Friday, August 31, 2012

5 Secrets Of Learning That No One Ever Told You

Everyone knows that we have two brain hemispheres - the left and the right. Logic and Gestalt.

The left hand hemisphere or the logic hemisphere handles our ability to see the bits and pieces that make up information - our ability to see the trees in the forest. It controls our ability to sequence information and put it in an orderly pattern. It helps us to see logical progressions and to recognise patterns such as number facts (multiplication tables) and rhymes.

The right hand hemisphere or Gestalt hemisphere handles our emotions, our ability to see the big picture - the reason why. It helps us to make sense of the bits and pieces in a meaningful and emotionally relevant way. The Gestalt hemisphere handles intuition and it is what allows us to make intuitive leaps - those flashes of brilliance when seemingly unconnected information comes together into something amazing. It governs our ability to relate to others with compassion and empathy. It is our creative side, our artistic and musically inclined self. Without it, the bits and pieces supplied by the logical hemisphere are meaningless pieces of information.

To learn effectively we need access to both hemispheres of the brain. In children with high stress levels (aka a learning difficulty,) one of the hemispheres is not functioning as it should. It is suppressed by the dominant hemisphere and its gifts are locked away. These children (and adults) are at a disadvantage - they are operating with only half of what they need to learn effectively. Hence some are dreamers - they can see the big picture but have no way of knowing how to accomplish their dream. Sometimes they are called lazy. Others are so bogged down in the details they get lost in what is called analysis paralysis - they can see the bits and pieces but can't quite grasp how to put them all together into a cohesive whole.

Regaining the use of the whole brain - what I call brain integration - is the first step we take when working with a new student.

Secret Number 2 - The Ability To Move Forward

For so many students (and their parents!) feeling stuck, clumsy, confused and lost is a daily experience. It isn't necessarily a physical feeling - although it can be. Mostly it is a mental feeling, one of being stuck in mud, it is a struggle and hard work.

Of thinking you have the answer and then beginning to doubt yourself. Of being unsure that you heard the instructions properly, so you need to check, double check, triple check before you feel confident to move forward with the activity.

Our ability to move forward determines how we approach different situations. If we feel stuck, our self-esteem and self-confidence are eroded over time and our insecurity increases. As it increases we become fearful of making mistakes, of "getting it wrong", of being laughed at.

On the other hand, if we can move forward without fear - we can sometimes have what I term bull at a gate syndrome. We can rush in where angels fear to tread. Sometimes we can lack the caution which allows us to assess the situation fully. We can have what situations like the one that faced Po in Kung-fu Panda 2. We can see our objective - Gongman City Palace, but not see the wolves prowling the streets, we leap into action without seeing the dangers that lie before us. As Mantis said: "What are you doing? The streets are crawling with wolves!"

A balance between the two extremes - feeling stuck and fearlessly moving forward - are needed for our children to learn. They need to be able to make a decision and see it through. In order to do this, our children need the foundation of Secret Number 1!

Secret Number 3 - Ability To Communicate

What is communication? For many people it is our ability to read and write, to speak clearly and succinctly. However, it is so much more than that. Communication is more non-verbal than verbal. It is the way we hold our self, the tone, the pitch, the delivery speed. It is our body stance, our facial expressions, the way we use or hold our hands. These visual cues are what bring meaning and depth to our communications.

Beyond this, communication encompasses our style of presenting information. Are we logical communicators? If so, we start at the beginning and plod through every detail of what has happened, useful for writing reports, but boring in a conversation!

If we are an emotional communicator, we bring in the full range of expressive language options. We rant, we rave, we may be incoherent at times (especially when excited or angry). We tell the story from an emotional point of view - telling what stood out at the time, not necessarily in a logical progression. So we have difficulty sequencing events as we jump around following the emotional trail. This event reminds me of that one (which may have happened a long time ago) which reminds me of something that I thought I heard yesterday and so on.

When it comes to learning, if we are limited in our communication - meaning our communication is controlled by the hemisphere which is suppressed under stress - we may know the answer but have difficulty expressing it. We have difficulty getting our ideas from our head onto the paper. Sometimes we can talk our way through it, but often we feel tongue-tied. We grow frustrated with our inability to express what is inside of us.

