Choosing online versus brick & mortar and hoping to gain a quality education

Issue 1:  Choosing online versus brick & mortar and hoping to gain a quality education 

By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Coronavirus may give more students a greater desire for online education as there have been school closures and a global pandemic.  Online schools also present, “at your fingertips” mode of study that includes one’s home library, which could benefit different fields like writing education. However, online schools lack peer groups, peer-related critiques and peer influences may be less present.  Online schools may be better for certain fields that require less lab or studio or in-person engagement.  Online education sometimes lacks books with greater reliance on the online learning environment; therefore, less reference material for later study after the course is completed.  When planning to teach, perhaps a teacher encounters the same choices a student does, whether to train for the online environment or the brick and mortar.  Students, in the chosen field of writing, may have enjoyed a brick and mortar’s small roundtable teaching methods that included regular direct peer review. Both students and teachers will inevitably make a similar choice whether or not to engage in online or brick and mortar teaching or study. Training may be so vastly different, that a student who desires to be a teacher needs to make training choices early in their career.

Issue 2:  What impacts the changing education dynamics in an online school versus brick & mortar?

Online students may advance quicker in their careers, due to degrees they were able to finish quicker with differing “term structure.”  Online schools level the playing field for marginalized people and include vast numbers of workers, single parents, military, mature and disabled students. Working at one’s own pace and on one’s own time with needed support may present students with an “ideal” in an online environment that is not as present in a brick and mortar. Conversely, brick and mortar may present more opportunities for career development and how to excel in one’s education and field with student group meetings, dean’s list, honor rolls, awards, study abroad, conferences, and networking. Brick and mortar are presented with local and regional issues sometimes with international student bodies, where online may be national with disconnected or having less local attention.  What that means to a student body is a city or state or country may also have opportunities to offer a student.  Online students may lack work experience and have few opportunities in their local community coming directly from their university.  Teachers may feel more disconnected from online students and students eventually need references from teachers. As technology has progressed, so have work environments and education environments.  Many companies offer complete virtual platforms using VPN’s and virtual call centers, databases and also new opportunities for teachers of training modules for virtual companies. Virtual companies are pulling teachers from a variety of teaching backgrounds to enter high paid roles as trainers in online or virtual environments. The training methods that virtual companies are using are so well developed that this overlap may present a juncture that online schools may utilize to develop along similar lines.

Works cited:

“Online Education,” Jan. 2, 2019, Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, a Cengage Company

Book Review: “The Bridegroom” by Ha Jin

Book Review:  “The Bridegroom,” by Ha Jin

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

“The Bridegroom” by Ha Jin could have been satirical writing that highlights homosexuality in a way where it appears “uncommon” and may actually present a platform for its liberation or increased dialog.  However, cultural dynamics with homosexuality vary drastically from country to country.  This China based story was written with clarity.  The author may have wished to creatively showcase sexual differences and “gender variety” with the aim to add compassion or education.  The approach may have been satirical as if there were few and they were on their way to incarceration, however, the intention may have been to highlight cultural disparities and gender identity for purely educational purposes.  The short story illustrated pain, confusion, cultural tradition, and incrimination.  The author may have analyzed “sentiment” and guided his narrator towards character development, which ultimately taught readers to have a concern and care for his character’s issues.  The book focuses on the relationship between Baowen and Beina, where Baowen has been detained for homosexual acts in a group meeting.  Beina’s uncle is, however, the main character and narrator.  The secondary idea beneath the sexual identity issues was that it may have been a political cover-up by an oppressed people “organizing” disguised as gay sex that rendered Baowen eventually incarcerated.

The wearing of shorts by Baowen when entering the tub (electrocution bath) creates a dynamic where you never know what genitals a person actually has.  One who appears to be a woman may actually be a female transgender.  One who appears to be a man may have sexual dysfunction or may have some other sexual alternative.  The author purposely wanted to create for the reader a context of “gender ambiguity.” “To my dismay, Baowen came out in a clean pair of shorts,” [Jin, pg. 595] when entering the tub.  It was even questioned, at one point, that he (Baowen) has no genitals at all (as if that were common) and later that he shows “a big bulge.” [Jin, pg. 595]  One is anticipating a nude description and in the end, the character conceals his gender identity and one is meant to learn to accept this ambiguity, instantly and rise to a higher ground of caring for the individual regardless of design.

