Royalty-free Music for Presentations


We are regularly asked to create some type of presentation for class assignments. These can take many forms… Canva, Prezi, MySimpleShow (one of my favorites), PowerPoint (for example). This week, I am creating a PowerPoint regarding the use of dashboards as analysis tools for organizations. 

Why PowerPoint? I’m pretty good at it, and I’ve gotten the animation, timing, and sound capabilities figured out — mostly. I learn more every time I use the software. 

In the past, I have used my own music — often classical — as background music for presentations. This time I wanted something better; something more “corporate”. More polished. More professional. 

I’m always leery of downloading music online (think Limewire if you’re older than 30), but today’s anti-virus software packages are pretty good. Bensound is the first site I visited, and they had — royalty free — exactly what I wanted. In fact, it auto-plays with this post. You’re welcome. Catchy, eh? Now… To finish my presentation…


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Zotero Library Page

I’d forgotten that Zotero automatically syncs my desktop library/research to my online account. Eventually, I’ll need to pay for more space online, but it’s only $20 per year — not too bad. 

I also found a WordPress plugin that displays my library here. Not that anybody will look for or download my actual items (they are not downloadable; I have turned that feature off), but having a page fits in with the purpose of this blog. 

I’m finding that playing around with MattCoenenDotCom can be fun and relaxing. (Hence the new stress relief category). 

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Social Media and Student Support

Programs that are 100% online — and more exist now than ever before — can prove challenging. The face-to-face interaction deemed useful in the past do not exist. Instead, asynchronous learning makes use of online forum posts, back-and-forth emails/messaging, and discussion forums. Types of interactivity are drastically different, and, often, are not sufficient. 

In much of the research, students report feelings of solitude and loneliness. The limited, immediate interactions provided in traditional classroom settings do not exist. Body language, facial expressions, and tone/pace/vocal cues do not exist in a forum discussion post or comment. 

To help with this, a classmate and myself created a Facebook group (closed and private) to provide the more immediate feedback and support many students require. The group has well-defined rules, and members go through an approval process (a few school-related questions such as program of study and current classes being taken). 

The group has proven to be beneficial, at least based on member posts and comments. I know I continually find it useful. It keeps me grounded, out of my own head, and provides that immediate feedback and support missing in the online learning environment. 

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UpStrem Project Management Plugin for WordPress



Holy plugins, Project Manager Batman. 

I had no idea WordPress had project management plugins. Zero. Nada. 
Remember the previous post in which I mentioned we had to create some type of dissertation project map, and I used Excel to create a Gantt chart? Well, now I can use my blog/website to track my progress. I’m so excited!

Now I have to transfer milestones/tasks to the project. I’m using UpStream in a very minimal capacity, as I’m the only person working on this project, but it will help keep me on track. And, honestly, playing around with this website and WordPress is relaxing for me. (And I lose track of time!)

(They also have a little fishy as their logo. How fun is that?)


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Time Management Tips

Yesterday, a former high-school classmate asked me how I manage to work full-time and attend school full-time — and get everything done. I think he just started work on his master’s degree, and he also has a family to be involved with. He has even less time than I do, most likely, for school. Regardless, I did share some of my tips. They may or may not work for him (or for others), but they work for me. (At least so far, they have).

  • Monday-Friday, I get home from work and focus on school until 7:00 PM. No earlier. No later.
  • I try to get at least one full assignment completed daily. That could be a paper, a discussion forum post, or discussion forum replies.
  • I take at least one day off each week.
  • Saturday is my “catch-up” if behind day, though I try to not work more than 3 hours on school.
  • Sunday? Prep for the next week. Download or print journal articles/readings, print out an assignment list.
  • I use Zotero to organize my library (which reminds me, I need to purge stuff and reorganize). He does, too. (Bonus points!)


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Dissertation Timeline

So. In the first (of many) doctoral seminar classes, we were tasked with creating some sort of dissertation timeline. A map, if you will, of where we are, where we are going, how we will get there, and roadblocks we may encounter.

The class resources page online suggested a PERT chart. Not really my style. Or using an infographic at Canva (online design-type software). I don’t have time to learn new software.

I decided to do somewhat of a Gantt chart using Excel. Why? I already own the software (well, rent it, technically), and I refuse to spend money on additional software I would only use once. I did find a template online; thanks for that, Vertex42. Now I have an actual timeline/map that is functional and usable.

I kind of like it. And this is one assignment that is extremely worthwhile!

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This week, we had to analyze part of an actual dissertation (that of the class instructor, which I found a tad egotistical) for exemplaires of leadership, passion, and tenacity. This assignment was for the first of many doctoral seminar classes. A better word somewhat encapsulating all three of those traits is grit.  According to Duckworth et al. (2007) — a group that came up with the most-often used definition in the literature, grit is a “perseverance and passion for long-term goals. . . [it entails] working strenuously towards challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress” (p. 1087). I like the word grit. And may start using it more, both in a scholarly and professional sense.

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087-1101. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.1087

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