Virtual College Blog


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In college, students are expected to write, write, and write some more!  Instructors differ in exactly what they expect in a paper, but one rule holds true across the board:  Never plagiarize!  At first glance, this appears to be a straightforward rule; however, students are often confused on exactly what qualifies as plagiarism.  Plagiarism is presenting someone else's work as one's own.  Instructors expect students to develop original ideas while incorporating work that has already been completed by other researchers and authors.  This is where students often stumble, and place themselves in danger of plagiarism.


FHSU addresses plagiarism in the Academic Honesty policy.  Students who are found in violation of this policy are subject to consequences such as verbal and/or written warnings, lowering of assignment and/or course grade, or, in extreme cases, suspension from the University.  When students are accused of plagiarism, they are given the right to appeal in the following manner:  1.) informally with the instructor;  2.) formally with the department; and 3.) formally with the Provost.[1]


On top of academic consequences, there are also legal ramifications when individuals are accused of plagiarism.  In the United States, there are laws protecting the authors of copyrighted materials.  Some instances of plagiarism constitute copyright infringement.  According to, cases of plagiarism that reach a court of law are typically misdemeanors with the possibility of fines or jail time.[2]


To avoid being placed in this uncomfortable position, students have an obligation to learn the skills necessary to avoid plagiarism.  First and foremost, students must understand how to cite properly using formatting styles such as MLA, APA, or Chicago.  An improper citation, or lack thereof, could easily lead to an accusation of plagiarism.  Put quotations around any sentence that is word-for-word from a source.[3]  An excellent resource for learning and using the different styles is the Purdue Online Writing Lab.


Secondly, students should understand how to paraphrase correctly. Paraphrasing is summarizing or rephrasing an idea initially written by someone else.  Students should change not only the words, but also the sentence structure to avoid plagiarism.  Once paraphrased, the content of the writing should still match the source, but will be expressed in your own words.  Paraphrased information should not be used to just reiterate someone else’s ideas, but to support your own ideas in the paper.  Remember that paraphrasing still requires a citation![4]


Once you have mastered these skills, academic writing will come more naturally.  If you are ever in doubt, make sure to use a citation.  Your instructors are an excellent resource for questions about writing format and style.  For more information on plagiarism, please see the resources below:


      FHSU Academic Honesty Policy

      Purdue Online Writing Lab

      Harvard Guide to Using Sources

      Copyright Infringement (Wikipedia)


Happy Writing!


Erica Fisher






Evening Chat Now Available!

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Beginning Tuesday, February 3rd, the Virtual College will be available for Chat on Tuesday evenings from 7pm to 8pm CST.

The available chatter will be Erica Fisher.  Erica Fisher is one of two Academic Advisors for virtual students in the Department of Teacher Education. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Anthropology from the University of Kansas in 2005. She is currently working on her MSE in Higher Education Student Affairs and is currently completing her final practicum in the Virtual College Office. Erica joined FHSU in 2009 as an administrative specialist in the Virtual College and began her current position in 2012. Erica is Google Apps for Education Certified and assists in training Kansas schools on open educational resources.

Be sure to stop by the Virtual College website on Tuesday nights for any questions, concerns, or to just say hi to Erica!  The chat feature is located on the left hand side of the website under "Contact Virtual College," and is also available during FHSU normal business hours.

Learning Online-Your success Manual

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Just what the world needs, right? Another blog. This one, though, is different. If you have any questions about going back to college, and you need to do it online because of constraints on your time or where you live, this blog will give you the answers you need.

Distance education started with relatively low tech methods like pen and paper correspondence courses taught through the mail. Groups of learners were served by circuit riders who traveled to towns near colleges and universities to hold classes primarily for teachers in public schools. Later, audio conferencing between groups of people at various sites regionally or nationally gave a big boost to higher education. People in different locations would meet to sit around a speaker-phone and interact with the teacher. Later, video conferencing became the preferred method of teaching students at a distance. The biggest problem with these types of meetings was that there was a limited amount of information that could be shared during a scheduled meeting time that might or might not be convenient for the student.

In the late 1990’s, colleges and universities started delivering classes over the internet. The first learning management systems were very simple. Systems like Web Course in a Box were basically drop boxes that allowed an instructor to upload documents to a space where students could then download them. Those primitive systems evolved into the sophisticated systems like Blackboard, Moodle and others that we have now. As technology develops, online courses will become even more interactive, with increased engagement and information sharing between professors and students.

Next post, we’ll take a look at the current state of online learning and what it takes to be a successful online learner.

