Open Education: The Art of Being a Permanent Student

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By Larry Cooperman
Associate Dean for Open Education

Way back in the 20th century, being a student was something you did in your late teens through your early to late twenties, depending on your final degree. Both the job market and the Internet have conspired to change things. Entering a single company after school and staying with it for thirty years has become less likely, if next to impossible. Similarly, the undergraduate degree has become both essential, but also only a starting point to further education and career success and satisfaction.

The Internet has permanently changed the face of all postsecondary education, from undergraduate to continuing, professional education. In 2001, MIT President Charles Vest made a public announcement of MIT’s OpenCourseWare project, which eventually led to the free publication of resources from 1800 classes, campuswide. In 2011-12, MOOCs exploded onto the scene, combining short video explanations with a more interactive instructional path. Both of these resources are primarily for self-study, although the latter aims to offer a peer environment for collaborative assessment and discussion.

Okay, but where do I start?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention UCI’s excellent OpenCourseWare project, which has numerous courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, but also specific resources for continuing and professional education in project management, business analysis, human resources development, regulatory affairs for the medical and pharmaceutical industry, California teacher preparation, and even Business English and teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). That starting point for all of this is the OCW website.

If you go to our YouTube channel, UCIrvineOCW. There you can go back to school and study four years’ worth of chemistry lectures, or specific classes in Engineering, psychology, mathematics or graduate-level physics and chemistry. Do you need to review at an introductory level? We have that, too.

Yes, but it’s a big world out there? Where else should I look?
Our project, UCI OpenCourseWare, is a proud member of the Open Education Consortium, a grouping of more than 300+ universities, community colleges, educational organizations. Even IEEE, the largest professional association in the world, is a member. From the home page here, you can access some 30,000 modules, most in English, but many in Spanish, Mandarin and 17 other languages.

UCI is also a member of Coursera and offers a variety of courses, including preparation for K-12 teachers to teach in the growing online environment. The Open Education Consortium hosts some of its members’ MOOCs on EdX. These member MOOCs are different from others in that they will more often combine efforts by several universities and the course materials are truly open. You can download them, use them for teaching, share them with friends and more, no permission required. And, of course, EdX, like Coursera, offers many more.

Switch Careers, Change Your Life?

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For anyone who is burnt out, jaded or bored at work—or who has been laid off from their job recently—there’s good news from the paralegal field! This multi-faceted career not only pays well and offers a variety of exciting, fast-paced and fulfilling work every day on the job, but it also maintains reasonable hours and is rife with immense opportunity. How’s that for a life-changing new path?

With the recent tremendous growth in the paralegal field—the U.S. Bureau of Career and Labor Statistics has forecast an above-average need for paralegals through the next decade or so—job seekers from all backgrounds and experiences are taking charge of their professional destiny and changing the course of their careers for the better. Earn you’re paralegal certificate and you’re on your way!

For those who aren’t familiar with this position, paralegals important part of a legal services delivery team. Though they cannot practice law, paralegals play a leading role in assisting attorneys in their practice and thrive in a fast-paced environment fueled by time-sensitive matters. They’re often responsible for making crucial decisions, doing investigative research, performing legal analysis, summarizing depositions, and attending hearings. Paralegals report that they find the job gratifying because their work makes a difference.

Hear from four paralegals who love their jobs in this video filmed at First American in Santa Ana, Calif.So, what’s in it for you?

  • Variety and opportunity. No two days are the same.
  • Less expensive than attending law school and completed in a shorter period of time. Choose a pay-as-you-go paralegal certificate program with a convenient schedule.
  • Less stressful and shorter hours than an attorney position. Paralegals are able maintain a work-family-life balance.
  • Room for ongoing learning and growth. This field rewards and promotes top achievers.
  • Competitive wages. For a the nice-priced educational investment, paralegals are well paid and enjoy a comfortable quality of life.

Becoming a paralegal is a naturally perfect fit for those who wish to enter the legal profession without becoming a lawyer. The career attracts many successful people who already work in the legal field, including administrative assistants, legal secretaries and even out-of-work attorneys. That said, the booming paralegal field also draws mid-career changers from sectors as diverse as marketing, healthcare, Internet technology and journalism. If you’re detail-oriented, highly organized, hard-working, and a fast learner who loves to take initiative, this could be your calling.

