The Hype and Hope of MOOCs

 

 

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to host an expert panel debate on the subject of MOOCs.

What are MOOC’s, you ask?

It stands for Massive Open Online Courses.  In the world of education and training, they have garnered considerable attention and debate.  Some say that this new technology will change higher education forever, causing thousands of traditional institutions to disappear while it dramatically lowers the cost of education.  Others say it holds promise, but the hype has gone too far.  The MOOC will change education in various ways, but it will not lead to a fundamental transformation.

Outside of formal higher education, MOOCs hold enormous potential for continuing education, professional development and training.  Organizations that want to grow must grow people, and MOOCs offer an opportunity to learn in a completely new way.  On my recent trip to Africa, I had many conversations about the transformative potential MOOCs offer in this regard.  Corporate leaders should be studying this potential.

The above video is an abbreviated snapshot of the conversation.  If you would like to see the entire MOOC debate, it is here.

Many thanks to the panel participants:

Bryan Alexander, author of The New Digital Storytelling, an editor of the Horizon Report and a frequent writer/speaker on digital technology in education;

Anya Kamenetz, a contributing writer for Fast Company, the Digital/Edu blogger for the Hechinger Report, and author of Generation Debt and DIY U.

Ray Schroeder, Professor Emeritus and Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning at the University of Illinois at Springfield, and Director of the Center for Online Leadership and Strategy at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association;

Audrey Watters, a technology journalist and founder of Hack Education;

Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Vice President for the Americas and Global Vice President of Marketing.

 

3 Toxic Habits That Will Cripple Your Productivity

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Thai Nguyen is a professional chef, international athlete, writer, and speaker. Listen to him share his personal journey. He is passionate about sparking personal revolutions in others. He blogs about breaking free from the mundane at wantrepreneurjourney.

More often than not, productivity is synonymous with success. The more quality content you are able to produce, the higher your conversion rate will be. Even talent is no match for productivity. The ever-entertaining Will Smith, with his numerous successes covering television, music, and cinema, was quick to respond when asked what his key to success was:

“I’ve never really viewed myself as talented, where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic. When the other guy is sleeping, I’m working. When the other guy is eating, I’m working.”

It is a sentiment echoed by many great figures: If you just keep showing up and doing the work, results will come. When considering what stands against being productive, the usual suspects are procrastination, distraction, lack of self-discipline, and lack of willpower. However, there are three toxic habits that eat these culprits for breakfast:

1. Perfectionism

Striving to be perfect is not a bad thing. As long as you see perfection as the ideal and not the real. The reality is that everything can be improved. That is why you see new iPhones and iPads continually being churned out. That is why records are continually broken in every sport. Perfection is a unicorn that keeps running away.

 

Contentment is the enemy of improvement. -Thai Nguyen

 

Perfection cripples productivity when you spend far too much time working on the product rather than getting it out there. The inevitable question of, “What is the ideal amount of time?” is indeed a tricky one. The resolution is to be clear about your desired outcome as you are working on the project. What is it that you want your customers to experience once they are exposed to your product? If you are able to meet that level of expectation, then you have done your job. If you are able to exceed it, even better. But do not try to go beyond that and revolutionize the world. Not yet, anyway. That will happen when you least expect it.

2. Contentment

Being happy with your current state of being, your achievements and quality of relationships, is certainly a desirable goal—as long as it has a “best by” date on it. Contentment is the enemy of improvement. It is what keeps good from becoming great. You should always be seeking to set the bar higher and improving in all aspects of life. Snow is beautiful until you have to live with it daily.

 

Talent is no match for productivity. -Thai Nguyen

 

You are probably screaming, “What on earth is wrong with being happy with a situation?” That adage, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” may be ringing in your head right now. The reason contentment should only be a spring break is because change is inevitable. Everything is temporal. Change is the very fabric of the universe, and as much as you may strive to stay stationary, the tide will move you. We grow older, and we mature; technology continues to make groundbreaking changes; culture and society will ebb and flow. Thus, change and improvement, not contentment, goes hand in hand with personal development and productivity.

Interview with Bestselling Author David Baldacci


Having troubles viewing this video? Watch it now on YouTube.

A Master Storyteller

With over 110 million books in print, David Baldacci is one of the world’s favorite storytellers.  He is a writing productivity machine, churning out bestsellers almost as fast as his fans can read them.  He and his wife founded Wish You Well Foundation, an organization dedicated to literacy efforts.

No matter your profession, I believe listening to David’s story will inspire you and give you ideas to help your own career.

In this video interview, David and I discuss:

  • How he maintains such productivity.  He has never missed a deadline, and Fast Company labeled him one of the “most productive people.”
  • David’s advice for aspiring authors.TheFinisher
  • The real story behind his overnight success.  His first published novel was Absolute Power, which immediately became a bestseller and a major motion picture starring Gene Hackman and Clint Eastwood.
  • His newest book, released today: The Finisher.  Learn why David submitted the manuscript under a pseudonym, hiding his bestselling author credentials.
  • His passion for literacy and libraries.

Take a few minutes and learn from a master storyteller. His advice has the potential to improve your own story.