Brad Goebel

Adjusting as Veteran Learners

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By, Jeremy Carlton (FHSU Coordinator of Military Student Success, U.S. Air Force Veteran , 2003-2011)

“I need we in order to be.” Leonard Sweet, Historian and Semiotician
    I recall those initial hesitations that took shape as I had come to embrace higher education myself. Transitioning between having served on active duty, an environment where everything is predetermined and regulated for you to a learning community where questioning is encouraged and dissent matters, was a very difficult adjustment to make sense of; yet let alone live into. As I recall, transitioning between certain uniformity/compliance to encouraged “individualism” was immediately overwhelming. I was not prepared for the sea of individuals, having come from an environment that the Army recruiters have aptly described as “an Army of one”. What I wasn’t prepared for was collaborative learning. I loathed sharing in meaning. Again, I was accustomed to predetermined meaning—someone via a Reg telling me what to do. I liked being told what to do. I still do to a certain degree. There is comfort in it. When professors used terms like “learning laboratories” I would cringe and immediately verify the class-drop date to see if there was still time to jump ship. Most of the time, however, I knew early on if it was going to be a collaborative learning environment or not. If it wasn’t for my want to overcome I would have dropped many classes along the way. I am glad that I didn’t. I needed a variety of voices in my life. I still do. I needed diversity. I needed to learn and know that we all bring our own histories to the table and that our shared learning experience is life affirming. Yes, I still prefer a top down approach, but I have grown to cherish the egalitarian nature of the academe. “Out of many, one,” means that I make room for understanding life from a variety of angles as I become a whole person.
    Years have passed and now I am an administrator helping veterans field their transitions into higher education. I have seen the frustration first hand and have fielded countless conversations with veterans who were barely hanging on. My heart breaks for them. I suppose that that is why I feel inclined to write this piece. I want veterans to know that there are others like them sitting in the classroom—the library—the quad—the union—online. That there are advocates on-line and around campus who care and understand those unique histories that shape veterans. Our veteran students unbeknownst to others bare within them images, smells, and sounds that are directly tied to conflict—to war—to hell. We know the cost. We’ve seen and felt the pain. We have experienced unimaginable loss. We have felt the anxiety that comes with being “real world ready”. Serving is not easy. I don’t think that too many would argue that. Point is, you are not alone. Just about every campus sports a sizable veteran population. Do yourself a favor and find them (See: Student Veterans of America Commune with them. Swap stories. Chide alongside them. Trust me, it will make your experience more than manageable as you adjust to the academe.
    Here at Fort Hays State we have enacted several initiatives to better support our veteran students; and more are coming. From the recent “Green Zone” initiative where safe-spaces have been intentionally created for our veteran populations (both on-campus and on-line); to the creation of my office (Office of Military Student Success) year ago; to our FHSU-VC Military POI (See:; Fort Hays is striving to create space for you to succeed. You also may not know this, but we also have an unofficial FHSU Military Lounge on-line chalk full of tutorials, tips, helpful links, and a scholarship listing (See: Feel free to explore the Lounge at length and contribute should you so choose. Proudly, we have professional counseling and referral services (among other things) available to our on-campus and on-line students as well through the Kelly Center (See: Use these services as needed. Updated often, we have a rather sizable Social Media presence as well—one that was specifically created for our FHSU veterans (Look for us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram). Lastly,  I cherish serving veteran populations because I know that veterans bring a lot to classroom. I know that classrooms need more voices of (experienced) veterans in them. You have a lot to give and your fellow classmates need to hear what you have to say as you contribute to this privileged and shared conversation. Your classmates have a lot to teach you as well. Be open. Be patient. Be understanding. Again, we are all bringing a host of diverse histories to the table and that strength can be found in shared meaning.
Please feel free to contact Jeremy at with your questions and thoughts.

Sweet, Leonard. Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1999.

Choosing a Major

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Many students choose a particular major because it will prepare them for a certain career.  However, once immersed in the coursework, many students begin to question their choice of major.  Are you unsure about your major selection?  Do you find yourself questioning the career path you have chosen?  Are you interested in investigating other fields of study?  If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, we can help!  FHSU has a variety of resources to put you on the path to success!

MyMajors Career Assessment - MyMajors is a free career assessment tool that is available for students in TigerTracks. Once you log into TigerTracks go to the Online Services tab and there is a link that will allow you to complete the MyMajors tools. The assessment will ask for information regarding your academic and work preferences and will then generate a Top Ten majors list that will assist you in identify potential majors.

Academic Advising & Career Exploration Center Resource Site -This FHSU office offers multiple online resources that can assist you in choosing a major.  Resources include career inventories, career exploration databases, and much more!

What Can I Do With a Major In... - This page lists all majors, on-campus and virtual, that are offered at FHSU and provides you with a PDF file that lists occupations you could pursue with that degree. This is a great way to explore potential employment options for majors you are considering.

UNIV 100 VA Major & Career Exploration - UNIV 100 VA is offered each semester (fall, spring and summer). The class is designed to assist students in learning about themselves and majors that match their interests, abilities, values and strengths.

Bachelor of General Studies - The BGS offers maximum flexibility to students who wish to determine the specific content of their degree program, rather than pursue one of the established majors at FHSU. There are numerous Concentration options, including Child Development and Education.

List of Online and On-Campus Majors - FHSU offers a variety of majors online and on-campus that you can browse through.

If you decide that you would like to change your major, please contact your Academic Advisor.  Your Advisor can guide you in the process of changing your major.

Keep in mind that you should choose a major that both interests you and is relevant to a career you wish to pursue after college.  This should be a personal decision that involves deep reflection and goal setting.  During this process, be sure to utilize the resources that FHSU has to offer.  We are here to help!