At UC Irvine Extension, half of the paralegal program’s students are career changers in mid-career. Some have earned their bachelor’s degrees and are considering applying to of law school at a later date, with the paralegal certificate as a stepping stone and resume builder.

With paralegals in high demand everywhere from law firms and government agencies to courthouses, banks, large corporations and small companies, more returning workers are choosing it as their next career move. Driven professionals who have an appreciation for the law, a mind for details and a desire to make a difference find the field a dynamic choice in which they are well-compensated for work they truly enjoy. Read more about the journey to becoming a paralegal in the full article here.

Daring Adventures

By Janet DiVincenzo

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Helen Keller was quoted as saying “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” I took a daring adventure myself not long ago.  I signed up for an online art workshop. Now, let me just say, I was just about the last person who would ever take an art class in high school or college. I never wanted to draw. Can’t draw. Don’t like to draw.  Can’t even draw a credible stick figure, really. But I do like to make things — not just electronic things! I’ve done the odd assortment of craft projects over the years — collages, decoupage, things with cork, etc. And I’ve been a pretty competent card maker for about 15 years. My dream is to do mixed media collages using the stashes of sentimental paraphernalia I’ve picked up during my travels over the years and other assorted personal clutter, like concert tickets, museum receipts from foreign travels, and the like.

Like any dutiful student preparing for class by buying a textbook, I set out to the art supply store to purchase the recommended materials for the class.  Now I know my way around Michael’s pretty well. But this was an art supply store — where artists shop (not me!). Canvases? I don’t know from canvases!  She said we should buy 10 x 10 sizes. Uh-oh, I only saw 8 x 10. Hope that will work! These canvases seem so permanent, so professional! What if I screw up? Plus, they’re kind of expensive for a newbie. Oh well, in the basket they go. Oh, but wait. Maybe I should also buy a heavy duty sketch pad so I can first practice on paper — you know, get the hang of the paint, the brushes, etc. so I don’t go messing up one of the canvases. In the basket it goes. Oh wait. Here are some tinier canvases, like 5 x 5. So cute! How badly could I mess up those little guys?  Buy 1 get 2 free?  Whoosh, in the basket they go. Paintbrushes? Man they are expensive! And there are literally hundreds of them. How many do I need? I want to make sure I’m buying exactly the right ones!  But which ones!?  Now, on to acrylic paints — also kind of pricey. She said we should just get a few to start. But what colors? How much do I need? What if I buy the wrong kind? Am I spending too much money? Argh!  Anyone can see I’m a poser. This isn’t my tribe! Who do I think I am?

On the drive home it hit me. I was sounding like a lot of my newbie students — “Oh, I can’t really be a project manager yet.” or “I still need practice with the charter.” or “I’m just not comfortable with cost estimates yet.” Well, duh!  Of course!  Nobody hits it out of the park the first time. You just have to silence that inner (perfectionistic) critic that tries to tell you you’re not good enough. You just have to DO IT. Honestly no puppies will be harmed when I mix red with blue and discover, hey, that’s not the color I wanted.  And no kittens will be harmed when you produce a cost estimate that is less than accurate. You just have to decide you’re going to do it and not look back. Be daring. Be adventurous.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison

 

How to Network Like Casanova

 

By Melissa Allison & Zen Yieh

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Assuming you’ve read hundreds of articles on the virtues of networking, we won’t waste time trying to convince you of its importance. Think of this post more as a means to assess your current perspective on networking, and perhaps even your prowess.

So, pretend you’re on a date.

Just like dating, if you’re networking you obviously have an agenda, whether it is to sell something, find a job or meet new people (or get that second date). That’s cool; the people you meet likely have an agenda too. Here are some simple tips that may help improve your game.

Stop talking; ask questions.

