Education for Everyone Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘online university’

Quieting the Mind

“Education for Everyone Everywhere”

The slogan sits beneath the Horizons University banner on our official website, proclaiming the idea that education should be available for everyone, anywhere in the world. While of course Horizons University offers on-campus learning, we’re able to bring the classroom anywhere and everywhere through our online programs. The classroom is wherever the student wants it to be. Whether it’s the living room sofa, the corner table in the local coffee shop, the public library, or the aisle seat on a flight to Boston, online education releases the student from a regimented schedule and allows them to study at their own pace, in their environment of choice.

But, as much as we don’t want to admit it, this freedom comes with the burden of responsibility and self discipline.

Centering the mind and quieting the mind to focus in a non-traditional work environment takes time and practice. Working from home or completing a degree online has wonderful perks, but it’s important to stay organized and to stay aware of our time and space in order to stay creative and productive.

Here are some helpful tips to quiet our minds and decrease distraction when working:

  1. Meditate: Daily meditation may seem like it belongs in yoga class instead of the office, but meditation can be done by anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Take a break during the day to recollect. It could be in the morning while your coffee is brewing, at lunch in the break room, at your desk or cubicle, or when you get home in the evening. Simply close your eyes and breathe. Meditation isn’t about trying to block your thoughts. The human brain will continue to think and process and worry no matter how hard you try to silence it. The point of meditation is to acknowledge these thoughts and gently move back to a central, calm, focal point. Meditating for 10 minutes before sitting down to write a paper or doing a project will allow your mind to focus more clearly on the task at hand.
  2. Clear Your Schedule: Clearing your schedule doesn’t necessarily mean canceling plans with friends or missing your favorite TV show because you’re stuck in the library studying. It’s important to balance studying or working with personal time for yourself, however when it is time to buckle down and write, make sure there is nothing hanging over your head. For example, before sitting down to write or begin your work for the day, make sure the bills are paid, the cat is fed, and the laundry is done. It’s incredibly difficult to focus wholly on a project when you are distracted by chores or other tasks you need to accomplish. If possible, set a time during the day that is devoted entirely to your online work or study, then, try to get as many chores accomplished beforehand so distractions are minimized. Hide your phone in the pantry, plug in your headphones, keep a snack next to your computer, and get to work.
  3. Find Your Ideal Environment: Some people can design, read, write, create, blog, edit, etc. while seated at a tiny table in a loud, bustling cafe. In fact, this may be the only environment they are able to work effectively in, or at least the environment in which they’re the most creative and focused. Others couldn’t read and comprehend a sentence amongst the music and clanking of coffee cups. While most of us think we know our ideal study environment, it’s important to think critically about how productive we’re being in the different places we choose to work. Ask yourself, “Do I get more work done at my kitchen table? Or at the library?” “Does the bookstore or cafe bring me much needed inspiration for my writing? Or is it ultimately a distraction?” Take time to find your space.

Comment below to share your personal study habits. What works well for you? How do you quiet your mind and focus?

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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)

Top 5 Apps for Students

Apps

We are living in a world that is now partly real, partly virtual. That is, the virtual world is an essential component of our real world (not sure it works the other way around). At Horizons University, we like to leverage all the options that the virtual world offers, starting with the tech tools that can help (real) students – online or on-campus – plan, write, think, visualize, organize while having fun!

Our Top 5 Apps for Students:

Moodle (iPhone – Android)

Moodle is the online learning portal used by Horizons University. All our enrolled students receive their login details in order to access all their courses, 24/7. The Moodle App is a great way to carry the classroom everywhere with you – and it is free!

Evernote (iPad – iPhone – Mac)

Evernote is a great way to organise, search, find, schedule and share pretty much everything: from slides to screenshots, planners to pictures, this versatile app will help you keep track all that needs to be done/read/written, your favorite articles and pictures and all that interests you and requires action in order to map a great productive year. This app is free.

BambooPaper (iPad – Android)

This is a notebook where your stylus meets a screen: you can draw, jot down notes, sketch, import/export pictures, edit pictures, write block text or just handwrite any idea that comes to your mind. You can then share your notebook with fellow students via Windows, iOS or Android, or export them to cloud services or a great number of social media. The app is free.

iTunesU (iPad)

Dedicated to education, this is a powerful and rich iTunes-based platform where you can easily search, download and play an array of educational content: audio, video, and PDFs. Thanks to this free app, students can access resources quickly and easily.

Dictionary.com (iPhone – iPad – iPod Touch)

No more bulky dictionaries to carry around, this (free) one is at your fingertips! This handy app provides you with definitions based on Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com, and you can even search the database offline!

