Education for Everyone Everywhere

Archive for the ‘Psychology’ Category

Why Time Is Of Essence

Time managment TIPS

One of the most recurring terms in our communication and conversations is “Time”. As we research for the next issue of our newsletter, HorizoNews, Chronos is depicted as an essential asset to have on your side, whether you are a faculty member, a student, a member of staff… In the latest newsletter issue, we underline the importance of planning as a way for online students to prepare for an efficient year of successful studies.We have also mentioned before in this blog, how crucial it is to take breaks, breathe, look around and come back recharged. So, how can we learn how to manage our time better, to preserve a “white space”, and what does free time mean (does it still mean something to you)? Time, over and over again, calls for our attention.

One way to go about time is to manage it through the very popular time-management set of skills. What may come naturally to some of us, may be slightly more problematic for others. If we look closer at the intervention of time in online courses, we can also rely on ECTS per course. According to the Bologna process, each ECTS stands for about 25 hours of work. Given the total number of ECTS for a given course, students will then be able to understand at a glance how many hours each course involves. These are then split between Engagement, Preparation and Independent study hours depending on the tasks and type of involvement they require. When courses are developed, it is essential that theres parameters are taken into consideration to offer quality and consistent content in compliance with the Bologna standards and learning outcomes.

Time management applied to online studies guarantees rhythm, helps define time blocks that allow for deep learning/deep work and infuse a sense of scope while also making sure that a course can be completed. We assist our online students in time-management by providing them with a Study Plan: this document helps them acknowledge their tasks and evaluate how much time they will need to perform them and reach their goals.

As with many other aspects of our lives, time control and management cannot go without winding down, and I would even say that one cannot grow stronger, be beneficial without the other. To better manage our time, we also need to take breaks: after a pause, our brain and body are fully recharged and ready to re-engage. Carving out a white space means accepting a shift in our routine which may feel unsettling for some of us prone to coordinate and manage every aspect of an overly busy life or of what feels like it for an entire addicted generation. The panic one may feel raising as the days grow slower and time opens up for ourselves and our thoughts is only normal. And, guess what? It requires time to adapt! But the process is a healthy one that helps fight stress and a very effective way to clear a creative and brainstorming block. You cannot find the right sentence for your conclusion? Your ideas are stuck? Try going for a walk, listening to some music, meeting with friends… According to marketing strategy consultant Dorie Clark, “We need to carve out blank space. (…) You don’t need time to have a great idea, what you need is space.” The goal is to find the right balance so that you can learn, teach, discover with pleasure and renewed motivation and strength.

What is your solution when it comes to letting go and learning to re-engage? Do you actually have to learn how to do this or does it come naturally to you? What are your favorite time-management tools or go-to activities when you need to step down a notch and “fill your mind and your soul with inspiration“? What are your favorite time-management tools? Let’s share our experiences here!

P.S. If you like this post, sign up in the Newsletter Sign Up field to enjoy the FREE Horizons University newsletter, HorizoNews. Each month, receive 2 issues straight to your inbox!

Credits: DeathToTheStockPhoto (Edited by Horizons University)

Set Your GOALS (+ a bonus for our readers!)

Set your goals

In order to successfully progress through your academic project, setting a series of goals will help you gain focus and direction. Setting goals is a specific process that requires careful and analytical upstream brainstorming and planning in order to be a life changing experience. In this month’s HorizoNews newsletter issue, we revealed some of our insider’s tips and we are now ready to share some of them here (and adding a FREE resource to help you going too!):

1 – Your Q&A session

Asking yourself thought provoking questions will help you identify your goals and the means you will need to use to reach them. Try answering some of the following questions to get your brainstorming started about your motivation and objectives:

> What motivates me?

> What are my strong points and how can I leverage them?

> What are my weak points and how can I improve them?

> What is my academic project and why?

> What is my professional project and why?

> Is there any part of your mindset holding you back?

This is just a sample of the questions you may ask yourself to define the route you want to follow and the tools and skills you want to utilize.

2 – The SMART goals

A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:

S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented). R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

3 – Write them down!

Writing your goals down will make them real and attainable.

We strongly advise you to use positive sentences and action verbs to make your goals clear and actionable. To track your progression, be extremely precise when writing them down, providing as many details and milestones as possible: dates, deadlines, amounts, tools (tables, to-do lists, books)… Break massive goals down into smaller ones to make them reachable and to allow yourself to monitor your progression every step of the way and make adjustments wherever needed. You will then be able to build on the previous goal-reaching experience to move on to the next one better equipped.

