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Useful Tips for Online Learners

USEFUL TIPS

That’s it, you are enrolled and ready to embark on a new learning journey! This one will be slightly different from your previous experiences: you are now an online learner, with a mouse at your fingertips and a course on a remonte server at your virtual door. What we encourage you to do today is to embrace your online enrollment as a brand new opportunity to grow your skills and personality.

To help you on your way, we have a few tips to share based on our experience and our students’ valuable feedback over the years:

Tip #1: Cover the tech basics

First things first: to ensure that you can study whenever you want and access your courses smoothly, you have to be able to rely on your hardware and internet connection. Sure enough, there will be times when the provider will be down, times for LMS upgrades etc. But aside from the occasional glitch, upgrades and maintenance periods are announced in advance in order to  help you work around them. Do invest in an external hard drive if you can and – in any case – regularly back up your work in order to prevent dramatic computer crashes and data loss. You may also want to set up a GoogleDrive or Dropbox account: they are free (check out Dropbox plans for added storage capacity) and easy to set up in just a few steps.

Tip #2: Define your study space (and let others know)

At a time when multitasking is all the rage – not to mention the “I-am-busy” syndrome – it is capital that when you sit down to study, you fully ease yourself into the task. One way to achieve this is related to setting up your study area in a way that allows you to sit down and work whenever needed and with no outer/inner distractions. The size of the area is not important in this case: quality is what matters since it should be a quiet space, dedicated to your activity only and accessible to you only during your study time. Defining your study space also means ensuring that your entourage understands your academic project and respects it. As a former freelancer, I have mixed feelings and memories about having to remind family and friends that you are actually working, even if you are around and seem to be available for any type of questions!

Tip #3: Plan your studies

In a way planning your studies time wise is part of defining your study space too and is every bit as crucial as your study corner. Aside from the multiple calendars you can set up on any type of device, including your computer, Horizons University provides you with a Study Plan. You are invited to fill your Study Plan upstream under the guidance of your facilitator and Student Premier to make sure you set achievable and actionable goals. To reach those goals is the key to your structured progression and I suggest you read our goal-oriented post (and cheat sheet!) to find out how to set that up.

Tip #4: Get familiar with the rules

Studying online requires structure and motivation as well as the skills to learn the policies and rules that will make it easier for you to access your LMS, understand how it works and establish efficient communication channels with our staff and your student community. When starting your program with Horizons University you will first go through the introduction courses: these self-paced online courses are meant to help you get familiar with our LMS but also our policies, such as plagiarism and academic honesty. In the end, you start the program fully aware of your environment, both technical and intellectual, which we believe is a significant asset!

Tip #5: Engage!

The term “motivation” appears higher up in this post – and is a key term when you are studying online. Feeling isolated in the midst of tons of conversations and social media exchanges – as paradoxical as it may sound – is common nowadays. We do encourage you to join us throughout social media channels, but also and above all to turn to your Student Premier whenever you have questions about your learning experience; or to your facilitator for curriculum content related queries; or to the Administrative Officer for administrative questions. Horizons University students are part of a community of professionals. There is the social community out there, but it is also backed up by experts who know your profile, academic history prior to Horizons University and at our institution. They are here to listen to you and provide customized assistance wherever and whenever needed.

What other tips would you like to share with your fellow students or our prospects? What makes online studies easy or difficult for you? What could we implement to make your online learning process smoother?

Credits: DeathToTheStockPhoto (edited by Horizons University)

The 2015 YEARBOOK is OUT!

Yearbook

The tradition continues: after another eventful year, the 2015 Yearbook has arrived! Those of you following us on Twitter have even seen its creative cover and inside pages… The good news is that you can now order this year’s issue entitled “Ways to Teach and Ways to Learn“!

The 60-page repository of Horizons University’s story – and history – features the following chapters:

– Faculty and Staff

– Students

– Graduation

– Articles and HU’s news

– World Beat (a classic now!)

– Horizons University Press: the brand new resource site featuring exclusive authors and books.

Each chapter provides an insight into one of the fields of action or category of stakeholders that make Horizons University YOUR institution, complemented by photographs and articles written by our staff and students. The Yearbook is YOUR personal book commemorating your year with Horizons University and its international community. It also gives you the opportunity to apply some of the skills learned during the year by participating in an editorial project that has deep meaning for you as part of Horizons University.

To order you copy now, contact the Administrative Officer via email, sending him the Order Form you can download directly from the link provided at the bottom of this post (form in English). The price for each copy is 35€. Shipping costs are as follows:

– 8€ for Europe

– 10€ for the rest of the world

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

DOWNLOAD the Order Form

GRAB your copy NOW!

Credits: Horizons University

An Intern in Paris

download1

As a third-year student in LEA (Applied Foreign Languages) degree at the Nancy University, I had to do an internship to validate my Bachelor. Last year (2013-2014) I only validated my first half-year so I had to repeat the year just for the second semester. This year, I guess you could say that I was on holiday during the first term and I decided to take advantage of the spare time and started looking for an internship.

