Full Microsoft Office 365 Now Available to All Students

written by Georgia Schumacher 17 June 2015

Microsoft Office 365

As of June 15, 2015, Office 365 is now available at no cost to every enrolled, full- or part-time student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division!

Office 365 provides you with a more robust and easily accessible suite of productivity offerings, ensuring that—as long as you’re a student—you’ll have online and offline access to the latest version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Outlook online and more.

With Office 365, you will be able to:

  • Install Office 365 software on up to 5 total compatible PCs, Macs and mobile devices
  • Access cloud-based versions of Office applications online
  • Use OneDrive for automatic syncing across all of your devices
  • Easily store class work and project documents– and recall them on any device

Get Office 365 today by clicking on the link on the right hand side of the student portal to access the download.

As of 6/15, student email service has also changed from Google to Microsoft. Most student email addresses have not changed, nor has the way you access your email. When you click on the email link on the portal, you will now see a screen allowing you to choose either Google or Microsoft. Select Microsoft if you want to send or receive e-mail. Select Google if you want to access your old Google data.

Google data is only available for a short time. Access to your Google emails and documents will no longer be available after July 10, 2015. For information on how to save emails and documents from your Google account, see this “How To Export Data From Gmail” guide.

Want more information?

See our FAQ document or contact Technical Support at 877-872-8869 or studentsupport@aii.edu.

12 Tips for Travel Photography

written by Georgia Schumacher 21 May 2015

travel photography

Summer is almost here, and it’s time to enjoy sunshine, warm weather and of course summer vacations! Whether you’re planning a road trip across the country, a tour of state parks, an exotic beach escape or an exciting urban getaway, your travel plans are photography gold.

Don’t forget to take your camera and use this opportunity to get some amazing shots of an entirely new terrain. This is a great opportunity to hone your skills and expand your portfolio.

Worried that taking summer classes will stop you from taking a trip? Remember, you’re taking classes online, so as long as your destination has an Internet connection, you’re set! So, go ahead; pack your bags and use these 12 tips to get incredible photos on your trip.

1. Start Early

Not only can you capture incredible sunrise views when you get out of bed early, you can also photograph spots that will be buzzing with people later in the day while they’re still empty.

2. Book a Room with a View

Make it easy to get outstanding shots by choosing a hotel offering picturesque views from your window.

3. Never Put Your Camera in a Checked Bag

Unfortunately, some baggage handlers have sticky fingers, so it’s not wise to let anything valuable out of your sight.

4. Invest in a Lightweight, Sturdy Tripod

A tripod can make the difference between good pictures and great ones, so find one that you can easily fold into your bag.

5. Travel Light

You probably have a lot of great camera equipment, but you can do without most of it on your trip, so pack only essentials.

6. Capture Cities at Night

Urban areas are always beautiful, but especially alluring at night when construction and other distractions slip away into a twinkling skyline.

7. Conduct Background Research

Find out what the area has to offer before you get there, so you can create a comprehensive photography plan that includes all the best sites.

8. Schedule Time for Photography

Serious photography requires a certain time dedication, so block off a portion of your vacation schedule to focus on your craft.

9. Make Photos of Family & Friends Count

If you’re traveling with friends and family, you’ll certainly want to take pictures of them, but be sure to line the frame up so that some of the local scenery is in the background. Otherwise, the image could have been taken anywhere.

10. Head Off the Beaten Path

Popular tourist destinations are great, but if you really want to capture the culture, head to places that the locals go.

11. Ask Permission

Never take a close-up photo of a stranger without asking for permission, as this may feel like a personal violation to them.

12. Use Your Photos

After putting in so much time and effort to ensure you get a great shot, you definitely need to show them off! Put some in your portfolio, enter your favorite in a travel photography competition, or have a few framed for your walls.

To learn more about photography, explore our online degree programs or request information to see what you could be learning in our photography classes!