To complement the actionable guidelines we have shared with you in our June newsletter issue and here, we have designed a practical resource for you: the very ultimate and FREE CHEAT SHEET! It is all yours to download for FREE  – click on the action button below to start planning your future:

Action button

 

We hope you enjoy the free resource and encourage you to share your progression and own tips with us and our readers in the comments, on Facebook and Twitter. If you have not subscribed to our exclusive newsletter, this is the perfect time to do it: the relevant sign up field is visible at the bottom of our Home Page.

Happy goal settings to you all!

 

 

How to make commuting valuable

Commuting time final

Horizons University’s students can study online or on-campus. In order to meet the hectic way of life and working of our on-campus students and to make a new type of offer in the very traditional learning market, Horizons University has opted for the intensive seminar approach: 1-2-day seminars ensure that our students can plan in advance, get the required permissions from work and fully focus on the high impact and quality content of their courses.

Given the specific format of our seminars, our students and professors come from all over the country and sometimes even from abroad! They do know what the term “commuting” means, whether they cover the distance by car, public transportation – or by plane; today we are going to encourage you to turn what is often perceived as negative time (or wasted time) into a more enjoyable moment you can actually decide to turn into valuable time. In other words, let us think positively and grow stronger from the experience. In this post we share some practical tips to make the commuting time as pleasurable and enriching as possible.

1 – Keep learning

Depending on what your family or professional life look like, you may find out that commuting time is the best (if not the only) opportunity to focus on some activity requiring quiet and concentration while the miles fly by. What about preparing for your next course then? What about doing some extra research and reading? In all our courses, whether online or on-campus, students are encouraged to add personal reads to the suggested ones available in the syllabi, while some professors upload into the online course shell the course material before the actual seminar, so that students can already tune in, read in advance, do some personal research work and step int the class fully prepared. Should you have managed to gather articles, books, magazines over the previous couple of days, you may want to dig into those resources while the train/bus/tram is bringing you to your final destination. The extra reading will help you cover new areas of your study topic and start class with fresh ideas you can share with your professor and peers.

Suggested readings:

Le Média du Cross Canal ECommerce

Courrier International

Capital

Management

Le Journal de la Logistique

The Economist

Time Magazine

(Note: most of these offer both the paper-based and online option.)

2 – Buffer time

For some of you, commuting time might be the perfect opportunity to take time off, shut down your professional and academic files and get creative in different areas: read your favorite author’s latest book (to avoid extra weight, a reader like a Kindle would be a great option), listen to the latest episode of your podcasts, tune in with the day’s news and your favorite radio station to unwind at the end of the day or to get ready the energy flowing before a new one. You may also combine the two options by listening to audio books. Listening to some great stories is a great way to get our brain down to work, triggering functions that would otherwise remain idle. The bravest can even do some needle work (as seen on my train last week…), sketch or write ideas down in a notebook (grocery list, blissful thoughts for the day…), following the current trend of the notebook comeback!

Suggested audio programs:

The Moment with Brian Koppelman

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin

TED Radio Hour: the list and topics are endless

The Busy Marketer with BJ Smith

France Inter

France Culture

3 – The Driver’s Options

Should you be used to commuting by car, it might be a good idea to skip the reading and needle work altogether. We would advise you to get the full audio option: audio books, podcasts, music, elearning courses… The options are endless, as long as you keep your eyes on the road!

Suggested audio resources:

iTunesU

Udemy

SkillShare

(Note: even though some of the courses do feature videos, you may simply start by listening – it works out just fine, tried and tested!)

What are your favorite activities during your commute? What solutions have you found to turn this time into a pleasurable and invigorating moment of your day? Let us know which resources and activities we should add to the list – I am sure we would all be happy to tune in!

Credits: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Stress No More

Stress NO MORE

Teaching, learning, juggling with professional and personal life can sometimes feel or seem overwhelming – and before you know it, stress creeps up on you and makes you irritable, tense and less prone to move on, whether tasks and concerns are really taking over your life or whether this is just your perception playing tricks on you.

Here we are to share a few tips with you to relax both your body and mind:

1 – Inhale, Exhale

Breathing is one of those mechanic actions we don’t even think about – and that’s a real pity! By focusing on your breathing technique you can overcome many uncomfortable manifestations of stress. The best way to do this is by slowing down your breathing rhythm, focusing on breathing from the abdomen and gradually bringing your heartbeat down too. I use the technique when…flying, either to prevent a panic attack or to recover from one.