 

Establishing Yourself as an Expert in Your Niche

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This is a guest post by Ivan Serrano, who has his very own niche blog of his own on 1800NumberNow.com, is a writer who is constantly finding new ways to be the voice of business communications, globalization and future tech. He hopes that these tips will help you in your own venture of becoming an expert in your niche.

When it comes to choosing a business to patronize, customers are more likely to choose the better-regarded, better-informed professional. The obvious challenge to being considered an expert in your niche, however, is publicity. Some of the best-regarded minds in any field aren’t well-known in their field, and certainly not by the general public. Establishing oneself as an expert in a particular field can be tricky to do, but there are media options to do so.

 

“Expert: Someone who brings confusion to simplicity.” Gregory Nunn

 

1) Start a professional blog.

A cheap and easy way to announce to the world that you know what you’re talking about is by simply starting a blog– a consistent blog with the most relevant content, of course. Many will agree that blogs are designed to be a bit informal, so it’ll be acceptable at times to allow your blog to let readers know that there is a real person behind all of that content.

On the business side of things, this can be the blog on your company website, but the company would be better-served should the experts start a completely different site to discuss their field, and their understanding of the work. This will drive traffic back to the professional site, while still appearing to be impartial.

Having an online presence is one thing– being an authority in your niche is another. Personality is a big thing, and it plays a huge role in your blog’s voice. Regardless of whether you’re starting a blog for your business or for your own enjoyment, blogging has certainly become a viable marketing tool for both options, and it’s a great way to gain exposure.

It probably won’t hit the ground running right away, but if you remain committed, you’ll reach a strong readership in due time. Don’t forget to add those social sharing buttons as well!

 

“What is an expert? Someone who is twenty miles from home.” American Proverb

 

2) Guest-blog for an established professional blog

Writing for a professional blog that is already established in a particular field can garner more visitors for your newly-founded professional blog, as well as your own website. Building relationships in your networks will take time, therefore, you should be consistent in your activities (i.e. a single post won’t do much, especially when trying to forge a relationship with a certain site).

The more in-depth, well-researched posts you are able to produce on authoritative blogs, the more often you will have the opportunity of communicating and interacting with people.

The purpose is to get your name circulated among the people who can trust what you have to say. If you’re managing a business, guest blogging can also be a great way to promote your services and products. If you conduct a Q&A or dispense information regarding a particular topic, viewers are more likely to want to know more about you and why you are an expert. That’s what you are looking for.

3) Host a podcast

Long reserved for those with spare money to rent out a recording studio, hire a producer and then spend on advertising for the show, podcasting is actually quite easy to do.

Using a simple microphone (in a pinch you can use the microphone built into laptops, but an external microphone provides better quality), and free audio editing software like Audacity, anyone can record, edit and export audio to an mP3. Post it on your blog and website, and now visitors can put a voice to the name, as well as listening to you display your expertise on the matter.

 

“Expert: a man who makes three correct guesses consecutively.” –Dr. Laurence Peter

 

4) Guest-speak to classes

Failure Is Not Defeat

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This is a guest post by Tom Panaggio,
 Author of The Risk Advantage: Embracing the Entrepreneur’s Unexpected Edge. Tom is an entrepreneur who spends his time advising companies, speaking and spending time on the racetrack.

Vince Lombardi never admitted to failure. He always said that he never lost a game, he just ran out of time. To Lombardi, failure was not fatal; it did not mean that hope was lost. He simply refocused his team and made the necessary game strategy alterations. In his mind, he never lost or failed because he always made the necessary changes going forward.

There is a difference between failure and defeat. Failure is temporary, but defeat is permanent. I’d love to see the statistics for how many entrepreneurs mistook a failure as defeat and gave up. For anyone who accepts defeat, there is no hope, only regret.

 

Failure is temporary, but defeat is permanent. -Tom Panaggio

 

Today, I am an amateur race car driver. That obsession began in 1983 after I attended a sports car race at Daytona International Speedway. My background was in traditional athletics, and I knew nothing about racing or how to even begin to get involved. All I knew was that I wanted to do it. After conducting some research, I found that I needed to go to two accredited racing schools to qualify for a license, with the caveat that school number two must be a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) sanctioned school. If I didn’t pass this second school, there would be no racing for me.

9781938416446The first school I attended, Skip Barber Racing School, supplied everything needed, including a real race car and all the safety equipment. The second SCCA school supplied only the racetrack and instructors; I needed to provide my own race car. By luck, I knew someone who owned a race car and was retired from driving. He was gracious enough to let me borrow his car if I paid to get it track ready. That turned out to be a mistake on his part.

I failed at the second racing school. Twice. In consecutive weekends, I failed due to mistakes. (Okay, I crashed both times.) The second failure caused the untimely death of the borrowed race car in a spectacular crash at over a hundred miles an hour. I can still see the track workers leaping from their protective bunker moments before I plowed into it.

Everyone told me to quit, to give up. They said that I didn’t have what it takes to be a race car driver. Even I had doubts, but my desire to race had not lessened. In fact, everyone else’s doubts made me want to prove that I could do it. I was determined, and I wouldn’t let failure defeat me.