This can go on until we literally explode. The child who is limited in their ability to communicate can feel as though they are living inside a pressure cooker. Once they hit critical levels, steam has to be let out - often in the form of tears, tantrums, escapism, or total shut down where they withdraw inside of themselves completely.

For those around them, this situation is just as frustrating. After all, when they are relaxed and integrated these children show us glimpses of what they are capable of. And these tantalising glimpses leave us frustrated that they aren't performing at their best, especially when we don't understand why.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to Use Online Education Portals to CBSE Exams

Classes at schools and private CBSE tuitions aren't the only ways to learn and score more marks in your CBSE exams anymore. Online education portals are catching up here in India too, with quality websites being set up here by big media companies. They offer a ton of useful contents and features like CBSE question papers from past exams, sample papers and video lessons. They are the true modern companion to a student's hard work and studies. Using the features to your advantage is easy, and the results are more than worth the time and effort. Here are some of the features available with a typically good education portal, and how to best utilize them to score more marks:

Video Lessons: Video lessons are one of the best ways to learn your concepts and theories with crystalclarity. Using the most modern 3D and 2D animations along with examples set in real life scenarios, they elucidate students in a way that most teachers fail at. Watching these video lessons for half an hour at least each day should help you understand your lessons better and retain whatever you learn for a long time too.

Exam Resources: Good education portals act as homes for a huge amount of exam resources like past CBSE question papers, CBSE sample papers and question banks. These resources are great for familiarizing yourself with the CBSE question patterns and act as last minute reference to the important lessons and questions just before the exams.

Online Tests: Along with CBSE question papers and CBSE sample papers, online tests help you calm those pre-exam jitters. Taking them regularly should train your nerves to get more acquainted with the pressure of exams. Also, you can also get real time performance reports so that you can identify your weaker areas and evaluate them.

NCERT Solutions: These are detailed solutions to the questions found at the end of every chapter in NCERT books. Somewhat like the CBSE sample papers, but with detailed insights on the lessons learnt from each chapter. These can be doubled up as homework help too; you can use them to quick checks for your homework.

Course Plan: Whatever class you're in, you can download a detailed course structure so that you can get easy access to the entire list of CBSE sample papers, CBSE question papers and other resources suitable for you. Using them like the index to your dictionary should make things simpler and faster when you study.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How To Compare Online Universities?

In order to select the best online university from so many good universities that offer online degree programs, you have to compare them. But, comparing these online universities can be a challenges. You may know the degree you are looking for, but it is not an easy task to narrow down the list to the best online degree program that meets your requirements. Below are the five considerations that you can use to compare the online universities before you select the best one among them.

1. Compare The Accreditation

It is your responsibility to make sure the online degree you earn is worth the value. Don't fall into the trap of diploma mill and earn a fake degree. Therefore, accreditation is the most important factor to consider when comparing online universities. Besides avoiding the scams, the consideration of accreditation is important to make sure you have a smooth start in your future career. For example, if you pursue an online degree program from a regional accredited university, you have an easier time finding jobs, using the degree to further your study or transferring your credits to other schools. Besides the regional accreditation, degrees from online universities that are accredited by DETC (Distance Education and Training Council) are widely accepted by employers.

2. Compare The Admission Requirements

Each school has the admission requirements for online students. It will be a waste of time if you are trying to apply for the online degree program that you are not qualified for. You should compare the admission requirements of online universities for the course you are interested in pursuing. Make sure you can meet the requirements before you submit your application.

3. Compare The Residency Requirements

When comparing the online degree programs offered by different online universities, it is important to compare the residency requirements and make sure you select the one that fits your lifestyle. The education programs may be offered entirely through the internet or require you to attend some hours of physical classroom sessions or face-to-face discussions at a brick-and-mortar university. If there is residency requirements, you may want to consider the online degree programs with physical facilities near your home or workplace.

4. Compare Online Class Schedules

Flexibility is a feature and the advantage of online edtcation. Many online education programs allow students to learn based on their pace of study. But, it may not apply for some programs as they need the online students to meet strict deadlines for every subject they sign up in a semester. Depending on the time you can allocate on online study, you should compare the class schedule for the courses offered by online universities. If you are a working individual and your job requires you to travel frequently from one place to another, you may want to consider the online degree program that gives the maximum flexibility so that you can plan your own schedule to fit your times.