2 – Be Mindful

Focusing your attention on the things around you and your actions (eating, writing, listening to the wind in the foliage…you name it!) is a way to avoid letting your mind and body being swamped in a series of stressful, disturbing thoughts that act as parasites and deplete your levels of positive energy. The aim is to put things into perspectives by shifting your focus. This will also enable you to start afresh once serious tasks do need to get tackled and objectives reached.

3 – Learn How to Visualize

Conjuring up a specific image that makes you happy, serene and relaxed is a good way to transport yourself away into a positive, safe environment, extracting yourself from a possible quagmire and gridlocked situation. This technique is also useful to prepare yourself to face certain situations: the images you reproduce will trigger specific emotions that you may need to develop and learn to use in a positive way when actually needed in life.

4 – Listen to your Body

Listening to your body is a good way to awaken your senses and emotions to better understand them and use them. In order to learn to do so, relaxation through yoga, for example, may be a good solution, just like muscle relaxation that can be easily achieved by contracting and releasing the tension in your muscles.

We are all different – isn’t that the beauty of it tall? – and so we need to remember that we all react differently stimulations, and forms of stress. What may work for me, may not work for you. What is worth doing though, is trying and testing different, simple options that a you can implement and test at your rhythm. The four tips above can be tried separately or can be combined as you please and adapted based on your reaction to each of them and on their effects.

Keep in mind that some fo the organizational tips we shared with you might also help you bring your levels of stress down. It all comes down to finding the solution that meets your needs in the best way possible – think of a “à la carte” menu!

Should you decide to go for any of those listed above – or all of them -, keep us posted, let us know what the benefits were for you.

Credits: snapwiresnaps (Aundre Larrow) – edited by Horizons University

First Word: Resolutions

Resolutions

If there is one single word blooming out there at the moment despite the wave of cold sweeping over our countries, it has got to be this one: resolutions.

As we happily step into the new year, this word is inevitable both in real and virtual life. Truth be told, I have never liked it, and possibly this is one of the reasons I will now face it, embrace it and see what possible tips I can share with you to do the same and stick to those resolutions. It cannot hurt, right?

Stop procrastinating. I would start by stopping procrastinating giving resolutions a bit of space in our lives. Maybe we could just rename them to turn them into more friendly beings: objectives, projects, dreams? What do you think? Procrastinating is possibly what’s holding you back. You have always wanted to enroll in the program of your dreams, got this close to doing it by then started fiddling around with your transcripts, forms to fill out etc. Stop. Fill those out and just focus to achieve what you always wanted to achieve. Now!

Drop your fears. Will I be able to teach this class? I have never done this before? How will I make this course engaging? Will the students like and be responsive to the material I have prepared? I guess there is only one way of finding out: drop the fear cloak, show who you really are and what you are made of and go for it! Fearing one’s entourage or environment is a healthy thing; kids go through fears to grow, it is inevitable. It is part of our development pattern. At some point finding the courage and means to overcome them represents the next level. Let the game begin!

Set specific goals. Sometimes it can be difficult to see clearly among the flurry of tasks to accomplish on a daily basis. To get your feet back to the ground and let go of clutter and unnecessary or time-consuming processes, it might help to set yourselves specific goals. You said you were going to finish the Horizons University course within the 15-week study period? Then a zillion things came into the picture and distracted you? Time to refocus. Set two or three goals you can reach simultaneously, reschedule, contemplate priorities and other options to help you get there. I find that when setting goals that visualising them and the process to reach them is extremely helpful: why not start making bullet lists or to-do lists or jotting down a mindmap?

Take the holistic approach. We all live in an intricate environment where the professional and personal lives are intertwined and work (or should work) together hand in hand. To allow yourself to work and study in sound conditions and a sound, supportive environment, take the holistic approach: think about ways to learn better – maybe improving your diet, or exercising more?

Track your progression. The final tip to keep all this together is another organizational suggestion: to actually see how you are doing, whether you are going forward and reaching your goals (finances, food, fitness, projects…), follow your progression by keeping track of it. There are countless apps and tools out there to help you manage your own development, among them, we can suggest Trello (project management), Things (task management), MyFitnessPal and Waterlogged (health) because, remember, drinking is key to your brain, eating well too and being just a workaholic might not help your efficiency.

Tips to manage and hold on tight to those helpful resolutions depend largely on everyone’s experience, so feel free to share your feedback and suggestions so that we can all plan our successful year ahead in the best way possible! If you had to pick one word for the start of the year, which one would it be and why?

Credits: Background freebie via SubtlePatterns.