What do you think of our top 5 selection? What are your favorite apps? Share your favorites with us and help us build a reference list!

Grade Inflation? What do you think?

I read this interesting blog post from Dr. Mark J. Perry a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan. I am sharing it here in its entirety.   Please comment with your thoughts.

Today’s Grade-Inflated, Lake Wobegon World; Letter Grade of A Now Most Common College Grade

 

In 1960, the average undergraduate grade awarded in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota was 2.27 on a four-point scale.  In other words, the average letter grade at the University of Minnesota in the early 1960s was about a C+, and that was consistent with average grades at other colleges and universities in that era.  In fact, that average grade of C+ (2.30-2.35 on a 4-point scale) had been pretty stable at America’s colleges going all the way back to the 1920s (see chart above from GradeInflation.com, a website maintained by Stuart Rojstaczer, a retired Duke University professor who has tirelessly crusaded for several decades against “grade inflation” at U.S. universities).

By 2006, the average GPA at public universities in the U.S. had risen to 3.01 and at private universities to 3.30.  That means that the average GPA at public universities in 2006 was equivalent to a letter grade of B, and at private universities a B+, and it’s likely that grades and GPAs have continued to inflate over the last six years.

Grade inflation is back in the news, with a Twin Cities Star Tribune article today “At U, concern grows that ‘A’ stands for average.”

“A University of Minnesota chemistry professor has thrust the U into a national debate about grade inflation and the rigor of college, pushing his colleagues to stop pretending that average students are excellent and start making clear to employers which students are earning their A’s.
“I would like to state my own alarm and dismay at the degree to which grade compression … has infected some of our colleges,” said Christopher Cramer, chairman of the Faculty Consultative Committee. “I think we are at serious risk, through the abandonment of our own commitment of rigorous academic standards, of having outside standards imposed upon us.”
National studies and surveys suggest that college students now get more A’s than any other grade even though they spend less time studying. Cramer’s solution — to tack onto every transcript the percentage of students that also got that grade — has split the faculty and highlighted how tricky it can be to define, much less combat, grade inflation.”

 
MP: As one University of Minnesota undergraduate student explained the rising GPA trend when evaluating a professor known as a rigorous grader, “We live in a grade-inflated world.”  That University of Minnesota anthropology professor Karen-Sue Taussig suspects that today’s “grade-inflated world” can be traced to the growing cost of a college degree, i.e. today’s “tuition-inflated world.” As Taussig told the Star Tribune, “They’re paying for it, and they worked really hard, and they put in time, and therefore they think they should get a good grade.”
Last year, Professor Rojstaczer and co-author Christopher Healy published a research article in the Teachers College Record titled “Where A Is Ordinary: The Evolution of American College and University Grading, 1940–2009.” The main conclusion of the paper appears below (emphasis added), and is illustrated by the chart below showing the rising share of A letter grades over time at American colleges, from 15% in 1940 to 43% by 2008. Starting in about 1998, the letter grade A became the most common college grade.

“Conclusion: Across a wide range of schools, As represent 43% of all letter grades, an increase of 28 percentage points since 1960 and 12 percentage points since 1988. Ds and Fs total typically less than 10% of all letter grades. Private colleges and universities give, on average, significantly more As and Bs combined than public institutions with equal student selectivity. Southern schools grade more harshly than those in other regions, and science and engineering-focused schools grade more stringently than those emphasizing the liberal arts. It is likely that at many selective and highly selective schools, undergraduate GPAs are now so saturated at the high end that they have little use as a motivator of students and as an evaluation tool for graduate and professional schools and employers.”
MP: The connections among “grade inflation, “tuition inflation,” “college textbook inflation,” and exponentially rising student loan debt are important.  Perhaps students find it easier to accept rising tuition, higher textbook prices (many selling for $200-300 now), and $25,000 in average student loan debt if they at least graduate with mostly As and a GPA above 3.0?  Even if they can’t find a job, they can take pride in having “earned” an inflated GPA?  

The Value of An Online Degree

Found this interesting article by Karen Schweitzer from About.com…

Many people consider getting an online degree, but worry that they will have a hard time getting hired after graduation. But, these worries may not be necessary. Online degrees are increasing in popularity and are thought to be more valuable than ever before.

An Online Business Degree vs. a Traditional Business Degree
Many different colleges, universities, and business schools offer student the opportunity to get the same business education online that they would inside a traditional classroom. Often times, the degrees that are rewarded are not even noted as online or on-campus, because they are the same degree.