5. Compare The Examination Requirements

Almost all online degree programs require students to complete the examination in order to earn the degree. Each online university will have its examination requirements. Many of the universities have specific examination centers for their online students to sit for the exams. You will need to compare the examination requirements from each online university to make sure you can meet the requirements. There are also online examinations allowed in some degree programs, you can choose this type of examination if it is your preferred method.

The Myth of the Ubiquitous Solution

Today I tread lightly into the “new models” discussion which has recently been at the forefront of chatter among arts managers. For a good recap, please read the following:

Why Arts Managers Short of Cash Are Looking at Detroit,” by Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal
Theaters Look for New Ways to Draw in Subscribers,” by Nelson Pressley, The Washington Post
The New Model, Part 2,” by Michael Kaiser, The Huffington Post
Swimming Downstream in the Current of History,” by Adam Huttler, Fractured Atlas Blog

As Michael Kaiser states “the world is changing – but it has always been changing.” I agree with Mr. Kaiser to a point, but I’d like to point out that the amount of change organizations have faced in previous decades probably pales in comparison to the change they have confronted in the past ten years. In a one decade, pretty much everything we have been taught is now in question. How many of us were taught that the key to financial stability was saving money in order to purchase a house? For those of us who purchased prior to 2007, becoming a homeowner could be the dumbest financial decision we make in our entire lives. Who knew that we would experience a global economic crisis so severe that it would destroy
40% of the world’s wealth, or that people would actually opt for negative investment returns in order to move monies into safer investment vehicles? For the first time in the history of the United States, Standard & Poors downgraded the credit rating of the federal government to below AAA status, and the youngest Americans will most likely be worse off than their parents. Staples of American life, such as Social Security and Medicare, seem to be imploding, and new college graduates are entering the work force with record high student loans.   And this is to say nothing of the arts. States and municipalities are slashing funding, arts education barely exists in school curriculums and the lack of discretionary income is affecting ticket sales.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that arts managers are engrossed in discussions about new models. Many organizations had reserves to weather a couple of bad years, but recently we’ve begun to ask – what if this is the “new normal?” And how arts managers describe the “new normal” reminds me of the Hindu tale of the Blind Men and the Elephant. As the story goes, six blind men were asked to touch and describe an elephant. Each man’s description varied widely depending on the part of the elephant the man touched, and as the tale says “each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong, each was partly right, and all were in the wrong.”
Our descriptions of the “new normal” are as different as our points of views, and thus our responses to our changing environments should be as unique as each of our institutions.  I fear anyone who offers a panacea to all proclaimed from his or her own mountain top, as the view from my mountain may be different. For example, in his mostly excellent article about the Detroit Institute of Arts, Terry Teachout chides theater companies that “cling to the old-fashioned subscription model.” Similarly, in Nelson Pressley’s article “Theaters Look for New Ways to Draw in Subscribers,” Tony Heaphy, Director of Marketing at Centerstage, describes subscribing as “a chestnut.” I have no doubt from their perspectives these comments are valid, but theaters that have experienced significant growth in their subscription base might view the situation differently. What works for one, rarely works for all.

Therefore a customized approach tailored to your institution is wise. When looking at possible adjustments to your business model, I would suggest:
1)      A test a day. Test a new idea, small in scale, each day. Every day that an organization doesn’t test, is a day that it doesn’t learn.
2)      Test small, miss small. Identify a challenge. Develop a hypothesis. Test a solution. But don’t bet the farm on it. Conduct each test fully expecting a negative result.
3)      Test ideas that are easily scalable. In order to minimize risk, I’ve tested ideas that performed very well on a small scale only to realize that putting them into play in a larger way would be cost prohibitive.
4)      Identify your sacred cows, and test those first. Often times we shy away from testing solutions to a known issue simply because that issue is a sacred cow. If you are looking for meaningful impact, identifying sacred cows is a good first step.
5)      Be informed, but question everything – even “experts.” Read everything you can. Follow experiments at other companies. Conduct research. Analyze data. But don’t accept anything or anyone as infallible. Even the best are human, and they speak only from their experience.
6)      Be careful of “one size fits all” solutions. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard marketing directors wonder why something that worked so well in one city, bombed in the next. There are few universal truths in the marketing world.
7)      Overcome your fear of change. As humans, we are all programmed to fear change. You’ve identified a challenge. Formed a hypothesis. Tested a solution with impressive results. Developed a plan to scale the solution. And now it is decision time. Some people are paralyzed by fear of change. Be comforted by knowing that if you desire different results, you must act differently. Some difficult decisions are easy because they are demanded by circumstance.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Eight Things You Must Know About First Aid Training