Not only will you be a more enjoyable companion, you will also gain insight into someone’s unique needs and desires. Networking, like dating, is about building trust and putting yourself out there in the hopes that a person will somehow make your life better. May sound a little selfish put that way, but as we all know, you have to give a little to keep a good thing. Actively look for ways you may be able to help this person achieve their goals.

Don’t burn bridges before they’re built; stay open.

Do your best to stay in the moment and be polite, even if you don’t want a second date. If you become an avid networker, you never know when your paths may cross again. It’s easy to pass judgment and assume what people can and cannot offer you… in fact, it’s nearly impossible to avoid. Resist; at least for the length of your interaction. Instead, try to find things you like about that person and be willing to share them, if appropriate. If it helps, pretend you’re talking with the next Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, or whatever influential and wildly successful individual you can think of!

“Let’s stay in touch!” (… maybe)

We all say it, but what does this look like for a proactive networker? Were you listening? Honestly, nothing can replace attentive listening and it also fuels the follow up! For those you’d like to stay connected to, try dropping a line referencing what you two talked about, or something you think may interest them based on what you learned from your exchange. You have to be profound, but a quick note lets them know that you value the connection and would like to stay in touch.

It’s a numbers game.

You’ve heard the old saw: you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. Well, that saying has some truth to it. As your network grows, you’ll have a greater sense of what you’re looking for (or NOT looking for), while increasing the number of meaningful exchanges that bring you closer to your goals.

This should be fun!

Even if the objective is to elicit another’s time, services, support etc., there’s no reason it can’t be enjoyable. In fact, more sincere and fun interactions will likely yield more lasting relationships and ultimately better results. Pulling from Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, in order to get people to do what you want, they must first want to do it (and it’s your job to get them to care).

Here’s a brief clip, in which Andie (Kate Hudson) has just intentionally left her purse at her boyfriend Ben’s (Matthew Mcconaughey) apartment after a first date to ensure a follow up. Clearly, both are aware that the other has an agenda, but they sure know how to make each other smile while getting what they want. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxLuG0BYYwE (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days)

 

Social Networking by the Numbers

There’s no arguing that social networking has become a global phenomenon.  As of the end of April (4/24) Facebook had established 1.28 billion users, and of that number, 757 million of those users visit Facebook daily.  There is an average of 58 million tweets per day on Twitter, and 60 percent of those come via third party applications (i.e. TweetDeck, Twiterriffic, etc.) Not to mention, Google makes $1,600 in ad revenue in just 1 second.  These metrics are staggering, and are hard evidence of the universal value and continued growth of social Internet communication.

Check out this fascinating info graphic below which displays the Internet in real-time (h/t Stefan Drew).

InternetinRealTimeAccording to its developer (http://www.dailydot.com/technology/internet-real-time-infographic/) you can “watch, in real time, several of the Internet’s most popular sites and social media platforms climb in activity.” This visual is amazing.

Implementing custom corporate education for improved productivity and bottom line results

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By: Brian Breen, Director, Corporate Education, UC Irvine Extension

Competition is fierce in today’s increasingly complex business environment. As your customers demand that you deliver more than just good products and service, gaining and sustaining a competitive industry advantage will depend on how well your staff executes. Research shows that well-trained employees are more efficient, more satisfied and are proven to remain loyal to the company. A well-trained workforce is the key to building a long-term, sustainable advantage in your industry.

Bringing corporate training to your workplace ensures that your employees are all receiving the same quality education, getting the most relevant and immediately applicable skills and knowledge, while meeting budget and company objectives.

When implementing a corporate training program in your company, there are several considerations to keep in mind. Here I will outline the top three steps you need to take when implementing corporate education in order to ensure corporate success.

 

I. Set Training & Development Goals

Your first step is the most important: identify your organizational needs and goals.

You need to be able to answer the question, what are you looking to achieve from corporate training? Are you simply looking to update your employees’ skills, or prepare them for career advancement? Is it an enterprise-wide initiative that all employees be given training in a particular functional or management area?

Investing in training will improve your organization’s capabilities, productivity and bottom-line results. Understanding the importance of continuing education for employees and the long­term advantage of having well-trained, efficient employees is a big undertaking, logistically and financially. Your company can only be successful if it begins with capturing the right content and specific training needs.

