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the respiratory tract in humans (nose, throat, and lungs). The flu is different from a cold; it usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness (can be extreme)
  • Dry cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Body aches

About 10% to 20% of U.S. residents will get the flu each year. Among these persons infected, an average of 36,000 will die, and 114,000 will be hospitalized. Although the CDC claims it is not possible to accurately predict the severity of the flu season, this year’s early incidence of Type A flu strain is historically associated with a more severe flu season, including higher numbers of related hospitalizations and deaths. To make the outlook more grim, an epidemiological assessment by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) already reports “widespread” influenza activity in over 10 U.S. states.

Who is at risk?

Although anyone can get the flu, including individuals who are healthy, there are various groups who are at higher risk for complications. These high risk groups include:

  • persons aged > 50 years;
  • residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that house persons of any age who have long-term illnesses;
  • adults and children > 6 months of age who have chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma;
  • adults and children > 6 months of age who need regular medical care or had to be in a hospital because of metabolic diseases (like diabetes), chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicine or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS]);
  • children and teenagers (aged 6 months to 18 years) who are on long-term aspirin therapy and therefore could develop Reye Syndrome after the flu; and
  • women who will be more than 3 months pregnant during the flu season.

How to Prevent Getting the Flu

Health officials are encouraging people, particularly those in high-risk groups to obtain a flu shot. The CDC states that an annual flu shot is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the flu.

The best time to get a flu shot is from October through November, although you can still benefit from getting the vaccine after November, even if the flu is present in your community. Be aware that it takes about two weeks after the vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to provide protection.

Obtaining the vaccine does not guarantee a flu-free season, however. Influenza viruses are constantly changing, and vaccine effectiveness depends on the match between vaccine strains and circulating viruses and the age and health status of the person getting the shot. Although the strain in this year’s flu vaccine is different from the circulating strain, the CDC states that studies indicate that the vaccine should provide some cross-protection against the circulating A strain.

Some people resist getting the flu shot because of the belief that they will get severe side effects, or even the flu itself, from the vaccine. The viruses in the vaccine are inactivated, so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Certain side effects are possible, such as soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, fever (low grade), and aches.

Chances that the shot will cause serious harm, or death, is very small and allergic reactions to the vaccine, though possible, are rare, states the CDC. Most people who get the vaccine have no serious problems with it. However, the following groups should not get a flu shot before talking with their doctor:

  • People with an allergy to hens’ eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past.
  • People who have developed Guillian-Barre Syndrome in the 6 weeks following a flu shot.

Since obtaining vaccination doesn’t necessarily guarantee immunity against the flu, it is wise to add common sense to our prevention efforts while we are busy pumping iron at the health club. Old fashioned hand-hygiene can go a long way in helping to prevent flu transmission. Although you don’t want to spend your entire workout running to the restroom to wash your hands after every set, it’s certainly advisable to make sure your hands are clean before and after the workout. Refrain from touching your nose and mouth during the workout to avoid obtaining the virus. Use of hand-antiseptics which include alcohol can also help to prevent transmission of the flu virus.

What to do if you get the flu

So what if you obtain a flu shot, practice stellar hand-hygiene and manage to contract the flu anyway? Since it is impossible to tell if you have the flu based on symptoms alone, visit your doctor. Tests can be performed in the first few days of the illness to determine the diagnosis. Since influenza is caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t work to cure it. You need to rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid using alcohol and tobacco, and possibly take medication to relieve symptoms.

The CDC warns never to give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever, without speaking to your doctor. Doing so can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome.

By all accounts, we may be in store for a particularly harsh flu season this year. Take precaution to reduce the likelihood of getting the flu, particularly if you are an avid gym-goer. Preventative measures may not only help to avoid the flu, but also interrupting hard earned progress on your fitness goals.

For more information about the flu, it’s transmission, prevention and treatment, check out the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/

Building A Custom Chopper Motorcycle, Where Do You Start?