It is not so easy to find an internship; it is better not to be finicky, but also not to jump at the fist offer, particularly if the field and company you are contemplating are not your cup of tea.I registered on different internship and job offer sites such as Indeed, Vivastreet, Adzuna…, I kept an eye on the website L’Etudiant and I contacted many companies: don’t hesitate to send numerous applications!

I did receive some answers, but nothing really interesting… Then, one fine day, I came across an advertisement on the Vivastreet internet site: Horizons University was looking for an intern in translation for 3 months. It was exactly what I wanted, there was just a glitch: the position was based in Paris. I said to myself “Come on, give it a try!”, and I went for it. From then on, it went really quite fast: they answered me, we set a date and as you might have figured out by now, I got the internship!

You probably wonder how I found an accommodation. Well it was quite simple: I knew someone who was kind enough to host me. If you do not have such luck, don’t worry, you can place an advertisement on Facebook or Twitter… or ask your contacts, you never know! It is always good to change location since it allows you to discover, learn new things, get around a bit, explore new experiences (always a plus on a CV!).

Although I was really glad I found the internship, there was always the stress of jumping into the unknown… Despite that, everything went fine during my first day: the team welcomed and accepted me . I jumped directly into the swing of things by translating a brochure. Don’t worry, it was not my only task! I also dealt with syllabi, the newsletter issues and blog articles, the Yearbook and Horizons University site and a series of official forms. Some tasks are easier than others, it depends on the content, and my tutor proofread my translations: told you, they all truly helped!

To translate the documents, I used the Robert & Collins dictionary (French-English / English-French), or online resources such as Larousse, Wordreference, Linguee… I did not make any glossary because I did not feel the need for it, but it is essential to some people, so do not hesitate to do one.

The internship is the final step of my Bachelor, and the university requires students to hand in a written report and present an oral defense. Drawing up the report and meeting the deadline has been a really stressful experience that included gathering the necessary information, writing, deciding on the layout, writing the required number of pages, proofreading, printing, and eventually sending the final document! Once it was all over, what a relief! (My advice for shipping the document: check out the deadline as well as the requirements for the report – how many copies should you send, should the report be paper-based or is a soft-copy acceptable, how long will the shipment take, what shipment option should you choose (recorded delivery/acknowledgement of receipt etc.)?

My translation internship at Horizons University brought me so much on the professional and personal level, I have really enjoyed performing the tasks that were assigned to me and the team has been so great. I sincerely recommend you to be on the lookout for their internships, you will not waste your time and will leave pleased!

By Mathilde Marie-Jeanne

De l’utilité des sondages

Snapwiresnaps Surveys

Afin de mener les sondages auprès de nos étudiants, théoriquement nous pourrions poser les questions en classe et leur demander de lever la main pour répondre, et ensuite compter. Cela risquerait non seulement de nous prendre un temps fou, mais aussi d’ignorer nos étudiants en ligne. Nous sommes d’accord sur ce point : la technologie peut seulement nous aider à obtenir des informations plus rapidement.

Depuis quelques années maintenant Horizons University compte beaucoup sur les sondages en ligne et sur papier à disposition pour analyser tous les domaines et contextes : sondages informels, sondages de rétroaction, évaluations d’acceptation préalable, sondages des étudiants en partance etc. selon le contexte et la stratégie. Les noms peuvent varier mais la bonne volonté à recueillir, à analyser et à promulguer ces informations grâce à une prise de décision rapide reste intacte. Mais pourquoi mener divers sondages aussi fréquemment alors qu’un seul pourrait suffire ?

Le but n’est pas d’obtenir une image figée du développement naturel d’une situation ou d’un contexte donnés, mais un tableau évolutif. Un seul exemple peut convenir si votre objectif est à court terme, mais le monde de l’éducation est en constante évolution, il faut privilégier le long terme. Par exemple : notre sondage des étudiants entrants nous permet de comprendre ce qu’ils connaissent avant de commencer un cours ou un programme, et ainsi d’adapter notre offre à leur convenance : c’est le rôle des séminaires de mise à niveau de notre DBA depuis qu’ils abordent les sujets communs pouvant être adaptés aux besoins spécifiques d’un étudiant en DBA, afin de l’aider à réussir durant le programme en question. Nos sondages des étudiants en partance nous aident à évaluer leur progression tout en dévoilant les points forts et les points faibles du cours, l’efficacité et la cohérence ainsi que la capacité de l’étudiant à évoluer. En demandant directement aux étudiants, nous élaborons un réseau contenant des résultats riches et fiables, des données de valeur qui nous montrent le chemin à prendre ou non, et comment mieux comprendre les besoins et spécificités de nos étudiants.

Si nous regardons de plus près nos sondages, ils nous montrent que non seulement nous ne pouvons pas nous développer sans eux, mais encore moins sans nos étudiants : les questions que nous leur posons sont des moyens éducatifs de plus leur permettant de comprendre comment apprendre et pourquoi, leur donnant ainsi les moyens de faire les bons choix, changements et décisions.