How to Become an Expert at Online Learning

written by Georgia Schumacher 14 May 2015

Desk set up for online learning

Preparing to start your very first online creative arts class? Or maybe you’re a seasoned online learner looking for ways to enhance your experience? Either way, it’s important to make sure you understand how to best approach online learning and the ways it may differ from a traditional classroom setting. Use the five tips below to achieve success.

1. Take Advantage of All Available Resources

Opting to take classes online doesn’t mean you shouldn’t receive the same benefits as students taking the traditional route. Enhance your educational experience by using all resources available to you. For example, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division offers a number of benefits to students, such as career resources, technical support, a counseling center, and more to help support your educational journey.

2. Stay Organized

Online learning is much more independent than a traditional classroom format, so staying organized is key. Carefully review your syllabus at the beginning of each course and mark all important dates on your calendar, so you don’t forget important deadlines. Designate an area of your home as a place for studying and keep all your course material there, so you don’t lose track of books, papers, and any supplies you need. Our mobile app can be a helpful tool for staying organized!

3. Connect with Your Peers

It’s always nice to have a study buddy or someone to chat with about the class or your assignments. You don’t have to lose this social element just because you’ve opted for online learning. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division has an exclusive social network called Connections, allowing you to interact with your classmates and teachers, participate in student groups, and become part of this creative community outside the classroom. Take advantage of this opportunity to really get to know your fellow student-artists and make new friends.

4. Participate in Class

Taking the online learning route isn’t an excuse to be invisible in class. Sure, this option allows for increased flexibility, but you won’t get the most from your experience if you don’t engage with your classmates and instructor. A certain level of engagement is required in your classes, so make sure you post questions and comments about your readings, your artwork, and the artwork of your classmates in online discussion boards. Of course, you'll also want to respond any inquires from your peers about your comments or your work. Furthermore, if you need clarification on an assignment, have a question about a grade you received, or just want to talk about the course material, feel free to contact your instructor. In fact, they expect you to do so!

5. Fully Commit Yourself to the Program

Many people mistakenly believe online classes are easier than their traditional counterparts, but this certainly isn’t the case. It’s important to take your coursework seriously or you won’t succeed. Adjust your schedule to balance your school obligations with your work and family responsibilities. Set aside designated times throughout the week to work on assignments, so you don’t fall behind.

Want to know more about online learning at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division? See a full list of online programs, request information here, and be sure to check out the online classroom demo on our homepage!

Simple Ways to Impress Your Freelance Clients

written by Georgia Schumacher 5 May 2015

Simple Ways to Impress Your Freelance Clients

If you’re looking for a way to be your own boss and spend your days doing work you’re passionate about, freelancing might be the answer. If you’re working to get ahead in the freelance market, use the 10 ideas below to make a great impression on your clients.

1. Promptly Respond to Client Inquiries

When a potential client contacts you for more information, there’s a very good chance you’re not the only freelancer they reached out to. Respond to the inquiry as quickly as possible to show that you’re excited about the possibility of taking on their project. Not only does waiting too long make it seem like you don’t want the job, it also means the work is likely go to someone else in the interim.

2. Don’t Overpromise

As a freelancer, you always want to make the client happy so they don’t take their business elsewhere, but don’t make promises you can’t deliver. It’s much better to be upfront with the person if their expectations aren’t realistic or you simply don’t have the time to completing a project. Overpromise too many times and you can find yourself in danger of burning bridges.

3. Keep Up with the Latest Trends

Trends change at the speed of light. Whether you’re a freelance photographer, web designer, fashion stylist, or holding down any other type of creative job, it’s imperative that you stay on top of the industry’s latest big thing or you’ll risk becoming obsolete.

4. Exude Confidence

Why should a client trust you with their project if you’re not even sure you can handle it? It’s only natural to be a bit intimidated by big projects or new opportunities at first, but this is how you learn and grow your skills! Learn to emanate confidence, even when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Impress your clients with your level of assurance to make them feel comfortable trusting you with this job and ones that come up in the future.