So you want to build a custom chopper? I do too, so the first question I asked myself, is where do I start. Should I make a business plan, a schedule, a financial statement, or should I just buy my wife some flowers and blindly proceed? I guess I should do all of the above but not necessarily in that order.

I will start by trying to justify this purchase and or endeavor, to do this I will make a list of my reasons for building a Chopper. 1) I want to ride a custom chopper, a totally cool stretched out, fire breathing, gas eating, pavement pounding, old lady scaring, 2 wheel monster. 2) I want to be able to say “I built that” when someone asks me where I got that totally sick bike. 3) I want to be able to customize the bike beyond the standard add on parts I can get for my current bike a Harley Davidson Fatboy. 4) I want to be able to make this dream come true, meaning I need to be able to pay for it. A $35,000 chopper is out of my current budget. 5) I have been talking about this for 5 years so why don’t I get to it and stop doing all the talking and start doing some building.

Now I have a few reasons on paper a will look at my options, then make a plan, a schedule, and find some extra money.

Let’s start with a my build options, and plan on a slow and steady approach. I realize I will need to do a lot of research before I start. I have 4 basic options, a kit bike, a rolling chassis, a start from zero build, or an extreme makeover of a current motorcycle.

Option 1) If I start with a motorcycle kit I maybe the farthest ahead from a mechanical perspective, and farthest behind from a financial point of view. What do I mean by this, well a kit bike has all the parts it just needs paint, labor, gas, oil and some love. The problem a complete kit bike will cost me $12,000 dollars right up front. This is a bit out of my spend a ton of money now then not be able to ride a bike for a year or two thinking. If I get a kit, I maybe able to get it together faster, as I will be motivated and have all the parts ready to go. As a first bike I think this is a very good option, when you consider all the expensive mistakes I may make along that way. One drawback to this option is the amount of customization I can do to the bike as it is put together. Because all the parts are in the kit, I may resist the urge to get new bars or different sheet metal, or other parts.

Option 2) Start with a Rolling chassis, this is the middle of the road option, spend a lump sum of money, about 1/2 of what the overall bike will cost and get a basic setup that all works together.

A Rolling chassis kit consists of a Frame, 2 wheels, the forks, and triple clamps and bars, all build and configured to work together. Add a motor and a transmission and all the major workings of the bike are in place. This setup helps avoid some of the major work needed to mix match and fit these items together. This option also allows for a ton of customization in the parts that people see and the parts that give a bike it’s personality. For me this is a very serious option to consider. I would only have 1/2 the cost and 1/2 the parts sitting around and gathering dust until I get time to get it together.

Option 3) Find each and every part one at a time and build a completely custom motorcycle. I know I could do this, but I also know I will encounter more unexpected and possibly expensive issues with this type of build. This option would give me a bike that no one would ever duplicate. This could be very good or this could be very bad. What if some possible combination of frame, motor, forks, or wheels didn’t work together? It would not be discovered until the motorcycle was all together. I think this option is better left to the serious professional who build bike all night long, as the are working on other peoples bikes, and running businesses during the day. I may consider this for my second custom chopper.

Option 4) Take an existing bike and start cutting and changing it. This is maybe as involved as chopping and re-welding the frame to create a new rake and angles. Or it could mean just getting a new frame and using the engine, transmission, and various other part to build a new machine. I like this idea, and I think it would be a lower cost alternative to all new custom parts. With this option you are also able to keep the current registration and title if the frame is not replaced. This is also a lower cost option because a lot of the miscellaneous parts can be reused.

I know that in one page all the possible combinations of Custom Chopper build can’t be completely explained, I just hope this information give you something to start with and build on. It has help steer me in the direction of a rolling chassis, so I better get shopping.

Online Education – Do You Want To Return To School?

In our rapidly changing global world, millions of students are currently taking college-level online (distance education) classes. Private and public universities in the United States and abroad are offering Certificate, Baccalaureate, Masters and Doctoral degree programs over the Internet to adult learners. From Ivy League to Community Colleges, an increasing number of students can log on to their classes from home, work or while commuting by bus and train. Adult learners frequently juggle a myriad of responsibilities including raising children, career, and care giving for senior parents. Formerly, a university of interest may have been out of reach geographically. Presently, an employee located in the United States can register for classes taught half way around the world. Non-traditional venues outside of the more traditional classroom offer viable opportunities for continuing one’s education.