What was a comical and decorative allusion was at the end when he un-knitted a pajama set from his wife and re-gifted a re-knitted sweater to a new male lover.  The use of textiles provided the reader with décor and perhaps it is a common Chinese idea to un-knit a sweater as author Amy Tan also suggests un-knitting and re-knitting of sweaters  in the “Joy Luck Club.”

Works cited:

“The Bridegroom,” Ha Jin, Literature and the Human Experience, Bedford St. Martins, 1999, pg. 587-601

“The Joy Luck Club,” Amy Tan, G.P. Putnam’s and Sons, 1989

Up to Snuff #117: Persuasion and use of opposing views database

Up to Snuff #117:  Persuasion and use of opposing views database

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

The Importance of Persuasion

The importance of persuasion is the value in seeing more than one side of a topic.  Research, in particular, requires that its writers present perspectives to the issues or questions they are writing about.  An issue is shaped and develops once it has a “full view” with opposing sides.  Writing may be naïve without opposing sides. Better writing will include pro’s and con’s.  It is simple to use a Venn diagram like approach or “loop diagram” or a quick outline to frame a better writing while looking at opposing sides.  In the end, a loop diagram may present one with a more distinct result as it shows connecting points and helps a writer to see issues dynamically and without a pure linear structure.  One’s plan may impact one’s result, in this case.  How well they develop their writing with brainstorming, freewriting, loop diagrams, or outlines-reflect their planning, the resulting perspectives and outcomes.

Persuasion has not only value in the resulting quality and efficacy of writing, but has traits that are utilized in everyday exchanges. There are distinct traits that are included in persuasion like the “win” or offering choices, or an open-ended question or having room to make changes or further negotiation or offering evidence, or making points. Persuasion, in the end, teaches you how to debate and how to state clearly your evidence, and how to see around a subject.  It is, therefore, an imperative subject or step for a writer to study as making points clearly and authoritatively will impact one’s future research. Persuasion creates the context for high-quality writing. Arguing issues may be of national concern, safety concern, or relative to one’s career.  The “Opposing views database” presents one with a list of issues and their opposing sides.  Each of these issues may utilize persuasion to achieve an optimal viewpoint.

Up to Snuff #116: Notes on Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Up to Snuff #116:  Notes on Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu


Scholarly:  Is scholar or researcher, goes into academics, policymakers, students, peer review, citation styles:   APA, MLA, Chicago, language is jargon-heavy, discipline-specific, documents are lengthy, dense and primarily text

Journalist:  General public, single editor, no format citation sources observed, easy to understand, can be short or long, with images


Quoted notes from Shapiro Library SNHU “Navigating the Library” Online Lecture 7/2/2020

Up to Snuff #115: Information Timeline

Up to Snuff #115:  Information Timeline

By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Information Timeline

Days>sources newspapers, broadcast news

Weeks>Long form magazine


Years>Reports, books, biographies people

Scholarly papers take months to write for better conclusion

Longer produce, more analysis

Scholarly articles

Quality control process, Peer Review

Gather sound, good information and seek out academic researchers

Scholarly articles are coming from informed experts

Scholarly research uses background research, specific language and jargon, reflects major advancement, narrows a broad type, in-depth research, specific, granular, analysis and evidence, individuals, primary research, where often a study is done to collect data creating original material

Quoted notes from Shapiro Library SNHU “Navigating the Library” Online Lecture 7/2/2020

Up to Snuff #114: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources

Up to Snuff #114:  Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Primary sources-original material, first-hand account, journals, letters,

photos, novels, poems, plays, original research, notes, data, newspaper articles

Secondary sources-news articles, reference to a reference, interpretation, literature critique, biography, scientific reports, commentaries, articles about other studies