FHSU's Virtual College celebrates national distance learning week

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HAYS, Kan. -- Fort Hays State University's Virtual College recently celebrated National Distance Learning Week, an annual event sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association, which promotes and celebrates the increasing growth and accomplishments in distance programs.

FHSU currently provides more than 6,000 students in more than 20 countries the opportunity to earn online degrees. To celebrate its distance learning students, FHSU's Virtual College recently gave more than 100 free T-shirts to domestic and foreign online students, who then sent pictures of themselves wearing their Tiger T-shirts in local landmarks.

The photos can be found on the Virtual College's Facebook page. Look for "FHSU Virtual College" on Facebook.

A sampling of the submissions:

Jessica from North Dakota sent a picture of herself standing under the nose of a giant buffalo sculpture. "FHSU Virtual College allows me the luxury of traveling with my husband for his job while continuing my education! This photo was taken in Jamestown, North Dakota, home of the world's largest buffalo." (see above)

Kathy from Washington D.C. sent a picture of herself with the Washington monument and the caption: "Enjoying my freedom to learn. As an Army wife, I have loved the opportunity that FHSU has given me to pursue my own degree. It was hard before I found FHSU because I was always having to start over with every move. The Virtual College has allowed me to have a first-class education no matter where I live, from Kansas to Washington D.C."

James and Jennifer from Delaware pictured themselves on the beach: "We are full-time teachers and live at the beach year round. FHSU makes it easy to pursue our master's at a school with a reputable program, without having to leave the coast."

Jessica from Wyoming titled her photo, "Tigers in the Tetons!": "The best part about being a Virtual College student at FHSU is being able to study what I love from the place I love."

  North Dakota       Washington DC      Delaware      Wyoming



Fort Hays State seeks to expand free educational resource offerings

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What "open educational resources" means is free or vastly reduced costs for classroom materials, including notoriously expensive college textbooks. Fort Hays State University began seriously looking into "OER" in 2012.

The program really began in earnest this year and, over the summer and fall, students in seven classes at FHSU saved $77,947 on textbooks, said Dennis King, director of the Virtual College and learning technologies.

"Our goal is to maintain or increase quality while reducing cost," said King. "That's our mission."

King said that by fall 2015 those savings could be more than $300,000.

"It's exciting," he said. "There's a lot going on."

One thing that is going on is FHSU OER Day Tuesday, Nov. 11, in the Memorial Union's Black and Gold Room. Nine faculty members and staff people involved in the university's institutional push to find ways to cut the costs of higher education will make presentations on different aspects of open resources.

The event is a come-and-go affair for faculty, intended to open them up to the value of OER and to give them information on how to do it. It will last from 11 a.m., when interim Provost Chris Crawford, an enthusiastic promoter of OER, will give a welcome, to about 2:30.

The full schedule is available through the FHSU OER Day-November 11th link on the Web page at All presentations will be videoed and made available in on the OER website.

Topics and presenters include Dr. Robert Channell on his experience with OER as a professor of biological sciences. Dr. Gavin Buffington, professor of physics and chair of the department, will present "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- Tales from an Early Adopter."

Another presentation, this one in the afternoon, will address a topic in good, bad and ugly terms: Drs. Justin Greenleaf and Brent Goertzen on using student teams to create OERs. King highlighted one 800-level leadership studies class that produced chapters for an OER text for 300-level undergraduate students.

The afternoon will also include Masyn Phoenix, open education librarian at Forsyth Library, and Seung Gutsch, pronounced "sing gooch" (the oo sound rhymes with "due"), instructional designer for the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technologies, will talk about "Finding, Creating, Implementing OERs."

King will open the afternoon round with a presentation on a "New Launch of OER Mini-Grants." The initial rounds of grants were issued so far to encourage faculty members to engage in the hard work necessary to either create open-resource classes or reconfigure existing classes for open resource methods.

The first round of grants totaled $18,000, said King, and the second round, about to be launched, is $35,000. This round, he said, is intended to encourage early adopters to keep innovating and to generate new developers who will be able to learn from and expand on the lessons of the last year. King emphasized the cost-effectiveness of the grants by noting that the $77,000 in textbook savings in seven classes over the summer and fall of this year resulted from about $5,000 in grants.

Classes using open resources have also increased dramatically since the first in the fall 2013 semester. That class was the only one that semester. Spring 2014 saw five open resource classes, but this fall's class offerings had 143 OER courses.

The university has made a commitment to exploring OER as a way to meet its mission of offering quality education at affordable prices, said King.

In an email encouraging faculty to attend as many of the sessions as possible, Provost Crawford noted that research has shown that one of the main reasons students leave before earning a degree is the expense.

"No news," said Crawford. "Our students often work 20-plus hours per week. Whatever we can do to help control the cost of resources helps our students stay in school and miss fewer classes due to work-related conflicts and fatigue."

He also promised that funding for the mini-grants will be available. "If Dennis runs out of money, I'll find a way to get more funds to support OER adoption."
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