Adult learners make up the largest demographic of post-secondary institutions in the United States. For this student group, the benefits of online academic programs are:

o To update current skill sets

o To learn new skill sets

o To earn an undergraduate or graduate level degree

o The fulfillment of academic requirements necessary for a current job or promotion

o To change careers

o The satisfaction of certification or licensure requirements

o Personal and spiritual growth and development

Not for the faint of heart, success in distance education academic programs requires high levels of stamina, discipline, and motivation. A good candidate must be computer literate, possess the ability to read massive amounts of material in short-time frames, have good writing and communication skills, hold high expectations for good grades, enjoy applying critical thinking and commit a minimum of 15 hours per week per course (be prepared to allocate more, if necessary).

The Internet and the World Wide Web provide the critical technology platform for distance education. University technological and operational infrastructures (including hardware, software and transmission) provide the additional cornerstones to the technology platform needed to execute distance education programs. The delivery of academic content may be accomplished in several formats. The more traditional venues are correspondence courses, videos, audio-cassettes, CD-ROMS, and broadcasts via television and radio. Modern formats include synchronous and/or asynchronous education content distribution channels. Synchronous delivery refers to real-time interaction between instructor and student i.e., two-way video-conferences, whiteboards, chat rooms, telephone software (ex. Skype), and mobile technology devices. Asynchronous interaction does not involve real time communication. Instead, interaction between instructor and student is accomplished through the use of e-mail, DVDs, and the traditional education delivery formats.

As a student, you will need a desktop or laptop computer, an Internet Service provider, a cell phone, software (i.e., word processor, financial spreadsheet, calendar and Power Point), a backup storage disk drive (nothing can make your heart drop faster than losing a body of work that you’ve diligently developed), a headset with microphone for virtual team discussions and the traditional school supplies. Optional technology may include memory upgrades, scanners, digital scanners, and fax machines.

Ten Tips For The Successful Online Student:

o Have a credit card or debit card ready for downloading e-books and other required course reading materials.

o Maintain a list of more than one bookstore in the event that a required textbook is sold out. It’s always a good idea to obtain a list of the required textbooks midway through the term and order in advance for the following term.

o Do not be shy about asking for help if needed. I cannot stress enough the importance of communicating openly with your professor or instructor about course material that you may not understand. Online academic programs tend to move rapidly and course content that you do not understand will most likely cause problems down the road resulting in frustration and possibly, lower grades.

o Seek out a tutor. If there are areas that you know need strengthening, even before the class begins, have a tutor on stand-by. Also, the telephone number of a computer specialist should be in your rolodex.

o Time management will be critical. Keep a planner. Read your syllabus as soon as it becomes available and plan accordingly.

o Uphold your responsibilities as a virtual team member. Your contributions will directly impact the team grade.

o Exercise. Long hours at the computer can cause strain on the neck, shoulder, arm and back muscles, not to mention the hands. Remember to periodically stretch and tone.

o Eat a healthy diet. Keep good healthy recipes handy. Hydrate. Avoid heavy snacking on calorie-laden food and instead eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Avoid white flour and choose high fiber grains.

o See your doctor. A healthy body feeds a healthy mind.

o Stay in contact with your Academic Advisor to be sure that you are satisfying the requirements needed to complete your degree.

In the Fall term of 2006, 3.5 million students representing 20% of all U.S. higher education students, took at least one online course (2007. The Sloan Consortium). It is projected that distance education will continue to grow in popularity domestically and internationally. The most commonly offered online academic programs are Business, Computer Science and Engineering, Education, Engineering, Library Science, Nursing, and Public Health. Whether you select a community college, public institution, private institution or Ivy League university, enjoy the learning experience.

© 2007-2008 Jeanna Foy-Stanley