Focus on management expectations, performance goals and expected outcomes to create individually-tailored solutions. The best learning experience for students is practical education with real-world applications. You want to give your employees the valuable tools that they need to help your company gain a competitive edge.

 

II. Make It Convenient

Once you know what you would like to achieve, it is time to look at the best methods for integrating training into your organization for the greatest impact.

A well trained staff is one of the biggest investments a company can make. Having engaged employees participating in the training is crucial to the success of the program. Offering flexible training options will ensure that your investment does not go to waste.

Consider weekday on-site classes, short intensive weekend workshops, online, hybrid or any combination of these. A custom solution will be more flexible, with a number of delivery options available to select from, and ready to be tailored to your business and employee needs.

 

III. Partner with the Best

Finally, you want to select a training provider that can help you achieve your goals with a custom solution designed just for your organization.

For the greatest success, it is vital that your training partner should be fluent in your industry, and with the way you do business. You should ensure that your provider can deliver high-impact, collaborative solutions.

The instructors leading your training program should be seasoned professionals in their respective fields, with a results-oriented approach. The instructors’ expertise and real-world insights in the classroom can result in immediate improvements in skills and capabilities as employees take what is learned in class and apply it immediately on the job.

The best corporate training solution provider for your company should take into consideration these key factors:

  • A pre-training assessment, building the foundation for a training program that meets company goals and addresses specific training objectives             
  • Development or adoption of a results-oriented program geared to meet your company’s exact needs
  • Selection of a provider that incorporates your company’s processes and systems into the curriculum to ensure immediate impact on performance    
  • Training delivery offered in flexible formats in order to reach all students without sacrificing productivity

 

Conclusion

This three-step approach toward corporate training will ensure that your employees learn and grow, ultimately improving productivity, and providing your organization with numerous benefits including:

  • An immediate return on your training investment
  • A better trained and more productive work force
  • Higher employee satisfaction and retention
  • Increased customer satisfaction

 

 

 

Hashtags: A History & Basic Guide

 By Lalida Sriyordsa

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Every minute, social media is changing around us. With the evolution of popular sites like Facebook and Instagram becoming integral parts of everyday life, the way we market our companies and businesses must also adapt to the way society conforms.

If you’ve ever seen images followed with the pound sign and a keyword (#swag is popular for the millennial generation), then you’ve at least seen what a hashtag looks like in the wild.

According to Lifehack:

“The very first hashtag EVER was #barcamp by Chris Messina. Due to this initial successful tryout (against the Twitter boss’s wishes) we now see hashtags as the first place to find information on the latest news and events on a global scale. Things happen on Twitter through hashtags faster than breaking news programs are able to catch them-the result being that Twitter is now a primary resource for many news stations.”

Without a doubt, whether you’re looking to reach audiences within a specific conference group or hoping to share your social media around the world, hashtags can (and should) be used as a valuable and fun tool to spread news.

Almost all social media sites such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Youtube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google Search, and Twitter all allow uses of hashtags that allow you to search for anyone who is interested in that keyword as well. In fact, LinkedIn is the only social media outlet that doesn’t allow the usage of hashtags.

Here are a few tips and tricks that can help you effectively use hashtags:

  • Feel free to use numbers, but no punctuation marks. #50thUCI
  • Keep it simple and think of your tone. For example, Nike’s #makeitcount relates to the brand’s theme and resonates.
  • Keep it relevant to your brand. Anything too vague such as #happy or #fun may not attract the audience you’re going for.
  • Be creative and feel free to make your own. Whether you’re using the hashtag to run a promotion, giveaway, or just adding news, creativity always gets bonus points #uciegiveaway

You can also use some great tools to help find trending topics and related hashtags:

  • Trendsmap shows latest trends from Twitter for anywhere in the world based on a geographic location
  • Hashtagify.me gives you the latest trending hashtags related to hashtags updated daily
  • RiteTag can also help you identify hashtags that get results and leads you to use them more

Have any awesome hashtags you’ve found success with or have any other tools that you use? Share with us below.