Quel genre de sondages mettez-vous en place ? Prévoyez-vous des sondages menés par une tierce partie ? Si oui, avez-vous défini un cadre légal pour son intervention dans la collecte de vos informations ? Nous attendons vos réponses et espérons apprendre à notre tour grâce à votre expérience !

Photo : Snapwiresnaps (edité)

Why Student Surveys?

Snapwiresnaps Surveys

To conduct student surveys, we could theoretically ask a question in class and ask our students to raise their hand to answer – and then start counting. This would probably leave out a big chunk of our students though, meaning our online students. We do agree at this point that technology can only help us reach higher, faster.

Horizons University has actually been relying for years now on online and paper-based surveys combined to investigate in all fields and contexts: informal surveys, feedback surveys, pre-acceptance assessments, outbound surveys and so forth depending on the context and strategy. The names may vary, but the willingness to gather, analyze and enact through swift decision-making remains intact. But why, one could argue, conducting multiple surveys, so frequently?

The aim is to obtain the full picture and evolution of the organic development of a given situation or context, not a one-shot view. The latter may work if you aim for a short-term objective, but the world of education is constantly evolving, making focusing on long-term objectives a must. For example : our inbound survey helps us understand what students know before taking a course or a program, thus assisting us in tailoring our offer to them: this is what our DBA foundation seminars are about since they cover common topics that can be tailored to the specific need of a DBA student to help him/her succeed during the program. Our outbound survey helps us assess how they have progressed, thus unveiling a given program strong and weak points, efficiency and consistency as well as the student’s capacity to evolve. By asking students directly, we build a rich and reliable network of results, valuable data that shows us which way to go – or not to go – and how to better understand the need and specificities of our students.

If we look closer at our surveys, they show us that not only we can grow thanks to them, but ultimately, our students too: the questions we ask them are one additional educations means that will help them understand how they learn and why, empowering them to make the right choices, changes and decisions.

What type of surveys do you conduct as part of your QA process? Do you allow third party surveys? If so, have you defined a legal framework for them? We look forward to hearing from you and learning from your experience!

Credits: Snapwiresnaps (edited)

4L Recap Part 1

Cécile and Romain are back home and ready to share their logbook with us—a summary of their trip through the desert during the 2015 4L Trophy. Check it out in addition to our monthly newsletter HorizoNews.

What! You don’t subscribe to HorizoNews? Here’s how, and don’t worry, you still have time before the next issue scheduled for this week is sent.

Départ rouen (1)

Here are some extracts from the logbook of our amazing crew so you can get a taste of the adventure and discovery from the Rally!

4L Trophy: Week 1

Monday, February 16th, 2015: departure for Biarritz, we took the highway to limit toll fees and to handle carefully our 4L. We got to Biarritz late in the afternoon and decided to stop for the night close to the Futuroscope.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015: Poitiers-Biarritz. We met up in Biarritz by the middle of the day, always taking the highway. Once there, we were in no hurry because we had an appointment for a mechanical and administrative inspection on the February 18th at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015: We begin to have some car trouble, realizing that the right rear wheel is tilting at 45 degrees. Its support is totally cracked. We finally find a replacement stub axle, and after failing in many garages, finally, a compassionate garage mechanic agrees to change the faulty part by noon the next day.

Thursday, February 19th, 2015: It is the day of the official departure; the garage mechanic gave us back the car at 12:15. We make our departure even though we hadn’t had our inspection. A person in charge of the organization confirms that we can take the road to Algésiras, and the inspections will be done on the spot. We once again take to the open road with our friends to Algésiras. We spent the night in a small hotel by the road between Valladolid and Salamanca.

Friday, February 20th, 2015: At the end of the day, we at last arrived in the Algésiras bivouac (temporary camp), where we were taken care of right away by the organization that examines the compulsory equipment (flares, gas cans, fire extinguishers, fist-aid kit…) and the chassis where they saw a small hole. They asked us to repair it with a reinforced plate that same night, and finally by 11pm, were told that we could leave for Morocco the next day!

Saturday, February 21st, 2015: in the first hours we carried out the last of the administrative checks (medical check-up, passport, authorisation to leave the country with the car…). Then we at last receive our participants’ bracelets and our number to stick on the 4L! Early in the afternoon, we took the road to the harbour to catch a ferry to Tangier. The crossing quick; we had just enough time for a passport check on the boat before we arrived in Tangier! We had a 173-mile stage to drive in order to meet up with the camp at Rabat University. We reached Rabat at midnight without any problems.

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015: The campus night watchmen woke us up at 6 am and explained to us that we would have to leave before the arrival of the first students! We were on our way then and had 186 miles to go before we reached Boulajoul, where we would experience the coldest night of the expedition. Indeed, there was a lot of snow, and it took the Moroccans three days to clear the road and the camp of the snow. We arrived late in the day, with cold and wind hindering our progress to set up camp, but we managed in the end to warm up successfully under a tent.

Arrivée vers BoulajouleEnd of the first week: after a suspenseful start and some technical problems, we already have the signs of solidarity, which will make all the difference.

See you soon for the follow-up!

Source : 4L Trophy

 

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