Tertiary Information-collected or distilled information, encyclopedia, chronologies, dictionaries, bibliographies, historical facts, reference, summary reference, language used in a field, narrow a topic, not evidence for citation, far removed investigative scholarly process, bare information, Wikipedia

Quoted notes from Shapiro Library SNHU “Navigating the Library” Online Lecture 7/2/2020

Fit, Lean & Beautiful #54: “The Serwah Diet”

Fit, Lean & Beautiful #54: “The Serwah Diet” based on attention to culinary joy, establishing health and a fitness regimen

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Morning objectives:

Make sure you get your calcium

Either from a bowl of cereal with milk or a supplement

Nice varied high joy culinary breakfast sweet or savory

Some kind of fruit and fiber richness

Nice teacup and morning dishes happy start to the day

Other things:  iron and OJ (red blood cells), Zinc (white blood cells/immune), Ensure (all needed vitamins), carrot juice (high energy)

Clear colon methods-tea like oolong or a cup of tea

Sometimes you may want a sport or high endurance breakfast like rice cakes with peanut butter, banana and chia or sunflower seeds or other seeds

Open drapes and blinds, let light in (Circadian Rhythm)


Lunch or Dinner (a varied culinary diet for maximum joy and maximum health)

One meal vegetarian ( a nice salad, or soup and salad etc., veggie platter, hummus, should be high energy, low calories and low fat, nuts, seeds, beans) eg. Subscribe “Vegetarian Times”

One meal high protein ( nice piece of meat, especially red meat has the highest protein, rich blood)

Evening around 8 or 9 p.m. yogurt and a probiotic (Dancer recommended)

To assimilate foods

To pass BM in the morning

Assists with weight loss

Take biotin for hair and nails

Important Drinks:

Ensure, Gatorade (potassium), Joint juice, Cranberry Juice, Carrot Juice, Orange Juice, fresh squeezed juices or live juices, teas, fresh fruity and herbal teas, lemon and honey, mint and rose water, sage, rosemary, smoothies, beer for relaxation especially after driving tenseness and Starbucks Cold Brew for alertness and studying, sparkling waters, fresh squeezed sangrias and fruity mixed drinks

Weight loss 3 things

  • Colonic
  • Liposuction
  • Exercise

Main Dietary Objectives:

Establish health!

Establish a limber spine (yoga)


Roll out thighs for aging with a massage or exercise stick

Physical Therapy

Targeted exercise


Walk on a treadmill or around neighborhood or on a track or in a nature reserve or with a dog

FITBIT watch for steps

Motion is lotion

Have a selection of exercise tapes  or attend classes

Pilate’s ball as if “the world” is in your hands



Relaxation music

Strap to stretch out thighs and back

Weight resistance training for lifting and firming

Heart rate up to rev up metabolism and have an active and alive system, high anima

Enough rest

Salacyn for hands and feet, peel for hands and feet

Salicylic washes for face (Neutrogena) and microdermabrasion, Mandelic peels (healthy complexion)

See a plastic surgeon for sculptra and shaping and removing of scars, tattoos and hair

Buttocks-clench butt or gluts and release daily several times, do marching in place with ankle weights and yoga

Thin fingers and prettier hands-play piano or musical instruments

Sharp mind and improved memory leads to better intellect-music

Watch out for high acid diet, with preference for a more alkaline body

Eating 10 salads can be a natural colonic

Ayurvedic products for hair and skin (Himalaya Products,

Infusium hair tonic as hair food for shiny healthy hair

Use “Refresh” eye drops for your eyes to sparkle and be lubricated

Keep Triple Ointment in the bathroom to tend to any burn, scrape, cut or wounds

Worry about your little “pooh bear”  when you are in need of a colonic and you are looking like a bear filled with poop in your colon

Occasionally fast with a maple syrup, lemon, cayenne pepper and water drink in very short periods like one to two days depending on what’s healthy for you, consult a respected fasting book