First aid training equips you with knowledge on handing the initial stages of injury or illness. Training will include life saving techniques and treatment of illnesses and injuries. First aid training is not just for medical professionals.

CPR certifications and first aid training is mandatory for many jobs today. You can be well prepared to handle any emergencies at work or home. You will learn how to save the life of a person who is critically injured by stabilizing his condition and assist with recovery before medical professionals arrive to take over.

Here are 8 things you must know about first aid training -

   1. A few simple measures are enough to provide effective first aid treatment. Though all of us know the basics of cleaning a cut or applying a bandage, it is imperative to learn the appropriate method and initial treatment options as an invasive procedure could be risky if not handled in the right manner.

   2. First aid course training is for everyone as we cannot determine when and where first aid may be urgently required. These courses are offered by commercial providers and by community organizations like St. John Ambulance and Red Cross.

   3. The two major types of first aid courses include Emergency Aid for Appointed Persons course and the First Aid at Work course. The first course teaches you the basics and provides knowledge on how to manage critical conditions such as severe bleeding and heart attack. There is no formal assessment for this course.

   4. First Aid at Work course is a three day course that offers a comprehensive first aid lesson. Candidates here are assessed formally by assessors who are approved by Health and Safety Executive. After completing this course, you will receive the three year valid certificate by the training organization.

   5. Some of the common areas covered by first aid course include ailments such as choking, emergency action planning, control of bleeding, child resuscitation, shock, scalds and burns, sprains and breaks, child medical emergencies, unconsciousness and recognizing conditions like meningitis.

   6. Work place related risks that can be managed effectively after completion of first aid training course include shock, bleeds and wounds, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, unconsciousness, scalds and burns, seizures, breaks and sprains, poisoning, choking, employer's risk assessment, record keeping and accident reporting.

   7. For sports organizers, first aid course training will include concussion, joint dislocation, shock, unconsciousness, blocked airways, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and sprains and breaks.

   8. Advanced first aid courses equip you with knowledge on moving people who are seriously injured, manual handling, defibrillation and advanced life support such as administration of medical gases like Entonox and oxygen.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How Time Management Tips For the Working Student?

The working student has become a staple in today's society. Full-time students who also have full-time jobs are part of a growing trend. The percentage of these hard workers is likely to increase in coming years. Many people who already have good jobs still feel they should have a degree, and so decide to enroll into online schools or alternative certification programs. There are also people who choose to continue their education by seeking a master's or doctorate degree in their field, but are not financially able to take time off work while they go back to school. The most difficult thing about working full-time as well as going to school full-time is working out a way to balance your very limited time. Even if your job is only part-time or you're enrolled in online classes, knowing how to manage your time between the two different worlds can be overwhelming.

If you think you need to work on your time management skills, look no further than your smartphone. There are several apps that can help you get organized and manage your time wisely. For example, ActionComplete is a free to-do list app that lets you prioritize projects, group tasks by actions, and set reminders. This app would be great for helping you decide which task is most pressing to complete. Another great app is Evernote, which is built specifically for note-taking and archiving. Among its best functions is image capture and recording voice notes. Evernote comes in 2 versions, free and paid, so it's up to you to decide which version will be more functional for your purpose.

All work/school and no play makes anyone a dull person, so finding a way to schedule some down time for you can also be a great challenge. While school and work are equally important, you must also remember to take care of yourself, or you won't be well enough to go to work or school. Making an agreement with yourself to set aside at least a few hours a week for "me" time can make a world of difference when you are totally swamped with work and education. It's especially important to make time to see old friends, as their energy and encouragement can give you the drive to keep pushing for your goals.