5. Never Miss a Deadline

Don’t agree to a project deadline unless you’re sure you can meet it. When you fail to submit work by its due date, you brand yourself as unreliable. This is not a way to retain clients. Earn bonus points by making a habit of submitting your work early.

6. Create a Robust Online Presence

There are lots of talented freelancers in your field, so stand out from the crowd by presenting yourself as an industry leader. Write regular blog posts about the latest happenings in your industry, frequently update your online portfolio with your latest work, and use your social media profiles to promote yourself and share updates relative to your field.

7. Go the Extra Mile

Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. Impress your clients and earn word-of-mouth referrals by making a point to go above and beyond what’s expected of you. You’ll outshine your competition and create loyal clients.

8. Conduct Background Research

Take the initiative to learn a little bit about prospective clients before meeting with them. This is a great way to show your enthusiasm for the project. It also allows you to be prepared with relevant ideas to present.

9. Be Open-Minded

The client has the final say. You may not agree with their ideas or love everything about the finished product, but, even after you’ve shared your recommendations, you may still need to compromise. While you may be the expert in your field, your client is the expert on their individual or business needs and goals.

10. Double Check Your Work

No one likes to receive sloppy work. Make a point to review your finished product a few times to make sure there aren’t any errors. Remember, a project filled with mistakes can make you look like an amateur and distracts from your hard work and talent.

For more information on freelancing in the creative arts, check out our past blogs on the topic: 4 Keys to Starting a Freelance Business and How to Grow Your Freelance Business.

7 Ways to De-Stress

written by Georgia Schumacher 22 April 2015

Feeling stressed about upcoming deadlines or a busy schedule at work or in your online classes? There’s nothing fun about being under pressure to complete a project. In fact, stress isn’t just unpleasant, it can also be detrimental to your health. Stress can have a negative impact on your body, mood, and behavior, so it’s important to find a way to combat stress before it takes it toll. We suggest using these 7 tips to de-stress and allow yourself to relax a little!

1. Get a Second Opinion

There’s nothing more frustrating than a strong case of creative block. You can spend hours staring at a project, willing a great idea to pop into your head, but that won’t make it happen. Step aside and ask someone who isn’t involved in the venture for their opinion. Sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need to stimulate your creative energy.

2. Take a Walk

When you’re on deadline, going for a walk may seem counterproductive, but it can actually be the opposite. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery for inspiration. You never know when you’ll pass something that triggers the great idea you need to pull your project together.

3. Block Off Time for Projects

It’s beyond stressful to keep losing great ideas due to constant interruptions. Avoid this by blocking off a set amount of time to work on projects. Unless it’s urgent, avoid all distractions and don’t respond to any calls or emails during this time period. Relax and enjoy the ability to see what you’re capable of creating when you focus on your work.

4. Switch Up Your Work Area

Whether you’re working in a dorm room, library, or a cubicle, it’s easy for your scenery to get a bit mundane. Reignite your creativity by making a few easy changes, such as moving your desk to the opposite corner, changing your screensaver, or hanging a new poster on the wall. Sometimes the little things can make a huge impact.

5. Visit with Friends

When you’re super busy with a class or work, you may inadvertently isolate yourself from your friends or family. This may add more time into your schedule, but it can also increase your stress levels. Spending time with your closest friends can reduce your production of cortisol, a.k.a. the stress hormone, so clear an hour of your day and meet your crew for lunch.

6. Turn Your Phone Off

Your smartphone is a constant distraction. Incoming calls, texts, emails, and social media notifications never stop, meaning you always feel pressured to check your device and respond accordingly. Put your phone aside and enjoy being present in your current situation. It’s a lot easier to relax when you can concentrate on the here and now.

7. Listen to Music

Pop your earbuds in and soothe your mind by listening to some music, as it fills your brain with neurochemicals like dopamine that help you calm down and unwind. Generally speaking, classical music is the most relaxing, but anything you enjoy will decrease your levels of stress hormones, slow your heart rate down, and lower your blood pressure.