If your knees and legs are healthy enough, be able to run 2 miles fast like a police officer for optimal health

Also for good mental health and to fight depression: keep brain chemicals balanced, stay active, fill life with positive activities, the more active the less time for depression, work with circadian rhythm and light, work out/exercise to increase positive endorphins, propel yourself with goals, have a North Star

The above is based on the author’s work with nutritionists, physical therapists, personal trainers and management of a health food store.  Author had a life-long intellectual investigation into health and fitness especially after her health was disrupted with an injury and more acute attention was needed to restore health.  Being more of a “demolition” gave her strange insight into what it takes to restore, achieve and maintain optimal health.  This author’s idea of health pertains to diet, fitness and attention to joy. She believes culinary is integral to joy and would not forsake culinary for a diet, but intends to create a scaffolding that includes it.

Up to Snuff #112: A solemn vow, to become a good communicator

Up to Snuff #112:  A solemn vow, to become a good communicator

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Becoming a good communicator may take a combination of strong technical writing, mixed with graphic design, copy editing and rhetoric.  One may have a goal and make a vow to themselves to be strong or masterful within an area like “communication” or type of writing skills like “content” or “technical” or “editing.” Technical writing is very useful in the workplace in memos or emails.  It is also good at creating excitement in workplace exchanges and documents.  Technical writing is strongly used for making textbooks, manuals and a variety of professional documents and even editorial writing. Communication then becomes something like style, delivery, organization, understanding, value and service, clarity. It is what it is; it is what you want yours to be.  It’s always beneficial to create “value” in a document and go the extra mile in an email for example and provide a precise link. Also, one key to technical communication has consistently been problem-solving.

The below list makes up the beginning of a quest for mastership in communication:

Technical Communication, 11th edition 2014
Mike Markel
ISBN: 978-0312-485979
Bedford/St. Martin’s

Technical and Professional Writing, Solving Problems at Work, By Kennedy & Montgomery

Business Writing, By Wilma Davidson

Excellence in Business Communication, Twelth Edition 2017
John V. Thill and Courtland L. Bovee
ISBN: 9780134388144
Loose Leaf Edition: ISBN: 9780134388175

Successful Writing at Work, 4th Concise Edition 2014
Philip Kolin
ISBN: 978-1280-5052564

Technical Communication Today, 5th Edition 2014
Richard Johnson-Sheehan
ISBN 978-0321-907981

The Essentials of Technical Communication 3rd Edition 2014
Elizabeth Tebeaux and Sam Dragga
ISBN: 978-0195-5384222
Oxford University Press

Writing in the Health Professions 2005  Barbara A. Heifferon
ISBN: 978-0321-105271

Google Professional memos

Purdue Owl (search technical writing for examples of memo writing and workplace writing etc.)

Copy Editor’s Handbook:  A Guide to Book Publishing and Corporate Communication

Pay attention to stellar staff emails and memos in the workplace

Get a Technical Writing degree

Up to Snuff #65 Summer Booklist

Up to Snuff # 65 Summer Booklist

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Aesop’s Fables


John Bull

Lord David Cecil

The Bronte’s Web of Childhood





The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach

Till we have faces,  CS Lewis

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

The Collected Poems Dylan Thomas

The Red Badge of Courage

Their Eyes Were Watching God

The Great Gatsby

A Passage to India


Orlando, Virginia Wolf

Edith Wharton

Jane Austen

Evelyn Waugh

Pride and Prejudice


Mary Shelly

Thomas Hardy

Girl with a Candle

Henry James

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Clarice Lispector

War and Peace

Bleak House

Middle March

Vanity Fair


Mrs. Dalloway

The Tale of Genji


Zora Canon

Penguin Classics Asian American Masterpieces

Persephone books

Animal Acts, Una Chaudhuri

A World of Fiction,  Katherine Bode

The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch

The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

Voltaire Philosophical Dictionary

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

The Everyday Writer, Andrea Lunsford