What Type of Value is Place on an Online Business Degree?
The big question is what type of value is placed on an online business degree? There’s no exact answer to this. Just like with most questions, it depends on whom you ask. However, according to a recent survey by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), more than 70 percent of corporate supervisors rated the value of a distance or online degree as “just as valuable” or “more valuable” than traditional degrees in the same field.

The important thing to remember when getting an online business degree, is that the degree is only as good as the school that it came from. Make sure that you choose a school that is accredited.

Horizons University, offers high quality, online (or on campus) degrees.  Our online programs are one of the most flexible programs available.  And yes… we are accredited!   We are accredited by ECBE (European Council for Business Education)… Additionally, we are a candidate for ACBSP (Acceditation Council for Business Schools and Programs).

If you would like more information please email:  info@horizonsuniversity.org

 

Pinterested?

Just a quick note to encourage you to take a look at Pinterest.    Do you follow John?  Notice how many followers we have!

What are your recommendations on re-pins?  Any one John should be following?

Are You Affective?

Horizons University, one of the best and most affordable online universities available, has a powerful course in their MBA program.  In our programs, the idea is not just the assimilation of theory, but most importantly its application. For example one of the hot topics discussed in “Leadership in Contemporary Organizations” is productivity improvement. There are lots of discussions on this topic, but the essence of successful productivity improvement is found (not surprisingly) within the behaviors of the leaders.

For starters, what is productivity?

Productivity =Output/Input

Productivity consists of selecting the right output (i.e., doing the right thing) and turning the input needed into output in the best possible way (i.e., doing the thing right) and doing it all the time (i.e., with no down time).

Selecting the right output is called effectiveness, turning input into output in the best possible way is called efficiency, and doing it all the time is called occupancy.

Effectiveness is attained when all non-essential outputs and inputs are screened, the remaining outputs and inputs are produced by the ideal task performers (i.e., properly delegated), and this process is not just for the moment, but for the foreseeable future (i.e., properly planned).

Inefficiencies

More than one day of every week (23.4%) is spent waiting. In principle, all waiting time can be eliminated. The largest amount of waiting time is incurred by people who are waiting for approvals or decisions (753.3%), waiting for materials and supplies (617.6%) and waiting for information (490.0%). Since each 100% represents a person year, these 819 people (819 possible person years) spend 18.6 person years waiting for these three items.

So what do we do about this challenge?

The Cognitive Domain

The process used to arrive at our conclusions so far is completely cognitive. According to Hannah Arendt , the cognitive domain is defined by the three axes of thinking, judging, and willing. The cognitive domain is central to performance improvement, because it is through our thinking, judging, and willing processes that we arrive at the goals and objectives we desire, and the strategy to reach them. It is the domain that we all know, and virtually all our education is structured so as to make us master this domain.

But performance improvement requires change. And change, unfortunately, occurs mostly in another domain ⎯ the affective domain.

The Affective Domain

Think about the great leaders who have impacted your life… perhaps it was a family member, a teacher or a boss? Chances are what made them great was their mastery of the affective domain.

Through the work of pioneers like Albert Mehrabian and James Russell , we know the dimensions of this domain. These dimensions consist of one axis that measures satisfaction, one axis that measures stress, and one axis that measures control. Their work made it possible to plot human emotions using coordinates from -1 to +1 in this three-dimensional space.

Dividing the space into octants (Dahl, 1993), it became possible to isolate leadership domains from followership domains (by use of the dimension of control), and characterize these domains by the impact of stress and satisfaction. Much to our surprise, we have found that the eight octants formed by the three axes consistently and predictably divide into high performance and low performance domains.

The implications of this are profound. The cognitive domain is involved with thought preceding action. The affective domain is involved with the action, or the change itself. People change when they are involved, engaged, enthusiastic, and committed — all of these states are found in the affective domain. To know how to operate in this domain is to know how to make change easy, or to make it hard; to know how to create peak performance, or to stop change dead in its tracks.

In this innovative course (held online, in class and on Second Life) examines the affective domain closely, and stops long enough at each leadership and followership domain so that it becomes possible to understand how each domain functions, and how each domain is created. Our goal… to help you reach your potential as a great leader.

Aspire to greatness, then we would recommend:
1) Get that degree you have been putting off;
2) Start leading in the affective domain.

For more information please visit us  (click logo for affectiveness)Affordable education

[1] Arendt, Hannah, “The Life of the Mind,” Vol. I-II, New York and London:  Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, New York, 1978.

[1] “Evidence for a Three-Factor Theory of Emotions,” Russell, James A., and Mehrabian, Albert; Journal on Research in Personality, Vol. II, PP. 273-294, 1977.