Drawing Inspiration: Mindmapping your projects

Mindmapping

When faced with a new challenge – writing an essay, putting a powerpoint together, presenting your new budget campaign, organizing a survey campaign – you might not know where to start. After all, there is so much to think about, so many ideas coming into your head or sent your way (if you are lucky)!

With a sheet of white paper sneering at you and your pen poised in mid-air, you are stuck.

Have you thought about drawing the entire process, your ideas as they come to you instead of trying to put everything in a linear succession of words and sentences? After all, drawing what we see has been part of human history from the very beginning of humanity: think about the Lascaux cave paintings…

We are not suggesting you go back to the Paleolithic Age, but that you tap into one of the most natural resources of your very own brain: spontaneous graphic thinking. The goal is to extract those ideas from your brain, jotting them down as shapes, images, doodles, lines, colors and slowly connecting these visuals to expose their logical influence on each other. This powerful and creative process can be defined as a graphic note-taking tool based on visuals instead of  linear, more monotonous and restrictive lists or texts. We seem to remember images more easily since they resort to a series of skills that, when acting together, make for perfect triggers of association.

Think about the popular saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”. A picture is a powerful quick tool to use whether you are a student or a professor. It is easy to memorize and recall, particularly useful for people who tend to learn visually and helps summarizing and structuring skills and ideas.

What are its applications? You can use it to brainstorm, to set-up strategy and decision-making processes, to organize project management sessions, storyboarding presentations, or to plan research and content optimization…

Knowing that “research has shown that developing mind maps increases thinking, memory and learning skills”(1), wouldn’t you like to give it a try? Have you used mind mapping already, as a student or as a professor? What were the benefits?

(1) Johanna Brams, MSEdT, Lehigh University

Credits: Horizons University

How to Build Community Spirit Online

COMMUNITYSPIRIT LD

Sometimes, learning and teaching from a distance can be a challenging experience when that lonely feeling starts creeping in. If you are used to teaching and learning in a traditional context, the good news is that with more than 7.1 million students who are enrolled in at least one online course in the USA alone (i), you don’t have to feel lonely anymore.

There are numerous ways to engage in online academics and plenty of resources to get started; some within yourself and some just a mouse click away!

Our first piece of advice, whether you are a student or a teacher is to reach out to the school’s community by using the social media tools at your disposal. Horizons University has its own Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, LinkedIn page, and even a Pinterest account where you can share, comment and join discussions or just hear what your fellow colleagues and students have to say. Feel free to express yourself! We invite you to join our brand new LinkedIn group to meet alumni, current students, professors, professionals in all fields related to the programs we offer. Time to take that first step and create your account to join our ever-growing community!

Our online learning platform, available to our students and facilitators alike, integrates its own forum in each and every course. The forum is a dedicated space where you can meet your fellow learners and your professor. At the same time, the Participants field in each and every Moodle-based course offers the opportunity to send private messages to all the participants in a given course (students, facilitator, administrators).

Sharing personal information online is also important when reaching out to others. Putting a face on a name is helpful and encourages trust, so you may want to make sure you send us your best profile picture (make sure you are not wearing those sunglasses…)! At Horizons University, learners can access and edit their profile in Moodle whenever they wish to. It is advisable that they come back regularly to their profile details and update them to make sure they match with their current situation.

Come back regularly, be active and even proactive online and in your life in general, taking full advantage of the networks around you. Talk to other students, write to them, be curious about their learning experience, the tools they use to learn, their learning routine, what works for them or does not work for them. Think about your Student Premier at Horizons University, your preferred point of contact, someone who is ready to point in the right direction, to listen to and answer your questions, together with your facilitator. The same applies to professors! When teaching, they have access to all the school’s resources and can share their experiences with their peers both within Horizons University and outside, in their community, professional societies and associations.

Let others know that you are an online student or facilitator: family, friends, acquaintances. Your project will certainly arise curiosity, questions, interest… and generate external support and extra motivation!

Participate in events to meet other online students or facilitators: webinars, student and academic professional fairs, professional events, conferences, publish in journals, blogs…

Last but not least, a bit of psychology: wear your school colours and display that Yearbook of yours to feel like a part of the team! A Horizons University sweatshirt, t-shirt or ring tells others about your current learning or teaching commitment and – just as importantly – tells you that you are not alone.

Why is it so important to feel like part of a group when studying or teaching online? Aside from the fact that human beings are social beings, who can learn and evolve by being in contact with their peers and by relating to their immediate environment, at Horizons University we want to make sure learners stay engaged throughout their enrollment, facilitators throughout their career, and that we are here to help everyone, especially you, achieve their goals.

(i) Source: 2013 Babson Survey Research Group’s annual Survey of Online Learning